08 July 2010

Thank Goodness for a Comadre!

For Module 3
Canales, V. (2005). The Tequila Worm. New York: Wendy Lamb Books.

Sofia wants to continue her education, and she has won a scholarship to a prestigious school in Austin, Texas. But is she emotionally ready? Her large and loving extensive family helps her in many ways. There are chapters about making beans, planning a quinceanero, and other family activities. How can Sofia even think of leaving all that support behind? 

My view:
One of the best books I've read so far for this intensive class has been The Tequila Worm, by Viola Canales. Maybe because in my neighborhood there are several wonderful, strong women whom I consider my "Comadres", I resonated very much with this idea as presented by Canales. I am a single mother, and I know there are some things I just don't do very well. As much as I try, I just can't be all things to my boys. But thankfully there are some wonderful people who have been able to step in at key times and give my children careful mothering (and fathering) in areas where I just am not qualified. My gratitude for these people is tremendous. I liked how Canales explained the role of the comadre, and I recognize such in my own life. I will be sharing this book with these key friends and pointing out how much their influence affects my life and the lives of my boys. This book also gave us a delicious meal. When I was reading the part about Sofia and her father cooking beans together, I put some pintos in a pot and cooked them the same way. As I was finishing the book, my beans were also done, and the boys and I had a delicious meal of pinto beans, sour cream, fresh green onions, spicy salsa, and chopped avocado. It was mouthwateringly good, and we will have this again. What more could anyone ask---a book full of love, and a wonderful, easy to follow recipe at the same time.

"Canales' exuberant storytelling, which, like a good anecdote shared between friends, finds both humor and absurdity in sharply observed, painful situations--from weathering slurs and other blatant harassment to learning what it means to leave her community for a privileged, predominately white school. Readers of all backgrounds will easily connect with Sofia as she grows up, becomes a comadre, and helps rebuild the powerful, affectionate community that raised her."
Engberg, G.(2005). The Tequila Worm. Booklist,102(4), 47.

Ideas for the library: Well, how could we possibly read this in a book group without eating chips and salsa? Maybe I'm just hungry, but all my library ideas involve food right now. We can have a quinceanero party for all the 15 year old teens, complete with cake and dresses. That's all Kath Ann needs---another crack-brained idea from above that she has to implement. At least she knows I'll help her! 

Time Travel

For Module 3
Stead, R. (2009). When you reach me. New York: Wendy Lamb Books.

Miranda is so sad when her erstwhile best friend gets punched in the stomach and stops hanging out with her. To make things worse, a strange man seems to be living underneath the mailbox and chants strange words to himself. Then pieces of a strange mystery start to appear and Miranda finds herself part of something temporally impossible. Or is it possible?

My view:
I wish time travel was really possible. A couple of years ago I stumbled on I Am the Messenger, by Markus Zusak. You remember him---he wrote The Book Thief and won many honors for it. Anyway, I Am the Messenger was entrancing and confusing and beautiful---and written for an older audience than Rebecca Stead's Newbery Award winning book When You Reach Me. But the premise is somewhat similar. I liked the twisting and turning, even braiding of the different aspects of the plot together---like the "streaker" who ran through the streets and prevented school from being out one day. It was reminiscent of The Time-Traveler's Wife, in a way. Mainly, I loved the tying together of the love and the sacrifice and the cryptic phrase the man (I don't want to spoil anything) muttered. I also liked the connections between A Wrinkle in Time and the narrator---it shows that books can have marvelous and lasting impact on life. I feel an essay about this subject starting to sprout inside of me.

Because this book won the Newbery Award, it has myriad reviews. One from School Library Journal says, "The climax is full of drama and suspense. This story about the intricacies of friendship will be a hit with students."
Crewdson, A. (2009) When you reach me (review). School Library Journal 55(12), 69.

For an older group of kids in a book group, I could see pairing this book with the movie Somewhere in Time, or in a writing group having the participants write about something they would like to go back in time to change. Hey, maybe that can be a topic for my next meeting of Write On!

The Best Superhero Ever

For Module 2
Grey, M. (2005). Traction man is here. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.

Traction man comes in a cool box with several changes of clothes and loud pants. From the very beginning he shows his true mettle by battling the evil pillows and saving the farm animals, then volunteering to explore the hidden submerged regions to search for the lost Wreck of the Sieve. Because it's Christmas, the superhero has to take a trip to Grandma's house where he, along with everyone else, receives a fancy knitted Christmas gift! But how can a superhero be brave and strong while wearing a green romper suit? Suddenly, Traction Man's loyal sidekick, Scrubbing Brush, comes up with a marvelous idea!

My view:
What a wonderful story! This is one of Will's favorites. We've read and reread this tale even though Will, at 9 years old, thinks he is too old for most picture books (he's not). But I don't think we ever outgrow Traction Man!

A review from School Library Journal had this to say about Traction Man Is Here: "Powered by a young boy's imagination, an intrepid action figure embarks on several perilous adventures accompanied by his faithful pet, Scrubbing Brush. Traction Man---along with everyday objects cast as villains and victims--springs to life through lively comic-book-style pictures and witty text.

In the library: Although this book is much more geared for lap reading (with so many different captions and interesting asides), it would be wonderful in a Superhero storytime lineup with such other books as Superhero ABC and Robot Zot! I can imagine making capes or loyal sidekicks as a craft.
--- Traction Man Is Here (review). School Library Journal, 51, p38-38