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:

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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?

Short of the Week

The Academy Awards are this weekend. One of the awards that doesn’t get as much media attention is Animated Short Film. These are the nominees this year, one of which I posted about in October.

Short of the Week is a collection of short films — from very short (2 or 3 minutes) to a bit longer (45 minutes or so).

Short of the weekIn the About page they say,

“We believe in the power of stories. Stories were our first way of passing on knowledge. From tales around a cave fire to dramatic theater to virtual reality experiences, great stories have shaped our culture.”

You can browse in several ways, including the channels (Animation, SciFi, Horror, Documentary, Comedy, Drama), by genre, topic and style (see below) and also by country and collection.

Short of the Week

Some of the shorts I have watched and thought were ripe for contemplation and discussion — and one was just plain charming:

“3 + 1” (in French with English subtitles) — Comedy

“Rosa: These Storms” (in Spanish with English subtitles) — Documentary

“Eggplant” — Drama

Here is an interview with the creators of the site: “Andrew S. Allen and Jason Sondhi on the Relaunch of Short of the Week” (from Filmmaker)

Another related article: “Why Short Films Are Still Thriving” (from the Atlantic)

Put some color in your life

This is a reminder about what school (and work) often becomes … and what it can be if we encourage more creativity.

It also reminds me a lot of the movie “Pleasantville”. The metaphor is different, but there are similarities in the use of color.  If you haven’t seen this movie, you really should. The Japanese title is 「カラー・オブ・ハート」and it stars Tobey Maguire, a few years before he was Spiderman. Here’s the trailer. Fans of the “Fast and Furious” series (Japanese title: 「ワイルド・スピード」may recognize Paul Walker, too.

“It all starts with a story.”

Pixar in a Box is free lesson series of videos and activities from Khan Academy about storytelling and making animated videos. Here’s the Introduction to Storytelling video:

If this interests you, go back and start with the introduction video to this lesson series on the Khan Academy site. These videos have transcripts, to help your listening comprehension.

This is a free course, and you don’t have to sign up to just enjoy it, but if you want to save your progress, sign up.

If you’re unfamiliar with Khan Academy, here’s Salman Khan’s TED Talk from several years ago, when the organization was just starting out: