Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Zimmer, Tracie Vaughn. 2008. 42 MILES. Ill. by Elaine Clayton. New York: Clarion. ISBN 0618618678 [Suggested Grade Levels 4-8]
In this novel in verse, a very conflicted ‘tween girl describes her weekday life with her mom in the city and her weekends with dad in the country poem by poem. Her personality, desires, and friendships emerge through the strong, clear voice of each poem. In the end, she bravely tries to merge her two worlds and the identity she has adopted in each into a new, mixed whole. In addition, small illustrations by Elaine Clayton are sprinkled throughout the book suggesting a kind of scrapbook of collages. This believable and fast-moving story-poem will resonate with many young people who straddle two homes during their growing up years.
If you feel comfortable leading a discussion about separation and divorce, invite children to talk about JoEllen’s poems and experiences with two homes and divorced parents. Or, they can focus on the school bully, Belinda James, and talk about how JoEllen is able to stand up to her. What does she say and do to defend herself and her friends?
Kids could also choose their favorite poem from the verse novel to read aloud, recopy, and then create their own piece of art to accompany it. Or they may feel inspired to research and write their own autobiographical poem as JoEllen does.
Other books that combine poetry and art:
Wayland, April Halprin. PLANE COMING IN FOR A LANDING. ISBN 0440419034
Wong, Janet. MINN AND JAKE. ISBN 0374349878
Wong, Janet. MINN AND JAKE’S ALMOST TERRIBLE SUMMER. ISBN 0374349770
By Sylvia M. Vardell