Title: This One Summer
Author(s): Mariko Tamaki
Illustrator/Photographer: Jillian Tamaki
Publisher and Year: First Second Books, 2014
Number of Pages: 319
Tags: Emotion, Family, Fiction, Friendship, Graphic Novel, 6-8, 8-12, Sarah Luce
Genre: Fictional Graphic Novel
This graphic novel is about a young teenage girl and her family who go up to their cottage on a lake every summer. The story follows the girl, Rose, and her friend, Windy, as they spend their days at the beach and their nights watching horror movies from the local store. The girls are exposed to many adult things as they hang around the store where the older kids hang out. Rose’s family is also going through a rough patch that summer and Rose learns of the secret behind her mother’s new negative attitude towards the lake. This book has a lot of crude language and mature themes that are not acceptable for students younger than high school age, if not older.
This book could be used to discuss life issues in a high school setting. Some students who read this book might be introduced to topics they have had little experience with, if any at all. It is important to use this book as a discussion starter, instead of simply a “free reading” book, as it could stir up strong feelings within students.
Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis:
This One Summer represents the teenage culture around the “coming of age” period in adolescents’ lives. It was published in 2014, so the portrayal is similar to today’s experience. The story is a graphic novel, so most of the dialogue is through speech bubbles and a lot of the plot is carried through the illustrations. In one scene, the young girls are talking about the older kids they ran into at the store, and it is clear they are impacted by the teenagers’ actions. Rose and Windy start talking about them once they get home saying, “‘Oh my god those girls are sooo loud. I bet you they were drunk. They’re like, DRUNKS’” (page 40). I would introduce this story to my class with a warning of the maturity of its content and language. The story not only deals with intense topics, but also situations where families are apart, like when Rose’s mom says to Rose, “‘I know you’re angry. Rose. I didn’t send your dad away’” (page 224). It gives students an insight into what life is like for families that may be different than their own.
Author: Italo Calvino
Publisher and Year: Harcourt, 1981
Number of pages: 264
Tags/Themes: Adventure, Chapter Book, Fantasy, Fiction, 8-12, Olivia Ruff
Genre: Fiction (Avant-Garde)
Descriptive Annotation: This novel is an example of Avant-Garde fiction. The novel has a different plot for each chapter, and it follows a the process of reading the book by Calvino. The style, plot, and narrator changes each chapter because each chapter is the first chapter of different books. The end of the book combines the titles from each chapter to form the beginning of “If On A Winter’s Night A Traveler.” The words used in the novel are complex, so it would be for an advanced English class.
Classroom Application: This novel would be idea for a college prep English course. The novel pushes the readers to analyze the traditional format of narrative, and the language used in the novel will push students to learn new vocabulary. This would be good as an introduction to Avant-Garde fiction, which is a part of literature that can easily be overlooked, but it is useful for generating great discussion about the reading process and structure of novels.
Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: The author, Italo Calvino, is an Italian author, and this novel was translated into English. The novel covers a range of thought provoking concepts given the nature of Avant-Garde. This novel disrupts typical aspects of literature, specifically with plot, narration, and structure. Students will be challenged to think outside of the box in regards to how they view literature because the novel itself calls attention to the reading process. I would use short stories first to introduce students to Avant-Garde, and this novel would be what I choose as the end of the Avant-Garde unit because it embodies many aspects of Avant-Garde fiction. “You are about to begin reading Italo Calvino’s new novel, If on a winter’s night a traveler. Relax. Concentrate. Dispel every other thought” (3). “With a zigzag dash you shake them off and leap straight into the citadel of the New Books Whose Author Or Subject Appeals To You” (6).