Thursday, June 16, 2011

Naomi's Tree by Joy Kogawa

I read quite a few educator blogs. One of the big challenges this summer is for bloggers to read a book a day. Donalyn Miller, author of The Book Whisperer, started this, I think. She has suggested this in summers past, but this summer, I keep feeling this nudge to try it. And each time I feel the inner nudge, a much-larger voice says, "Don't you dare!!"

I mean seriously, how in the world can I read a book a day? I am so close to overload right now, preparing for a graduate course I am in the middle of teaching and dealing with issues at school, preparing for our two teen guests that arrive Saturday for a week (!!!!!) and attempting to process through some unfinished personal work, not to mention parent and partner and be a human with a life. What?? A book a day??

So the only way I can figure out how to do that is by letting myself off the hook. Not read a book EVERY day but as much as I can AND expand what I write up here. Alysa and I have gotten quite caught up in the transition of the end of the school year, and we haven't written as much on this blog. Here is my plan: read what I can-- but definitely more than I have been. Include picture books-- and maybe graphic novels-- in kitty of to-be-read books. Let myself off the hook and view this as an adventure, not just a HAVE TO. And see what happens when I blog more, reviewing the books I read. Even a short blog....hmmm, there is that "see what happens" thinking. I feel better already!

Ahhh, okay: my book of the day: Naomi's Tree. I love the cover of this book. The artwork is gorgeous, and I could totally see using it with young and adult learners. I can particularly see using it within my Courage and Renewal facilitation, another arena where I love to include picture books. The storyline explores Japanese immigrants who moved to Vancouver, BC right before WWII, where a Japanese family immigrates, only to be separated and sent away because of the war. The book then fast forwards to the grown children, who carry the emotional questions of their mother's life and theirs before the war. They return to their childhood home to discover the cherry tree, still alive and yet aged, to confirm their recollections of childhood. The cherry tree serves as a central character, though quiet for much of the book, and the brother and sister find their tree from childhood still as wise and present as they had held in their memories.

I enjoyed the simple, detailed message within this book. It is somewhat autobiographical, and offers yet another lens into the trials and losses caused by war and survived by people. I really enjoyed it.

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