Southwest Children's  Literature

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Hole in the Sky

Students' Voices

A group of 8th grade students from Ms. Hunt's Pre-Advanced Placement Language Arts class (Emily Gray Junior High School in Tucson, Arizona) arranged an online literature circle to discuss Hautman's novel Hole in the Sky. The students used Wikispaces to create a virtual meeting place where they could ask questions and hold discussions on different aspects of the novel. What resulted was a bold and striking Wikispace dedicated to this novel with the potential to become a valuable learning resource for future students interested in learning about Pete Hautman's book.

The students were able to take on various roles as members of their group. "Literary expositors" shared their favorite passages from the novel and posed constructive questions to their fellow group members.

A.W. was a "literary expositor" in this group. She shared some of her favorite passages from the novel along with her personal comments and reactions to what she had read. Here are some examples of A.W.'s contributions on the wiki:

Page 75: Paragraph 4
"[It] is really amazing how Hautman explains what Ceej thinks the Mother K woman looked like. I love the way he explains the jewelry."

Page 78: Paragraph 9
"[This passage] is weird and funny, because who would ever eat a lizard? All I have to say is: that is really gross! Would you boil it or fry it or what?

Page 96: the last 4 paragraphs
"I like how it explains what the hole in the sky is and where it came from. Also I think it is awesome how Isabella speaks Hopi and the boys don't know what she is saying half the time."

Some of the other students commented on A.W.'s thoughts:

Daniel replied:
"Lots of people would eat a lizard if they were starving! Harryette seems like a lucky person to have survived the Flu, but she is bald and has to use sign language now..."

Keith replied:
"I think that they would probably just cook the lizard over a fire. When you are starving, you probably wouldn't care about the flavor. They were also just joking around."

J.D., also a "literary expositor", shared her thoughts about characterization and description and asked her fellow students a few questions about the plot:

Page 112: First Paragraph
"I thought it was interesting how Isabella's grandfather describes what he sees by saying, "Boiling water, cold to the touch." I think he just meant the water was moving or bubbling, yet it was cold, but I kind of had to think about it for a second."

Page 134: First Paragraph
"I was surprised when it was Hap and Uncle in the Boiler room. I wouldn't have guessed it was them if Bella hadn't said it. I wish Ceej and Tim could save them, but then there's a chance they will get sick. What if Bella catches it? Will she be immune?"

Page 141: Paragraph 2
"I think it is funny how Tim never gives up on Haryette. No matter how many times she signs "Go away" he just won't. Though, maybe he's right, and Haryette is just saying "Go away", and she really likes Tim. I think they would be cute together."

Daniel, as a literary expositor, discussed different aspects of the plot as well as his thoughts on the narrative, specifically the author's unique choice of words in some of his descriptions:

Page 133: paragraph 6
"I think it's surprising that the Kinka want to risk killing most of the people they infect to get more of their own. I would be scared."

Page 119: paragraph 2
"I silently laughed when I read that Ceej was teaching me, "Help, I'm being eaten by wolves." I probably wouldn't need to know, but it would be good just in case."

Page 126: paragraph 1
"When I read a part in the first sentence, "her belly full of child," I thought, did she eat any children?"

Several classmates replied to Daniel's post:

Keith replied:
"The second [passage] is kind of weird. If someone could see the sign, wouldn't they be able to see the wolves?"

A. W. replied:
"I think it is funny that Daniel thought 'her belly full of child' meant she ate a kid. That made me laugh out loud! I don't think that a person would be happy about eating someone, or maybe they would... I don't know."

J.D. replied:
"I agree with Daniel when he said he would be scared about the Kinka trying to kill people to get more members to their group. I got so scared for Isabella! I was also surprised about the identities of the other two people in the Boiler Room."

Paige replied:
"If that person was being eaten by wolves wouldn't you be able to see it, or hear them??"

As the reviewer of Hole in the Sky, I was able to ask the students to share their thoughts on the setting and its effect on the overall mood of the story:

"Do you think the author chose this setting (desert, huge canyons, lack of water) on purpose? Do you think that the mood of the story is in any way related to the setting? In other words, do you think the mood would be different if the story took place in a tropical rain forest or in a big city like New York or Paris?"

Three students responded by sharing some profound thoughts on the author's choice of setting and how it influenced the mood of the story:

A. W. replied:
"I am so glad we get to have some outside opinions on our awesome Literature Circles! I think that the author purposely made it in the desert because it would be different if it was based in Italy, because there is lots of water!"

Daniel replied:
"Well, if the setting was in a swamp or something, it would be a lot different than a desert. In the desert, the setting makes the book seem empty or lonely, because i don't think of lots of life in the desert."

Keith replied:
"I think that the fact that we live in a desert makes it a little less dramatic. A lot of us have been to the Grand Canyon and know that it has more life than you would expect. If we lived in a place like Colorado, it would probably seem more desolate."

Please note: A minimal amount of spelling and punctuation corrections were made to the students writing on this page.

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