I’m not dead yet. It’s just been a bit busy ’round these parts lately. And I’ve been sleeping in for five days, so I’m still a little dopey. Even most of the kids were quiet today; they looked sort of tattered.

“Where’s all the left-over pie I asked for?”

“Everybody in my family went eeewww when I asked about rhubarb pie.” (Almost none of the kids knew what I was talking about last week when I asked for rhubarb pie. Did you know that rhubarb leaves are poisonous?)

“I see how it is. I’ll settle for pecan.”

On the last day before vacation we finally had time to finish the video of “The Monsters are due on Maple Street.” They really like the groovy old cars (Steve has a brand new 1960 Ford station wagon) and the old-school ice-cream man. They also crack up that somebody besides me says, no dice. When Les Goodman first tries to start his car, and Woman 1 asks him if he had any luck getting it started, and he yells, “No dice.”

In every class, the kids yelled at the screen (a la Rocky Horror), “Cheese Slice!”

“We went to my grampa’s for Thanksgiving, and guess what?”

“I can’t imagine.”

“He said, ‘No dice.'”


And the kids are so busy laughing at and mocking the fine 50’s stylie flying saucer at the end, that they miss Rod Serling’s epilogue and admonition. Sigh.

Today we read chapter 11 in The Giver, when Jonas experiences snow. This being California and all, I have to ask,

“How many of you have never experienced snow?”

I know this is going to be hard for you people who have weather to believe, but I had at least 20 kids raise their hands. It wasn’t a surprise to me, but my wife was in her 30’s before she “went to the snow” as we say around here. She grew up here and in Hawaii, so…

“And I don’t mean just that pile of stuff they have once a year at Farmers’ Market; that’s just shaved ice.”

D’oh. More hands.

“Not that that’s bad or anything–for my boy’s third birthday, we dumped two truckloads into my front yard and had a snow party. There was still some ‘snow’ left in the yard 5 days later (my boy’s birthday is in May). One of my students at the time stole the last piece and put it in his freezer.”

“Nuh uh.”

“Yuh uh. I watched him ‘sneak’ off with it, and he told me he put it in his mom’s freezer.”


“The point is, even if Joey here has never experienced snow, he does know what it is. He’s seen pictures of it and heard Christmas carols about it, and seen it on tv and in movies, and knows that entire industries are based on the fact that we have snow. Jonas doesn’t even have the concept. He doesn’t know from weather or hills or even sunshine, as we saw later in the chapter. It’s going to be like that for everything.  It will be like entering another world for him. That’s why he has to experience it. Nobody could explain the things he has to ‘know.’ It would be like…well, here’s a writing prompt I used to use back when I was young and idealistic and hoped my seventh grader would explore their thoughts and expand their minds with their writing.”


“Try describing colors to a blind man.”

“Woah.” Seventh graders are so easy.

“That’s what it would be like for Jonas to try to share his training with anyone else. They’re all blind, and he’s beginning to see color.”

“I knew they were all color blind!”

“I was speaking metaphorically, but you’re right, it does seem like they are.”

I set up Moodle discussion forums for the kids to share their thoughts and questions and such, and maybe help each other out a little with this “weird book.” I haven’t been dropping in very much to guide the discussion as I usually do, but I’ve been lurking. They seem to be doing a pretty good job. Check it out.