My coworker and I are collaborating to create a teen program wherein participants can choose a character, or create their own. In the first program we will develop characters and costumes / props and in the second program we will do some Live Action Role Playing (LARP). Players will face different challenges as the character they created and test their imaginations and problem solving abilities.
I am so excited and look forward to writing up the challenges and being the Game Master! I hope we get a lot of participation!
This enchanting story is a writing triumph for Young Adult Literature! I have read many “cross over” authors who are interested in expanding into this very lucrative genre but think that writing for Y.A. means ‘writing down’ or using ‘simple’ or ‘slang’ language and can create a very disappointing book with unnatural sounding teen characters. I won’t slam Mr. Popular, but if you want to know one author that I think is notorious for this, ask me next time you’re in the library and I will share my opinion.
However, Gregory Maguire does not dumb anything down in this elegant, and poignant tale set in Russia. He begins by introducing our story teller, who smuggles paper and writing utensils on his person when he is hauled away for some crime that is unclear to both the detainee and to the reader. We then are introduced to Elena, a girl in a starving village and in a dire situation. It is only a short time before she meets Cat, a privileged girl that is stuck in the village when the train trestle is out of service.
The two girls are accidentally jarred into one another’s life with an open door and a priceless egg. Now each girl must follow the fate of the other as they try to get to where they want to be: for Elena to the Tsar to beg the freedom of her brother who was pressed into service, for Cat to return to her Aunt in St. Petersberg. Their exciting journeys are woven together and for better or worse their fates are intertwined.
Some of my favorite lines from the book so far;
“So. That’s our heroine. Snoozing away. I suppose you could say she has initiative. You have to give her credit for trying to make good of her dilemma. That’s the beginning of heroism, the decision to try.” (p.107)
I love the rural doctor who is continually pronouncing today is
“Pay Attention Day”
“Onion Liberation Day”
“One Sip at a Time Day”
and a response I should like to make to my own children sometimes…”‘Ah, now you’re not talking to me,’ he said.’ That’s all right. Sometimes there’s nothing left to say.'” (p.29)
Looking for purpose, “Far from standing in opposition to each other, play and work are mutually supportive. They are not poles at opposite ends of our world. Work and play are more like the timbers that keep our house from collapsing down on top of us. Though we have been taught that play and work are each the other’s enemy, what I have found is that neither one can thrive without the other. We need newness of play, its sense of flow, and being in the moment. We need the sense of discovery and liveliness that it provides. We also need the purpose of work, the economic stability it offers, the sense that we are doing service fore others, that we are needed and integrated into our world. And most of us need also to feel competent.”(p.126)
Marie Montessori taught this same idea when she created a play / work curriculum for students by providing folding boards so children could learn to fold clothes without the adult size hand span. She created tables and chairs and other house hold items like brooms, shovels, dishes so that children could find competency with child size ‘adult’ tools.
This idea is the backbone of self efficacy and self esteem for the human animal.
With a protagonist that can break your heart and tickle your funny bone, the story of James Dillinger and his bizarre rise to fame as “the Suicide King” will keep you guessing. This book is wonderful look into the painful, dark, beauty and hilarity of teen life in America, Ritchey captures the teen mind well with phrases like, “‘…After high school, it’s all gonna be puppies, kitties, bunnies and sunshine. And rainbows.’ And Alzheimer’s. And boredom. And disappointment. And disease. Somebody stop me.” (p. 31).
We remember Holden Caulfield from Catcher in the Rye in JD’s thoughts:
“…First loves should only end when you both breathe your last breath, in a final embrace that nothing, not even death, can shatter.
Parents should love each other.
Friends should always understand you and be there for you.
Kids should be safe from everything.
People shouldn’t hate each other for their differences…” (p.59)
One of the stories that I really enjoyed is a fantasy adventure with plenty of strong female characters. The other one took place on a Quaker farm during the Underground Railroad movement, just before the civil war.
I am currently reading two books and I am not very far in either of them, however I am enjoying them both!
Play: How it shapes the brain, opens the imagination, and invigorates the soul by Stuart Brown, M.D. and Vivian Apple at the end of the world by Katie Coyle.
I’m not sure what it says about me, the fact that I’m reading an academic book on Play, but I’m enjoying it, so I think that’s the point. This book lends support to the other book I’ve raved about by Jane McGonigal, Reality is Broken, by pointing out the benefits and necessity of play for all kinds of animals.
The premise for Vivian Apple is that the Ascension seems to have happened, leaving no trace of Vi’s parents but two holes in the roof. What will she and her non-believer friends do now? I can’t wait to find out.