Young Adult Lit/Crit

March 1, 2008

White Darkness: the end.

Filed under: WHITE DARKNESS — Mandy @ 10:34 pm

I finally finished WHITE DARKNESS this past weekend… and my initial reaction is that I am surprised that this text won an award over TRUE DIARY. Not to discount this book in any way, but I really did like Alexie’s text better for many reasons. However, I suppose I can understand that the prose in WD is one of the reasons it won, as Dr. Stearns mentioned. It is beautifully written, but I wouldn’t say it is one of my favorite books by any means. I thought it was a little slow at the get-go and for the most part, very predictable. I can’t decide on the ending either, as it was very unrealistic from my point of view….but I am also glad that Sym survived…so I don’t exactly know where I stand on the concluding chapter. On the other hand, I got to vicariously experience a place that I will most likely never visit, and I think this is a solid reason that this texts can appeal to teens…sort of like escapism. Basically being snowed in, I can appreciate many of the magnificient details about the snow and ice. I also received geographical and historical lessons repeatedly throughout the book that I would have never encountered otherwise. And, although I predicted that Uncle Victor was shady, there were still a few surprises. Sym certainly had a coming of age/ loss of innocence experience and a journey resulting in personal growth. So while I personally did not love this book, (it was outside of my comfort zone for sure!) it does have a lot of potential to be used with teens. And, I am glad that I checked it out, being an award winner and all.

-Mandy

February 12, 2008

Lit Circle Discussion

Filed under: WHITE DARKNESS — katefrazer @ 4:32 pm

Joyce did an excellent job explaining what we talked about last week.  We also spent a little time discussing what made this book win the Printz Award, yet we didn’t seem to come up with any really firm answers.  As Joyce mentioned, we discussed the way in which females were portrayed in the novel, and then the appeal it might have for male readers.  Overall, we were not too sure how interested they would be. 

I was really interested in some of the ideas my group members came up with to get readers excited and hooked by the book-such as reading a later, more suspense filled passage out loud.  While the book is told from Sym’s perspective and has all of her 14 year-old girl emotions, there still is plenty of action to get into.  The book really does have both emotional and adventurous content both of which gave us a lot to talk about! — Kate

February 9, 2008

White Darkness Lit Circle

Filed under: WHITE DARKNESS — Joyce @ 6:51 pm
Hello everyone,

Thurs night we had a great discussion about The White Darkness in our lit circle and I just wanted to share a few moments of that.

 First, we discussed how feminist theory might work in a read of this book. The protagonist is a girl, Sym, who is very naive throughout most of the book. Because of her lack of street smarts, we all found it difficult at first to find her relatable and credible. Her mother was also very naive, almost to the point of being impossibly unlike a mother figure. These observations would make for a good launching point into a discussion on how these characters are dependent upon the men around them, and gender roles, and sexism.

Another way to look at the book, we thought, would be through reader-response theory. All of us suspected that the “uncle” was being set up as a sexual predator, but in the end things took a different turn. We had to ask one another: why did we all have that idea in our heads, when it was off base. (In a metaphorical reading of the text, perhaps an argument could be made to that effect, but literally it was not the case.) A discussion could ensue regarding our expectations, and reasons for them culturally and personally.

One other aspect of our discussion centered on the text’s complexity.  There were several aspects of the story line that presented catch-22, for intance: the main character is lonely so she has an imaginary friend. However, her relationship with this imaginary friend inhibits her from reaching out to make new friends.

Those are just a few of our observations, I’m sure the other ladies will add to this.

http://books.guardian.co.uk/reviews/childrenandteens/0,,1566479,00.html

http://www.geraldine-mccaughrean.co.uk/main.html

The author’s website is listed just above. Geraldine McCaughrean won the Carnegie Medal in 2005 for this book.

Her ”Book of the Moment” is called Peter Pan in Scarlet, and it seems to have a much more magical sort of vibe to it than TWD. Searching her site yields several more adult fantasy novels, and a number of stories for children in topics that range from Biblical to Shakespearian, Pirate stories to Fairy Tales. She seems to have a wide range.

Joyce

February 5, 2008

White Darkness

Filed under: WHITE DARKNESS — katefrazer @ 11:45 pm

I read White Darkness this weekend, and I really enjoyed it.  I found Sym to be a pretty unique character.  She is so shy and almost afraid of interacting with people, yet she is exstatic at the opportunity to travel to Antartica.  I think there are many kids who aren’t as social as some of their peers that could relate to Sym and respect all of the brave and intelligent aspects of her character. 

I was almost immediately leary of Uncle Victor.  There just seemed to be something off about him, and I really wanted to read more and more to see if my distrust of him was justified.  The presence of Sym’s love, the ghost of Titus Oates, was also quite intriguing.  Figuring out just how he fits into Sym’s own personality was pretty thought provoking and could be a great source of discussion. 

I also think that the fact that this book won the Printz award deserves some serious discussion.  While I thought this was a really good book, I’m still thinking about what set if apart as the best for those who gave it the award. Kate

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