Not-So-Happily-After: Russia’s Last Imperial Family and Broadening the Landscape of Children’s Russian Literary Experiences

 by Yoo Kyung Sung, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM

RomanovsIn the story Queen Victoria’s Bathing Machine (Whelan, 2014), the queen loves to swim. Her swimming is not without a dilemma: how does a queen swim and still maintain “propriety?” The more she thinks that she shouldn’t swim, the more she wants to swim. In the end, her husband solves the problem. Sharing this not so public side of Queen Victoria is what makes this a truly delightful book. In the illustrations, the queen isn’t depicted with glamorous looks or in elegant dress, despite the fact that she was one of the most powerful monarchs in Europe. Instead, she looks like any ordinary middle aged woman Read More »

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Childhood & Politics: Children’s Historical Fiction set in the Soviet Union

 by Yoo Kyung Sung, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM

Stalin

“President Putin.”
“The Cold War.”
“James Bond, 007!”
“Gymnastics.”

These are response from my students when asked what they know about Russia. Their knowledge about Russia is based on recent events with typical historical Hollywood representations: Read More »

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Historical Injustices Revisited: New Stories for Young Readers

 by Yoo Kyung Sung, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM

dependency-62283_640December has always been my month to contribute to WOW Currents. In many ways, it has become a special month for me since it is at the end of the year and offers me, like everyone else, an opportunity to reflect on the past twelve months. As we mentally “write our stories” at years end, our reflections often lead us to revise what some of these recurring and evolving “stories” might look like in the next year. We share and connect through these stories. They are an important medium that enriches the many facets of our lives.

As I surveyed new historically based titles, some of those “old” histories have taken on a new patina. Read More »

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Global Explorations in Verse: Salt: A Story of Friendship in a Time of War

by Andrea García, Diana Collins and Melissa Tuller, Hofstra University.

SaltWe close our writing for the month of November sharing our exploration of Salt: A Story of Friendship in a Time of War by Helen Frost. This is the final book I chose for a text set focusing on Global Explorations in Verse, which I used in my graduate children’s literature course this semester. As we consider our Thanksgiving celebrations this week, we feel this story provides an appropriate backdrop to consider the relationships between Native Americans and Americans from a historical perspective. Helen Frost’s novel in verse explores the complexities of friendship, when sociopolitical issues threaten to destroy the loyalties and the trust built amongst friends. Read More »

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Global Explorations in Verse: Home of the Brave

by Andrea García, Keith Donnelly, and Michele McGuinness, Hofstra University.

Our writing for this week will take us to explore Home of the Brave, by Katherine Applegate (2008). This is the third book in the text set I created focusing on Global Explorations in verse for my children’s literature graduate course. In this story, we meet Kek, an 11-year-old refugee boy from Sudan, who is relocated to Minnesota escaping the civil war in his country, after witnessing the death of his father and brother. Unaware of her mother’s whereabouts, Kek joins his aunt and cousin in the U.S., and begins a memorable journey into learning to live in a different culture and in a different language. In this unforgettable story of hopefulness and resilience, Applegate makes use of spare free verse to tell Kek’s immigration story. Read More »

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Global Explorations in Verse: Call Me María

by Andrea García, Brooke Bendernagel, and Lindsey Brooks, Hofstra University.

  Confessions of a Non-Native Speaker
A poem
by María Alegre

I confess,
I had to steal English
because what I had
was never enough.
The sly taking
started as a word here,
a word there.
It was easy.
I slipped words
into my pockets,
my crime unnoticed
as the precious
palabras
spilled out
of unguarded mouths, Read More »

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Global Explorations in Verse: Serafina’s Promise

by Andrea García, Amanda Lev and Oddette Williams, Hofstra University.

IMG_0003Planning for teaching children’s literature in my graduate Literacy Studies program at Hofstra University provides me with the perfect opportunity to select books that invite readers to take on a global perspective. For the current fall 2014 semester, I was particularly drawn to selecting children’s literature featuring stories from different times in history; books that would allow us to engage in critical conversations about the everyday lives of strong characters, whose experiences could help shape our understandings of our ourselves and others. I also wanted to share novels written in free verse because Read More »

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Choosing to Acknowledge the Many Different Facets of Our Common Stories

by Samantha Smigel and Julia López-Robertson, The University of South Carolina

SaldanaWe end our blog this month with a look at ¡Juventud! Growing up on the Border (Saldaña, 2013), a collection of short stories and memories from a variety of authors. Each author shares their growing up experiences with readers. Comprised of short stories and poems, so much can be said with so few words. The poetry and stories in this book are mesmerizing as each one reveals small moments to which all readers can relate. The words share memoirs, love, and family traditions from different perspectives and cultures. I [Samantha] felt as though I was in each of these families, making connections, relating to some of the events, all the while gaining perspective and compassion. Read More »

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ELL & NCLB: Let Me Count the Ways to Say “You Fail”

by Deb Drotor & Julia López-Robertson, The University of South Carolina

TestingThis week we revisit La Linea by Ann Jaramillo and focus our discussion on the ever present [over]testing of English Language Learners. Ann Jaramillo wrote La Linea for her students. She wrote to tell their story. In reality La Linea, is the story of many students who sit in America’s classroom today. Read More »

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La Linea: Crushing Carefully Crafted Illusions

by Jenna Noblin & Julia López-Robertson, The University of South Carolina

file0001406817967Miguel’s family is not very different from many immigrant families in America today, and yet this is not a story put into the news or shown in movies. Instead, it is hidden from the majority of America. From research and bits and pieces I have heard along the way, I knew that that the journey across the border into America was dangerous, but it was never shown to me just how much until reading La Linea. The closest representation I have ever seen on this topic was on the T.V. show Criminal Minds. Even that vision made the journey look safer than it really is, Read More »

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