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Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Tales of a Fifth Grade Book Club: Part 7-- Echo Pages 401-488

Part 7 of my fifth grade book club took on a large portion of Part 3. Please refer to the other posts in this series and the discussion guide I compiled which includes a summary of ECHO.

This is our penultimate meeting and I think the kids could sense that we are almost done because they were a littlest rowdy today.  It was also the first warm day in months. Although later that evening, my son brought up book club saying, “that was a really good meeting today.” So what I thought was a bit scattered felt good to them, and that is what matters the most.
  • First thing someone said about this section-- People are racist! I think the kids hear about inequality and they know it happens but this section of the book, set in CA in 1942 hit a little close to home.
    • We talked about the Japanese internment and how Ivy has to go to the Americanization version of her school because she is Mexican even though her family has lived in America for over 100 years.
    • But Kenny (Japanese-American) and Fernando (Mexican-America) are fighting for America.
    • Later in the discussion the kids started talking about all the instances of inequality throughout the novel. We talked about how it is always seen through the kid’s eyes-- just like their eyes. We talked about how sometimes kids see injustice more clearly because they are not hindered by social pressure and they are not as tied to the way things have always been.
  • We talked about Mr. Ward-- the neighboring farm owner.  He is sad-mad-upset about his son dying.  He blames the Yamamoto’s for his son’s death at Pearl Harbor.  We talked about how we don’t like him but then compared him to Elizabeth from Part 1 and Mrs. S from part 2. We didn’t like them at all, but when we heard about the reason why they were mean, we had more sympathy.
  • We also spent some time talking about how much Ivy doesn’t know about everything that is going on. She doesn’t understand why she has to go to a different school, why the nice Yamamoto family had to be put in a camp. She wonders if they are spies. But she also is holding all of her questions in. She needs to ask someone and let out all of her anxiety.
    • The other parent told the group to use Ivy as an example of how not to be.  If you are confused about something, always ask your parents to explain. Don’t hold in all of those emotions. Talking about it will always help.
    • When Ivy asks about the Yamamoto’s her parents do explain what is going on.  Same with the school situation. They are not unwilling to explain, they are just preoccupied with some many things they don’t know Ivy has questions. She needs to ask.
    • The most awkward time she didn’t know something and made a mistake was when she asked her mom if they could get a gold star for their solider flag. Her mom was upset because that meant your solider was dead.
    • A few kids thought this scene was a foreshadowing that Fernando would die.
  • We started making a few more predictions for Ivy’s story
    • It is Christmas 1942 and Fernando’s letter says they think the war will be over soon. Unfortunately we know that it will not. The Lopez family is spending Christmas with hope that 1943 will be a good year, but we know that in terms of the war ending, it will not be what they think.
    • Mr Lopez may get too pushy about the split school. It could backfire. Remember when Friedrich’s dad got too pushy. He went to prison.  
    • A few kids are worried about what will happen when Kenny comes back which is due to happen next in the story. Most thought it would not be good.
    • Kenny and Mr Lopez will get along well.  Kenny will be sad that his family was forced out but happy to have Mr; Lopez keep the farm running until they are allowed home again.
    • But Kenny and Mr. Ward, those 2 the kids are worried about, rightfully so. Even the kids understand the hurt, sadness, and anger both will be bringing to any interaction. A fight was predicted, and the kids noted that if the police get involved, Kenny, as a Japanese American, will be treated unfairly.
    • Maybe Ivy will save the day with her harmonica!
  • Speaking about the harmonica, let’s talk about it more.
    • Ivy playing for the for the orchestra was amazing. She felt dirty and sick on page 462 because that’s what the regular school said about the kids at the Annex but then on page 470, a main school teacher used words like “beauty and light” to describe Ivy’s playing. The words we use matter. The harmonica brought Ivy what she needed to hear.
    • Teaching Susan is a nice way for Ivy to feel good about herself.
    • Will the kids get jealous of Ivy because she is so good? Will they be even meaner?
  • We talked about how Ivy is currently holding 3 families together-- her own, the Wards, and the Yamamotos.  That is a lot to carry for a young girl.  We are feeling like she is about to fall over with the burden.
    • Kids are not optimistic based on how so many bad things are piling up and how the other parts of the novel all ended with an ominous cliff hanger.
    • Maybe someone can have a happy ending. Please.....
  • As we were ending I reminded the kids that next time we would have all finished the book, so this was our last chance to make predictions about how it will end.
    • One kid said, I miss Mike, I hope he comes back at the end.
    • We talked about how old everyone is “now”- 1942.  Friedrich was 12 in 1933 so he is 21 and Mike was 12 in 1935 so he is 19. Ivy is 12. Otto is approximately 50.
    • How old will they each be when they get together, if they get together? 
    • The harmonica will bring them together. But how?
      • They will all meet in a magical forest with Otto and they will all be 12 again.
      • A forest will come into play when they meet somehow but they will be their own age.
      • They will all bond over the harmonica somewhere, somehow....I hope.
Only 1 meeting left. 

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