Archive | June, 2011

Stargirl: Review

22 Jun

This summer, I am setting aside some of my reading time to preview texts I plan to teach next year. Although I will be teaching many of the units I have taught in the past (including To Kill a Mockingbird and Romeo and Juliet), I will be introducing many new pieces of literature into the curriculum. My first unit will focus on the theme of coming-of-age. I plan to divide students into literature circle groups for this unit, and each group will read a different novel. Therefore, my summer reading list is FULL of coming-of-age novels! But I don’t mind. Since reading To Kill a Mockingbird for the first time in high school, I have enjoyed coming-of-age books.

Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli is the first book I finished this summer. And I LOVED it! As I mentioned in a previous post, I am not usually drawn into young adult literature. However, Stargirl is a noteworthy exception. Focused on a kind-hearted and eccentric high-schooler named “Stargirl” Caraway, the novel explores the themes of individuality and acceptance. Leo Borlock, the narrator, watches as Stargirl serenades her classmates with her ukelele. He witnesses her random acts of kindness – a simple card, a bouquet of flowers. But most of all, he wonders. What inspires Stargirl to do these kind things for others? Why doesn’t she care that she’s different? As the novel unfolds, Leo is faced with a difficult decision: will he acknowledge his friendship with Stargirl and risk being different, or will he end their relationship so that he can fit in?

I can’t wait to teach this novel next year! I believe my students will be able to relate to both the themes and the narrator in Stargirl.

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Summer Break and Musing Mondays

20 Jun

Summer break came just in the nick of time.

This school year left me feeling worn out. I just finished my fourth year of teaching. While I feel like a more confident and prepared teacher than I did during my first year, each new year brings new challenges. The biggest challenge for me this year was to learn how to balance a career with motherhood. Last August, we welcomed our first child into our family – a sweet baby boy who brings so much joy to our lives. Motherhood is a tremendous learning experience! I’ll never forget the feeling I had when I walked my precious baby through our front door for the first time – I kept thinking, “What do I do with this baby all day long!?” I’ve spent countless hours staring at his sweet face, wondering how God could give me such an amazing gift. I’ve changed hundreds of diapers … and bibs … and outfits … And I’ve LOVED every second of the journey! It hasn’t always been easy, though. My demanding work schedule has often left me feeling guilty. Guilty for not spending enough time with my son. Guilty for not having just a little more time to devote to my lesson plans. Guilty for not grading and returning papers as quickly as I used to. I love my career. And I LOVE being a mommy. And I’m still figuring out how to balance both roles.

I am excited for summer break for MANY reasons. Most importantly, I will finally have time to spend with my little one! In addition, I will  be able to devote time to doing things I love. The thing I love most, of course, is reading. I’ve already finished two books, both of which I will review later. However, I thought I’d take a few minutes while my son naps to answer this week’s Musing Mondays prompt which asks, “Do you like movies made from books? Which ones do you think have been done well — kept mostly to the plot of the book, etc?

In most situations, my answer to this question is an emphatic NO! I’m almost always disappointed in the way movies interpret literary characters. I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I get attached to book characters. I never feel the same connection with my favorite characters when they are depicted in a movie. However, there is one important exception to my dislike for movies based on books – To Kill a Mockingbird. I LOVE the novel, and I LOVE the movie. While the movie leaves out several important events from the novel, I believe the directors did a masterful job of maintaining the themes and characters created by Harper Lee. I never tire of reading the book, and I never tire of watching the film.