How Can I Use This With My Students?
So if we agree that the best HF weaves a spell, alters reality, ensorcels us into a hallucination of a present past — that is the magic carpet ride, the "trip," the holographic, somatic, perception-changing experience it offers — how does that fit with the all too concrete, known, familiarity of the lesson plan, the chalk board, and the class discussion? Especially when the classroom so easily slips into the "gotcha" of catching apparent mistakes.
I’ve often heard teachers say, the match is great: kids enjoy the HF book, then we take out the historical sources and compare, learn where the author took liberties and find out what really happened. Or the librarian will say, I hook them with the HF, then when they come back and ask to find out what Ancient Rome, or Arthurian England "was really like" I give them NF. Compare and contrast, hook. Ok, makes sense — with an engaged teacher or librarian (and kids who have the time, training, and interest). But lets get back to the reviewer — back to the question of what makes for good HF and NF? Is the reviewer judging the book as pure reading experience (even though no one, outside of a kid who finds the book on her own, is going to view it that way), or book plus presumed adult, or book plus available online teachers guide, or book plus great further reading list? In other words, if the actual future of the book is reading experience along with a guiding hand where and how is that reflected in the book — especially when for readers like Wendy that very apparatus clanks against and diminishes the initial reading experience of the book itself?
My own sense, tipping my hand, is that the problem is that HF and NF is judged by two different standards at the same time, without the reviewer being explicit enough (or even conscious enough) of those differing standards. So to get back to my last post — a book that shocks, disturbs, troubles a reader — perhaps shakes her out of the dream however true it was to a past time (N word, view of the past the reviewer was not aware of, different sexual mores) is clearly a prime teaching opportunity. But I think too often reviewers stop with registering the disquiet and thus judging the book as flawed. Maybe, ala VOYA, HF and NF should have two scales — pure reading experience (which is not the same as popularity, since a book of high literary quality is not necessarily wildly popular and of course vice versa), and teaching opportunity. Your Thoughts?