Robots, Clones, and DNA—Oh, My!

by T. Gail Pritchard, The University of Arizona

DNA2Perhaps one of the more scientific/medical controversies of the last few decades involves genetic modification, whether it is through altering an organism’s own DNA, adding new DNA, or cloning. In the following novels, the characters find themselves facing personal and societal consequences, while readers are left questioning their own assumptions about boundaries, scientific research, medical application, and how they define being human. Read More »

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Robots, Cyborgs, and DNA—Oh, My!

by T. Gail Pritchard, PhD, The University of Arizona

file000150798584My earliest memory of robots is from movies–Gort from The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) terrified me and Robby from Forbidden Planet (1956) fascinated me. Later, there was Hal from 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and three of my favorites Huey, Dewey, and Louie from Silent Running (1972); and of course, from recent times, Optimus Prime of the Transformers. From television, I met Robot from Lost in Space (1965-68) and various other robots and cyborgs in The Twilight Zone (1961-62), The Six Million Dollar Man (1974-78) and The Bionic Woman (1976-1978). In my reading, I encountered robots Robbie (Asimov) and Norby (Asimov and Asimov) and Eager (Fox), cyborg Cinder (Meyer), and characters whose DNA had been tweaked Read More »

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Russia Was Always There!: Reading World History through Russia Connections

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

Language binds the past to the present. With the advent of high-tech, wireless devices that is even more evident as people interact in new and unique ways reflecting rapid evolution in language. New words are born every day while other words slip into obscurity. In many ways, everyday language becomes a “fashion” as it mirrors social changes, trends, and contemporary issues. Historically linked language became really evident to me some weeks ago when I was watching a Korean reality show. An actor in his late 40’s used the word “Soviet” in place of Russia. When hearing this, other participants teased him as a veteran of the Ice Age. Read More »

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Beyond the Nutcracker, Baba Yaga, and Ivan the Fool: Russian Children’s Books Mirror Ideology

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

YKA1

Russian children’s literature and culture are obscure subjects in the West. When they come up in a conversation, even the most Russia-savvy students shrug their shoulders and produce a genuinely puzzled look on their faces “ (Balina & Rudova, 2008, p.xv,)

Earlier I looked at two books, Breaking Stalin’s Nose and Arcady’s Goal, set in repressive Stalinist Russia. I then introduced The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion & the Fall of Imperial Russia, an informational text describing the establishment of the Soviet Union. In doing so I developed a real curiosity about the development of children’s literature written in Russia. Read More »

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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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