Writer’s Notebook Wednesday

Today, while outside for a fire drill, I noticed that it is almost December. It is cold.  Frigid, almost.  Considering that the temperature on Thanksgiving was a balmy 65 degrees, today’s high of 40 degrees seems practically Arctic.  I notice the red noses on my students and the I’m-freezing-cold-can-we-please-go-in-now(whyisthistakingsolong) hoppity-dance they are doing to keep warm.  The leaves are no longer on the trees and the ground is cold and hard; finally frozen, brown , and dreary.  As I look around, the cold air on my skin and the chattering teeth I hear behind me remind me that Christmas is drawing nearer and winter is here for the long haul.  This gives me the idea that winter and cold will be surrounding me for a while and I should get used to it.  

Some people view winter as the dead time of the year, the low point in the wheel of seasons. Not so, says I. Look around you- the heartbeat of winter beats all around us. Notice the deer hoof prints in the newly fallen snow and imagine the small family scampering across the backyard in the dusky twilight. See the scarlet red flash of a cardinal as it alights from the snowy ground. Listen to the ‘chirp chirp’ of the winter birds as they eat at the birdfeeder. Taste the hot cocoa, with whipped cream and peppermint, as it passes over your lips. Feel the nip of the cold air as it chills your nose. Feel the warmth of the fleece gloves and scarf that you wrap yourself in to shield against the cold. See the snow-white moon in the navy blue sky, with the lone bright star shining in the distance.

 

Winter is beautiful. Stop, look around, appreciate it. Soak in the cold air and the bright sunlight. Relax under a blanket next to a warm, crackling fire. The wheel of seasons has been turning since time began and will keep turning when our time is up; now is our time to be a part of it.

Tuck Everlasting….continued

In class, we have been doing a close reading of “Tuck Everlasting” for the last few days.  We re-read the Prologue and Chapter 1, annotating when necessary.  It is so amazing to hear my students say, “Wow!  I didn’t even realize that circle had meaning the first time I read it!”  I think they are starting to understand the need to sometimes re-read parts of a book, especially when you want to clarify certain points or respond to the book in writing.  This is a skill they will need to hone as they move through the middle school and high school and one they aren’t explicitly taught at any grade level.  I am having so much fun with it! 

Today, we read an excerpt from “Circling Tuck: An Interview with Natalie Babbitt” from Horn Book in 2000.  The interview is wonderful and Babbitt shares a lot of great information with the readers.  My students loved that fact that Babbitt admits that Man in the Yellow Suit only wears a yellow suit because she needed a two syllable word and “nobody wears purple”.  Throughout the book, my students could not figure out why Babbitt has the man wear a yellow suit when yellow usually symbolizes happiness or sunshine.  Needless to say, they think it is hysterical that there is such a practical reason for the color of his suit.

They also loved the fact that Babbitt chose the last name Tuck because in the past, tuck meant life.  This information gave a whole new perspective to the book and the themes that run through it.  Most students noted that this was their favorite fact in the interview.   They had no idea that words sometimes gain and lose meanings as time goes on, and tuck is a word they were previously familiar with. Hearing that an author put that much time and effort into choosing a character’s last name really fascinated them.

It was great sharing Babbitt’s interview with my class.  I could see their knowledge growing and they admitted that even though the book started slowly, they are so glad they gave it a chance because, “It really is an awesome book, Miss M.”!  YES!!!

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