Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The Schwa Was Here by Neal Shusterman

Have you ever felt invisible? At the beginning of the story, Anthony Bonano meets Calvin Schwa, a boy who is functionally invisible, and the experiments he conducts prove that four out of five people don't see or notice the Schwa.

What would you do to be noticed? In Neal Shusterman's novel The Schwa Was Here you get to find out, and if you've ever felt like the Schwa, this book will impact you. Published in 2004 by Puffin Books, this book won the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for Fiction and Poetry in 2005, and was an honor book for the Judy Lopez Memorial Award for Children's Literature in 2005.

Anthony, known as Antsy, is the character who tells us the story. He is a middle child sandwiched between an older brother who is a great student and an adorable little sister who everyone loves. He feels invisible at home.

Calvin Schwa is a boy without friends until Antsy becomes his friend. Schwa isn't noticed by people and is easy to forget. When he was five, his own mother disappeared while shopping, leaving him abandoned in the cart at the supermarket. Now Schwa worries that he, too, will simply cease to exist at some point. What really happened to his mother? Where is she?

This would be a fun book to teach. The themes are right on target for sixth through eighth grade students. Shusterman shows the importance of reputation and responsibility in this story. This story shows the importance of relationships and the roles we and our family members assign to us in our family dramas. Having students figure out their family role would make a great discussion. The Schwa collects paperclips - but only famous paperclips. Any one of his paperclip stories would make a good research project. Mr. Crawley reminds me of Mr. Potter in It's a Wonderful Life. The man thinks he owns everything and can purchase anyone. He owns fourteen dogs named after the seven virtues and seven vices. Any of the dogs' names could become topics of discussion or research projects. This story also shows how we often get it wrong in our relationships.

I am reminded of Andrew Clements Things Not Seen , which is a story about an invisible boy. Just like in Clements story, there is  a blind girl who can feel his presence even though most can't or don't see him.

I am also reminded of some of my students who were hard to get to know and were easily forgotten - like the Schwa. This book shows how important it is to be seen and how we all must work to see those around us even those who appear to blend in completely.

I found a couple of student made book trailers on Youtube. I enjoy student made book trailers because you can see what jumped out at them in their reading. They also show how creative students are.

This one is by Jus. B. Cauz - I'm pretty sure positive that is a moniker.

This one was created by RockwallRead's Channel

I think they did a great job. Book trailers are just one way to get students excited about books. Book talks are good, but in our fast paced world, sometimes book trailers are even better. They are not all created equally, and most are created by students, so make sure you preview them before sharing with your students. You can even have students create book trailers as a project.

Read often because reading connects us to everything in the world. 

No comments:

Post a Comment