Beauty in Tragedy

Today, we finished the third book in Lois Lowry’s Giver series. For twelve years, The Giver has been my favorite. Today, however, The Messenger became my favorite. Today was proof for me that books are meant to be shared, discussed, and analyzed. I love reading alone, but there is no greater joy than a group of people coming together to witness true beauty through words. I was given the amazing opportunity to experience heartfelt emotion twice today with both of my classes. As I read the final chapters, tears came to my eyes and I had to suppress the urge to have a student finish reading aloud so that I could gather my emotion. I finished though, and was privy to a crowd of faces that caught the same connections I did. The students felt the same bittersweet feelings as their teacher as we realized our main character was willingly and tragically sacrificing himself for the world. He was a true HEALER! We had a brief class discussion afterwards but suggested they save their thoughts for the blog. Tonight’s assignment is for them to respond with their thoughts. Below, I share the most poignant passages from today:

    With difficulty he leaned painfully toward her, so that his ear was near her mouth.
    “We need your gift,” she whispered.
    Matty fell back in despair. He had followed Leader’s instructions. He had not spent the gift. He had not made Ramon well, had not fixed Kira’s crooked leg, or even tried to save his little dog. But it was too late now. His body was so damaged he could barely move. He could no longer bend his ravaged arms. How could he place his hands on anything? And what, in any case, did she want him to touch? So much was ruined.
    In agony and hopelessness, he turned away from her and rolled off the blanket and into the thick foul smelling mud. With his arms outstretched, his hands touching the earth, he lay there waiting to die. 
    He felt his fingers begin to vibrate…

    Gasping, Matty called for his gift to come. There was no sense of how to direct it. He simply clawed into the earth, feeling the power in his hands enter, pulsating into the ruined world. He became aware, suddenly, that he had been chosen for this….

    Kira smoothed his hair. “He called himself the fiercest of the fierce.”
    Leader smiled. “He was that. But it was not his true name.”
    Kira wiped her eyes. “He so hoped to receive his true name at the end of this journey.”
    “He would have.”
    “He wanted to be Messenger,” Kira confided.
    Leader shook his head. “No. There have been other messengers and there will be more to come.” He leaned down and placed his hand solemnly on Matty’s forehead above the closed eyes. “Your true name is Healer,” he said.


It’s All Coming Together

I have been anxiously waiting for this term since August. I always look forward with anticipation to third nine weeks for several reasons. This is what we have been leading up to for 18 weeks now. Our author study on Lois Lowry is such a rich journey and experience. My students are eager, after already completing three of her books, to hear more of her stories and about her life. As we enter into this new term of school we will continue in our Giver quartet. We thought this would just be a trilogy until Ms. Lowry, herself, graced our blog with her presence to announce that the fourth installment would be published in October. As soon as it hit the shelves, I picked up five copies. I have read it, and it is such a wonderful culmination and completion of this series. With that said, we are on our third book in that series. The Messenger is the first of the four books that allows its readers to begin seeing connections through the first two books. The students will see how Gathering Blue and The Giver come together in this third novel. We are also embarking on a wonderful adventure through her memoir, Looking Back. Ms. Lowry’s life story, told through pictures of her childhood and quotes from her stories, is both amusing at times as well as heartbreaking. While reading this memoir, the students make connections between an author’s real life and their stories. They are able to see how an author takes personal life experiences and uses them to create fiction. We will become authors once again this term to create our own memoirs.  Lois Lowry’s collection of novels would not be complete without Number the Stars. This beautifully written work allows us a glimpse into a Jewish family’s struggles during the onset of WWII. The students have also chosen a Lois Lowry book of their own to read independently. What great insight we are gaining as life learners. We are entering the world of an author. Each week the students will design photo projects that connect both with the memoir and with WWII. This week the students are telling a story through pictures. They are working on taking ten photos of themselves. These ten photos must tell a story from the perspective of someone from WWI, the roaring twenties, or the Great Depression era. These are the events we have dsicussed in class that led our country to WWII. I am looking forward to seeing what creativity my students have in store for me. Please stay tuned, as their creativity is shared in the coming days and weeks.