March 2018 Reader’s Group Read.
Rhianna Pratchett recently penned a piece for the Guardian about what the Moomins meant to both her and her father, Terry Pratchett. The Moomins are truly magical and wonderous. Jansson’s Moomin books are also about acceptance and love; it is not really funny in the book that one character wears a dress his aunt once wore.
But Jansson’s other work is as powerful as the Moomins.
The Summer Book doesn’t really have a plot. In some ways, it is a collection of loosely connected short stories about a young girl and her grandmother as they spend time on a summer island. Sophia’s mother has died, Jansson never mentions what exactly happened, and her father is present but more as a hovering figure.
Sophia and her grandmother wander the island, and there are wonderful descriptions about the forest and the water. There is a visit from of Sophia’s, a young girl with wonderful hair. Sophia comes across as a rather interesting child. The book examines the rhythms of life and the conflicts that can occur. It’s a lovely little tale
Freedom Summer by Deborah Wiles is a beautiful story of friendship between John Henry (a young black boy) and Joe (a young white boy) in the 1960s. The two boys spend their entire summer together, going on adventures and making unforgettable memories. As the boys spend time together, Joe begins to notice all of the things John Henry can't do and all of the places he is not allowed into simply because of this skin color. But despite this, the boys become close friends and embrace each other's differences. This book has a great variety of vocabulary that readers can learn from and excellent illustrations that paint an accurate picture of the South during the 1960s.
I would use this book during a Social Studies lesson and ask students to compare and contrast John Henry's and Joe's lives before and after the Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964. Using historical facts learned in previous lessons and the book, I would ask them to compare/contrast what they could and could not do and what their daily life would look like. What changed? What stayed the same? They would write their response in a PowerPoint or Prezi presentation that they could share in class.
Lexile Measure: AD460L