Thursday, January 05, 2006

Reader's Diary #2- Estelle Condra, illustrated by Linda Crockett-Blassingame: See The Ocean

When I started this blogsite I didn't intend on reviewing children's books. But here I am a few days in and I am about to do just that. The book is See The Ocean by Estelle Condra and Linda Crockett-Blassingame. I'm not reviewing this because it was flawless but because I just read it yesterday, it relates (vaguely) to the novel I'm currently reading, and it wasn't as bad as I expected. I was teaching a grade two class about sensory poems (I see, I hear, etc) and thought a good intro would be a book about a character with some sort of sensory deprivation (deafness, blindness, etc). I figured in today's agenda for pushing acceptance in the schools (somewhat) such a book would be easy to find. But no, apparently I was mistaken. One colleague remembered something about a friend of Arthur (by Marc Brown) who was visually impaired, but I couldn't find a copy. I remembered Seven Blind Mice by Ed Young, but couldn't find that either. I couldn't even find copies of those old ValueTales that were popular when I was a kid (remember the one about Helen Keller?) I was giving up on the intro idea until talking to a grade one teacher who had a book called See The Ocean that fit my requirements. Looking at the soft oil painting cover (yes, I judged a book by its cover), I was reluctant. It looked like an annoying sappy read that adults find tear-jerking but kids just find boring (ex. Robert Munsch's I'll Love You Forever). Reading it through though it wasn't without merit. I liked that the protagonist wasn't revealed as blind until the final pages. The children to whom I read took guesses as to why Nellie wasn't playing the "see the ocean" game with her brothers but no one suspected blindness. That led to an awareness that'll stick, I think. Now, that said, I love poetic language but Nellie's speech at the end was best described by Publisher's Weekly; "overwrought". Still as she rambled on and on about how the sea is like an old man, the students were interested in the accompanying illustration of the "hidden" face in the sea and the book did lead to a lesson on sensory poems quite nicely. Now, question time:

1. Is See the Ocean overwrought at the end?

2. Would See the Ocean be effective if the book (or teacher) revealed to the students at the beginning that it was about a blind girl?

3. This book is part of a new religion curriculum and recommended for grade one. Do you feel this fits in with a religion education? Do you feel grade one is an appropriate suggestion for this book?

4. Are there other popular childrens' literature with a special need that you'd recommend?

5. Should I be discussing children's literature?

6. Should I have a rating system?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the informative blog
Here Is some additional Children's Book resources for
Children's Books if you or your readers are interested