Sunday, August 4, 2013

Batty About Summer of the Mariposas by Guadalupe Garcia McCall - The Initiation 3

Batty About Books presents    
Summer of the Mariposas
Guadalupe Garcia McCall
Week 1 - The Cover
Week 2 - The Departure
Here we are at Week 3 and it's only taken us over a month to get here! My time has just been consumed by other! I look forward to the rest of the year playing out in a much calmer manner!! ::crossesfingers:: ::knocksonwood:: ::saysaprayer::  Thank you to my book buddy, Maria, for hanging in there with me!

This week we discuss Part 2 of the book, The Initiation. As a reminder, Summer of the Mariposas is a modern day retelling of The Odyssey.  Head over to Maria's Melange to read her thoughts on this section. She has some interesting thoughts on how this book relates to Homer's and which, if any, characters align to his original ones.

Week 3 - The Initiation - pgs 103 - 258
Wow, it’s been a little over a month since we were supposed to finish this! I can’t believe I let so many things get in the way! But, hopefully things are settled now. The horizon looks clear and the reading looks fun!
Let me say it was hard to remember what had happened in the story and there is something to be said for writing these down RIGHT AWAY! I went back and re-read both parts 1 and this section. It was easier than I’d thought it would be to get back into the story. I always mean to write down my thoughts AS I read... but sometimes I don’t. For this section, I just read the whole thing and then went back to jot down my notes on a reread.
The Spanish
I love how McCall uses spanish words and works their meaning into the writing. If I’ve said this before, it bears repeating. I’ve read books where you have to look the words up in the glossary and it takes you out of the flow of story. That being said, I was thoroughly confused about El Nagual and Un Brujo.  Did they both mean The Warlock? I also love the way she incorporates the Spanish! I like the fact that there is a glossary, but I don’t want to have to use it for everything. There was at least one phrase I couldn’t find the glossary, though.... but I can’t remember what it was now! I’ve cleaned up my house a few times for visitors since I jotted down my notes and I can’t find my journal.

The Darkness
Wow! This section took a decidedly darker turn. I don’t want to give too much away but the car, the fairy tale lady (I kinda wish we weren’t told who she reminded them of, it might be a fun connection to get students to guess), and the 3 trials! Whew! I liked the darkness in this section. I think all too often we assume that kids can’t handle dark. But I’ve read several really dark books this summer (like Doll Bones) and some that just had dark aspects (like Sidekicked, which tempered the humor with the ethical discussion and darkness)... and I think kids really want and need these types of books. I agree. I was just not expecting it. Of course, they did fish a dead man out of the river and drive around with, dark is relative here.  I will, of course, have all three of these in the library with Doll Bones going on the Mock Newbery table.

The Hero’s Journey
The Initiation covered what could be the middle part of the hero’s journey. We had trials, the Goddess, and the Temptress. Following the same path from part 1, the girls would need to have an Atonement - which I think is the Grandma. She provides a place of rest and relaxation for all the girl’s and, in particular, Pita. But what is the Boon or gift that they are to return home with? Is it their renewed faith in each other? The realization that what happened between their parents was not their fault? Or did I miss it?

It’s also possible to consider this stage the “Apotheosis” - a stage I rarely discuss with my students because it is confusing. The Wikipedia page for the Monomyth defines this stage as


When someone dies a physical death, or dies to the self to live in spirit, he or she moves beyond the pairs of opposites to a state of divine knowledge, love, compassion and bliss. A more mundane way of looking at this step is that it is a period of rest, peace and fulfillment before the hero begins the return.”
(I added the italics to the section of the definition I think fits here)
I’m not sure yet about what they will be bringing home. I discuss the healing aspect in my thoughts as well. That may be it, or maybe it will be something else?

This book goes back and forth between Middle Grades and Young Adult. Who is the intended audience? I’m having a hard time determining which students would be interested (beyond a book club) or if I would just hand this to teachers.  It also seems to be a book you need to read straight through and discuss in-depth. I find it easy to forget details when I put it down or is it that due to the reading I did in between?

I think I could make a case for using this with my very strong 5th grade readers, but I can’t see just putting it into an elementary library. There’s just too much they wouldn’t “get” out of the story, I think. I think I’d remember a lot more of the detail if I read it straight through, though. I also think this would tie in well with a unit on the hero’s journey, especially for kids who are interested in myths and Greek legends. If I didn’t do it with a group, I could definitely picture several students that would love this story. But my kids aren’t typical upper elementary readers.
I think this book would be marvelous with enthusiastic readers in middle school - again, the ones who have the Greek background (Much more common now, due to the popularity of Percy Jackson).  So I could do a hero’s journey book club or a modern mythology book club.  Hmm...possibilities.

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