Thursday, October 16, 2014


Dichotomies have emerged as a compelling theme in our literary work in September and October.

We have been reading Helen Oyeyemi's remarkable novel Icarus Girl. I read this aloud and we pause as we go to annotate, speculate and illuminate. The kids took an online predictive yes/no poll that I composed for them last week. None of the questions got unanimous answers, and as we careen into the final few chapters of Jessamy's journey, we're finding out who had the right sense of where the story is headed.

As noted in an earlier post, Icarus Girl is the story of an eight-year-old girl living in England with her Nigerian mother and English father. When the kids first wrote about the book, I asked them to identify important pairs and discuss them. Several wrote about Nigeria and England, or Jess and a friend (you won't get any spoilers here, and you should all read this fantastic book); and, as always, the kids found some matches that I wouldn't have dreamed of. Again, I won't give anything away, but the Incredible Hulk, among others, is involved. The kids are also writing new scenes for the book using Oyeyemi's vivid characters--a form of fan fiction, I suppose.

Twins are an essential element of Icarus Girl. As we begin to make plans for projects exploring the related themes of utopia, dystopia, and diaspora, dualities are emerging. Many students have pointed out that utopias don't last; others have argued that one person's perfect world might be another's broken one; some have looked at diaspora as a sad, unresolvable duality between the place you left and your new land, which may never feel entirely like home.

These projects will be developed over the next month and shared with the community at Exhibitions, probably in the first week of December. Stay tuned for details.

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