Smackdown Books 2017

Arlene's smackdown17 book montage

The Memory of Things
Hour of the Bees
The Gospel Truth
Ultraman, Vol. 1
Ghost
The Bunker Diary
Echo
Trouble Is a Friend of Mine
Footer Davis Probably Is Crazy
The Hired Girl
An Ember in the Ashes
The Porcupine of Truth
Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings: A Memoir
Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans
Goodbye Stranger
Beautiful Blue World
The Blackthorn Key
One
Updraft
All American Boys
»

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Where We Avert Political Smackdown Disaster

Image result for enchanted air               Image result for memory of us polisner

Let me start by saying I lose things...the shuffle of paper, ideas chasing around in my head, dropped calls...you get the idea. Today I lost the written record of our Smackdown conversation even though I was using it last night to share with Arlene who couldn’t be present.  What does that mean for you? I will have to re-read the sectioin on memory devices in Polisner's book. What does that mean for you? Likely the difference between memoir and the cold hard facts (which was part of the conversation.)

Let me take you back… it was a gloomy afternoon, the library lights were already out and Tammy tried desperately to find out where the meeting was. I ran into her in the hallway and we begged Andrew to leave the flashy lights of the photocopier and join us for Enchanted Air vs. The Memory of Things.

Enchanted Air is a memoir in verse recounting the author’s childhood with an American dad and a Cuban mom at the time around the Cuban Missile Crisis. The Memory of Things is a coming of age story set in New York at 911.

Arlene had already voted for Enchanted Air with two comments given to me:
  1. I loved the book I think kids could draw a parallel to their experience coming from India
  2. I would never vote for your book. (The Memory of Us was a Dia selection).

We opened with Arlene’s reason and her vote for Enchanted Air.

Tammy said she was sitting on the fence because she did not want to vote either out. She loved them both. Enchanted Air was beautiful poetry and the social teacher in her loved the idea of talking to kids about what happens to ordinary people in historical situations. She thought The Memory of Things started out slow but was redeemed as it went on by the understanding that we come together in times of crisis and acknowledge that there will come a time to of letting go.

Andrew said he was the opposite. Andrew says this a lot. He did not enjoy Enchanted Air thinking that kids could not access it easily and that it was too fluffy to convey the seriousness of the time. He didn’t really love The Memory of Things either - too fluffy again (perhaps Andrew is the type to hanker for hairless cats) and too simply wrapped up. He would vote for TMoU as it was easier for kids to pick up on their own.

Then I said something shocking...I agreed with Andrew. That never happens! Both books for me were okay. I wanted more 911 less coming of age. I loved the poetry in the beginning of Enchanted Air but then found it repetitive (Arlene feels that was a choice, I do not). I also thought many of our kids would not understand the context of historical Cuban/American politics. For the same reasons as Andrew I voted TMoT.

That left Tammy who could tie it up and send us into uncharted territories as to how to break a tie since Arlene and I were on different sides.  Andrew and I said it sounds like you were more excited by Enchanted Air because of the teachable moments. She agreed. We then pounced. Then it is a Teacher Book...in order to be most valued it needs to come with a real or at least inflatable social teacher to really make it work.  She agreed and as such voted for TMoT averting our crisis (sadly we couldn’t figure out how to fix the orange troll).

Arlene came later in the evening to debrief and does disagree with Andrew, myself and to some extent Tammy about the accessibility factor. She grabbed a book to share with a student so stay tuned for the results of that experiment.


End of the dark day...Dia’s book moved on and today, for the first time in days, the sun is shining. Coincidence?

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