And then the murders began

Playing with literature … take the first line (or maybe two) of a story and add “And then the murders began” to make any book (or textbook!) better, or at least more entertaining. Well, if you have a bit of a dark sense of humor.

See some examples from The Hook.

I tried with a few books I have around and some famous works:

From Harry Potter, Book 1;

“Mr and Mrs Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much…”

… And then the murders began.

From Don Quixote:

“Somewhere in la Mancha, in a place whose name I do not care to remember, a gentleman lived not long ago, one of those who has a lance and ancient shield on a shelf and keeps a skinny nag and a greyhound for racing…”

… And then the murders began.

Something’s amiss with Anne! (from Anne of Green Gables)

” Mrs Rachel Lynde lived just where the Avonlea main road dipped into a little hollow, fringed with alders and ladie’s eardrops, and traversed by a brook that had its source away back in the woods of the old Cuthbert place…”

… And then the murders began.

From Alice in Wonderland:

“Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the riverbank, and of having nothing to do…”

… And then the murders began.

The best by far is from Genesis (the Bible):

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”

… And then the murders began.

Teachable moments

This article from Education Week has a list of ten “teachable moments” from the first Harry Potter book, which was published 20 years ago. (Wow.) They include:

Breaking the rules is sometimes necessary.

Having rules to break is also necessary.

Learning happens everywhere, we just have to take the time to notice.

Two things you could try with this topic:

  • Find video clips from the movies to add to each (or some)  of the things on the list and explain what’s happending in the video (summary).
  • Go back and read that book or another in the series — or a completely different story or movie — and find your own “teachable moments”

Example:

Here’s a video clip that illustrates part of the first teachable moment and an explanation of what’s happnening:

We don’t choose familial situations, but we can choose to make the most of what we are given.”

Summary:

This is at the beginning of the movie, where we discover what kind of living situation Harry is in. He’s made to sleep in the broom closet and he’s given clothes that don’t fit him. Dudley is his “brother” figure, but he’s a selfish brat. On his birthday, he complains about not getting enough presents, even though the living room is full of them. His parents spoil him and are mean to Harry. We can see from Harry’s expressions how he feels about all this, but he doesn’t do anything to show his anger and frustration.

“I have drawn ‘spring’.”

According to this article in the Economist, the average peak-bloom date for cherry blossoms in Kyoto is getting earlier, probably because of climate change.

Here are some ukiyo-e featuring cherry blossoms with explanations in English. This is of a hanami party from the mid-19th century:

Discussion/Writing/Research questions:

  • Did you enjoy a hanami this year? Where do you think are the best places for different types of hanami (walking around type, sitting and eating/drinking type)?
  • How would you explain the word “hanami” to someone who does not speak Japanese, has never been here, and doesn’t know much about Japan?
  • Do you associate cherry blossoms more with entrance ceremonies or graduation ceremonies? If this trend continues and cherry blossoms continue to bloom earlier, what do you think will happen to this tradition?
  • In this excerpt from The Tale of Genji, it says that they celebrated the cherry blossoms in “the second month”. But they followed a different calendar in the Heian Period, didn’t they? What would that be today? Have you read Genji? What do you remember about it?

Friend or foe?

Brain Pickings, one of my favorite places to find interesting things to read and think about, introduces a children’s book called “Friend or Foe?”

It’s an allegory with a not-so-hidden message about “otherness” — how we see people who are different, as enemies or friends. This Brain Pickings post is also a great example of how you can introduce a book to your classmates: with lots of pictures and selective quotes. Like this:

quote-1

quote-2

Whether or not you add a SPOILER ALERT (in this case, what the answer to the “Friend or Foe?” question is, which is NOT revealed in this post), is up to you.

Writing prompt: After reading the description of the story, what do you think the answer to the question is?