Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Perfect Book for November!

This Fall I put in charge of the younger children's book club at our co-op.  I looked through lists of books and read different recommendations and came up with a list of books we would read over the next 4 months. I just assigned the books to a month without much planning. I am so grateful for those that recommended Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, it really is the perfect book to discuss at Thanksgiving time.

It certainly doesn't look like a Thanksgiving book. There are no pumpkins or pilgrims and such but the theme is all about appreciating what you have and finding happiness.

Grace Lin in her acceptance speech for one of the many awards this book has won says :
"Minli is not perfect, but she tries her best and at every point she learns and grows until finally she realizes that happiness is not a prize that can be bought or won. Happiness is a gift that is cherished, something that one is truly grateful for."
That message comes through loud and clear through this story or I guess I could say stories since this book contains lots of little stories woven together to tell the entire tale.  It is sort of the Chinese Wizard of Oz with Minli traveling through a land and meeting lots of different characters and hearing their stories. In a way you could say Minli and Dorothy learn the same lesson. In the Wizard of Oz the theme is somewhat simplified  into "There is no place like home".  Minli (as well as other characters) learns that good fortune and happiness were already around her, she just needs to recognize and appreciate them.

We listened to the Audio book but am so glad I also got the actual book as well. The illustrations are beautiful! Here are a few.

I haven't quite decided how I am going to approach the book club discussion.  In the past we looked at the themes by discussing the protagonist and what they are trying to do while the antagonist tries to stop them.  That could be interesting to see if the kids could come up with who the antagonist is in this story. Or I could approach it as a discussion of the plot or story sequence and discuss the theme as we define and discuss the rising action, climax and resolution.  Or I could even do something totally different and have the kids actually talk about the similarities and differences to the Wizard of Oz story. I think if I took any of these directions,  I am sure we would discuss the book pretty thoroughly and cover the wonderful theme of the book.

I think I am going to make bookmarks for the kids with the Chinese characters for Thankfulness on them.

I really hope this is what these characters say. I just googled the phrase and this is what came up. It certainly looks good!
And of course some goldfish and a red thread or yarn on the end. Each of these things plays a role in the story.
And no book club meeting would be complete without a snack so we will eat some goldfish crackers as well.
I saw one of the girls in the club today at a different event and she had her book with her. She said she is liking it so much she has been bringing it with her so she can read more when she can fit it in. Coming from a 9 year old girl that is great praise indeed.

It should be a good book discussion.

1 comment:

Cellista said...

Thanks for the recommendation. We're studying China after Thanksgiving, so this will be perfect to get.