Thursday, September 23, 2010

A Book Called Heartbreaking

The next selection in our series this year is Dave Pelzer's A Child Called "It." In this book, Pelzer describes the severe physical and emotional abuse he suffered at the hands of his mother. Happiness morphs unexpectedly into terror when his mother singles him out and begins to starve him and subject him to torture.

With this selection, we attempt to understand the experiences of those among us who have suffered from abuse. What is most difficult to comprehend is his mother's reason for such cruelty.

Join us for the discussion of this famous and disturbing account on Wednesday, October 13.

Some stats:

According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, in 2006 there were 3.6 million reported cases of child abuse; approximately 905,000 of those cases were substantiated. In that same year, 1530 children died as a result of abuse. Over 70% of those who died were between the ages of 0 and 3 years.

Thought question:

Why is it important to be aware that some people in America are being abused or have survived abuse?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The First Book of the Year!

Our first selection this year is Sherman Alexie's The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.

From Alexie's site:

In his first book for young adults, bestselling author Sherman Alexie tells the story of Junior, a budding cartoonist who leaves his school on the Spokane Indian Reservation to attend an all-white high school. This heartbreaking, funny, and beautifully written tale, coupled with poignant drawings that reflect the character’s art, is based on the author’s own experiences and chronicles the contemporary adolescence of one Native American boy as he attempts to break away from the life he seems destined to live.

The book is funny and sad and truly speaks to those of us who at one time or another felt we had to turn our backs on our heritages or families to live our own dreams.

If you like this book, you may also like an earlier Book Club selection My Name is Asher Lev by Chiam Potok.

Discussion meeting for Absolutely True. . .: Wednesday, September 8, after school, in the library.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Ignorance is not bliss.

The Book Club theme for the 2010-2011 school year grew out of the book that will be our first selection this year (which I will keep secret until the first Book Club meeting for suspense-building purposes and because it's just more fun that way). The book deals with the struggles of a 17-year-old boy who is trying to exist in two different cultures at once. He worries that he is betraying his family and friends when he seeks a better education, and he feels very much a fish out of water at his new school. The book is funny, honest, and sometimes sad.

When I read this book, something was really brought home for me: While we Americans share a common country, we have very different American experiences. Therefore, this year, we will read books written by or about people for whom the American experience is not a "typical" one (immigrants or children of immigrants, persons living in very urban or very rural areas, people who have disabilities, for instance). The goal will be to learn about people whose experiences are different from ours and seeing that, despite our differences, we are all pretty alike at the core. I will need a great team on the selection committee as we decide what experiences to explore and which books to read, so consider helping out in that capacity.

Our first meeting of the year will be Wednesday, August 25, after school, in the library.

I hope to see you there!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

One Blink at a Time

This month the Book Club invites the French Club to join us for the reading of The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, the poetically written memoir of Jean-Dominique Bauby, the former editor of French Elle Magazine. After suffering a stroke, Bauby finds himself "locked in:" he is of sound mind but is unable to communicate because of paralysis caused by the stroke. Without the ability to speak or write, Bauby uses a system of blinks to dictate his story letter by letter. The story he tells is both beautiful and terrifying.

Book discussion: Wednesday, February 10, in the library, after school
Film viewing: Thursday, February 11, in Mrs. Everett's room (250)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Hello, Dave.

Arthur C. Clarke's groundbreaking 1968 novel 2001: A Space Odyssey set the standard for the sci-fi literature that was to come. In begins in prehistory. Moon Watcher, and ape-man discovers a mysterious, dark monolith near his cave home. Millions of years later, a similar monolith is uncovered on the Moon. Next, a ship is sent to Saturn under the guise of collecting information about the planet; however, the HAL 9000, the ship's computer, knows what it's real mission is, and it cannot allow the ship's captain, to get in the way of that mission.

Join us for the discussion of this novel on Wednesday, January 13, and for the film version on Friday, January 15.

If you enjoy this novel, check out (pun intended) its sequel, 2010: Odyssey Two. Very fitting given the new year.

Monday, November 30, 2009

One Flew East, One Flew West, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

from Barnes and

Boisterous, ribald, and ultimately shattering, Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is the seminal novel of the 1960s that has left an indelible mark on the literature of our time. Here is the unforgettable story of a mental ward and its inhabitants, especially the tyrannical Big Nurse Ratched and Randle Patrick McMurphy, the brawling, fun-loving new inmate who resolves to oppose her. We see the struggle through the eyes of Chief Bromden, the seemingly mute half-Indian patient who witnesses and understands McMurphy's heroic attempt to do battle with the awesome powers that keep them all imprisoned.

Join us for the discussion of this novel on December 9 and for the Everettberg Theater premiere on December 11.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

October = Halloween and Stephen King

We are celebrating the month of All Hallows Eve with a novel by the Scare Master himself, Stephen King. After much weighing of the many frightening possibilites, we settled on Pet Semetary. Below is the novel's synopsis as it appears on King's website:

The road in front of Dr. Louis Creed's rural Maine home frequently claims the lives of neighborhood pets. Louis has recently moved from Chicago to Ludlow with his wife Rachel, their children and pet cat. Near their house, local children have created a cemetery for the dogs and cats killed by the steady stream of transports on the busy highway. Deeper in the woods lies another graveyard, an ancient Indian burial ground whose sinister properties Louis discovers when the family cat is killed.

What this synopsis does not reveal is that Louis visits the burial ground on a second occassion; this time instead of the family pet, he brings family.

Join us for the discussion of this novel on Wednesday, November 11.

The Everettberg Theatre premier of Pet Semetary will be Friday, November 13.

Click the link on the right to watch the movie trailer.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Will the jury think it was a time to kill?

Carl Lee Hailey (played in the movie by Samuel L. Jackson) is on trial for murdering the young men who abducted and assaulted his daugher. To complicate matters, Hailey is black; the men he killed are white. And this is all taking place in Canton, Mississippi.

Jake Brigance (played by Matthew McConaughey) takes on Carl Lee's case, despite the danger to him, his family and his career.

Ellen Roark (played by Sandra Bullock) is a spunky law student from Massachussets who offers to help Brigance with the case.

The author, John Grisham, was a lawyer before becoming a writer, and nearly all of his books feature a riveting court case and/or the struggles of a young lawyer. If you like this book, you may also like The Firm and The Testament. His book A Painted House is a step away from this theme.

Join us for the discussion of A Time to Kill on Wednesday, October 14, in the library after school.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Nothing gold can stay.

Our first book of the year is The Outsiders. The book is narrated by Ponyboy, a greaser who lives with his two older brothers. The greasers, known as such because of the hair oil they use, are often taunted by the town's Socs (short for Socials). After Ponyboy and Johnny are seen walking a couple of Soc girls home, they are jumped by the girls' boyfriends. This sets in motion a series of events that changes things forever. As Cherry Valance says, "Things are hard all over."

The meeting to discuss The Outsiders will be held after school in the library on Wednesday, Sept. 16.

Film and Food Friday will be Sept. 18.

We hope to see you at both!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

New Year, New Theme

Welcome back to school and back to Book Club!

The first meeting of the year will be Wednesday, September 2, in the library after school.

This year's theme is "Don't judge a book by it's film." We will read books that have been adapted into movies, then watch the movie versions on Film and Food Fridays.

The first book of the year will be announced at the first meeting.

Mrs. Richart, Mrs. Price and I hope to see you there!