Saturday, December 11, 2010

Kids in Lexicon

Nothing makes me happier than kids who are enthusiastic about Lost in Lexicon. Yesterday I was lucky enough to meet with two groups of them.

The first set was the 6th grade honors English class at Meadowbrook School. For several weeks they've been working their way through the book under the insightful guidance of their English teacher, Elizabeth Pritchett, and a math teacher, Dotty Corbiere, who takes over their English class once a week to explore some of the mathematical themes of the book in a fun and relaxed way.

The class greeted me with original artwork depicting scenes from the book, including a tessellated poster of the village of Tessellate and messages made of letters created through rotation, reflection, and translation in the coordinate plane. Mrs. Corbiere presented a lesson on syllogisms and Venn diagrams, and I showed the kids the workings of the algebraic compass. Then came the questions and comments. Punctuation, one girl pointed out, marks the beginning and end of a sentence and also marks the beginning and end of the journey in Lexicon. A boy asked if the "Land of Morning" also referred to "mourning" for the lost children. They discussed the sexism of Tessellate and the fact that in Radix, Jack's "disability" of color-blindness proves to be an advantage that protects him.

Later in the afternoon, I visited the Sunshine Book Club in the Norwood Public Library. This group of girls, led with inspiration and dedication by Diane Pagwood, has been meeting monthly since first grade. Pasted in their composition books is a blurb for every book they've read together, along with their comments and drawings.

Their verdict on Lost in Lexicon? "Best book ever!" (Maybe they were being polite.) One girl speedily finished the last twenty pages as we talked. The girls remarked that usually in books girls were smart but anxious in the face of danger, while boys are not so smart but brave; they liked the fact that in Lost in Lexicon, Ivan almost measures up to Daphne in smarts, and she's just as brave as he is. We talked about girls' confidence in math, and about how even the "bad guys" in Lexicon (Maxie, Timothy, Vera) think they're doing the right thing. They told me about their favorite parts (when the kids first enter Lexicon, when they're kidnapped in the Shadowy Forest); where they'd most like to live (Merry Measure) and who their favorite characters were (Daphne won hands down, followed by Emily the Thesaurus).

Best of all, they agreed that kids should never say "bored," and they started talking about making their own play about Lexicon. What a lively, confident group, and what an energizing day for me!

2 comments:

Marva Dasef said...

That's great feedback, Penny. Smart of you to write such a multi-faceted series. You're going to be very busy visiting schools!

Anja M. said...

Sounds very good. Can't wait to let my kids read it.

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