By Nancy Springer
Author’s Website: http://www.nancyspringer.info/
Brought to you by OBS reviewer Angie
Ostracized for speaking her mind and standing up against a man she doesn’t wish to marry, a young girl is cast out of her village and forced to fend for herself in the mountains. When she ventures too closely to a lake and nearly drowns, she is rescued by a man from Athens who introduces himself as Herodotus. What transpires after the rescue is an education for the young girl, providing names for the things that surround her. When an encounter with a fish leads her to discover her own true name, she soon discovers the gift she can take back to her village to be accepted once again. (Amazon)
This was a strange story. But that isn’t always a bad thing. It took me a while to get into the story, although once I was into it I was eagerly scanning the pages to find out what was going to happen next.
I’m a mom and and teacher. Therefore, I’ve had many conversations with kids asking “Who got to name the things in the world? Who looked at the first flower and said ‘This thing will forever be known as a flower’ I wish I could name stuff.” Kids have amazing imaginations. So I can see how this story would make a great story for a middle school English class. The discussions rising from it are endless… Imagine a social structure in which people don’t have names and yet are not referred to by their physical characteristics (the fat guy, the pretty lady), but instead just generically indicated with a pointed finger. And then there is the idea that other humans don’t exist outside of their tribe. Add to that the fact that they are oblivious to the entire world that lies beyond what they can see from the safety of their small village and you have an amazing discussion.
I really enjoyed this story and I would love to be able to pass it along to all middle and high school English teachers.