Monday, April 24, 2017

4. ALMOND, LUIZ, or SMITH

NOTE: Students are to pick TWO of the final four posts - 1. Anthropomorphic Animals, 2. The Adult's Inner Child. 3. Junot Diaz (and a guy named Neil), and 4. David Almond, Carlos Ruiz Zafon, or Dodie Smith. Comments should be posted no later than Weds. May 3. If you were habitually late with blog posts (i.e. need a little extra credit), I strongly suggest doing all four.

 Students MUST post reactions ( minimum 250 words) to the combined reading and viewing linked or noted below. Students are encouraged (but not required) to additionally respond to other student reactions.

Coming soon!

3. JUNOT DIAZ (AND A GUY NAMED NEIL)

 NOTE: Students are to pick TWO of the final four posts - 1. Anthropomorphic Animals, 2. The Adult's Inner Child. 3. Junot Diaz (and a guy named Neil), and 4. David Almond, Carlos Ruiz Zafon, or Dodie Smith. Comments should be posted no later than Weds. May 3. If you were habitually late with blog posts (i.e. need a little extra credit), I strongly suggest doing all four.

 Students MUST post reactions ( minimum 250 words) to the combined reading and viewing linked or noted below. Students are encouraged (but not required) to additionally respond to other student reactions.

Geeking Out with Junot Diaz: "In addition to being a Pulitzer-winning, chart-topping novelist and short story writer, Junot Díaz is more than a little nerdy. Okay, very nerdy. His work is filled with references to geek-culture touchstones that blend seamlessly with historical analysis." Click heading to watch video.

NO FACE by Junot Diaz: "In the morning he pulls on his mask and grinds his fist into his palm. He goes to the guanábana tree and does his pull-ups, nearly fifty now, and then he picks up the café dehuller and holds it to his chest for a forty count. His arms, chest and neck bulge and the skin around his temple draws tight, about to split. But no! He’s unbeatable and drops the dehuller with a fat Yes. He knows that he should go but the morning fog covers everything and he listens to the roosters for a while. Then he hears his family stirring. Hurry up, he says to himself. He runs past his tío’s land and with a glance he knows how many beans of café his tío has growing red, black and green on his conucos. He runs past the water hose and the pasture, and then he says FLIGHT and jumps up and his shadow knifes over the tops of the trees and he can see his family’s fence and his mother washing his little brother, scrubbing his face and his feet." Click heading (and scroll down) to read the story.

FULL CIRCLE: Watch Junot Diaz in conversation w. Neil Gaiman. Click heading (video is at the bottom of rounded up highlights)

2. THE ADULT'S INNER CHILD

NOTE: Students are to pick TWO of the final four posts - 1. Anthropomorphic Animals, 2. The Adult's Inner Child. 3. Junot Diaz (and a guy named Neil), and 4. David Almond, Carlos Ruiz Zafon, or Dodie Smith. Comments should be posted no later than Weds. May 3. If you were habitually late with blog posts (i.e. need a little extra credit), I strongly suggest doing all four.

Students MUST post reactions ( minimum 350 words) to the combined reading and viewing linked or noted below. Students are to post ONE comment addressing BOTH the viewing and the readings. Students are encouraged (but not required) to additionally respond to other student reactions.

“How do you make children’s films appeal to adults?” Finlo Rohrer, BBC News Magazine: "You might be forgiven for thinking children's films are for children and adults have their own films. But 2009 - with the likes of Up and Where the Wild Things Are - has seen the triumph of the trend towards making children's films that speak to grown-ups too." Click heading to read article.

“Directors of the Decade: Miyazaki & Pixar,” Matt Zoller, Salon: "Miyazaki, who turns 69 next week, is still underappreciated in the United States. His last four features, “Princess Mononoke,” the Oscar-winning “Spirited Away,” “Howl’s Moving Castle” and “Ponyo” were released stateside by Pixar’s parent company, Disney, in dubbed versions, earning critical praise but not a fraction of Pixar’s usual box office haul. Worldwide, however, Miyazaki’s last three features as director made about $700 million. That’s a Hollywood-studio-level number that’s noteworthy on its face, but it’s even more striking for those who appreciate Miyazaki’s willingness to depict situations, emotional conflicts and moral struggles that neither Pixar nor any of its U.S.-based competitors would dare touch. If Pixar is the Babysitter — the smart, likable professional you can trust — Miyazaki is the Grandfather: a wise and beloved elder who understands kids as deeply as (in some ways more deeply than) their parents do, and knows that while the ability to delight and comfort children is a rare talent, it’s not the only one worth cultivating."Click heading to read article.

"Fantastic Mr. Fox: Wes Anderson and the Capers of Middle Age," Cara Parks, The Huffington Post: "Both [Where the Wild Things Are and The Fantastic Mr. Fox] have sparked debate over what is and is not a children's movie, but both films seem designed less to appeal to a particular age demographic and more to a particular sensibility. The childhood of both films is filled with whimsy and wonder, the reckless adventuring no longer freely associated with what might be more aptly known as pre-adulthood. But it also recognizes the longing of children to grow up, the willingness to shed a certain amount of entitlement and freedom for the firm bonds of social attachment. Inside each of us may be a wild thing, or a wild animal, but there is also a future wife, father, or caretaker, learning to take the burdens of a complicated life. Mr. Fox's fantastic appeal lies not with an adult's inner child, but a child's inner adult." Click heading to read article. 

After reading ALL THREE of the above posts, watch a film that fits in with the general thrust of the articles. (That is, a film that straddles generational demographics, not simply "winking" at grownups, but actually speaking to them, moving them.) If you plan to respond to a film you've already seen, please re-watch it in light of the above articles.

1. ANTHROPOMORPHIC ANIMALS

NOTE: Students are to pick TWO of the final four posts - 1. Anthropomorphic Animals, 2. The Adult's Inner Child. 3. Junot Diaz (and a guy named Neil), and 4. David Almond, Carlos Ruiz Zafon, or Dodie Smith. Comments should be posted no later than Weds. May 3. If you were habitually late with blog posts (i.e. need a little extra credit), I strongly suggest doing all four.

Students MUST post reactions ( minimum 250 words) to the combined reading and viewing linked or noted below. Students are encouraged (but not required) to additionally respond to other student reactions.

One of my favorite talking animals is Phillip Pullman's polar bear, Iorek Byrnison. I remember being very struck by this moment when Lyra meets Iorek:

"Lyra's heart was thumping hard, because something in the bear's presence made her feel close to coldness, danger, brutal power, but a power controlled by intelligence; and not a human intelligence, nothing like a human, because of course bears had no daemons. This strange hulking presence gnawing at its meat was like nothing she had ever imagined, and she felt a profound admiration and pity for the lonely creature. He dropped the reindeer leg in the dirt and slumped on all fours to the gate. Then he reared up massively, ten feet or more high, as if to show how mighty he was, to remind them how useless the gate would be as a barrier, and he spoke to them from that height.

'Well? Who are you?'

The voice was so deep it seemed to shake the earth. The rank smell that came from his body was almost overpowering."

Andrew O'Hagan on Fiction's Talking Animals: "From Achilles' horse to Lassie, animals provide moral authority and sympathy in fiction, often giving voice to the silenced and oppressed."  Click heading to read the rest of the article.

Then click link below to read an excerpt from ONE of the following. (Or write about a talking animal book you've already read.)

 
 And, finally, click HERE, to watch Mark Wahlberg talk to farm animals.