Friday, September 24, 2010

Peace, Locomotion

Today I read a lot. I called in sick: it was chemo Friday and also the Friday of my first week back at school after my stroke two weeks ago. So I would've called in anyway but I had extra reason.

I slept 11 hours then finished Seamus Heaney's The Burial at Thebes, his take on Sophocles' Antigone which my sophomores loved last year--it has all the elements, love, incest, the gods--but it's also got the distinction of having the only movie version (from the 60's, in the original Greek) that multiple students suggested I never show again. Wow.

Anyway I finished The Burial at Thebes then read Scott Westerfeld's Uglies which a number of my students have been obsessed with--I wanted to read the copy I'd bought at a yard sale before I brought it in and put it in my classroom library, so I did that, put the other three on hold at the library, and read Jacqueline Woodson's Peace, Locomotion, the "companion book" to Locomotion. In this book, Locomotion (sometimes Lonnie) is in 6th grade, and when he tells his new teacher, Ms. Cooper, that he is a poet because Ms. Marcus, his teacher last year, said he was, Ms. Cooper says "Until you publish a book, you're not a poet, you're an aspiring poet, Lonnie." Thank god that stupid evil Ms. Cooper goes on maternity leave three months into the year and the excellent Alina takes over.

You should all read all of Jacqueline Woodson's books. Peace, Locomotion takes the form of Lonnie's letters to his little sister, Lili. Miss Edna (Lonnie's foster mom)'s oldest son Jenkins comes home from (a) war, messed up and without his leg, but Miss Edna tells him, "This wasn't the dream none of us had, but it's our lives now and we need to be living it, sweetie."

Rodney, her other son, asks Jenkins how his leg is doing and he says "I don't know, it ain't here anymore." When Miss Edna comes out of the kitchen to ask what all the laughing is about, Rodney tells her, "I don't know, Mama. You the one who said sometimes you gotta laugh to keep from crying." Jenkins adds, "And sometimes you just gotta laugh."

Lonnie tells Lili this in a letter and adds, "It's true, Lili. Sometimes you do have to laugh to keep from crying. And sometimes the world feels all right and good and kind of like it's becoming nice again around you. And you realize it, and realize how happy you are in it, and you just gotta laugh."

Thank you, Jacqueline Woodson.

1 comment:

timothy said...

elissa, i love this post. i bookmarked it for future reading suggestions. also i loved Peace, Locomotion so much, but i didn't even realize it was a sequel, or that Locomotion existed - i'll go look for it at the library now!

take care