Thursday, December 11, 2014
Aviary Wonders vs. Falling into Place
AWI is a beautifully rendered catalogue reading like some of the catalogues that have been clogging my mailbox this festive season. What is it selling? Birds. Why? Because this is a catalogue from the future...you know the one without any birds. When I constantly ask the readers and writers in my class SO WHAT? to make them hone in on author message I might use this book as a mentor text. The illustrations are beautiful and yes, Andrew, many of our students may miss the point and they will need guidance to get there but in this case it is worth it.
Next book was Falling into Place and I definitely knew I had left the clever work of pictures behind to join what has to be the worst high school on the planet. First time author (who wrote this in high school) Zhang tells the story of Liz a high school student who is going to kill herself because...because she is a very mean girl. She has hooked one best friend on drugs and pressed her other best friend to get an abortion. She's also made out with the boyfriend that got the girlfriend pregnant. Liz drinks, does drugs, bullies people into suicide, pregnancy, eating disorders and social isolation. She does this because her mom is absent, obviously the teachers are absent (pet peeve for me) and her dad died in an accident she feels she caused when she was much younger. Would kids read this....yup it reads like an episode of any high school soap you could mention. The condensed mayhem for me was too much. I hope Zhang takes her promise as a writer and lets life experience help her control her stories more in the future.
Aviary Wonders Inc. gets my vote.