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Wednesday, March 8, 2017

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

[Please note, there was no post for Week 5, Chapter 12-14 because I was traveling and someone else led the discussion.]

Yesterday the group met to discuss Chapters 15-17 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:

  • I started with my best Thomas Jefferson impression and asked the kids, “What’d I Miss?” I was out last week and the other two leaders had to miss this week, so it was up to the kids to fill me in. Interestingly, they mentioned guilt.
    • We talked a lot about guilt
    • We talked about the characters who all fell guilt.
    • And even more interestingly, I noted, guilt was huge in this section too. And this is not the first week we talked about guilt.
    • Maybe, I asked them, we should think about guilt as a big theme in this book? But what should we think about guilt? Well, that we will need to finish the book to find out.
  • The big event in this penultimate section of the book was Ernie’s birthday and his attempt at shooting a gun. Spoiler, it goes badly, but not in the way you might think. No one is shot. The gun’s kick back knocks out his front teeth. So we switch from guilt to blame. The kids started talking about who to blame. We started listing who blames themselves:
    • Grandpa- he obviously blames himself the most.
    • Ernie blames himself for not admitting that he was too scared to try shooting the gun.
    • Crab has a lot of blame here.
    • Even grandma and Tess blame themselves
    • Someone mentioned that the parents will also blame themselves for leaving kids. And for sure Ernie Sr will blame grandpa.
    • I asked them, you are forgetting one big person who thinks he is to blame-- Genie someone said. Yes. He thinks it is his fault for being too eager for Ernie to shoot even though he knew Ernie didn’t want to. Remember he had been thinking of himself as bad luck for a while.
  • This long list of blame, I asked them, the fact that we made this long list so easily, what does that say about blame.?Is blaming worth it? They were silent. I said, I don’t think this is something you can answer today. I think it is a big, life question.
  • One girl said, it also shows that blame for accidents is very complicated. It’s not just the last person’s fault before something bad happens. This situation shows that the story leading up to the accident goes back a long way.
  • Before we moved on to a new topic someone said-- it must be really bad to be Grandpop. He caused Wood’s death, his living son is still mad at him, he hurt his oldest grandkid, grandma is mad at him. That’s a lot to carry.
    • He is taking this latest accident very hard.
    • Again with the guilt. He has too much.
    • He took the gun apart and left it apart. He didn’t want to put it back together for the first time ever. That’s a really big deal.
    • He is in pieces like the gun.
    • He stays in the inside out room all the time. He won’t talk to anyone.
  • Someone raised a hand and said-- How are we going to solve all of this big problems in the little bit of time we have left for the story?
    • We are starting to understand how Ernie Sr’s anger kept growing all these years too. It all keeps building.
  • Now on to Dr. Binks the man who sells good luck at the flea market in the form of teeth! It is not just a coincidence that the guy who sells the teeth is also an orthodontist-- and Ernie needs one.
    • As I reminded the kids, it is a fiction book so the author can make these coincidences happen.
    • Grandma is a retired nurse too. That came in handy.
  • Can Dr. Binks fix Ernie?
    • Genie got a Brice Lee tooth from Dr. Binks because Ernie loves Lee. Maybe it will bring Ernie luck.
    • But Ernie thinks the teeth are gross. Will he even like the tooth when Genie gives it to him?
    • He is too angry to appreciate the teeth or Dr. Binks.
    • We decided that Ernie and Dr. Binks are going to need to have a heart to heart talk like often happens in these kids’ books.
  • Tess’s mom left her house to take Tess to the flea market. Wow!
    • Tess had her look up “hypocondriac” and now she has an actual disease. That makes her feel better. At least enough to go outside.
  • Then we all realized, that was the first person Genie helped. He kept thinking he was bad luck and then after the gun incident low point, things are starting to improve. 
    • He got Ernie the tooth. Maybe that will help Ernie.
    • Prediction: Genie will start to be the one to make things better.
  • The section we read ended with the kids talking about making another trip to the yellow house. The kids all had something to say about this:
    • Something big and important is going to happen there.
    • Whatever happens will make them tell Grandpop the truth about MJ.
    • I think he already knows the bird is dead.
    • We have learned that Crab also goes to the house and that he shoots birds in there. Will the kids cross paths with him? He doesn’t know they go there.
    • What if he accidentally shoots at the kids when he goes to shoot birds?
  • I stopped the kids because this was a good prediction with textual evidence. Back when Ernie was first holding the gun, he swung around and pointed it at Crab and Grandpop by mistake. Could that have been foreshadowing? Maybe.
  • We also talked about the house in the past. All the bird cages were to hold hurt birds while they healed.
    • Maybe their trip to the house will be for healing?
We will find out everything next week when we complete the book and have our final discussion. We are all very excited.

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