Pictured here are just a few of the wonderful literature selections we will be exploring during my Literature Soirée on the Medieval and Renaissance era. There are a still a few places left, so you can find all the info and grab a spot at this link. I’m excited to share this time with you and all the lovely mamas that are already signed up! The Renaissance era offers such richness to explore, and the seminal texts we will cover will give you the confidence to approach this era with passion and joy! Remember, we will also be discussing Susan Schaeffer Macaulay’s For the Children’s Sake, so get out your copy and do a review of this important and (for me at least!) life-changing book! And finally, we have the lovely Bernadette Speakes scheduled to share with us some of her artistry in drama! So come expecting to be enriched, inspired, challenged and equipped for an amazing adventure of learning! Looking forward to seeing you soon! Rea
August 9, 2014 will be my Summer Literature Soirée, which many of you have attended in the past. Normally I like to do a summer reading event at the beginning of the summer and then a Back-to-School event at the end of August, early September. But due to speaking engagements and other life commitments (2 new grandchildren born this spring!), I am only able to provide one this season. Regardless, I am very much looking forward to spending this special time discussing literature, nurturing friendships, and making new acquaintances too!
So, I am mixing it up a bit this time, as I’d like to spend a bit more concentrated time digging into literary analysis with all of you! Don’t panic if you’ve never analyzed literature before as this format will empower you to feel confident and equipped to discuss literature with your children/students on a deeper level.
Here’s the literature we will discuss on August 9th:
Carver: A Life in Poems by Marilyn Nelson
Water Buffalo Days by Quang Nhuong Huynh
Lost Names by Richard Kim
Wonder by R.J. Palacio
Time of Wonder by Robert McCloskey
The Little Island by Margaret Wise Brown
For convenience sake, Beautiful Feet Books will offer anyone who signs up for the soirée, an opportunity to purchase the above books discounted and have them shipped to your home, in the next week or so, to give you enough time to read them before August 9th (yeah for summer lazy days to read and rest!). If you are interested in this, please visit the this link to order as soon as possible. The book pack is featured at the bottom of the page. We will offer the above set of books at a 25% discount, but this offer will only be available until Friday, July 11. And of course, bring the books with you on August 9th, so you can work directly with the text!
So here are the details:
Date: Saturday, August 9, 2014
Place: my home: 1306 Mill Street, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
Welcome to another installment of Around the World with Newbery and Caldecott Part IV! This post will explore just a few of the wonderful award-winning children’s books of France! This is another preview to my upcoming Back-to-School Literature Soirée. It is just a little over a week away, so if you’re interested, please visit here.
As a Francophile since my early 20s, when I spent nearly a year in Paris, I have returned many times to this fascinating country that holds so much of the world’s greatest art, architecture, cuisine, and natural beauty! I love France for all of these things, but also for the pivotal part they played in helped the struggling American colonies to win their fight for independence from Great Britain.
Probably the most well-known and beloved children’s book about Paris is Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans. Winner of the Caldecott Honor in 1940, Madeline’s Rescue won the Caldecott Medal in 1954. My friend and former professor, Anita Silvey has done a marvelous job of telling the background of these wonderful creations by Bemelmans here.
Another author of French tales beloved by American children is Claire Huchet Bishop, a French-born American who is best known for twoNewbery Honor titles–All Alone, which tells the story of a French boy who herds cattle in the mountains and befriends a fellow herder in need. His compassion leads to the healing of old rivalries in the village. Pancakes-Paris, which is unfortunately out-of-print, tells the tale of a boy given a box of pancake mix by American GIs after WWII. Set during the same period is Twenty and Ten, the story of French school children hiding Jewish children from the Nazis.
The Family Under the Bridge by Natalie Savage Carlson is the heartwarming story of Armand, a Parisian tramp who wants nothing to do with children. But when three fatherless children “adopt” him, all kinds of adventures happen. Readers will be charmed by the warmth and pathos of this story and by the tender illustrations of Garth Williams who you you will recognize as the beloved illustrator of the Little House on the Prairie series. Winner of the Newbery Honor in 1959.
Winner of the Caldecott Medal in 1993, Mirette on the High Wireby Emily Arnold McCully tells the tale of a celebrated tightrope walker and his friendship with young Mirette. While he teaches the devoted Mirette the art of tightrope walking, he learns some wonderful lessons too. While there are many, many more wonderful titles that I haven’t touched on yet, I will conclude with a title of extraordinary beauty published during the Golden Age of children’s book illustration–the late nineteenth century. Joan of Arc (1899) by Maurice Boutet de Monvel depicts in grand sweeping panoramas, the life of the devout French maid who led the beleaguered forces of her country to victory over England. The artist’s devotion to the French heroine comes through his watercolor paintings with power and exuberance. I will let the following pictures speak for themselves.
Today, we will visit Korea on our world tour through literature! A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park can broaden a literature approach to Medieval studies by taking the reader to 12th century Korea as viewed through the life of an orphan boy by the name of Tree-ear. The orphan motif is an oft repeated literary device that draws the reader into the story through pathos, and the author doesn’t fail in her use here. Tree-ear’s story is set firmly in the world of the highly skilled pottery artisans of Korea who first invented celadon pottery. Tree-ear learns their delicate but highly painstaking craft under a master potter and then must deliver the master’s works for a royal commission. The journey takes him through danger from both man and beast and teaches Tree-ear perseverance and loyalty. Winner of the Newbery Medal in 2002, this book not only teaches what medieval life was like for the poor, but also teaches the value of friendship and compassion.
So Far From the Bamboo Grove by Yoko Kawashima Watkins won the American Library Association Award in 1987 and tells a story of Korea, but with a twist. The young protagonist Yoko and her family are part of Japanese occupation forces in Korea (Japanoccupied Korea from 1910-1945), and must flee Korea when Japan begins to lose the war. Their harrowing escape and their attempts to pass themselves off as Koreans makes for a gripping and moving work based on the author’s own experiences. Though Japan was the aggressor–and often a cruel and tyrannical one–what Yoko’s tale shows is how women and children are victimized by war, and must summon almost superhuman courage and sacrifice to help those they love.
The last award-winning book on Korea is Year of Impossible Goodbyes by Sook Nyul Choi and is the author’s own biography of her childhood growing up in Korea during the same period as the title above. Sook’s family are involved in resistance movement, and her brothers have been sent to labor camps, while her heroic mother keeps the family factory running and does everything in her power to protect her young female factory workers from the Japanese forces. When war separates Sook from her mother, she and her little brother must escape by themselves. Their journey is heroic, touching and miraculous!
This is just another brief installment on our Around the World tour through award-winning children’s literature which I will be covering in my upcoming Back-to-School Literature Soiree! If interested, go here.
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date.–Shakespeare, Sonnet 18
Well, summer’s lease is nearly over, and despite our wish that it could linger just a bit longer, school days will shortly be upon us! So, to give us all a boost (myself included), I am hosting a “Back to School” Literature Soirée on Saturday, September 8. I will cover more literary analysis, but this time we will look at how to analyze historical literature within the context of the heroic quest. This will be a fun adventure as we consider how the heroes and heroines of the eras of exploration, discovery, and colonization provide examples of heroic archetypes fulfilling their own unique destinies.
I will present an overview of the best historical works for children covering the period of the early 1600s up through the Civil War. The concentration will be early American History, but some world history will naturally be a part of that. So roughly speaking, here is how the day should go:
9:30-10 am: Arrival and get acquainted with a cup of coffee or tea
10 am-10:30: a brief session will look at current statistics of American student’s knowledge of history and literature as well as the why’s and wherefore’s of the “notebook approach”
10:30-11:30 am: the best children’s literature of Early American Exploration, Discovery, and Colonization
11:30 am-noon: Analyzing historical literature using the elements of the heroic quest (definition and overview), anthropomorphism, the orphaned child literary trope, and others! (not to worry, I will clearly define all of these before setting you out on your own).
Noon-1:45: Working lunch applying literary analysis to various works of historical literature. This time we will work in pairs to save time
Rea Berg is passionate about children's books and has been republishing classic and historical children's literature for the last 30 years through her company Beautiful Feet Books. She also designs guides for teaching elementary and secondary students history using award-winning classic and historic literature. She holds both an undergraduate degree in English from Simmons College, Boston as well as a graduate degree in children's literature.