Thursday, September 01, 2011

Why Jarrett Krosoczka Read Anne of Green Gables: A Putative Tale

First, I want everyone with 20 minutes to spare and a desire to find good books for boys to rush over to Mr. Krosoczka's blog and watch the video of the HarperCollins Guys Read Panel at Book Expo America. Really. It's good stuff, especially the part about Mr. Krosoczka reading my very favorite book in the world, Anne of Green Gables. My thought, however, was "Why on earth would his librarian hand him that?" Here is my speculation:

When the boys who were trying to hide in the library, giggling over books on pandas with the pretense of needing a nonfiction book finally went back to the cafeteria, Ms. Medias thought she might be able to step out of the library briefly.

But one boy remained.

He wasn't a bad boy, but all he checked out were drawing books. She'd tried, over the past two years, to give him some novels, but he wouldn't read anything. Politely, he'd declined The Chocolate War, The Contender, and The Book of Three. Said "no" to a biography of Michaelangelo. Turned down Hatchet, Bearstone, Ghost Brother, and The Man Who Was Poe. But now he was wandering in the fiction again, gazing about him with a stricken, persecuted look that Ms. Medias knew all too well.

"Jarrett, do you need a book today?" she asked.

Jarrett sighed. It was Thursday, and his language arts book report was due on Monday. None of the books appealed to him. He loved to draw, and nothing had pictures. Why didn't stories have pictures anymore? Not babyish pictures, but awesome pictures of superheroes saving the world from imminent cosmic destruction, or spies blowing things up or... well, anything. But they didn't. He sighed again and nodded his head wearily.

"Well," Ms. Medias said, bouncing up and down just a bit, "what sounds good today? History? Fantasy? Sports? Adventure?"

I want a story about an evil language arts teacher who tortures her students by making them write journals about how they feel about Bridge to Terebithia, he wanted to say. I want an avenger to make her stop having kids do graphic organizers on the plot elements of The Island of the Blue Dolphins.

Instead, he just shook his head.

"How about a funny book? We have a new Gordon Korman. Or some Brian Jacques. Have you read Redwall?" Ms. Medias glanced at the clock. It was 12:10. Lunch would be over soon, and she hadn't left the library since 7:30 that morning. Jarrett shook his head again. She walked him over to the new book shelf by the circulation desk.

"Do any of these look good? We just got in a new shipment. This Park's Quest is good. Or some Walter Dean Myers. What do you feel like reading today?"

Jarrett could see the students standing up in the cafeteria, ready to be dismissed to their next class. Ms. Medias, while helpful, was starting to have a scary, somewhat wild look in her eyes, and she kept fidgeting in a way that made him nervous.

"Anything. I'll read anything. It just has to be over 200 pages long."

The bell was about to ring. Ms. Medias had a research class coming in right at the start of the next period, and the library was booked solid after that until school let out at 3:15.

She grabbed the first book she saw and thrust it into his hands. Only when he looked at the cover did she notice what she handed him.

"Anne of Green Gables?" he asked.

"It's my absolute favorite," Ms. Medias replied as she stamped the book and handed it back to him. "You'll love it."

And then she ran to the bathroom.


jjk said...

Hi Ms. Yingling!

Your account is...close! I actually did pick up ANNE OF GREEN GABLES in September of my 7th grade year for the very reason that a book report was due and I needed to read something and quickly! Now, who put AoGG in my hands? I can't remember specifically. Be it my English teacher or librarian...that part is fuzzy. But the book resonated with me, so I read the rest of the books in the series for my monthly book reports. It was only recently, when I was discussing this with neighbor and dear friend Jeanne Birdsall that I figured out why. Jeanne exclaimed, "Of course you loved those books! You are Anne!" I was raised by my grandparents and always had my head in the clouds. Very similar to Anne.

Other books that I loved as a kid (and do now):

The Mouse and the Motorcycle
James and the Giant Peach

And of course, any compilation of Peanuts, Calvin & Hobbes, Garfield and Batman that I could get my hands on....


PS -- The word verification for this entry is "hypers" appropriate!

Camille said...

That is brilliant! I resemble this theoretical story. I am always reminded (when I am working with a class in the library and I see the glazed, pained eyes of the homeroom teacher as she signals to me that she is leaving the library "for just a minute") that teaching is the only profession where you can't take a bathroom break when you need it.

Beth said...

Except that boys can and do enjoy books about girls. I think that in all the worry about finding good books for boys we sometimes forget that. My seventh grade son loves most of Tamara Pierce's books, he enjoyed Rodzina, and still keeps up with The Vampire Twins books. Yes he wants action and adventure, but that doesn't mean that girls can't provide that.

Ms. Yingling said...

Beth, you are absolutely correct, especially about the Alanna books. Still about half of my boys have to be coerced into reading books with girls. The 6th graders seem especially difficult in this regard. I think that most readers picking up Bad Taste in Boys will not expect the zombie contents, though.

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