We continue our Batty About Books discussion with the second portion of
by Mike Jung
As before, my thoughts are hosted here, with Kathy's (in blue) and Sherry's (in green) responses. Be sure to stop by their blogs for their thoughts with our responses.
The Brain Lair (Kathy)
The Library Fanatic (Sherry)
Reading is so much more fun when it's Batty!
We've worked to try to limit the spoilers in the discussion, too.
(Check out Part One here)
Can I start with the fact that I wish we’d split this book into two parts instead of three? I had to force myself to put it back down, and still periodically gazed longingly at the cover as I made my way through the day. I love the pacing of the story, and it really is a “quick read”. Both because it is easy and fun AND because I wanted to keep speeding through to get to the ending! You showed great restraint NOT continuing on...I tip my hat to you. I could not stop and read to the end. :) I wish we’d picked two weeks too! This isn’t the first time either. I wish there was a way to determine if a book would be better if you’d read it in a shorter time period. It seems that much of the actiony-type of science fiction works better that way.
I want to document the fact that I got suspicious of Bobby right from the start of this section. Page 106 is where I have my first sticky note, marking the point when that itch in the back of my head needed to be written down. Yes, it’s cool that he’s so good with Vincent - but he seemed to be pumping him for information in an unusual way. Later in this section, when we hear about the meteor shower, we get more evidence that Bobby is not what he seems. This is one of the big reasons I want to keep reading. I love when there are enough little hints of things that I can start to have theories. I love to be right - but I also don’t mind being wrong, as long as everything fits together in a logical way. Does that make sense? I think it’s interesting you’re suspicious of Bobby in this section and I had the opposite reaction. I wrote about this! I thought the bonding was good, especially when Vincent pointed out that usually he didn’t get along with other boyfriends of his mom because of their lameness. I’m with Sherry on this. Maybe because I had been wondering about the dad. I haven’t read the last part though so you’d better not be spoiling something for me. I disagree with the article from last week. I think spoilers not only serve to dissuade close reading but also, re-reads. When we give too much to the reader, I feel it makes them disengage instead of interacting with the material.
Gender Issues Watch:
Okay, I’ve definitely calmed down on this front. Not only that, but I’m actually pretty pleased by how this book - which really has boys as the main characters - is handling the gender issue game. We learn about women in both superhero AND supervillain roles (Hummingbird and Jane Don’t, respectively). Hummingbird has no superpowers, but is described as having “the highest integrity and treats people with a lot of respect” (pg 105). Nice. Sounds a lot like one of my favorite leading ladies of DC. *cough* Batgirl *cough* Yeah for integrity and being respectful! (& Batgirl!) I disagree. When the boys are getting ready for Polly’s visit Max makes comments about what girls like and don’t like including “role-playing games or science fiction.” (110) and he told to stop hiding their stuff only because they feel it’s awesome. I think Jung intends these to be funny but I’m not laughing.
I do get annoyed when the boys say things like “girls are not into die-cast metal figurines” or “role-playing games or science fiction” (pg 110), but I do recognize that most boys feel this way. On that page I wrote “Prove them wrong!”. I don’t think Polly will prove them wrong completely, but I do my part to fight against this stereotype a lot online and in the real world. You’d think in a world where there are Hummingbirds and Jane Don’ts, that the boys would be more open minded - but maybe their interactions with a girl they actually KNOW will help. HA! See above note!
The fact that the cover and the storyline will probably be highly attractive to boys (though, again, I think girls will also love it) makes the fact that Polly is bucking the system even better. It’s all well and good to have “girl books” (Oh, I hate that designation, but it still lingers for kids and adults) attack traditional gender stereotypes - but it’s even nicer to see this kind of book hit it. I do wish that Vincent wasn’t so hard on himself when he cried in frustration about his mother, though. But at least he called himself a “wussy boy” (177) and not a “girl” - that’s progress, right? I think the fact that more boys will read this than girls makes the breaking of the girl stereotype even more important. Guys will read it and hopefully if they do have stereotypical views of girls, reading about Polly will make a new impression. I hope they continue reading, that the storyline about Polly and Stupendous doesn’t push them away. Though, I feel we are overlooking the fact that Polly still needs these dudes to “rescue” her, just not in the typical princess sense.
Oh, so Funny!
As an aside - I started a humor unit with my fourth grade reading group. We read a few funny picture books and talked about what makes something funny. I am offering them a selection of books from which to choose, and they are so excited! I hope at least one kid picks this book and loves it! What a great time for a humor unit -- in the midst of the winter blahs -- or maybe that’s just me?! :) I think it will be fun! Several kids begged to read either Fake Mustache or Horton Halfpott. I should blog about how it goes. In a way, that’s something I miss about teaching; doing units that include such great books. And, I’m with you Sherry, this is the perfect time for a humor book and I makes me wish I could plan that far ahead - I would totally schedule a ton of humor reviews and recommendations during January on the blog.
Okay, whew --- now that I’m done writing this up I can finish the book! Whoo! Can’t wait to hear your thoughts after you finish! I can’t wait!