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Thursday, January 03, 2008

Joey's New Year's Resolution

...appears to be to do his homework. I am not arguing. (I do wonder if his folks took away his game until he gets his project done, like they did when we were trying to get another book read last year. It is an effective motivator.)

Last night I was at Joey's house and his mom had been nagging him about his homework. "He's mad," she told me (with a little of that wry parental amusement I'm beginning to understand).

"I've been working on it," he told me. I went over to his room to see what he had. He had a folded up piece of orange posterboard, the book, Bone #5, which he had barely started (not surprising, since we know he can't read worth a lick yet), and some practice writing the title in cool-looking script letters. I asked if he wanted to come read the story at my house later this week and he said yes. He was on my doorstep this afternoon. I dropped my deadline writing project instantly and started reading the book to him.

For a kid with signs of dyslexia, he's sure into the alphabet. (Maybe that makes sense, actually. Apparently he can look at each letter lots of different ways, and that's the problem when it comes time to read something. See The Gift of Dyslexia, which I still have to read.) For Christmas I got him a book on calligraphy and a cool set of pens, paints and inks to do illustrated manuscripts. He had just the book until today, and he had already started learning one of the alphabets with just a pencil. This afternoon, after we got a couple of chapters into Bone, we took a break and opened up the calligraphy set. He tried writing my name and adding some flowers. It looks cool.

He took the set home and in the few hours between 3 and 8:30 p.m. (some of which he was bowling and eating pizza), he figured out how to use both nibs in the set and used them to write Bone in this incredibly fancy black lettering with gold trim. If his first try looks cool, the second looks truly amazing.

So we read the entire book in one day--I got hooked and couldn't stop reading in the middle myself--the chapter endings are classic cliffhangers and you always want to know what happens next. I did manage to stop before the last chapter and take a little more time for business before starting the pizza and bowling fest mentioned above.

When we got back, I took myself out to dinner at La Cecina. Just as I was wrapping up, my cell rang. It was Joey. "Maritza, are you home? Can I come read the book?" He had to wait for me to come home, but within half an hour we back into it, immersed in the last chapter. As a graphic novel, it probably had fewer words than Goosebumps and went faster, but the ideas were more complex: is war the answer? is power the only good? Stuff like that. We didn't talk too deeply about those issues--I mostly kind of checked in with him as we went along, asking comprehension and prediction questions, sometimes asking how he thought characters felt and why they were doing what they were doing. We'll talk about the bigger ideas on Saturday.

For now, he can draw the picture of the pivotal part of the book for the main part of the posterboard, and do a box of characters along the side. We'll do the more writing-oriented stuff together on Saturday after we get back from signing him up for a class at Marwen.

It just kills me--he totally gets stories when they are read to him--he loves movies--he just spent most of this break watching and re-watching Stomp the Yard--but whatever inner glitch is in there between his eyes and his brain is keeping his nose out of books. Dang. Do I have to get a master's in reading to help him out or what???

Oh, and he brought me a DVD of the DaVinci Code. "I thought you'd like it," he said.

"I read the book," I told him. "I've been kinda wanting to see the movie."

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