I have come to fall in love with teaching in Catholic schools. What are YOU in love with?...

"Nothing is more practical than finding God, that is, than falling in love in a quite absolute, final way. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you will do with your evenings, how you will spend your weekends, what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything." - Pedro Arrupe

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Another lesson in children's book wisdom

Some books never get old.

Chasing Redbird (my latest summer read) is one such example. An avid Sharon Creech fan (since 6th grade), I remembered loving this book but, for the life of me, I wouldn't have been able to tell you why. I had forgotten the plot! Lucky for me, awhile back I had downloaded 5 Sharon Creech YA books for $10, so I had this particular one on my Nook/iPad.

You can call it an excuse not to jump into my school's 6th graders' summer reading requirement book yet. (Yes, I am teaching middle school language arts next year.) You can call it a ploy to try to relive some childhood memories. You can call it whatever you want - but please, call this book an incredible page-turner.

Now I remember why this book captured the attention of my 13 year old self.

(in honor of the) original cover

Bear with me - I've found some difficulty in attempting to explain some of Sharon Creech's books in the past due to the complexity of their respective plots and ideas some readers may think are "out there," but I'll try to be as clear as possible here (without giving away too much). Chasing Redbird is a story about Zinny, a young (usually shy) girl in a large family who spends most of her time with her aunt ("Redbird") and uncle (who used to have a daughter Zinny's age who died when she was 4). Early in the novel, her aunt up and dies too, and her family thinks her uncle's gone off the deep end, saying he keeps seeing his Redbird.

Still with me?

Zinny happens across the remains of an old trail near her family's farm property, so she starts restoring it. In doing so, she spends a lot of time by herself, thinking about different things, events, and people (especially her aunt and a boy, Jake, who's sweet on her). To reveal much more would be a disservice to anyone who has interest in picking up this novel in the future - it's a story that needs to tell itself.

One main lesson, though, that stuck with me as I turned the book's final pages is similar to one found in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone:

Through the help of her uncle and family, Zinny realizes that it's important to remember the dead but not to spend so much time doing so that you miss out on what's going on right in front of you in the here and now.

I think Zinny and HP could have been good friends...

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