Friday, May 23, 2014

The Julian Chapter: After - Pages 72-96, The End

Remember the quote from Lord of the Flies? It said, "Fear can't hurt you any more than a dream." In his email Mr. Browne said that maybe Julian was a little afraid of Auggie. Now Grandmère says that she thinks Mr. Browne was right, that Julian was afraid of Auggie. Julian, of course, denies it.

What do you think?

World War II was fought between 1939-1945. Germany was the main enemy in Europe. Paris was occupied by Germany in 1940. (This is the same as Germany occupying Denmark in Number the Stars.) 

The Maquis were groups of French Resistance Fighters. These were people who escaped to the mountains to avoid being forced into the German army and then fought back against them. Members were called maquisards or "armed resistance fighters." Partisan is another name for these fighters. As you can see in this image, they don't really look like soldiers.

photo source

According to Wikipedia (I'll leave the more in depth research to you.) there were about 200,000 Jewish people in Paris at the time. The Germans began passing laws against Jews in September of 1940, and they began taking Jews away in May of 1941. This continued until August of 1944. During this time nearly 76,000 Jews were taken from Paris and only 2,500 survived. (More on this later.)

Grandmère says her school had a chapel, which is a room like a church used for worship services, and behind that there was a crypt. A crypt is an underground room used for worship or as a burial site. This example is underneath the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris.

photo source

The sewers in Paris at the time, to the best of my understanding, were basically tunnels where waste drained out of the city and emptied into fields outside of Paris, so following the sewers would eventually lead to an open field, many times by a village. Today there are museums and tours you can take to see the sewers. Here are some examples of what the sewers look like.

Grandmère lived and went to school in Aubervilliers which is just north of Paris. 

Auschwitz was a concentration camp. When Jews were deported, they were taken to concentration camps. There they were held prisoner, forced to work, and most were executed. At least 1.1 million people were killed at Auschwitz.

The main gate says "Work Makes Free" - photo source

Prisoners forced to work - photo source

This shows how big the camp was.
photo source

The Germans didn't only take Jews. They took people that they felt were not perfect. This included people with mental and physical disabilities, gypsies, deaf people, people who disagreed with them politically, and some people with other religious beliefs. At many concentration camps, the people who were taken there were killed in gas chambers. This means they were forced to breathe poison gas.

Julian says that in his dream the Nazi officials looked like Darth Vader's Imperial officers. What do you think?

Darth Vader's Imperial officers. photo source

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Julian Chapter: After - Pages 61-71

The second section of The Julian Chapter also begins with two quotes. The first is from The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling.

"That is only tears such as men use," said Bagheera.
"Now I know thou art a man, and a man's cub no longer.
The jungle is shut indeed to thee henceforward.
Let them fall, Mowgli. They are only tears."

Original book cover - photo source

In The Jungle Book Mowgli is raised by wolves and is accepted as a member of the pack and a part of the jungle, although not without some conflict. In time Mowgli realizes that he must leave the jungle and live with people. He is crying because he must leave everything he knows. In this quote Bagheera is telling Mowgli that he is no longer a child (man-cub) but a man. Mowgli has grown up, and he must leave the jungle (and his childhood) behind. How might this foreshadow what is coming in After?

The second quote is from the song "The Partisan" by Leonard Cohen. It reads:

Oh, the wind, the wind is blowing,
through the graves the wind is blowing,
freedom soon will come;
then we'll come from the shadows.

The song is about a French man during World War II who runs away and becomes a partisan rather than surrender to the German army. A partisan is a person who remains loyal to their country and fights against the country who has attacked them. Looking at the quote from the song, the partisan believes that freedom will one day come back to their country, and he will be able to leave the shadows, or come out of hiding.

What other kind of freedom is there? Is there some kind of freedom coming in Julian's story?

Julian says that usually he hated staying with Grandmère (Grandmother), but this time was okay. He was able to do pretty much whatever he wanted to take his mind off the school year, including "spend the entire day in my PJs playing Halo." It's interesting that for all their differences and disagreements, Julian is playing the same game Jack wants to play at Auggie's house when they were supposed to be doing their homework. Why is that?

Here is the introduction to Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary released in 2011.

Julian sends his precept, "Sometimes it's good to start over," to Mr. Browne on a postcard with a picture of a gargoyle at the top of Notre Dame. Growing up I thought Notre Dame was just a football team, but it's also a Catholic cathedral in Paris. It has some amazing architecture, and some pretty cool (or creepy) gargoyles looking down from the outside walls.

photo source

 Here are two actual postcards featuring the gargoyles.

photo source

photo source

On the morning Julian gets an email from Mr. Browne, Grandmère is having breakfast. It's not an important detail to the story, but she had a croissant and café au lait. A croissant is just a flaky, buttery bread shaped like a crescent. Café au lait simply means coffee with milk.

photo source

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Julian Chapter: Before - Pages 25-59

When Mrs. Albans presents Julian with the new and improved (from her perspective) class picture, she reminds him that she used Photoshop to change the pictures from their trip to Hawaii. Even though it rained every day, the pictures show blue sky. But think about this: Does changing the pictures change what you know or change your memories? What does Julian think?

 Check out this example of taking a gray, cloudy day and making the sky beautiful.

See both photos and learn how it's done here.

I wrote about the Plague more here, but I wanted to share another piece of artwork. This painting from the medieval time period shows something called the Dance of Death. Artists during that time tried to show that death was always near or walking around with the living. Almost like at any point, Death could reach out and take you. People lived in fear. Compare that to Julian's game.

photo source

In Jack's section he says, "It's just a baby tooth" referring to the tooth that Julian loses. In this section the doctor says that Julian "lost a lower first molar, but that was on its way out anyway." Here's a diagram - do you see the lower first molars?

Julian says that his family skipped their winter break trip to Paris because his mom didn't want their relatives to see Julian looking like he had been in a prize fight. Prize fight is another name for a professional boxing match. Do you think the scene between Julian and Jack looked like this?

photo source

When meeting with Mr. Tushman and Dr. Jansen, Mrs. Albans muttered, "This is a witch hunt," and Julian has no idea what she's talking about. According to the dictionary, witch hunt is defined as "the act of unfairly looking for and punishing people who are accused of having opinions that are believed to be dangerous or evil." What does Julian's mom believe about Mr. Tushman and Dr. Jansen?

The Salem Witch Trials occurred from 1692-1693 in Massachusetts. Over 200 were accused of practicing witchcraft, and 20 people were executed. Much of the evidence was sketchy at best and the definition above fits well. People were suspected of witchcraft and punished because others believed they were evil or because their beliefs were different than the accusers'. Only 4 years later, in 1697, the court began to question what had happened. In 1702 the trials were declared unlawful, and in 1711 a bill was passed that said all the people accused were innocent. In 1957, the state of Massachusetts officially apologized for the trials.  

Julian says that he and his family live about a half-hour drive from Beecher Prep, on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Here you can see the Upper West Side, to the west of Central Park.

I chose a random street on the Upper West Side to see what it's like there. Feel free to click the arrows and take a self-guided tour.

Julian says he spent a lot of time watching SpongeBob reruns and playing Knights of the Old Republic, a Star Wars game that takes place 4,000 years before the rise of the Galactic Empire, or as I understand it, basically 4,000 years before the Star Wars movies. (Help me out if I'm mistaken.) You can read more here and you can watch the introduction below.

Monday, May 19, 2014

The Julian Chapter: Before - Pages 17-24

Let's be honest. If you were still a five-year-old relaxing on the couch one day and watching this on TV:

when suddenly this appeared:

you would probably be pretty freaked out. (And that's a pretty tame zombie compared to some images I found. The zombie stuff out there freaked ME out, and I'm a little older than five.)

And if the zombie had already freaked you out, than seeing this at a friend's house would probably add to your freak out. (Remember, you're a five-year-old.)

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone - photo source
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - photo source

Then after the situation at the movie theater with Scary Fairy, Julian is frustrated with himself for being scared of fairies. He wonders what could be next. Flying ponies? Snowflakes? Cabbage Patch Kids? Cabbage Patch Kids were hugely popular toys in the 1980s when they first came out. Here's a Cabbage Patch Kid. You decide if it's creepy.

Okay, let's be serious. Night terrors usually happen in the first 3-4 hours of sleep. A person will react as if they are very scared. They might sit up, scream, kick and thrash, sweat, their heartbeat may race, and may even get up and run around the house. But they aren't really dreams. Someone who has a nightmare can wake up and remember the dream, but since there's no dream during a night terror, there's nothing to remember. In the morning parents might ask kids what they were dreaming and the kids won't know. They might not even remember having the night terror.

Night terrors can be very scary for parents. A child having a night terror usually doesn't wake up, and the best thing for parents to do is simply wait patiently for it to end. (Trust me, that's hard for parents.) Night terrors usually happen to kids between the ages of 4-12, but only about 3-6% of kids experience them.

From the description in the book, it seem like there are both night terrors and nightmares. More can be read at Kids Health and the Mayo Clinic.

Night terrors can be triggered by stress, and images can be stressful. Ever try falling asleep, but every time you close your eyes you see the same image? Could Darth Sidious from Star Wars be a stressful image to see? What about Gollum from Lord of the Rings?

Darth Sidious - photo source

Here is a picture of Ian McDiarmid's
makeup for the Emperor/Darth Sidious.

Gollum from Lord of the Rings

Sunday, May 18, 2014

The Julian Chapter: Before - Pages 3-16

Two quotes begin this section. The first is from the short story The House of Asterion by Jorge Luis Borges. It reads:

"Perhaps I have created the stars and the sun and this enormous house, but I no longer remember."

The House of Asterion is a pretty short story, and when I read it the first time it made me think of Julian. Then R. J. Palacio said on Twitter that the story helped her find Auggie's voice. (Hmmm . . . more to think about.) What do you think? The House of Asterion was originally published in 1947 and can be read here

The second quote is from Lord of the Flies by William Golding. It reads: 

"Fear can't hurt you any more than a dream."

In Lord of the Flies, the quote continues with "There aren't any beasts to be afraid of on this island." Those of you who have read Lord of the Flies, was there anything to be afraid of on the island? Were they afraid? Did fear affect them? Did fear hurt them? Most importantly, how might fear play into Julian's story?

Julian says, "Put a mask on, Auggie!" and says that Auggie should keep his creepy little face hidden away like in The Phantom of the OperaThe Phantom of the Opera was published as a novel in 1910 and was made into a movie in 1925, but it is probably best known for the musical that came out in 1986. Here's the phantom from the musical.

When Mr. Tushman calls Julian's mom about meeting Auggie at school, Julian says she acts like he won an Oscar. The Oscars are awards given to people in the film industry like actors, actresses, directors, and for the best movies. It's a pretty big deal - red carpet, interviews, TV cameras, screaming fans - and Julian says this is how his mom reacts to getting the call from Mr. Tushman.

Julian, Charlotte, and Jack wait in the Nurse Molly's office. They're all a little nervous before talking to Mr. Tushman, and Julian says he resists the temptation to make a balloon out of the latex gloves, even though he knew it would make the others laugh. I agree, it is funny, but do you think this is a good time to be funny?

Julian says that he, Jack, and Charlotte were nodding their heads like bobbleheads at Mr. Tushman's questions. Here's what he was talking about, an actual bobblehead.

After Mr. Tushman says, "It's good karma to do good. It's a mitzvah, you know?" Jack says he doesn't know what heck either one of those is. Neither did I, so I looked them up.

Karma is the idea that when a person does good (or bad) things, then good (or bad) things happen back to them in the future. It's the idea that "what comes around, goes around."

"It's a mitzvah!" basically means "It's a good deed." According to this site, someone might say "What a mitzvah!" when a person is helpful or generous or kind or compassionate.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Wonder - The Julian Chapter

Take a moment and remember how it felt reading Wonder. Remember the parts that made you happy and sad? The parts that made you angry or frustrated? Remember feeling overjoyed? What about the parts that left you wondering, "Why?"

Now think about the scenes with Julian. What emotions did you feel during those parts? Did any of those situations leave you wondering "Why?" Did you ever try to answer the question? Why did Julian act that way? Take a moment and think about it. Take 30 seconds to turn to your neighbor and talk about it.

And now, on to the story. The Julian Chapter: A Wonder Story begins with a quote from Ian Maclaren. It reads:

"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle."

Who do you think this quote is referring to? The quote is under a picture of Julian, so is the quote telling Julian to be kind? Or maybe the quote talking to you and me, the readers? If the quote is talking to us as readers, then who are we supposed to be kind to? And no matter who the quote is for, what does it mean that everyone is "fighting a hard battle"?

Ian Maclaren was the pen name for Rev. John Watson who lived in Scotland in the late 1800s and early 1900s. He was an author and minister. The quote was slightly different at first. It originally read:

"Be pitiful, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle."

Break that word down. Pitiful. Full of pity. Be full of "the feeling of sorrow and compassion caused by the suffering and misfortunes of others" for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.

(Personally, I like "kind" better just because it fits with Choose Kind, but "pitiful" gives us something more to think about.)

Ian Maclaran: source