365 Days of Earrings

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Dec. 30: Children's Literature Connections

I could not believe my eyes when I spotted this pair of fish earrings at the DC Holiday Market. Koi? Swimming in a pond!?! I didn't just want them, I needed them!

Fortunately, I was being shadowed by my daughter Kathe so that she could inform my son Willem if I found a pair of earrings that I wanted. He bought them, marveling that this could be the pair. Goldfish? Really? Oh, the ecomystery. It's about goldfish this year?

In March 2012, I'll be leading an all-school program about Japanese koi, our annual culture study ecomystery. If my year of earrings were not ending this month, I'd be saving this pair for that morning in March. It's hard to let go of this year's mindset that I have to save my earrings for the perfect day.

But they were a gift from my son Willem, so I wore them on a day when we planned to go to see a movie together.

In the morning, I read some of Grace Lin's 2009 children's novel, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, which tells the story of a Chinese girl's quest, magic carp, a dragon, and mysterious inscriptions.

Too bad Grace Lin's ancestry is Chinese, rather than Japanese. What fun it would be to use her novel as the basis for my ecomystery. 2012 will be the Year of the Dragon in both China and Japan. Koi, the ornamental fish bred in Japan, evolved from carp that were introduced from China as a food fish. I could go on, and on. Because each year's ecomystery becomes a massive research project for me.

I picked up this book at the library because of the dragon on the cover, and my 3rd grade class recently finished writing fantasy adventure stories containing dragons. Carp!?! Magic carp??? Could I weave that element into my ecomystery?

Wearing my koi earrings, I headed off to see Martin Scorcese's movie, Hugo, closely based on another children's book I read earlier this month, The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick. A great story which reveals some of the early history of filmmaking to young readers. A fun film, but, as Willem says, flawed, dwelling on certain images rather than developing the historical figures that we wanted to learn more about.

Something for me to ponder. Does children's literature too often skim the surface of the author's research and knowledge, leaving children missing the deep meanings the author intended to convey?

1 comment:

Ruth said...

So interestinqg to read your blog 2 months late, Amy. I think "Hugo" book won a Caldecott Award and now all those Oscar nominations. I'm looking forward to movie and am enjoying catching up with you since the bike trip last summer.