Wednesday, March 16, 2005

out of the silence

I was recently informed that my blog has been "silent" lately. And, I know, it is true--and frankly, I am honoured that I am read enough for anyone to notice this recent lack of prolific activity. As I have been expending a great deal of writing energy recently on term papers and midterms, I figured I would use this occasion of needing-to-add to my blog as a time to post a portion of one of my term papers--especially since it was a particularly fun one to write. Don't worry, I will not bog down my blog ;-) with all 20 pages of the paper, but I will post the intro, as it is a fun plot summary, intended to entice youngsters to read this particular novel--Out of the Dust. I also figured it was timely to post this, as I am sort of blown away right now by a request made of me to be a guest lecturer on the topic of children's lit--I am thrilled, honoured, excited, and frightened at the prospect . . .
Anyhow, here's the plot summary:

Part A: Plot Summary for Potential Young Readers
Have you ever felt misunderstood, or unappreciated, by grown-ups? Have you had feelings so strong you just felt like you’d burst with them, and normal words just didn’t seem to work for getting those feelings out? Have you ever wondered why people in the world—grown people—sometimes do such strange things? And have you, all the same, desperately wanted these same strange grown-ups to acknowledge, and need you?
If any of those questions warranted a yes response, then you would get along just fine with Billie Jo, the main character in Out of the Dust, by Karen Hesse. Billie Jo is 14 years old, and life in Oklahoma is a difficult one for her and her family. In this book, she tells us about her life on the farm during the years of the Great depression. Her tale carries us through death in the family, scarring injury, financial hardship, catastrophic events of nature, and the plain old normal problems that go along with growing up. But, it does not stop with the problems. Somehow, through it all, there is hope, though, and good things to learn and figure out along the way. And the best part about the hopefulness is that it is not unrealistically rosy—just a solid sort of hope that you will be able to sympathize easily with.
Finally, the other great thing about this book is that, amazingly enough, Billie Jo writes the whole thing in poetry! Now, I know this may scare you away by making you think that it will be either difficult to understand or silly-sounding. But it certainly is not! In fact, this is freely flowing poetry that adds to the story rather than making it difficult to follow. This free verse form makes it so that Billie Jo’s words will catch you up with her and carry you away, helping you to feel her emotions in a way that normal words would not be able to do. And who knows, you may just find yourself inspired to write poetry thanks to this book. So, read Out of the Dust, and enjoy it!

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