Juxtaposition

I’ve always loved that word! It comes to mind because of the two very different books I’ve been reading this week, and enjoying immensely. I’ve been reading Gooney Bird Greene, by Lois Lowry, to my second graders. And for myself, after school and after my “homework” (correcting papers) is done, I’ve been reading The African Queen, by C.S. Forester. What a terrific reading week!

Lois Lowry is a wonderful author! As a teacher, I have absolutely loved what happens to kids in a classroom when a Lois Lowry book is read. They think, they learn, they laugh, they question, they hold their breaths, and they become totally involved in the story. It happened year after year in my 6th grade when I would guide my students through The Giver, Gathering Blue, and Messenger. It happened again this week when I read Gooney Bird Greene to my second graders. Their laughter wasn’t just chuckles…I got some great belly laughs out of them. And they held their breaths when I hesitated a moment before reading the part of each chapter that described what Gooney Bird was wearing to school that day, or when I hesitated a moment after reading the word “suddenly…” And yesterday, when we finished the book and talked about all the things we learned from Gooney Bird about telling/writing stories, the kids wrote the BEST stories about themselves. One student wrote, “Why I Live in an Apartment.” Another student explained “How I Got My Name.” (He was named after his great grandpa!) My new student wrote all about his recent family adventure and called it “The A___’s Come From Australia.” We shared them all with each other, and agreed that there are endless ideas for stories inside each one of us. We’re going to write more on another day. Thank you, Lois Lowry, for inspiring one of the most enjoyable writing lessons of my 20 years of teaching!

And then it was home to my current read, The African Queen, which is one of the books I’m reading for Callista’s Book-to-Movie challenge. The film with Humphrey Bogart and Kate Hepburn is one of my all-time favorites, but I’m also loving the book. I’ve read three or four of Forester’s “Horatio Hornblower” books, so I knew he could really capture his readers. Well, he’s captured me with passages like this:

There could be no monotony on a river, with its snags and mud bars, its bends and backwaters, its eddies and its swirls. Perhaps those few days of active happiness were sufficient recompense to Rose for thirty-three years of passive misery.

Gooney Bird Greene and The African Queen…hmmm… enjoyable juxtaposition!

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10 thoughts on “Juxtaposition

  1. Maggie

    Love the post. Oh, how I would love to be able to read to kids on a daily basis. Do you read before or after lunch? My teachers always read after lunch.

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  2. Nymeth

    That sounds like such a rewarding experience! I bet some of those children will become avid readers because of your classes.

    I’m going to try and find “The Giver” at one of the bookstores near my new house. I really can’t wait to read some Lois Lowry.

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  3. Robin

    Thanks, Maggie. I do love to read to kids because they are soooo responsive. It heightens the pleasure of the book for me. I read after morning recess AND after lunch recess. It calms the kids down and refocuses them so nicely after recess. The morning read is usually about 10 minutes. The after-lunch read is about 20 minutes. It’s worth the time!

    Hi Nymeth! I hope they’ll develop a love for reading! I hope they’ll see it as an adventure and a pleasure.
    I’ll be very curious about your reactions to The Giver!

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  4. Court

    I’ve read Forester’s Horatio series (some of my favourites!) and have picked up The African Queen a couple of times, but have never actually bought it because I didn’t know much about it. Happy to hear it’s enjoyable though.

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  5. Robin

    Hi Jenclair. The kids loved the humor of the book, but I was amazed at how much they learned from it, too.

    Thanks, Tara. I’ll admit that I enjoy my work! (most days!)

    Thanks, Nan. I don’t want to overdo it, but it’s such a big part of my life, and my reading life, that I feel I need to write about it sometimes.

    Hi Court. I’ve read quite a few of the Horatio Hornblower books, too. This book was just as enjoyable — I just posted about it this morning!

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  6. Robin

    Debi, I’d like to read the other Gooney Bird books now. This was my first one, and the kids and I really enjoyed it. I hope the others are as good.

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