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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Tales of the 5th/6th Grade Book Club: As Brave As You-- Week 4

Yesterday the group met to discuss Chapters 8-11 of As Brave As You.

Below I will recount what we discussed and how the meeting went without identifying any of the children, but please note that this is merely 1 of multiple meetings over which we will discuss the entire book. To access the full series of posts, use the 5th/6th gr book club tag.

Now on to the discussion:

  • Last week we met Grandpop’s birds in his inside outside room. This week we learned they were named for the Jackson 5, and we saw the littlest one, Michael Jackson, die.
    • As one kid said, "Michael Jackson, we barely knew you.”
    • We talked about how while Genie did actually poison MJ, it was an honest accident. None of us knew that apple seeds would kill a bird. 
    • The kids were intrigued that the real Michael Jackson is dead too. And that, in a way, the person died be being”poisoned” too. 
    • Someone brought up that Genie learned that barn swallows are often seen to symbolize and honor the dead. Genie is worried that Grandpop saw MJ as a symbol for Wood.
    • But, someone else added, we don’t known if Grandpop knows that.
    • It is similar to the broken truck. Genie is worried how Grandpop will react but we have no idea.
  • What about Genie and Ernie’s idea to go to the old yellow house and catch a bird to replace the dead MJ without telling Grandpa?
    • There will definitely be a problem with that.
    • They might get a bird and replace MJ but Grandpop will figure it out.
    • Lying won’t work. This is a kids’ book. They won’t get away with it.
    • Something bad will happen while they are in the house.
    • When they go and try, it will get “interesting.”
    • They will have an adventure for sure. And we get to read about it.
  • Is Genie really “bad luck” like he thinks?
    • He is a city boy living in the country. His city ways don’t work here. They cause problems and make him think he has bad luck.
    • We talked at length about this aspect. Since our group is made up of all “city kids,” they are really feeling the fish out of water aspect of this novel. This came up later too.
  • Why did Grandpop cry when Genie took him outside?
    • He missed it so much.
    • He knows he is outside and can’t see it. It is really hitting him.
    • The other parent leader added, “I think his crying is for something deeper, something we don’t know about yet.”
    • We all thought about this. He did seem very emotional and insisted on changing the subject.
    • We agreed to file this observation away for later.
  • Tess’s Mom!
    • We finally met her.
    • She is mentally ill but not in a scary way, in an odd way.
    • Genie tells Tess he thinks she is a hypochondriac. But we talked about how it is more complicate than that.
    • She isn’t mean, she is just weird.
    • She is so different from what all of us would think of as a “mom.”
    • She's the opposite of Tess and Crab in every way.
    • But it is clear both Tess and Crab love her and care for her well being but maybe the fact that they stay away from her so much makes her worse- she is ill yes, but also wants their attention.
  • One of our participants is very interested in how Genie’s questions relate to the entire story. [rightly so] She brought a few up. She started with one on page 177- “How do birds heal themselves? How can you be trapped and safe at the same time?”
    • So I asked them-- who in this book is trapped and safe?
    • Tess’ mom for sure. Her condition keeps her trapped at home but Tess and Crab keep her safe.
    • Grandpop
    • The Jackson 5 birds [except MJ who died]
    • Genie’s parents
    • Even Genie and Ernie are trapped. Trapped in the country, but safe.
    • Then the adults added-- aren’t lots of people trapped and safe at the same time. Adults have to decide how much risk to take. Life is about navigating this big question. How to live but still be safe.
  • Another question from page 163 is about how everyone’s point of view is different. We talked about that in relation to different characters. The same events and situations are seen differently by the different characters.
  • The Flea Market!
    • This was another instance when our city kid readers felt out of place. None of them knew what a flea market was nor had they been to one.  They had all been to Farmer’s Markets or craft fairs but nothing like this.
    • We talked about the place and what they bought and then moved on to Bink.
    • Grandma tells Genie that Bink sells “Good Luck.”
    • Genie thinks he has bad luck. We predict he will go back next time to buy some of Bing’s Good Luck.
    • But what would good luck be that you could buy? Predict.
      • a pill that you think will work but is really nothing
      • compliments
      • he is going to be selling a thing of some kind.
  • We ended by talking about how everyone mentioned that the story felt like it was building to something big.
    • I pointed out that it is clear that in this section we have now been introduced to all of the key players and places. It is time for the book to move up to the big event quickly.
    • The kids took turns speculating on what was going to happen, conflict wise.
      • On the back cover, one of Genie’s questions is about why a good dog would bite someone. Prediction that Samantha will bite someone. Maybe Ernie. Ernie did buy Samantha a bite toy at the flea market.
      • Something is going to happen with the gun. Crab and Grandpop talked about making Ernie a man on this birthday. His birthday is soon-- July 4th. That’s already a big day. 
      • The yellow house is going to be where a big secret is uncovered. It is Grandpop’s childhood home.
      • The dead bird! They will replace MJ but they will be found out too.
      • What about their parents? Will they work out their problems.  Things were weird on the phone for sure.
      • We all need to keep reading....
Next week the group will be discussing chapters 12-14 [pages 212-69]; however I will be in South Carolina running a training during the next book club meeting.  So the reports will be back here on the blog in 2 weeks.

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