Friday, October 31, 2014

¡Viva la Herencia Hispana!

At Paideia we're winding up our month-long recognition of Hispanic Heritage Month with the Día de los Muertos celebration on Saturday.

Last year at the el día de los muertos celebration, the Literary Greats altar created by Claire, fabulous founding leader of the high school book club, won the $50 3rd prize. Pizza at Book Club!!


In the high school last week, LASSO (the Latino student group) created a 'Flag Garden' in front of the high school building to represent Latino/Hispanic countries of origin in the Paideia community.  Ninety-two flags, representing 78 students and 16 countries populate the garden, with Mexico (25), Cuba (14) and Colombia (10) comprising the majority.  Also in the garden are flags of Guatemala, El Salvador, Dominican Republic, Spain, Uruguay, Honduras, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Peru, Argentina and Costa Rica.  Eight Paideia faculty members are represented by 6 country flags.  The flag garden will be on display through this weekend.

Officially, Hispanic Heritage month is September 16 (the real Mexican independence day) to October 15, but since the Latin American Parents' big event is for El Día de los Muertos (and usually held on the Saturday closest to November 1), we get 6 weeks each year.

I get a kick out of fiction that is somehow directly related to real events and situations, so the ¡Herencia! display this year was themed "FACT --> FICTION," and paired non-fiction titles with novels on similar themes.  One of my favorites is the quinceañera pairing :

 ¡Quinceañera! The Essential Guide by Michele Salcedo;  Cuba 15 by Nancy Oso

 Always Running: La Vida Loca  by Luis J. Rodriguez ; 
Parrot in the Oven: Mi Vida  by Victor Martinez

October begins with Grandparents Day on a Friday, and the school-wide BBQ & Square Dance on Saturday.  The annual Library Book Sale takes place during both events. What fun!  This year we got a number of strong additions to the Novelas in Español collection.  

I always enjoy the brain-exercise of seeing how titles are translated from English to other languages, and vice versa.  Como Agua para Chocolate/ Like Water for Chocolate  and Juego de Tronos/ Game of Thrones are exact translations.  On the other hand,  Correr o Morir ("to run or to die," or Run or Die) is a pretty accurate description of the plot, but a whole lot more Shakespearean than the English title, The Maze Runner

Happy Halloween today.  Tomorrow, remember and honor all those who have come before us on All Souls Day, the Day of the Dead.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

High School Book Club:
The Night Circus by Erin Morganstern

The high school Book Club met yesterday after school to discuss our first book of the year, The Night Circus  by Erin Morganstern.  Most people enjoyed the book, but nobody raved.  Some of the ideas and questions we discussed were:

- how did you imagine the circus?  for folks who have been to a Cirque du Soleil show, did anything seem similar? (to me, the high concept, lack of lions, and the dreamlike quality of the Night Circus reminded me a lot of the Cirque shows I've seen)

- how did the magicians Alexander and Hector serve as father figures? Did they really care about Marco and Celia?  Were they likeable characters? (Hector was universally disliked, Alexander had slightly higher ratings)

- what does the book have to say about the power of storytelling?

There were a few areas where members thought the book was a bit weak, telling more than showing, especially the supposed passion between Marco and Celia.  The Bailey plotline was a little skimpy and mystifying, as was the existence of Isabel. Several thought that Isabel should have figured out years earlier that Marco didn't love her back.

The meaning of the deaths of Tara Burgess and Friedrich Thiessen wasn't clear.  Did Alexander intentionally cause Tara to die, because she was asking inconvenient questions?  It seemed that way, and was building toward Alexander being a truly sinister character covering up a bad thing about the circus, but that goes absolutely nowhere.  Then, the death of Thiessen comes out of nowhere, doesn't connect with how Tara died, and was equally mystifying. We felt those elements were hanging threads that never connected and weren't tied up.

We also talked about magic, illusion and reality.  We liked the fact that Morganstern's magic was everyday, and that anyone could do it if properly trained.  Marco didn't have innate magic but was clever and persistent.  

We watched the following short clips and talked about them.  Turns out several club members have participated in NaNoWriMo -- Alex has even written two full novels, and is working on a middle-grades novel this November!

~ ~ ~

Interview with author Erin Morganstern

Watch on YouTube 

What is NaNoWriMo???
National Novel Writing Month, shortened as NaNoWriMo is an annual internet-based creative writing project that takes place during the month of November. NaNoWriMo challenges participants to write 50,000 words of a new novel from November 1 until the deadline at 11:59PM on November 30.

Excerpts from Author talk

Watch on YouTube

Pre-publication book trailer

Watch on YouTube

The New York Times book review
The Washington Post book review