Tag Archives: family history

The families we make

17 Jul

I’ve been thinking about starting  Mock Newbery Club at my school next year. Rather than being a year-long club, it would begin in October and the students in the club would initially read off a list I suggest, but they would be free to add titles too.

One of the titles that will appear on that list is Beyond the Bright Sea  by Lauren Wolk, who wrote last year’s Newbery Honor book,  Wolf Hollow

9781101994856

Publisher’s Summary

Each new bit of information Crow learns about her origins only raises more questions. But Crow is determined as she peels away the layers of mystery to get to the heart of the matter: love makes a family.

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First Book of 2017

2 Jan

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Janet McNally’s debut novel  Girls in the Moon is an understated, nicely written novel. Phoebe, the main character isn’t faced with a big crisis; she’s just trying to figure out family history and her place in it. Her story is contrasted with vignettes narrated by her mother, Meg, that sheds light on things Phoebe wants to know.

Publisher’s Summary: Everyone in Phoebe Ferris’s life tells a different version of the truth.

Her mother, Meg, ex-rock star and professional question evader, shares only the end of the story—the post-fame calm that Phoebe’s always known. Her sister Luna, indie rock darling of Brooklyn, preaches a stormy truth of her own making, selectively ignoring the facts she doesn’t like. And her father, Kieran, the co-founder of Meg’s beloved band, hasn’t said anything at all since he stopped calling three years ago.

But Phoebe, a budding poet in search of an identity to call her own, is tired of half-truths and vague explanations. When she visits Luna in New York, she’s determined to find out how she fits in to this family of storytellers, and maybe even to continue her own tale—the one with the musician boy she’s been secretly writing for months.

This soul-searching, authentic debut weaves together Phoebe’s story with scenes from the romance between Meg and Kieran that started it all—leaving behind a heartfelt reflection on family, fame, and finding your own way.

Fields, Lakes & Gowganda

10 Sep

My mother was born in a town called Field, in northern Ontario. We used to joke that she was born in a field. Let’s just say I got my sense of humor from my dad.

She grew up speaking French and was told she’d go to Hell if she played with English kids. She started learning English when she started school. Fortunately for her, her oldest sister, my Aunt Yvette, married and English-speaking Protestant, to Mamère’s horror. Mamère had softened  by the time my mother married an English-speaking Protestant.

I got thinking about my mom’s young life as I read Out of the Woods by Rebecca Bond. It is a retelling of an episode from her grandfather’s life, and is set not far from where my mother gee up.

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Publisher’s Summary:Antonio Willie Giroux lived in a hotel his mother ran on the edge of a lake. He loved to explore the woods and look for animals, but they always remained hidden away. One hot, dry summer, when Antonio was almost five, disaster struck: a fire rushed through the forest. Everyone ran to the lake-the only safe place in town-and stood knee-deep in water as they watched the fire. Then, slowly, animals emerged from their forest home and joined the people in the water. Miraculously, the hotel did not burn down, and the animals rebuilt their homes in the forest-but Antonio never forgot the time when he watched the distance between people and animals disappear.

The book has a magical feel. Perhaps it is because of the quality of the art, which feels like old sepia photographs. Perhaps it is the quiet voice that tells this story. I just which i had been there, to see the humans and animals, gathered together in the lake.

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Although this isn’t really a personal narrative, it is the retelling of a family story, so I will set it out during my erosional narrative unit for kids to browse if inspiration is needed.

Family History

11 May

My Aunt Dorothy is the family genealogist. She has traced my ancestors past the first Gillespie’s in my family tree to come to Canada, back through all the people in England and Ireland, into the early 1700’s.

IN his new book, My Family Tree and Me,  Dušan Petričić provides a beautifully simple introduction to the concept of family ancestry.

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Front Cover               Back Cover

It uses two stories in one to explore a small boy’s family tree: the boy tells the family story of his father’s side starting from the front of the book, and that of his mother’s side starting from the back of the book. Four previous generations are introduced for each, from his great-great-grandparents to his parents. The grand finale in the center of the book reveals the boy’s entire extended family, shown in one drawing with all the members from both sides identified by their relationship to him.

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Along the similar lines is A Fine Dessert: Four Centuries, Four Families, ONe Delicious Treat, written by Emily Jenkins and illustrated by Sophie Blackall.

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This is a story about blackberry fool and how the making of the delicious dessert has changed, and remained the same, over four centuries.

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While not exactly a work of history, it is historical fiction and reminded me of the family history project we had the kids do when I last taught 7th grade. This would be a great mentor text for this kind of project because it clearly shows the connection between past and present, what has changed and what has stayed the same.

Both of these books would be excellent introductions to some aspect of family history, whether for a school project or just personal curiosity. Every family has its story to tell.

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