Saturday, April 20, 2013

Batty About Books - The Colossus Rises by Peter Lerangis Part 2

We are back with more on 
The Colossus Rises 
by Peter Lerangis  

Check out our other posts

As is the custom, Maria's thoughts are in purple and mine are in blue! Head over to Maria's Melange for her side of the story! We were really gelling today and even had time to google chat! So fun!

Part 2 pg. 123-237
I went into this section full of hope, especially the hope to get to know the characters better and form a connection with them. Though, I don’t think a connection is necessary to enjoy a book, I do think it helps, especially with fantasy novels.  Many times the situations or elements are so foreign, the only way into the story is through the characters. So funny! I’m such a habitual fantasy and science fiction reader that I find I have trouble getting into realistic fiction sometimes, because it seems boring (I’m having trouble with my current Newbery read for this exact reason.) That’s so weird! I love realistic fiction! Especially romance!! Science Fiction/Fantasy used to be my book gap!! Where I taught elementary, teachers mostly use realistic fiction.  Probably why boys have such a hard time....  I agree. I know my students are always pleasantly surprised by the number of fantasy and science fiction books I include. I absolutely do historical fiction (that is my second favorite) and some realistic fiction... but when I pick a book for my own enjoyment it is almost always scifi or fantasy. I do not like historical fiction! It feel as if so many of the Newbery type books are historical fiction! I actually gravitate towards romance with a little fantasy thrown in! When I need a break, those are my books of choice!

In addition to my hope for a connection, I was curious to see how closely, if at, Lerangis was following the hero’s journey. I’ve recently started doing some reading on the journey and was eager to apply my learnings.  

Hero’s Journey - The Separation
In part 1, I felt Lerangis had Jack in the beginning of the journey - the separation.  We need Jack to be separated from his family so that he can start growing up and coming into his own. He is taken to the Karai Institute where he is on the threshold of his journey.  He initially resists this “call to adventure” by trying to runaway and has to be saved. He meets his “helpers” - Cass, Marco, and Aly, and his “mentor” - Professor Bhegad. He learns about the journey he’s supposed to take and the challenges he may face.  He also acquires new knowledge - the information about GW7 and his possible connection to Atlantis. I love how you analyzed this! I’ve often had students do a hero’s journey story with me (usually Book of Three for 4th grade) and then choose another book to analyze on their own. I’m happy to add another possible read to the list. I would like to know more about how you teach this. I’m contemplating some sort of book club for fall with this focus.  You are in luck! I wrote a guest post about this for School Library Journal’s Connect the Pop blog. I also often tie into biography after finishing up the Hero’s Journey and ask students to choose an historical figure and see which of the journey steps that person also completed.  AWESOME!! I love the idea of tying in a real person!!! What a great way to use biographies!! Will tie in with some of our Common Core areas! I’m all about connections. I think it’s the way my brain works. 

Hero’s Journey - The Transformation
This second part sees Jack immersed in stage 2 of the journey!  At the end of part 1, he passes out after being in the Wender Hall.  At the beginning of part 2, he’s had his first treatment and when he wakes up, we see he’s designed an entirely new system for getting dressed! Jack also solves the clue on the rock! And we are on our journey

The Mountain
Jack and crew set off to find the next set of clues after solving the riddle of the rock. They are heading up Onyx Mountain. Torquin is leading him but they soon decide to ditch him.  Marco teaches them to do a vertical climb up the mountain including belaying.  Really? They MUSt be gifted to learn it that quickly! They get to the top and bad stuff starts to happen and only three people leave the mountain! This was one of the elements that pulled me out of the story. I can easily see Marco doing it like this, but having the others jump in so quickly didn’t feel right. AGREED! Especially with Cass’ noted fear of heights!

The Cave and The Water
The three convince Bhegad to put together a search team to go back and find their lost teammate.  Here is also where I started to make a little more of a connection with the characters, especially Cass! When they get separated in the cave, we learn about his past and I was able to put together a little bit more about him.  We also see Jack’s leadership qualities start to emerge.  After the fire, he has to take charge even though he’s tired, hurt, and hungry.  

The Cave and the water are classic hero’s journey symbols representing rebirth and transformation. We get both in this part including the scene where everybody gets better! Even one that shouldn’t!! I could see both Cass and Jack following the pattern and can’t wait for part 3, which should be The Return. Seeing the story in this light is making it much more appealing to me. Then you add in that broken sword, which is another classic hero’s journey symbol set. The water helps take over the “female aspect of deity” in the story, too. OOHHH, didn’t know that about the sword or the water-deity connection!

This section read quickly for me but I didn’t find myself taking any notes because nothing stood out as I was reading.  But, three days later, I find I could remember a big chunk of this section and more stood out then I thought.  My comparisons with the hero’s journey and Jack’s journey are completely from memory and I’ve read other things since then!! As I mentioned, I made a connection with Cass and a little bit with Jack. I’m hoping that more connections are in my future.  I’m still not in love with this book though. I can actually see myself booktalking it more to new 6th graders who may not enjoy reading rather than older, more experienced fantasy readers. Exactly. I can’t see this appealing to the older crew. I envision this being a hook for my younger readers (like my 3rd and 4th graders) to get them into this kind of story structure.

Tune in next week for the final section of Colussus Rises!

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