Monday, July 8, 2013

Jen Bryant - A Conundrum

I have three books in my "new" pile to write about... and they're all by Jen Bryant which is causing me a huge conundrum!  Do I write about them in one entry?  

Nope.  But let me write about two today...

The first book is Georgia's Bones.  It's a wonderful book about Georgia O'Keefe.  Listen to the first lines:
As a child, shapes often drifted
in and out of Georgia's mind.
Curved and straight, round or square, 
she studied them, and let them disappear.

The way Jen Bryant takes us on a "collection of words" about Georgia O'Keefe's life is gentle and spirited.  Even though the book is "fiction," you gather a sense of Georgia O'Keefe's innate curiosity and sensitivity to the natural world.  And Bethanne Andersen blends her illustrations with Ms. Bryant's words almost magically.  As I read it, I felt like I was learning about a part of Georgia O'Keefe's life that I never knew.

How will I use it?  I might use it in a study of "Stamina and Endurance."  Or I might use it to introduce the concept of "Noticings" as we work in our writer's notebooks.  Or I might use in a study of lyrical nonfiction.  Or I might use it during a study of "Line Lifts" to nudge our writing.

• • • • • • • • • 

The second book is Abe's Fish.  This will go into my classroom collection of "Books about Abe Lincoln."  Listen to this writing:
The late-day sun warmed Abe's back and 
deepened the red of a ripe apple that hung
by the roadside, just out of reach.  Abe tried
three times to poke it down with a stick, 
but the apple refused to drop.

I wish I was tall! he thought

Ms. Bryant takes us on a childhood journey of Abraham Lincoln's life that is eloquent and poignant.  Freedom.  The ending pages are breathtaking.  I loved that it focused not on his presidency, but on his childhood.  The author's notes at the end of the book are an example of superb nonfiction writing.  Amy June Bates has illustrated the books beautifully.

How will I use it?  I might use as a "cousin" text to my other Lincoln books.  Or I might use it in a study of "Stamina and Endurance."  Or I might use it in a study of "Evoking Sensory Images."  Or I might use it as an example of "mixing narrative in a nonfiction study." 

• • • • • • • • • 

Jen Bryant is an talented writer.  We loved her River of Words about William Carlos Williams.  She's bringing nonfiction to young readers in the most interesting and breathtaking ways.  Her ability to blend "fiction" with "nonfiction" is the exact kind of book I like to read... it causes me pause.  It makes me reread.  It makes me notice.  It makes me want to read more.  It makes me want to learn more.  Dare I say her writing deserves a closer read?

So what's the rest of my conundrum?  I'll mention that in my next "Jen Bryant" post...

1 comment:

  1. Your post has me anxious to read the Jen Bryant books. I loved reading your thoughts and the possibilities for lessons. By the way I also love your book, Conferring. I read it and reread it over the past two summers. My thinking and approach to conferring is forever changed as a result. Thank you!