Each month Jen Vincent and I choose a book to discuss together. As we read the book we chat back and forth in a google document. We post the chat here at sharpread. This month our pick is Kirby Larson’s Hattie Big Sky.
JEN: The ending to a book is so important to me. So much of my final thoughts about a book are based on the ending. If a book doesn’t end how I want it to end, I get mad. If a book doesn’t end how I want it to end, but I can appreciate and respect the ending the author picked, then I’m not mad. If a book ends exactly how I want it to end, then I’m happy. And if a book doesn’t end how I want it to end but the author comes up with something I wouldn’t have ever imagined but it’s awesome, then I’m super happy.
No matter what happens, the ending is important to me. I can’t love a book wholeheartedly if the end just doesn’t do it for me. I know I saw someone on Twitter say they weren’t in love with the end of Hattie Big Sky but I actually really like it. It kind of has a happy ending and it kind of doesn’t. I guess it depends on what you really hope for Hattie but also how realistic you are about the time period. Whether you are happy with how things turn out for Hattie or not, there is hope. When I think about The Grapes of Wrath or Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck which are set in a similar time period, I just think of depression and despair. Life was just really hard. I get that. But I feel like Hattie stands apart from those books because, while life isn’t easy, it’s worth living because there is hope.
COLBY: I also put a lot of value in the ending of a book. I’ve read lots of books that I felt won me over at the end and a few that left a sour taste in my mouth.
I can’t imagine Hattie having an unrealistic happy-go-lucky ending. Hattie’s story would have seemed unbelievable and corny if Charlie would have came in and swept her off of her feet in a “happily ever after” type of wrap up.
JEN: I have super-high, mega-romantic hopes for Hattie Ever After! Hopefully I won’t be disappointed.
I’m glad Hattie has hope in her life. It seems to come from the fact that she finds friends to share her troubles with. She shares the ups and downs with her uncle, Charlie, Perilee and the other great friends she makes in Montana. Having that support system seems to make all the difference for Hattie. This is just another lesson I think kids can take away from Hattie. Recognize who is on your side and who really cares about you…and then cherish those relationships because you may need them. And when you need them, you’re going to want them to be there for you.
COLBY: Hattie is very lucky to be able to surround herself with great people during her time in Montana. Can you imagine how different her story would have been if she were alone? Yikes!
Thinking about the how the support system Hattie has, and how that makes the difference for her, I can’t help but think about becoming part of the support system for my new fourth graders this fall. One of the best things about fall for me is building that sense of community with my students and earning their trusts.
JEN: A support system is so incredibly important. I’ve shared on my blog before the quote from Pathways to the Common Core about how having a support system in place makes all the difference when you are making a change. Hopefully your students love reading when they come to you…but if they don’t, they are going to find that community in your class and I’m sure they’ll find books that they love to read. I believe developing rapport with them and nurturing that sense of community in your class and a culture for literacy makes the biggest difference in the teaching you can do. I’m confident you’re students will recognize how sincere you are about earning their trust and valuing them as members of your class community. I can’t wait to hear all about it!
COLBY: It’s going to be a great year!