Friday, March 28, 2008

Cinderella I Poem for Two Voices

An "I poem for Two Voices" is kind of like two poems from two perspectives that are meant to be read simultaneously. In this I poem the different perspectives are coming from two different versions of Cinderella.

The first version is the Algonquin Cinderella called Little Firefly. I read Little Firefly: An Algonquin Legend adapted by Terri Cohlene and illustrated by Charles Reasoner to learn about this version of Cinderella. I also looked more into the Algonquin culture so that I could add more of their traditions and practices into Little Firefly's perspective in the I poem.

The second version is the Persian Cinderella called Settareh meaning star. To find out about this Cinderella I read The Persian Cinderella by Shirley Climo and illustrated by Robert Florczak. Climo adapted this version of the Cinderella tale from one of the tales from the volumes of The Arabian Nights. I also looked up more information on Persian customes to add to Settareh's perspective.

I found it very interesting to write an I poem for two voices. It helped me understand where each character was coming from and was a good way to find out more information about each culture. I hope you enjoy my Cinderella I poem.

click here to read my Cinderella I poem for Two Voices: click on the link next to my name.
Also read my fellow classmate's I poems about other versions of the beloved tale of Cinderella.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Princess and the Pea Venn Diagram Project

This project asked to find a creative way to compare two versions of a traditional tale using a venn diagram. I chose the story of the Princess and the Pea.

The first story was adapted and illustrated by Lauren Child. Her story followed the traditional tale that I have heard before pretty closely while ofcourse adding her own sense of humor into the narration. The King and Queen have a handsome son who needs to be married. In her story he wants to marry for love and wants her to have a certain "something". The King and Queen want him to find a real princess and she eventually finds them one stormy night. They give her dry clothes and allow her to sleep at the castle. The queen puts a single green pea under a pile of mattresses and says that if she is truely a princess she will be able to feel it. The next morning, after the princess has had a terrible nights sleep, she meets the prince and he thinks she has that "something" that he has been looking for. The queen also finds out that the princess is so sore from sleeping on the pea all night and she approves of her marrying her son.

The second story, adapted and illustrated by Alain Vaes, departed from the traditional tale a lot more. He added the story line of the Queen having a love for jewels and that is the reason she tests all the princesses so harshly when her son comes to her wanting to get married. The king and queen in this story really are kind of stupid people. After several princesses fail the test the Prince goes for a drive and his car breaks down, yes this is set in a more modern time period. A girl comes and fixes his car and he finds out that she is the princess of the neighboring country. He takes her back to his house, after she has agreed to marry him after having known him for a very short time, probably just a couple of hours. She passes all the tests and then there is the final test of the pea under all the mattresses. She doesn't sleep very well but it is not because of the pea it is because her necklace slipped around to the back and the opal jewel was sticking into her back. The next morning it appears she has passed the test and the Queen is not very happy about this until she finds out that the princess will come into ownership of the crowned jewels of her country very shortly. All in all, I thought this was a terrible adaptation but it makes for a good comparison of different variations of a traditional tale.

For the venn diagram I decided to use a teacup to represent Child's story because the Queen in this story realizes that the Princess is sore from the pea when the princess says "ouch" trying to pick up the teacup that the prince dropped. Vaes' story is represented by the opal charm that the princess wore, and the similarities are written on a pile of mattresses with the pea in the middle because they both had this element in common. For the sake of an art class I decided it would be good for students to also explore the difference in the materials used in each book's illustrations. Lauren Child uses collage as a way to illustrate her story so students could explore that method to make the object representing that story. I could not find any direct information about Vaes' materials but it looked like watercolors. Students could explore using water colors represent the object for that story. On the shared object I would suggest that students experiment with using the two techniques together, watercolor and collage.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Swamp Angel

Author: Anne Isaacs

Illustrator: Paul O. Zelinsky

Published by: Penguin Group, 1994

Genre: Picture Book, Traditional Lit

Age Range: grades 2-4

Caldecott Honor 1995

This book is a Tall Tale from the mountains of Tennessee. It is the tale of Angelica Longrider, kind of the female Paul Bunyan in size. She was taller than her mother when she was born and grew up playing with an ax and becoming known for her bravery. She got the name Swamp Angel by saving a group of covered wagons by picking them up and moving them out of the swamp. The real story, though, is about how she fights the pesky bear that came to be know as Thundering Tarnation in the neighborhood because he was stealing everyone's food, putting them in danger or not having anything stored up to eat through the winter. She joins in on the competition to put an end to his theivery. When everyone else fails, she accomplishes some pretty tall dilemmas and comes through triumphant in the end. She gets the bear and his hide and puts it in front of her cabin and today it is known as the Shortgrass Prairie. I love how tall tales usually end by giving you an explanation of why something in nature is the way it is. It just gives you even more of a since of pride of where you're from even though you know thats not why it is that way.

This was a funny tale that I have definately never heard before. It immediatly reminded me of the tall tales about Paul Bunyan because of Swamp Angel's size and the fact that it described her as "the greatest woodswoman in Tennessee." I liked how she was playing with axes, building log cabins, and was "second to none in buckskin bravery." I loved how the style of illustration fit in so well with the theme. They recall the look you would expect from the time in history that these stories derive.The illustrations were done in oil on wood veneer. The wood helps give it that old-timey feel, along with the oval and square compositions with the borders. The playfullness of the colors and the look of the characters also go along well with the story.

This book could tie in with lessons on the traditional arts of North America or of individual states. North Carolina and Tennessee would probably share a lot of cultural arts especially in the mountain regions.

Lon Po Po: A Red-Riding Hood Story from China

Author/Illustrator: Ed Young

Published by: Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers,1996

Genre: Picture Book, Traditional Literature, Multi-cultural

Age Range: grades 2-4

Caldecott Award Winner 1990

Lon Po Po is the Chinese version of the traditional Red-Riding Hood tale. A mother lives with her three daughters in the country but one day leaves them to visit her mother for her birthday. She tells her daughters to be good while she is gone and to remember to latch the door tightly come nightfall. During the night a wolf, knowing the mother is away, comes and tricks the girls into letting him in the house by making them think that he is their grandmother, thier Po Po, come to visit. They let him in but after a while the older and most clever of the girls realizes they have been fooled and comes up with a plan to get the wolf out of the house. She tells him that he must come and try the gingko nuts that are high up in the tree outside, they have magical powers. The wolf follows them outside and the three girls eventually defeat the wolf by dropping him three times from a great height out of the basket they tell him they are using to help him climb the tree to reach the gingko nuts.

I enjoyed reading a tale that I have grown up hearing but in such a different way. It was fun to think of how this one is both alike and different from the one I have heard all my life. For example, in this one, the "grandma" comes to the house instead of the granddaughter visiting the "grandma". I also liked how these girls got out of the bad situation using their own cleverness instead of having to be saved by a woodsman hearing the cries for help like in the story from my childhood. I liked that they both shared the "my what big teeth you have"effect though, in that the girls ask why their Po Po's voice is so low, or nails so sharp.

This book provides the opportunity to look at different cultures in not only literature but also in art. The illustrations are very much in the Chinese style, especially the first one where the mother is waving goodbye to her children. The softness of the colors and line, as well as the portrayal of the landscape remind me of Chinese scroll paintings. Asian artwork has a large focus on using words, text, and pictures together to create the art. This book also introduces us to the use of watercolor and pastels. Students can experiment with using chalk pastels to achieve the bright colors and the different qualities of line and shading. Students can learn that a hard line can be accomplished and produce bright colors or they can smear them to get the hazy look that is used often in this book. They can also mix the colors together to get a gradation of color.