Which DWJ?

jackie e stallcup jstallcup at juno.com
Fri Apr 12 12:40:32 EDT 2002

Thank you, everyone for such quick and useful replies!  These made me
mull over my "needs and purposes" some more.  One thing that I try to do
a lot of in this class is "bridge-building"--that is, making connections
between classic or canonical texts and young adult literature.  So
there's a section where we discuss Beckett's play Waiting for Godot in
conjunction with several YA novels that have similar themes, such as
questioning the purpose of life and so on.  Several of the other texts
make use of classic literature in various ways.  This is designed to help
my students see connections that can be drawn that will allow their
students to read what really interests and engages them--YA lit--and
connect these books with the classic literature that is so often taught
in the high school classroom.

Ok, with that in mind, either Fire and Hemlock or Howl's Moving Castle
might be my best choices because I can also have them read and discuss
"source texts" as well as possibly dwj's article on F&H (which was very
interesting, by the way--thank you to whoever called our attention to it
in the first place.)

On the other hand, the reason I picked Dark Lord this time is because of
the way it deconstructs the fantasy genre--which I found very funny and
engaging.  But as someone pointed out, if my students aren't fantasy
fans, they may not "get it" and may not enjoy it (even if it is good for
them)!  I would love to teach a whole class in fantasy and sci-fi, and
this book would be perfect for that class, definitely!

I had not read Archer's Goon yet, but I made this project my excuse for
doing so and picked it up last night (thereby neglecting--with a clear
conscience--other things I should have been doing).

In answer to a couple of questions that came across:  my course is for
teachers of both middle and high school, so I try to have a range of
texts for kids from 12ish-18ish.  We have about a week for each book
(except in the bridge building, where we spend two weeks, but cover a
play and four-five novels.  And the students (in the past, anyway) have
tended to be enthusiastic about the reading and haven't dragged their
feet, except when we read six depressing books in a row, and then I
didn't blame them--I was depressed too!

Here's the tentative list for the course, at the moment.  You'll notice
that I'm trying to include different forms, different genres and
sub-genres, and different multicultural texts.  I have also tried to add
in some lighter, more humorous books:

Nobody's Family Is Going to Change by Louise Fitzhugh 
Weetzie Bat, by Francesca Lia Block (for discussion of censorship)
Mr. Was by Pete Hautman   
Letters from the Inside  by John Marsden  
An Island Like You : Stories of the Barrio by Judith Ortiz Cofer, 
Holes by Louis Sachar 

The next two are linked by being two different perspectives on Korea
during World War 2:
Year of Impossible Goodbyes by Sook Nyul Choi                            
So Far from the Bamboo Grove by  Yoko Kawashima Watkins,
And here are the books for "Bridge Building".  We all read Godot, and
then five people apiece read the following novels and discuss them in
small groups in conjunction with Godot.  We finish up with a whole class
discussion of the major themes and other elements that connect all the
Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett
Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli 
Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse 
The Giver  by Lois Lowry
Language of Goldfish : A Novel  by Zibby Oneal  
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?  by Philip K. Dick 

Another other comments and suggestions are gratefully welcomed!

Thank you!


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