Archive for March, 2008

Baba Yaga and Vasilisa the Brave

Posted on March 31, 2008. Filed under: Reader Response |

A. Baba Yaga and Vasilisa the Brave

B. Mayer, Marianna

C. Craft, K.Y.

D. Morrow Junior Books 1994.

E. multicultural, picturebook

F. K-6

G. This story is another alternate story of Cinderella with a girl named Vasilisa who grows up with her father, stepmother and 2 stepsisters. Her father eventually dies and leaves Vasilisa all alone with her stepmother who treats her poorly, making her do all the work all the time. She sends her on this mission to go get light from Baba Yaga (who is a witch that eats humans) . While Vasilisa is there Baba Yaga has her complete a series of tasks each day which Vasilisa successfully completes with the help of her doll that comes alive by the love of Vasilisa’s true mother. Baba Yaga is amazed at how much Vasilisa is successful and eventually sends her back with a light within a skull. Vasilisa brings the light into the house and it looks at her stepmother and her stepsisters and burns them into ashes. Vasilisa then goes into the village where she meets a woman that takes her in as her own and Vasilisa learns to make thread and cloth and makes such fine cloth that it is taken to the tzar of Russia who is so amazed at how fine it is that he wants to marry Vasilisa right then.

There are so many differences between this story and the every day Cinderella story. In Vasilisa, Baba Yaga acts somewhat like Vasilisa’s fairy god mother and in the end Vasilisa’s family gets killed rather than just having to put up with the consequences like in the average Cinderella. Vasilisa also goes to live with another family after her step family is killed and this is different because that family takes her in and then she marries the tzar rather than marrying the tzar while still living with her step family. While researching the Russian culture more in depth I’ve found that a reoccurring theme in Russian literature is redemption and I find this interesting because Vasilisa never really got back at her step family on purpose and they were never really redeemed either. Christianity is supposedly a very large theme in Russian literature as well and I didn’t see that at all in this book either. I also found that war for Russia causes alot more hardship than that of the United States. Russia believes that there is one single truth rather having a diverse set of views like the United States. In Russia change comes from a higher/governmental level rather than like here in the US it comes from a more individual basis. I also found that because Russia is such a long way from any other civilization it is seen as “isolated” which could have a very large impact on folktales like this because in Vasilisa everyone lives in the country far away from everyone else, just as it says that Vasilisa has to go on this grand journey to see Baba Yaga. The fact that Russia is the 3rd most populated country in the entire world intrigues me as well because this book makes Russia out to be very small and consolidated. The illustrations were definitely unique in that even though there wasn’t a full illustration on every page, when there was one, the pictures were so detailed and elegant. I did find that alot of the faces of the characters in Vasilisa had a very Christian like element to them in that they looked as though they just jumped out of the bible. I wish there had been more pictures because like I said there were many pages that only had little tidbits of a picture.

H. I honestly didn’t like this book as much as I did the rough-faced girl because I think it was held out to long and I was just waiting for it to end but it kept going and going. I did like the creativeness of the evil Baba Yaga and how the doll was powered by Vasilisa’s mother’s love and how that helped Vasilisa in the end but it didn’t make me feel as warm and happy as the rough-faced girl did. The only way I can say this connects to one of my own experiences is that I know to be rewarded in the end you have to work really hard for whatever is that you want. This ofcourse connects to all of the other Cinderellas as well as the other fairy tales that have such a variety like these.

I. Like with The Rough Faced Girl there are many teaching suggestions but culture is the main one overall. I think it would be really neat to look into Russian culture and how the royal family works within Russia because I didn’t even know what a tzar was at first. I also think it would be good to go over morals like go through the process of hard work and you will be rewarded, or do unto others as you wish to have done to yourself. There are so many ways that this can be compared with other variations of stories like these and I think it would be neat to look into those as well.

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The Rough Faced Girl

Posted on March 31, 2008. Filed under: Reader Response |

A. The Rough Faced Girl

B. Martin, Rafe

C. Shannon, David

D. Puffin Books and 1992.

E. Multicultural, Picturebook

F. K-3

G. The Rough Faced Girl is about a young girl who grew up with 2 older sisters and her father in their tribe among other Algonquins. Her older sisters were always really mean to her and they would make her tend to the fire and this caused her to have burnt skin and ragged hair. In there village there was wigwam that held a very important member of their tribe who was known as the Invisible Being and because he was so important everyone wanted to marry him. The only way the invisible being’s sister would let any girl marry him is if they could truly see him. Well the rough faced girl’s sisters tried to convince the invisible being’s sister that they could really see him and the invisible being’s sister saw them for who they truly are and ask them a series of questions that which they failed. The rough faced girl got the courage to go also and overall the invisible being’s sister saw her true kind heart, asked her the same questions and the rough faced girl succeeded and could really see the invisible being. So in the end the rough faced girl became clean and married the invisible being and they “never parted”.

H. I absolutely loved this book, it had such a unique twist to the average Cinderella story but at the same time it was pretty simple enough to follow. I was really engaged throughout the entire story and the illustrations were also fantastic. I noticed that this is so different from the regular Cinderella story that it intrigues me with what other regular fairy tales have different multicultural twists to it like this one does. This book made me feel powerful in the sense of woman righteousness because of the fact that the little rough faced girl got the courage to go to the invisible being’s sister even though she wasn’t properly dressed. It also made me feel really happy because the main moral of this story is very clear in the sense that what’s on the surface is not what always matters but what is really beneath the surface is what truly counts. This book can definitely relate to my own experiences because I know as a dwarf what it’s like to be judged just upon your appearance rather than what’s on the inside sometimes. This book obviously connects with all the other versions of the main story of Cinderella. I now know that the rough-faced girl came from an Algonquin tribe and they are the most populous among the North American Indians overall. Algonquins believe in spirits among the afterlife and also witchcraft which I find interesting because the whole point of this story is that whoever can see the “Invisible Being” will get to marry this all powerful man. This is also interesting because in the Algonquin culture men are the dominating sex because their society is patriarchal.

I. There are many teaching suggestions that can go along with this book but I think the main thing would be to focus on the subject of the different types of Native Americans like the Algonquins that are in this book. It would be really neat to have the students do a research project on the different tribes and have them find things that would be unique to that of each tribe like hunting/gathering techniques, traditions, living conditions, family sizes, locations, clothing etc. Another thing that could be brought into the classroom is to study all the different versions of one particular story like Cinderella since there are so many from other cultures.

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Cinderella Poem

Posted on March 31, 2008. Filed under: Cinderella Poem |

I am the rough-faced girl with a pure heart and diverse textures  I am Vasilisia with the love of my mother and my little doll friend 
And we are made fun of as well as ordered to do harsh tasks And we are made fun of as well as ordered to do harsh tasks 
I live in a wigwam with my father and 2 older sisters  Whereas I live in Baba Yaga’s forest with my stepmother and 2 stepsisters 
I wonder how my sisters think they can see the Invisible Being  While I wonder who the 3 riders are in the forest 
I hear the sneering remarks that everyone makes about my shoes that don’t fit and my coarse hair  But I hear the complaints of my sisters who order me to clean every spot imaginable 
I see the lies my sisters tell just to get what they please  However, I see the greediness that my stepmother possesses 
I want to marry the invisible being  Yet I want the love of a motherly figure and live life each day as it comes 
I am courageous and faithful  I am hardworking and patient 
Similarly we strive for something more Similarly we strive for something more 
I always see the face of the Invisible Being among the skies  On the other hand, I always see the lights of the 3 knights 
I pretend that I really am dressed with pretty beads, buckskin dresses and new moccasins  While I pretend that the 3 knights will come and wisp me away from danger 
I feel as though the skies are talking to me  Yet I feel happiness whenever I talk to my little doll at night 
I touch the Earth with the intention to help me change  While I touch Baba Yaga’s kitchen and create a feast fit for a king 
I worry that the Invisible Being’s sister will hate me  Yet I worry that Baba Yaga will kill me or worse keep me forever 
I cry when I think sometimes I’m not good enough  But I cry when I’m challenged with tasks that seem impossible to overcome 
I excel in conceptualizing the winds, skies, dirt and stars  Whereas I excel in seeing the kindness that exists in everyone  
I am the rough faced girl who doesn’t have a rough face anymore  I am the wife of a Russian tzar  
And we both have eventually found ultimate happiness And we both have eventually found ultimate happiness 
I understand that many people cannot see what I see  While I understand the important tasks that Baba Yaga set upon me 
I say thank-you to the Invisible Being’s sister for all of her help  Yet I say thank-you to the kindness of my adopted mother
 I’m as full of life as the sun   Whereas I’m as free as a bird
I dream to create a vibrant family with my husband whom I never wish to part  

I really like the I poem process because i think an outside reader would get more of a feel of what the characters are really suppose to think and feel rather than a regular story conveys. The process for me was pretty simple because I love comparing and contrasting stories like these but at the same time I did learn alot about these cultures.

First, I found out that instead of The Rough-Faced Girl being about a Cherokee tribe I found out it was more about an Algonquin tribe and this led me to my other findings. I learned that some Algonquin tribes live in what are called wigwams which are very similar to teepees that are covered in animal skin and birchbark. Algonquins believe alot in afterlife and that is why I think the man is “invisible” in this story. Algonquins are firm believers in witchcraft and also they have a person in their tribes named the shaman who was very powerful because he was the one that could heal the sick by controlling the evil spirits. I learned that the Algonquin tribes are patriarchal meaning that they are mostly male dominated. Algonquin tribes are also the most populous of American Indians in the northeastern part of the country up towards Quebec as well. They travel by foot and canoe and they found food by hunting, fishing, gathering nuts, fruits, berries etc.

I learned that the ruler of Russia is regularly called a tzar and this comes from the time of Julius Caesar. I learned that important themes of Russian literature include redemption, suffering and Christianity. I also learned alot about some common differences that there are between the customs of the United States and Russia.War is a major one and that is because in the US it seems as though there is not nearly as much devastation as there is over in Russia. I found that Russia is the 3rd most populated country in the world which was even more intriguing when I figured out how mych of the country is also isolated. There are many connections with isolation and Vasilisa because I always got the “small town feel” from this. Russia seems to have “one single truth” while here in the US it is alot more diverse and so many more concepts are welcome. Furthermore, I found it interesting that Russia is considered a “motherland” and this is special because all of the important characters in this book are women and in Russian common practice women are known as the “true heros of Russia”. One final conclusion about Russian culture is that Russians like BIG in the sense that they value things in large quantities and at the highest level like in this book where the tzar took into account the luxurious cloth that was made with such fine thread by Vasilisa.

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Venn Diagram

Posted on March 17, 2008. Filed under: Venn Diagram | Tags: |



The above pictures are that of my Venn Diagram for comparing Jack and the Beanstalk and Kate and the Beanstalk. The Jack story is represented by the blue boy and the Kate story is represented by the pink girl. The similarities are represented by the orange pale they are both holding together. On a normal day all of the notecard descriptions would be off of the poster and the kids would decide which description goes in which category as they all have velcro on them. It is pretty interactive due to the velcro, glitter, and beanstalks!

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Kate and the Beanstalk

Posted on March 12, 2008. Filed under: Reader Response | Tags: |

A. Kate and the Beanstalk

B. Osborne, Mary Pope

C. Portter, Giselle

D. Antheum Books for Young Readers. 2000.

E. Fantasy and Picture Book

F. K-3

G. Kate and the Beanstalk is a spin off of Jack and the beanstalk and it starts out the same in that a young girl name Kate, goes off to sell her cow and along the way runs into an old man who trades her cow for his magic beans. Also the beans grow and in  middle of the night, she finds a stalk thats as tall as the sky and starts climb. It is a little different because she runs into a fairy who tells her that the castle at the top of this beanstalk, that there use to be a knight and his family living in the castle, and one day a giant came and killed the knight but luckily his family was in town so they didn’t get hurt. Well Kate goes off into the castle to try and steal the chicken that lays golden eggs, the golden harp and the sack of golden coins to give it to the knight’s widow so they won’t be poor any more. She gets into the castle and the giant’s wife asks Kate to work for them and she agrees and in the process steals the chicken. She brings it back down the beanstalk and hides it and then goes back up as disguised as someone else and the giant’s wife asks her again to work for her because she thinks Kate is a different person when she is really in disguise, well Kate again agrees and this time she steals the golden coins. She runs away again and again comes back as someone else and again gets offered to work there and steals the harp. While she steals the harp it starts yelling and the giants hear her and come running after her. As the giant runs down the beanstalk, Kate starts chopping it down and the giant falls to his death. The fairy from before appears and tells her that she is so thankful she killed the giant because the knight from the story before was her father, and that Kate and her mom were the family that was in town, so Kate and her mom get to go live in the castle and the giant’s wife now works for them!

H. I really liked this twist to Jack and the beanstalk because I liked the story about how the knight originally lived in the castle and in the end you find out that really that was her father! It was a really neat that the outcome was so unexpected, I honestly was really surprised at the end. I noticed multiple differences and similarities from this book to the regular Jack and the beanstalk. I also that the illustrations are much more modern than that of the jack and the beanstalk I read because the one I originally read was alot more animated and this book seemed a little more grown up. The original version was alot more driven towards the younger younger kids because it had the pictures where kids would try to find Jack throughout the book. I can’t really relate this book to any of my own experiences or to any other books other than the other fantasy/fairy tale books I have read similar to this, like the original Jack and the beanstalk.

I. The teaching ideas that can be integrated with this book are very similar to that of Jack and the Beanstalk. I think it would be really cool for kids to make Venn Diagrams of their own to compare books like these (Kate and Jack and the beanstalk etc.). I also think if kids could make up their own fantasies or fairy tales that would be able to integrate with these books as well, and similar to what I said for Jack, the kids could make up a story book as a class and each student work on a different part of the book, and maybe actually get it printed so they have something to show off, I remember having alot of fun doing this is the second grade!

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Jack and the Beanstalk

Posted on March 12, 2008. Filed under: Reader Response | Tags: |


A. Jack and the Beanstalk

B. Lorenz, Albert and Joy Schleh

C. Lorenz, Albert and Joy Schelh

D. Harry N. Abrams Inc. 2002.

E. Fantasy and Picture Book

F. K-3

G. In the beginning of this book, a young boy sets off to sell his cow in order to get a little money and along the way an old man runs into him and says that he will trade these magic beans for the cow. The boy accepts and the next morning the beans grow into a huge tall vine that reaches up to the sky. Jack climbs up the vine and finds a huge castle that is occupied by giants, and once he figures out that the giants are pretty rich because not only do they have a sack of gold that Jack eventually steals but also a chicken that lays solid golden eggs, and a golden harp which Jack eventually steals also. Each time he steals one of these things, the giants chase him out of the castle and down the vine and by the last time this happens Jack gets to the bottom and the giant followed him to the vine and Jack starts cutting it down with an ax. The stalk falls and the giant dies, and Jack shares his wealth with the whole entire town rather than just keeping for himself.

H. I really liked this story and to be honest it has been such a long time since I’ve ever read this. I had forgotten how it went and how it ended. I noticed that there are a variety of different books that are similar to Jack and the Beanstalk but still not exactly the same story, like for instance, Kate and the Beanstalk. This book mainly brought me back to memories of my childhood and how I use to read more fairy tales like this that seem more unreal compared to now I read things that are more plausible. I did make connections to other books I’ve read and mainly at the moment it relates to other fairy tales that have a similar extreme imagination and also as mentioned earlier, Kate and the Beanstalk, which is pretty much this story but just a different version.

I. The main teaching ideas that could integrate with this book have alot to do with story telling. Kids could learn how to make an idea web and put those ideas into sentences, and then those sentences into paragraphs and then those paragraphs into pages etc which could then form a story. Kids could even create a book as an entire class, I remember I did the same in my 2nd grade class so it is definitely possible. Some write, some illustrate, some direct, it could be like an entire class project.

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Swamp Angel

Posted on March 11, 2008. Filed under: Reader Response | Tags: |


A. Swamp Angel

B. Isaacs, Anne

C. Zelinsky, Paul O.

D. Puffin Books 1994.

E. Picture Book

F. K-5

G. This book is about the life of a town in Tennessee and how a young girl grows up to be known as the Swamp Angel because she was so big and strong, that whenever anyone had a problem, she would come in and save the day. Before long a bear named Temptation was eating all of the food in town so a reward was put out to the town for whoever could successfully kill the bear. All of the men tried but none succeeded and then Swamp Angel came into contact with the bear and they fought for many days. They finally fell asleep and because they were both so big their snores were enormous and Swamp Angel snored so loud that a tree fell down on Temptation! The town was overjoyed to hear the bear had been killed and the dead bear provided enough food to last all winteror the entire town.

H. I thought this was a very interesting book in that it included such a variety of different things and I didn’t expect any of them! I noticed all the little different historical parts and also how a woman was the giant and not a man being the dominant figure in the book. It is very empowering to read this and also alot of fun because as a reader you learn alot from it. I think it can relate to a couple of my own experiences in that a person with such a difference or who is so diverse can  cause such a positive influence on society. I would like to think this is true as I hope my unique diverseness will help influence our society in a positive way. I honestly can’t think of any books that this could possibly connect with but those that include the little history references hidden throughout the book just as this one did.

I. This book can connect in classroom in so many ways. One way is that the subject of diversity can be brought up and your class can look back through the years where history has been influenced by those diverse, unique people. Research projects, discussions and many other things can come from this and maybe even brushing up on racism and equality can come from this also. Another subject that can be incorporated is science, because in the end they talk about constellations and how the big bear is created after Swamp Angel threw Temptation into the sky. Another topic can include the history of the Smoky Mountains because its included when Swamp Angel and Temptation are fighting they create enough dust which ultimately creates the mountains. All sorts of lessons can come from just this one book and it is amazing to me how the author included so many different unique examples of how landforms were created or why things are the way they are.

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Lon Po Po

Posted on March 11, 2008. Filed under: Reader Response | Tags: |


A. Lon Po Po: A Red-Riding Hood Story From China

B. Young, Ed

C. Young, Ed

D. Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers 1996.

E. Multicultral Picture Book

F. K-3

G. Lon Po Po is another version of the Little Red Riding Hood but one that is from China. It’s about 3 sisters who are left home alone while their mother goes to visit their grandmother. After their mom leaves a wolf shows up at the door dressed as their grandmother or their “po po” and the wolf asks to come in. The sisters let the wolf in disguise in and don’t realize that this is imposter is really a wolf until one of the sisters lit a candle and saw the wolf’s face. They told the wolf a fib about how they needed to go outside and get these nuts that will make anyone last forever and so the wolf let them. In the mean time while the sisters were in the tree, the eldest briefed the younger ones on the fact that the wolf really wasn’t their grandmother and so they made a plan to drop the wolf out of the tree by pulling the wolf up in a basket and then dropping it to the ground. They did this 3 times until they dropped the wolf far enough to the ground where the wolf died and then the next morning the mom came home and the sisters told her the story.

H. I thought this was a really neat version of Little Red Riding Hood and I liked it alot. It makes me feel happy that the sisters realized that the wolf was’t their grandmother and it also made me overjoyed because they were able to get rid of the wolf in a smart way without hurting any of themselves. I noticed that this is very different from the traditional story of Little Red Riding Hood, in that one, the girl (there is only one girl instead of 3) goes to visit the granmother rather than the grandmother visiting and two, I’m not sure if the girl gets away from the wolf in the traditional version. If she does I’m pretty sure she doesn’t think of ways to get rid of the wolf like the sisters did in Lon Po Po. I can’t say that this book really relates to my own experiences except for the fact that I read the traditional version of Little Red Riding Hood a long time ago. This connects to all of those books that are versions of another traditional story like The Princess and the Pea, Jack and the Beanstalk, The Three Little Pigs etc.

I. There so many ways in which this can connect to the common topics in the classroom. One really neat idea would be to read this along with alot of other different versions of stories like this, those different versions be from another country, like this one is from China and create a history lesson out of this. The kids could discuss and point out where these different countries are and even do research on these countries which could incorporate these different stories. 

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Baseball Saved Us

Posted on March 4, 2008. Filed under: Reader Response | Tags: |

A. Baseball Saved Us

B. Mochizuki, Ken

C. Lee, Dom

D. Lee and Low Books Inc. 1993

E. Historical Fiction, Multicultural

F. K-5

G. Baseball Saved Us is about a young Japanese boy going through the time of Japanese discrimination when they were sent to internment camps because Japan had bombed Pearl Harbour. There was a brief description about how the camps were set up and when times got rough the boy’s father decided that baseball would be a good idea to get everyone’s minds off the current hardships that they were going through. It talked about how in the beginning he struggled with the game and there was a guard watching him when he was up to bat. I think the guard gave him the anger that he needed in order to hit that last ball. This pick-me-up was really great for the boy because once they got out of the camps he was back in the real world and was still discriminated against because of the war. He joined the baseball team and he thought that would be a good thing in order to get back into the swing of things. During their last game boys were yelling at him while he was up to bat and he got really angry because he called a “Jap” and so he hit a home run and from then it seems as though he was immediately accepted into the team, which makes it similar to society.

H. I really liked this book because it was a consolidated version of Weedflower. It gave a brief history part about how the Japanese internment camps went under and how everyone was accepted by it. I noticed that between this and Weedflower there were many similarities with inclusions like the dust storms and horse stalls for homes. I also noticed that like baseball saved this boy with him and his community factors like gardening, Frank and the drive just to keep going were things that saved Sumiko. People had to have alot of courage during this time because since they didn’t really have anything anymore their feelings were really the only thing that they could control. I only can relate to this experience because the little boy was called names when he was in school before he was put into the camps. I was called names when I was young, not because of my race, but because of my height. This book was pretty inspirational because baseball helped get this kid through and also helped relate him to other students to make them see that he is not so different from them as well.

I. There are many teaching ideas that can relate to this because this immediately can go with discussing the war with Pearl Harbour. Kids can do research projects on what happened, where, when and why etc. I think I would also bring up the question to ask the students what would be their “baseball” and what would inspire them to get through a huge hardship like this. I think this is a very important subject to bring up because I honestly didn’t learn about this until I got into middle school. The subject of diversity would also be brought up because this boy was discriminated against because he was Japanese.

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