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.http://www.leseforum.ch/myUploadData/files/2010_3_steinbrenner_wipraechtiger.pdf
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).