I love talking books with my Teach Mentor Text pal Jen Vincent. Our final chat about We Are Not Eaten By Yaks has been delayed a bit due to a bit of travel I have been on.
JEN: Going back to the idea of balcony people and our discussion of how Oliver and Celia respond to their parents and their adventures, it makes me really think about influences and support in a child’s life.
COLBY: I can’t think of anything more important to a child than having a strong support system and people that love them. Kids can overcome a lack of quality balcony people, but life is so much easier for them when the support is there.
JEN: We established the fact that having balcony people is important. Then I realized that when you think closely about Celia and Oliver’s parents, and think about them as balcony people, it’s easier to see where there is a disconnect between the twins and their parents. First of all, Oliver and Celia have a passion for watching TV. It isn’t a good thing to watch so much TV but their parents don’t really seem to value TV at all. Maybe if they acknowledged the fact that they love TV and watched TV with them or tried to help them achieve a balance between TV and real life experiences, then maybe their relationship would be different.
COLBY: One of the things that I vowed when I had children was that I was going to support them in “their” interest 100%. I am a big sports nut, and when my wife was pregnant people always teased me about how much my kids were going to love sports. I wouldn’t mind if they loved sports:), but I promised myself that I would make them feel good about whatever things interested them. My son is 5 and has no desire to do anything sports related. I have no problem with it, and I LOVE spending time with him celebrating and honoring the things that he loves.
JEN: What’s interesting is that as much as Oliver and Celia love TV, their parents love their adventures. In We Are Not Eaten By Yaks, we don’t really know what happened to their mother, but we know that she’s gone and that she was devoted to finding the Lost Library of Alexandria. If a parent is so focused on their work or something else in their lives, it makes sense that this might impact their relationship with their children. Here is another example of how balance has to be present in our lives.
COLBY: Balance is hard, but when you choose to be a parent I think that your focus starts with your family.
JEN: We have read a lot of books together. Characters like the ones in Hound Dog True, A Monster Calls, and Lions of Little Rock all need some guidance in their lives. They have room to grow as individuals and they find some support (usually unintentionally and without realizing). When I think of a perfect example of a main character who has balance in his life and who gets the support he needs it’s Auggie from Wonder by RJ Palacio. Look at how different Oliver and Celia are compared to Auggie.
Colby: Auggie is a pretty cool character. Sometimes it is fun to think about book characters in families from different books. Could you imagine if Auggie traded parents with Oliver and Celia?
Jen: Gosh, that’s hard to imagine! I don’t know….I just feel so much that Oliver and Celia’s parents are too involved in their own lives to focus on Oliver and Celia. Now I’m thinking about how it’s even possible for kids to thrive without supportive families. It makes me want to reach out to those kids even more now. But now I’m sad and i don’t want to end on a sad note! I’m glad we can recommend books to kids and hopefully they can find some solace in books but also someone – whether it’s a parent as a balcony person or someone else – to support them. In the end, I’m glad Auggie has his family and friends and I’m glad Oliver and Celia have each other.
For August, Jen and I are going to read and discuss Kirby Larson’s Hattie Big Sky. It will be Jen’s first reading of this Newbery honor winning book and my third. I’m excited to share one of my all time favorite historical fiction reads with Jen. I hope she likes it as much as I do.
Our book club will post August 16, 23, and 30.
Be sure to check out the Sharp-Schu book club that will also discuss Hattie Big Sky on September 5. Details below.