Donnerstag, 10. Mai 2012

Blog Entry No.4

It took me a while to decide what to write in my last Post about "The Face on the Milk Carton".

Are there other media in which the story is used?
Would I recommend it and if so, why?
How can a teacher work with it in class?

I will start by answering the first question:
Are there other media in which the story is used?

Indeed there is another adaption of the story, but first of all there are three more novels about Janie and her search for the truth and her identity (at least I guess they deal with those themes):
"Whatever Happened to Janie?"
"The Voice on the Radio"
"What Janie Found"
Without having read a blurb I would suggest that the first novel may describe how Janie and her family deal with getting to know the Spring-Family the second could tell the story about searching for Hannah and the last one eventually covers "What Janie Found". But there could as well be new circumstances and this is all complete nonsense. It will be interesting to find out.

Furthermore a TV-Film was created, which can be watched in small parts on youtube. Just to give an impression, this is the firste part:
I do not own any of that!

I thought it might be interesting in order to activate stundents' passive knowledge to find other media dealing with the search for missed children on milk cartons.

I was also told that there is an episode of "The Simpsons" in which Milhouse is being searched on milk cartons, but unfortunately I did not find it yet.

Furthermore I heard of milk cartons in the videoclip for "Runaway Train". I figured out there are none in it, although in the end a very small child is kidnapped at a mall [it is a boy and younger than Janie was]. But I still want to write a little off-topic (after all this is supposed to be a weblog, which is - next to a learning diary - originally a place for linking one's thoughts and commenting on things that appear to be interesting) . The video is still very meaningful and touching, as well as the song (music and lyrics).
In the beginning I thought "well, maybe even without milk cartons it seems to be interesting for school, because it deals with the huge event of running away from home, and feeling lonely and as if there was no help at all", but after a while it was also about violence, prostitution, rape and prabably death by trauma, which happens to the girl who ran away. So I decided it is probably to drastic for school. On the other hand teaching sixteen year old Realschul-students I wonder wheteher one should really keep everything away from them, while they may actually be thinking of running away and leaving home. This debate would lead us to far, so I switch back to my topic, but not without linkind the great song and video: 
I do not own any of that! (as well!)

Question No.2: Would I recommend the novel and if so, why?
I would recommend the novel, because I liked the extraordinary well described emotions of Janie and the other teenagers as well as the very special teenage humor used in the book:

"Janie tried to imagine one day calling her frineds' parents by their first names, failed, and fled with Reeve and Sarah-Charlotte." (Cooney 1990, p.58) 

Also the novel has a really dense structure, which is not that easy to predict. As I want to do my PhD in literature once I guess I may say: I already read a lot for my age! And I can very often sense where the plot is moving up to. In this case I was never sure about who Janie is and why. Of course this as well is the work of her teenager narrator perspective,  confused as well and not sure about what are the hints, what is hysteria. At the moment the character of Hannah entered the storyline I was pretty sure what happened, but I certainly had no clue why befor the cult was explained properly. Thus the novel is really exciting.

Question No.3: How can a teacher work with it in class?
I am pretty sur I could not work with it very well, because I am going to be a Grund- und Hauptschul-teacher. With a curriculum suggesting the A1+ level at the most I can not let the pupils read such a novel. 
I also think that it is not that easy to read, because it has loads of vocabularies in it that are not usual to know for students learning English as a foreign language. 
Maybe it could be used in 10th grade Realschule, especially in connection with the film and a concept of "Eigenverantwortliches Lernen" so that they would have to try understanding the context first and using a dictionary for the important vocabularies the still do not understand. This might also create an atmosphere of -not-necessary-to-be-perfect-in-the-language-classroom- which is in my opinion as essential for success as the pupils' ability to work for themselves. 
Moreover the age of around 16 is a time in life when many young people are concerned with finding their identity. 

Particularly producing tasks might be fruitful, because at the end of nearly all chapters one could ask: How will the story go on? 
Classroom discussions about the hints given would also be intersting (a mixture of being a detective and psychologist) - while doing this the special perspective and narrator may be addressed.

I would recommend working with the "Heidelberger Modell des literarischen Unterrichtsgesprächs", which is a German concept for discovering literature in discussion and works very well:

Härle, Gehard & Steinbrenner, Marcus: Das literarische Gespräch im Unterricht und in der Ausbildung von Deutschlehrerinnen und Lehrer. Eine Einführung. In: Härle, Gerhard & Steinbrenner, Marcus (ed.): Kein endgültiges Wort. Die Wiederentdeckung des Gesprächs im Literaturunterricht. 2. unveränderte Auflage. Hohengehren: Schneider Verlag, 2010. (S.1-24)

Steinbrenner, Marcus & Wiprächtiger-Geppert, Maja: Verstehen und Nicht-Verstehen im Gespräch- Das Heidelberger Modell des literarischen Unterrichtsgesprächs. 
Last seen on 09.05.2012.

I do not own any of these contents! 

 And another question which should always be asked while working with the same story in different media: How are the media connected? What is different? What is the same? Any ideas why? What does it add or take away and thus how does the story change?

This was probably my last blog entry on "The Face on the Milk Carton". I enjoyed reading the novel as well as writing this blog (and I really hope I did what I was supposed to do). 

Mittwoch, 9. Mai 2012

Blog Entry No.3

After reading the rest of the book my mind is in a huge cloud of ideas, thoughts, emotions and questions.
All in all one could say the story of Janie and Jennie is a story about family, love, values, crime, friendship, of teenage life and romance and the search of identity.

While reading it also occured to me that I made a mistake regarding the names I analysed: I wrote "Jenny", but that is not how the name of the girl on the milk carton is written. It is written "Jennie", which is interesting when thinking about the interpretation of the novel. This means that the names differ by just two letters!
J a n ie
J e nnie
It seems I did not recognize this earlier, because "Jenny" is such a common name and is more often written like this.

Now I want to try to summarize the story very brieflly, which will be difficult because of the many details that lead to the events and because of the different strings of the story.

The girl Jane Johnson, who is called Janie, is a normal 15 year old highschool-student. But one day she sees a picture of a kidnapped girl on a milk carton and realizes that she seems to remember the dress and certain parts of her life as a very young child that makes her conclude that she is the kidnapped child. It is hard to believe, because Janie is loved dearly by her parents, who would have to be criminals if the ideas were true. But Janie is not able to fight those strong feelings. After hearing that she needs a birth-certificate to get her driver's license she asks her mother curious about whether there is one telling she is Jane Johnson. Her mother reacts annoyed and does not help Janie getting it, claiming she will not need it in months. IIn the same time Janie gets closer to the boy who lives next to her - Reeve - who is a childhoodfriend and a relationship developes. When researching in the library for school Janie looks up old newspapers and finds out more about the kidnapping. In the attic she finds a big trunk saying "H" and having papers and fotographs of a girl named "Hannah" in it. When she asks about Hannah and the birth certificate her Parents tell her that they are actually her grandparents. Hannah was their daughter, who started living in a religious cult so they hardly had any contact with her until she stood in front of their door with a little girl after running away from the commune. She wants her parents to keep the child, but still goes back to the cult. Thus her parents needed to cut all strings to her in order to prevent the fanatists to come and get Janie. Janie's grandparents did not tell her about it, because thy were afraid she would search her mother and they would lose her in the same way. Janie still feels very uncomfortable about the girl on the milk carton, because although she seems to know more about the circumstances she still can not figure out all coherences. She decides to go to New Jersey with Reeve to see where she may have lived and if more memories come back. Her parents are deeply worried, because she seemed to have run away just after the talk about Hannah. Janie loses her mind more and more over the questions who she is, who her parents are, whether her parents are bad people and whether she is a bad child, because she does not remember her real parents or because she accuses her parents of such a crime in her mind. That is why she gets in an argument with Reeve, who told his older sister - a future lawyer - about the situation. In order to defend herself from getting insane she writes a letter to the family of the girl on the milk carton in which she explains that she is their daughter and lives a happy life with her family, who she really loves, but she does not intend to send it. After she lost it all family members have to face the truth about Reeve's sister's theory that Hannah kidnapped Janie and thus she is Jennie Spring - the girl on the milk carton. In the end after thinking about the cosequences as well as about the feelings of the other family they make the call.

Samstag, 5. Mai 2012

Blog Entry No.2

After reading chapter 3-5 I wonder if this is going to be a love story. Besides it reminded me of the last sessions with Mr. Addicks, where we discussed how to talk about hobbies in the English classroom. He said it is pretty hard to know the vocabularies for so many different freetime activities as there are in a class and especially for the modern ones. I must admit that I know the most important words in order to talk about cake decorating now! Anyhow I could not do it as well!

I do not own this foto! :

Furthermore I decided to find out what the names mean and compare those findings to the characters and the plot.

Due to those homepages

The name "Reeve"  seems to come from the name "Steward", which is connected to the word "bailiff", which is the appellation of an officer with authority in jurisdiction in the Anglo-Norman language.
As far as I read the story I can not claim that this is Reeve's mission in the story, but maybe he will be part in the clarification of the past events.

The name "Jane" is of course very common in the English-speaking world. It is Hebrew and means "good is gracious".
Without knowing how the story ends it is already clear that Janie is a gift for her grateful parents. The question is, whether she was originally given to another family. Finally she is a gift for Reeve.

The name "Elizabeth" means "my god is a vow" and I can not figure out how this name matches the story, but as it is common to have second names maybe it was just added, furthermore it does not play a big role in the story and was called just once yet.

The meaning of the "other name" (the girl on the milk carton) is white, fair and smooth, which probably fits to Janie as people with red hair usually have a very fair skin.
It is interesting that both names "Janie" and "Jenny" are phonetically so close to each other.

Janie tries to match herself to her parents. In this context she thinks about several differences: she is the only one with red hair (Cooney 1990, 18) she grew later and is smaller than her classmates (ibid. , 8).

Even regarding features that do not at all  proof, whether she is their child: her parents like to talk, whereas she does not (ibid. , 34) different looking feet [Janie is still growing!] (ibid. , 33) they do not laugh in the same way (ibid. , 18)

And to come to an end:

I do not own this foto! :

Donnerstag, 3. Mai 2012

Blog Entry No.1

Entry No.1 - Why this book?!

I want to begin with an answer to this question. In order to decide, which book I wanted to read I read the blurbs of the different recommended novels. Due to this five books were no longer on the list. Furthermore I already read one of the books befor - "The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas" - so I knew I would not be able to write a proper reading diary about it as well as I would have felt like a cheater.
Thus there were just two books left:
"The Face on the Milk Carton" & "The Lost Boys' Appretiation Society"
I ordered both and Cooney's book arrived first. I knew the book was quite famous, because I had already heard of it myself and with this I started reading...

As the audience does know by now I read the blurb first, this is my attempt to write one: 
The book is about a girl, Janie, who one day sees a foto of one of the lost children on a milk carton in school. It occurs to her that she is that girl, because she seems to remember the dress and the day she wore it, but at the same time she does not want to believe it, because her parents love her and she lives in a caring family, which does not fit the image of kidnappers. Know she has to try to re-organize her life and to find out what really happened and where she belongs.

What is special about this book?
 I just started reading "The Face on the Milk Carton", but I already noticed some striking features about the style in which the book is written, especially about the choice of words and the perspective, but also about the introduction of the characters.
I was impressed by the way Cooney describes the thoughts and emotions of the teenage girl. She has high knowledge about the themes that are important of a person that is growing up:

"She had gradually changed her name. 'Jane' was too dull. Last year she'd added a 'y', becoming Jayne, which had more personality and was sexier. To her last name - Johnson - she'd added a 't', and later an 'e' at the end, so now she was Jayne Johnstone. [...] Why, with the last name Johnson (hardly a name at all; more like a page out of the phone book) had her parents chosen 'Jane'?" (Cooney 1990, 2f.)

"[...] her own future family. She couldn't picture her husband-to-be, but she could see her children perfectly: two beautiful little girls, and she would name them Denim and Lace." (Cooney 1990, 4)
In the first chapter there is the typical introduction of the characters, as well as the start of the plot. Until now the book semms to have a third person  narrator, which is personal with an internal focalization, because the story is told out of Janie's perspective moreover, her emotions and thoughts are described. Still there are no narrations of the inner life of the other characters.
Nevertheless one of the striking features is that Janie is drawn as a character that is very sensible for the feelings of other characters. With a lot of empathy she understands Reese's emotions regarding his family situation and his malfunction in school.
The whole style is very emotional, which helps to find a way into the story and creates an atmosphere of closeness to Janie's fate.

In a literature class this produces the right setting for communication about the topic and exercises in which the students should find hints or guess, how the story will proceed.


Dienstag, 17. April 2012

My first Post!

Looking to the left and to the right I seem to be rather lucky today! It works!

Something I discovered today: