Friday, January 28, 2011

Poetry Friday: Ode to the Lizard

I finished reading The Dreamer this week. It's a fictionalized biography of Pablo Neruda, and at the end there are some of Neruda's poems. I loved the book (here's my review) and I love this poem:



Ode to the Lizard
Pablo Neruda (translated by Margaret Peden)

On the sand
a
lizard
with a sandy tail.
Beneath
a leaf,
a leaflike
head.

From what planet,
from what
cold green ember
did you fall?
From the moon?
From frozen space?
Or from
the emerald
did your color
climb the vine?

On a rotting
tree trunk
you are
a living
shoot,
arrow
of its foliage.
On a stone
you are a stone
with two small, ancient
eyes -
eyes of the stone.
By the
water
you are
silent, slippery
slime.
To
a fly
you are the dart
of an annihilating dragon.

Here's today's Poetry Friday roundup.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Dreamer


I got a package the week before last from a blog friend (that is, we know each other only through reading each other's blogs and have never met). She sent me a book! (People keep giving me books to read lately - I love that!) The book was The Dreamer, by Pam Muñoz Ryan.

The dreamer of the title is Neftalí Reyes, a shy, misunderstood little boy who loves to read, to collect words and objects, and to notice what is beautiful around him. When Reyes grew up he took the pen name Pablo Neruda. Peter Sís did the wonderful pictures.

Muñoz Ryan read about an incident from Neruda's childhood in which a pair of hands from an unseen child next door passed the poet a toy sheep through a hole in the wall. From there, she researched his life and used her imagination to produce this book. Neruda grew up with a demanding father who thought his son was feeble and absent-minded and refused to consider that writing might be a profession worth pursuing. (Neruda's brother, Rodolfo, was a gifted singer and was equally discouraged by their railroad-worker father.) The book describes several events; my favorite was the Cyrano-like story of Neruda writing love letters to the girl of his dreams on behalf of a bigger, stronger, but less literate boy at his school.

I love Neruda's poetry and didn't know anything about his life, so I enjoyed reading this. Neruda found the encouragement and help he needed in spite of discouragement from his father, and was able to grow into, according to an Author's Note, "probably the most widely read poet in the world."

This was book #6 of the year.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Reading Update

Book #2 of 2011 was Night Over Water, by Ken Follett. This was my first book by this author. It's the story of an assortment of travelers on the Pan American Clipper, a combination airplane and boat that really existed, and a transatlantic flight in 1939. I had never heard of these planes and there are a lot of interesting details in the story about what they were like.

Book #3 was The Cellist of Sarajevo, by Steven Galloway. Set in Sarajevo in the early 90s, this book tells the story of four characters who are trying to survive the war. The cellist of the title sets out to play Albinoni's Adagio after a mortar attack on his neighborhood. "He'll do this every day for twenty-two days, a day for each person killed. Or at least he'll try. He won't be sure he will survive. He won't be sure he has enough Adagios left." The other characters are a man who works in a bakery, a father who spends large amounts of his time making sure his household has enough water, and a sniper, Arrow. Here is Arrow before the war: "She felt an enveloping happiness to be alive, a joy made stronger by the certainty that someday it would all come to an end. It overwhelmed her, made her pull the car to the side of the road. Afterward she felt a little foolish, and never spoke to anyone about it. Now, however, she knows she wasn't being foolish. She realizes that for no particular reason she stumbled into the core of what it is to be human. It's a rare gift to understand that your life is wondrous, and that it won't last forever." Arrow is assigned to protect the cellist as he plays his music. This was a horrifying book, describing as it does life in Sarajevo, where a sniper's bullet could hit you at any moment as you went about your business. However, it was also a beautiful one, showing how human beings can survive.

Book #4
, Fire, by Kristin Cashore, was not really my kind of book, and yet I enjoyed it immensely. I don't read a lot of fantasy, and I found the plot had some big holes in it. But I loved the characters in this book. As in Graceling, to which this book is billed as a "companion," there is a lot of mind-reading, and Cashore does it expertly, with Fire, the main character, picking up feelings and impressions from people around her, even those who shield their minds, which in this world it is possible to learn to do. Fire is a "monster," meaning she has special abilities and irresistible beauty. The beauty is more of a liability than anything else, and Fire struggles to deal with the effect she has on others. The range of relationships Cashore describes is so much fun to read about, and there's romance, but not at all in a stereotypical way. The one concern I have about this book, as I did with the other one, is the attitude of the young women protagonists towards sexuality; both Katsa (in Graceling) and Fire are extremely resistant to marriage, though not to sex (which isn't described explicitly but is very obviously happening). This book is supposed to be for kids my students' age, but I'd give it to older teenagers. Cashore does such a beautiful job telling her story, and I'm not entirely sure why, but reading this book made me happy. (I'm expecting my literature degrees to be revoked immediately after that last sentence.)



Book #5
was Bittersweet: Thoughts on Change, Grace, and Learning the Hard Way, by Shauna Niequist. Katie texted me Sunday night and said "I have a book for you!" She gave it to me in our staff meeting on Monday morning. She said she thought of me the whole time she was reading it. I'm not quite sure why she did (I'll ask her next time I see her), but she was right to think that I'd love this book. It reads like a blog between covers, and sure enough, the author blogs. (I added her to my Blog List yesterday.) Niequist tells, in short essays (posts, really), about a difficult time in her life, when she lost a job, had a baby, had a miscarriage, and lost friends who moved away. I enjoy her voice. Here's a sample, from her description of grace:
"If arithmetic is numbers, and if algebra is numbers and letters, then grace is numbers, letters, sounds, and tears, feelings, and dreams. Grace is smashing the calculator, and using all the broken buttons and pieces to make a mosaic.

Grace isn't about having a second chance; grace is having so many chances that you could use them through all eternity and never come up empty. It's when you finally realize that the other shoe isn't going to drop, ever. It's the moment you feel as precious and handmade as every star, when you feel, finally, at home for the very first time.

Grace is when you finally stop keeping score and when you realize that God never was, that his game is a different one entirely. Grace is when the silence is so complete that you can hear your own heartbeat, and right within your ribs, God's beating heart too."

This post is linked to today's Saturday Review of Books.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Poetry Friday: In the Elementary School Choir


I love Gregory Djanikian's poems, and have posted several before. (Here, here, and here.)

The poem I've chosen for today is about where home is, and about feeling at home in a place that isn't where your family originally came from. I know a lot about this subject from personal experience, having lived in several countries, and I have students who know all about it too. I love the way Djanikian describes himself in choir, singing the quintessentially American songs but conjuring up mental pictures for himself which are quite different from what the lyricists intended.

In the Elementary School Choir

by Gregory Djanikian

I had never seen a cornfield in my life,
I had never been to Oklahoma,
But I was singing as loud as anyone,
“Oh what a beautiful morning. . . . The corn
Is as high as an elephant’s eye,”
Though I knew something about elephants I thought,
Coming from the same continent as they did,
And they being more like camels than anything else.

And when we sang from Meet Me in St. Louis,
“Clang, clang, clang went the trolley,”
I remembered the ride from Ramleh Station
In the heart of Alexandria
All the way to Roushdy where my grandmother lived,
The autos on the roadway vying
With mule carts and bicycles,
The Mediterranean half a mile off on the left,
The air smelling sharply of diesel and salt.

Here's the rest of the poem.

And here's today's Poetry Friday roundup.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Links

Some good reading:

A friend sent me this blog post on the earthquake. It's a repost of what Tim Challies posted on January 14th, 2010, along with some updated thoughts on the anniversary.
"A year ago, two days after the devastating earthquake in Haiti, I took a stab at suggesting what the late Neil Postman, the author, media theorist and cultural critic, might have to say about it. I suggested that this earthquake was an example of the kind of news that surrounds us today—news that elicits emotion from us, but news we can really do nothing about. In the end, news like this is often barely distinguishable from entertainment to us."
He goes on to talk about what we can do about a disaster that we hear about on the news.

Here's Tara's beautiful post for BlogHer. An excerpt:
"The hours, days, and weeks that followed the earthquake felt entirely surreal to us. It reminded us of the movies where things that don't make any sense happen and where story lines don't always match up with reality. On one corner bodies, were being stacked by the dozens for mass removal, and on another people gathered to pray, sing, and thank God for sparing them even as multiple aftershocks shook the ground violently."

Dr. Jen has been doing "one year ago today" posts, based on her journals, photos, and memories of medical relief she did after the earthquake. (The link is to her whole blog, and I know I have already linked to individual posts, but Jen's calm, clear-eyed, compassionate descriptions are really something special.)

Normal

Life in Haiti is far from being back to normal. There are still tent cities everywhere you look, though there have been buyouts going on recently, where people are given a sum of cash to leave the tent city. There are still destroyed buildings, some of which look as though nothing at all has been done to them since January 12th.

And yet, there seems to be a new normal, the new normal everyone was talking to me about this time last year. They said that Haiti would find it, and that so would I.

Haiti's new normal isn't acceptable. People can't continue to live this way indefinitely, and yet that is exactly what I fear will happen.

But in my own life, I am definitely starting to see a new normal. I commented to a friend yesterday that I am getting annoyed with my students again, and that in a strange sort of way, this feels like progress. I'm getting back to normal.

Of course, getting back to normal is both a good thing and a bad thing. It's a good thing because nobody can live forever on the kind of intensity that I've been experiencing to varying degrees since January 12th, 2010. The deep pain, grief, and loss were devastating, and the deep love, joy, and gratitude were wonderful, but at both extremes, the strong emotions were exhausting. A couple of times I used the image of a sunburn - that's how it felt, that extra sensitivity to everything because your skin is burned.

And, of course, it's a bad thing - this getting back to normal - because I don't ever want to forget completely the huge appreciation for everyone and everything that I have experienced since the earthquake, the intense awareness of pain and suffering around me, the deepened love for the people God has put in my life. I want my new normal to include the lessons that the earthquake taught me, that life can be gone in a second, that we should let others know what they mean to us every chance we get, that God is very near.

Ordinary. I longed for it last winter. I appreciate it still. But it has to be a new normal. I can't ever forget that the earth can move, that life is heart-breakingly precious, that people are there to be loved.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Others on the Anniversary

There are so many wonderful people writing reflections about the anniversary of the earthquake. I can't link you to all of them, but here are some you have to read:

My dear friend Beth.
Super-blogger Tara.
Jillian and Frank, whom I don't know but who have both written such incredibly beautiful and perceptive posts.
Ben and Lexi.
Katie, new friend and prayer partner, and awesome teacher. And also someone who was there that night, on the soccer field.
Heather wrote about this year and last year too.
QCS alumna Chivricanna.
Another QCS alumna, Talie. (We are so proud of our alumni.)
Friend and former colleague Jess.
Dr. Jen.
Dear college friend Janet, who's never even been to Haiti but who stood in solidarity with us in prayer from the beginning.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Poetry Friday: Haiti

Haiti has been in the news this week because Wednesday was the one year anniversary of the earthquake. I've been posting about the anniversary all week. This was a year of anguish, a year of joy. A year of the most intense emotion of my life, at both extremes. And a year of poetry.

The Poetry Foundation website has video of Kwame Dawes, a Ghanaian-born poet who has been taking trips to Haiti, meeting people, and writing poems about their stories. The video is long (eleven minutes) but worth watching. It ends with one of Dawes' poems about Haiti, "Mother of Mothers." You can see it here.

Here's this week's Poetry Friday roundup.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

A Year Ago

I continue to be in "a year ago today" mode. This morning I remembered coming home after that first night, which we spent sleeping outside, on the soccer field at school. I came home to find eleven people in my yard. (Here's what I wrote about this last January.) They wouldn't come inside, and they slept out there for weeks. Most of them were relatives of an employee, but one was someone from their neighborhood. He left that morning to walk to Jacmel, to see how his family was. I've since learned that he found everyone alive and safe.

Everyone is remembering what was happening a year ago. Those first days after the earthquake were terrifying. We wondered if buildings that looked safe perhaps actually weren't. We worried about an aftershock big enough to cause more severe damage. We continued to hear about people who had died or been injured. We told our stories, again and again, and couldn't believe what we were hearing ourselves say. Was this real?

We spent some time with a friend today. A year ago tomorrow, we learned that his wife had died when the building where they lived collapsed. He told us about his experience yesterday, and how he focused on the words that the angel spoke in the resurrection story in the gospels: "Why do you seek the living among the dead?" He knew his wife was not there, in her grave, but rejoicing in Heaven on the anniversary of the earthquake. That helped him get through the day.

I know that for a few days, at least until the anniversary of the day I left Haiti for the US, I will be thinking about what happened a year ago. A year ago, I was so frightened. But a year ago, God was with me.

Another Earthquake in a Children's Book

I was reading Ramona and Her Father to my son, and came across this passage:
"Her mother said she must not annoy her father, because he was worried about being out of work. Maybe she had made him so angry he did not love her anymore. Maybe he had gone away because he did not love her. She thought of all the scary things she had seen on television - houses that had fallen down in earthquakes, people shooting people, big hairy men on motorcycles - and knew she needed her father to keep her safe."

What is with all these earthquake references in children's books? Here are the others we've already found.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Day of Mourning

Ben got it right:
"Media outlets want to talk about what isn't being done and point blame all around. However, this is what real right now - sorrow and hurt so real. A tightness in your chest. An indescribable agony at the utter magnitude of loss. A slight comfort that you know that everyone in the room is feeling it too."

The churches are packed, overflowing; people spill out onto the stairs and down into the street. There is singing to be heard everwhere. In the streets there are processions; we saw one group of two to three hundred people, all dressed in white, on their hands and knees in the road.

Lots of people are just aimlessly wandering around, though, as if they want to do something to mark this day but aren't sure what. That's how I feel. I want the day to mean something, to give some kind of explanation: Oh yeah, so that's why 300,000 people had to lose their lives all at once.

We drove down Delmas and saw building after building still in the same shape they were the morning of January 13th, 2010. Each one slaps me in the face with its broken, crumbled concrete. It says: Nothing has changed.

Banners over the road announce that various companies mark the anniversary, remember the dead. Other banners encourage mothers to nurse their babies to protect them from cholera. Tent cities spread out in every direction.

I am so grateful to be alive, so grateful that my husband and children are alive. And so overwhelmed with grief.

One Year

Here is my story from January 12th, 2010.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Sad

I just wrote "January 13th" on my white board in my classroom, because tomorrow is a day of mourning to commemorate the earthquake of January 12th, 2010. On January 12th last year I wrote the same thing on the board right before I left the room. That date remained on the wall until the day that board was taken down. Writing "January 13th" was not easy today.

I feel desperately, desperately sad. I grieve the losses of life, property, and hope. Thirty-five seconds took so much from this country. Tomorrow we will remember that day, relive the memories, grieve for those we will not see again until Heaven.

We will never forget.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Your Heavenly Father Knows Your Needs

This week will mark one year since the earthquake. I don't know why anniversaries should be any more difficult than other days, but the twelfth of each month has been a struggle.

I have a perpetual calendar with a verse for each day. The verse for January 12th is
Your heavenly Father knows your needs. He will always give you all you need from day to day. Luke 12:30-31 TLB
I don't remember reading this on January 12th but I must have. When I got back to Haiti after my six months in the United States, the calendar was on January 16th, telling me two things. First, that I read the verse each day until I left Haiti, and second, that my husband left it the way it was the day I left the country.

Those days were the worst of my life, and yet God really did know my needs. That first night, when my kids were hungry, there was food for them. (Crackers, and some spaghetti.) When we needed a place to sleep, there was the soccer field. When I couldn't sleep, there were people to pray and cry with. When I was terrified by the constant aftershocks and the screaming, God was there. He was there for me, and my husband was there for me, and we were there for the kids, and I didn't fall apart.

The next night, when I couldn't sleep at all, God was with me. The next morning when I needed encouragement, the people in my yard read scripture with me and we sang and I felt comforted. On Thursday God brought more refugees to encourage and distract us. And the third night, I was on the internet with a friend in California who had been through earthquakes too, and who talked me down from a panic attack on Facebook chat.

We had water, and food, and when a doctor came and asked for medicine, I had that too, though I didn't know where most of it came from. He said my medicine cabinet was like a pharmacy.

I still can't talk about those days without crying, or the day when we went to the United States, and someone handed me boarding passes and warm clothes and someone else pressed money into my hands and before I knew it, there I was with my children and my parents and I was alive and I finally slept through the whole night. I'm crying now as I write this, overwhelmed by how afraid I was and yet by how much God blessed me.

He continued to bless me, to give me all I needed from day to day. He gave me friends and they called and emailed and took me to lunch at just the right time. He gave me work to do. He gave me just enough strength for each day - no more - so that I fell into bed each night exhausted, wondering if I could do it one more day. He gave me a church family that took me in. He gave my children safe schools to be in and friends. He gave me plenty to eat.

Why me, why us? So many died, and God loved them too. Why did all my family survive? I don't know; I can't explain it. It's too much, too hard for me to understand. Why did I have food and water and a place to sleep inside; why did I have a US passport? I don't know. I don't deserve any of those things, any more than any Haitian who still sleeps in a tent. I have to trust Him to meet their needs too, and in some cases, to use me to do it.

He knew my needs. And He still does. Each day, He knows. And I do my best to help others with their needs. But I am just muddling along; I don't know what I am doing. I don't think I'll ever trust myself again to know what to do in a crisis, but I do know that I can trust Him.

This week I will, inevitably, relive those days. I'm sure I will have many conversations with others who will be reliving them too. We will shed many tears. We don't understand any of this. We have no explanations. But we know that God knows our needs.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Poetry Friday: Something So Right

I've been writing poems this week but I almost forgot Poetry Friday! I've got nothing profound this week. I'm back at school, but I've been sick half the week, and so have been doing the minimum. My mind is focused on the big anniversary coming up next week but I can't really think about that today, because there's too much else to do. So here are some lyrics from Paul Simon. This song reminds me that there is much in my life that is so right. Even in the middle of all the confusion and pain of Haiti, one year after the earthquake, so much is right and I am grateful.


Something So Right
by Paul Simon

You've got the cool water
When the fever runs high
You've got the look of lovelight in your eyes
And I was in crazy motion
'til you calmed me down
It took a little time
But you calmed me down

When something goes wrong
I'm the first to admit it
I'm the first to admit it
And the last one to know

When something goes right
Well it's likely to lose me, mm
It's apt to confuse me
It's such an unusual sight
Oh, I can't, I can't get used to something so right
Something so right

They've got a wall in China
It's a thousand miles long
To keep out the foreigners they made it strong
And I've got a wall around me
That you can't even see
It took a little time
To get next to me

When something goes wrong
I'm the first to admit it
I'm the first to admit it
And the last one to know
when something goes right
Well it's likely to lose me, mm
It's apt to confuse me
because it's such an unusual sight
Oh, I swear, I can't get used to something so right
Something so right

Some people never say the words "I love you"
It's not their style
to be so bold
Some people never say those words "I love you"
But like a child they're longing to be told, mm

When something goes wrong
I'm the first to admit it
I'm the first to admit it
And the last one to know
when something goes right
Well it's likely to lose me, mm
It's apt to confuse me
because it's such an unusual sight
I swear, I can't, I can't get used to something so right
Something so right

hmmmmm, ooohhhhh,
Something so right





Here's today's Poetry Friday roundup.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

The Last Word (Love Was Here First)

by Carolyn Arends

Bad day in the garden, Eve fell for the lie
Now we just keep falling one lie at a time
It seems like forever we’ve been under this curse
But love was here first

Now everything’s broken and everything fails
We can’t quite imagine that love will prevail
We’ve got to remember when the bad goes to worse
Love was here first

‘Cause there will be a day
When the kingdom comes
When love has finished all that it’s begun
When we’re face to face
We will know for sure
Love’s gonna have the last word
Love’s gonna have the last word

Bad day on the hillside, or so it seemed
When love was surrendered and nailed to a tree
But the grave came up empty and death was reversed
‘Cause love was here first

A bad day in the garden could not erase
All that was started with original grace
And though we have wandered, we will find if we search
Love was here first

© 2009 Running Arends Music/ASCAP

A Year Later, Haiti Struggles Back

New York Times article.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Crazy Love

I just finished book #1 of 2011, Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God, by Francis Chan. Many people I know have read this book lately, and when a friend gave it to me for Christmas I was curious enough to start in on it right away. It's a quick read, though well worth reading again to ponder the points Francis Chan makes.

The "crazy love" of the title refers to God's love for us, but also our love for Him, and for others. I have written before that last year I felt I started to get a glimpse of how much God really loves me. It's an amazing thought.
"The very fact that a holy, eternal, all-knowing, all-powerful, merciful, fair and just God loves you and me is nothing short of astonishing. The wildest part is that Jesus doesn't have to love us. His being is utterly complete and perfect, apart from humanity. He doesn't need me or you. Yet He wants us, chooses us, even considers us His inheritance (Eph. 1:18). The greatest knowledge we can ever have is knowing God treasures us. . . . The irony is that while God doesn't need us but still wants us, we desperately need God but don't really want Him most of the time. He treasures us and anticipates our departure from this earth to be with Him - and we wonder, indifferently, how much we have to do for Him to get by."

Chan talks about how short life is; that's something the earthquake taught me very memorably. I hope others can come to the same realization without having to be in a natural disaster. He describes what life would be like if we were truly obsessed with God; not serving Him out of duty but out of pure love, crazy love. He even gives us a chapter full of examples, and how cool is it that each person he highlights is completely different from every other?
"Imagine if you opened up a drawer in your kitchen and found twenty cheese graters but no other utensils. Not very helpful when you're looking for something to eat your soup with. Just as there are different utensils in the kitchen that serve diverse functions, God has created unique people to accomplish a variety of purposes throughout the world."

This was a great book to start out the year and I highly recommend it to anyone who is serious about living for God, even if that ends up looking crazy to other people.

This book made me think of Steven Curtis Chapman's song "Something Crazy." Here it is:

Books Read in 2010

Books 1-3
Book 4
Books 5-8
Books 9-12
Books 13-17
Books 18 & 19
Books 20-22
Books 23-25
Books 26-28
Books 29-32
Books 33-36
Books 37-41
Book 42
Books 43-46
Book 47
Books 48-50
Books 51-53
Book 54
Books 55 & 56
Books 57 & 58
Books 59-61
Books 62 & 63
Book 64
Book 65
Book 66

Here are lists of what other people read last year.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Haiti Without Walls

New York Times opinion piece by Kettly Mars.

Voyage of the Dawn Treader (Movie Comments, with Spoilers)

Now it can be told. I am back home in Haiti, so I can reveal to my readers that I spent the last two weeks in the United States. Somehow I was too paranoid to tell you that until I was safely home.

While I was in the States, I went to see the new Narnia movie. Until I got the chance to do that, I was avoiding reviews, such as this one and this one. After seeing it I went and read those two reviews and basically agreed with what they had to say.

The movie, while visually beautiful, was not the same story as the book. I get it that movies are a different medium from books, and that changes have to be made. I don't even mind changes that make sense. (Here's what I had to say about the changes the movie-makers thought necessary in the Prince Caspian movie.) But I don't like changes that make no sense, and that turn the story into something completely different.

After the earthquake, when I couldn't focus long enough to read anything for several weeks, I chose The Voyage of the Dawn Treader as my first book. I remember reading it for the first time at the age of seven and have read it many, many times since. It was an important part of my childhood and the development of my imagination. So I wasn't at all neutral about the way I wanted the story portrayed. There were certain scenes I couldn't wait for: chiefly, Eustace being un-dragoned, the Dufflepuds, and the Dark Island.

First, what I loved. The opening scene, when the children go into the picture, was fabulous. Reepicheep was wonderful. The friendship between Reepicheep and Eustace, while already in the book, was expanded in the movie. Eustace was terrific. The Dawn Treader itself looked exactly right. I loved the house on the Dufflepuds' island. The final scene, where Reepicheep rises on the wave in his coracle, was perfect. And it was great to see the homage to Pauline Baynes during the credits.

Next, what I didn't love. Green miasma? Huh? Where did it come from? What did it mean? Why did it eat people in boats and then later those people reappeared after a sea monster who was really Edmund's fears got killed? (And again, huh? There's so much wrong with that, I don't even know where to start.) Why was Lord Bern cowering in prison? Why create a new character, Gail, and then give her nothing to do except hero-worship Lucy? (I get it that there are too few female characters in this book with any real significance, but how does this help?) Why was the whole Dufflepud scene glossed over so quickly, with most of the humor taken out of it? Why was Eustace just zapped back into being a boy? Why was the entire significance of the Dark Island ruined? Why did seven swords have to be collected and laid on the table?

What I've seen with my students is that once a book is made into a movie, it's ruined for them as a literary experience. I often read a book after I see the movie, fascinated to see the differences between the two. I don't read entirely for plot, so knowing what is going to happen is not a problem for me. But my students either assume they already know what's going to happen in the book if they have seen the movie, and therefore don't think reading it is worth their while at all, or they pretend they read it, and use what they saw in the movie to muddle their way through class discussions. So although I was looking forward to seeing the movie, I was already mourning the loss of a certain kind of reading experience for my students. But then when I saw the way the movie-makers changed the story, I felt even sadder. This is what a whole generation (or more) of kids will think this book is. And it's not.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Theme Day - Best of 2010

Being the first day of the month, today is also a Daily Photo Theme Day. Today's theme is the best photo of 2010. Here you can see thumbnails of the participants' photos.

Haiti's Year of Crisis

Article here.