Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Let's Talk Rules

The time has come, bookclubbers! I hope that waiting until now has given all of the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and Eclipse readers adequate time! I really enjoyed Rules and am so curious to find out what all of you think. Here are some questions I have:

*What did you think of the use of present tense?
*Do you think she captured the voice of a twelve-year-old?
*What good literary bits did you find?
*What did you think of it overall?
*How do you think it compares to The Higher Power of Lucky? Do you think it's better?
*What personal chords did it strike?
*What else?

Remember that this is a dialogue--please keep checking back and adding your comments!


liz said...

Here's what I thought:

I didn't notice the present tense until you just pointed it out.

I actually thought several times that the voice sounded a little too adult, and not necessarily like a 12-year-old, but of course, I thought I was an adult when I was twelve, so maybe Catherine does too.

I liked the book overall, but actually think The Higher Power Of Lucky was a little better-written and more interesting. Rules would appeal to a slightly younger group. I'd love to have kids read Rules because of Catherine's positive example of acceptance.

Marie W said...

Hello, Mrs. Cropper and readers! I hope you don't mind my jumping in; I found your blog via my good friend Lori's and have discovered a kindred spirit! I am a "retired-for-now" English teacher, mother of two little darlings, former HA. I read this book just after your original post, so I am having to reach back a bit to formulate comments. (I had to return the book to the library for other interested parties).

One thing I appreciated about the story is how Catherine used her pictures to define words for Jason. So often it is the other way around - we use our words to describe a scene, vista, or create a picture in the reader's mind.

I thought Cynthia Lord did a good job of presenting the dilemmas and perspective of a 12 year old girl (especially the worry that people were staring or the desire to have a best friend), but I also agree with Liz that Catherine comes off sounding like an adult at times. Perhaps that can be explained by the role she has had to take on in so often being responsible for her autistic brother, David. That can make one grow up fast.

My last thought for now - with the growing rate of autism in our country, I thought this was a great read. I had some students with Asperger's Syndrome, generally described as a mild form of autism, and I think this book would have helped some of my less understanding eighth graders look at some classmates with a different perspective.

Mrs. Cropper said...

Liz, I thought that about Catherine a few times, too--that she didn't sound like a 12-year-old. I think Marie makes a great point about how her position in her family and the situation with David would contribute to that. Plus, as I think about the 12 year-old-girls I associate with at church, they are each vastly different, so I guess it's a hard call.

I agree that The Higher Power of Lucky is better literarily. I think Susan Patron uses such great imagery and I was just more impressed with her clever writing style I guess. But I could relate more to Rules. I guess I just personally relate to Catherine--a 12-year-old who cares desperately what others think of her. That was the theme of my life through all of junior high.

Mrs. Cropper said...

By the way, Marie--welcome!

lbtruman said...

Just a quick note about THE HIGHER POWER OF LUCKY, I'll comment on RULES later, this from Susan Patron's Newbery Medal Acceptance speech: ". . .I chose the word (scrotum)very carefully and deliberatley . . .what I wanted was to tell a story that would be compelling to kids. . . I needed a sensitive word and subject, something a little taboo, in order for one of the final scenes to have impact and power. In that scene, enough trust has been engendered between Lucky and her guardian, Brigette, that now, at last, Lucky can ask her question straightforwardly. . . Bridgett's answer is equally important. It shows Lucky and the reader, that Brigitte deeply loves her ward. . ." That is what I felt about the word I was so glad to be vindicated when I read the speech this morning. Makes me like the book more, of course.

Mrs. Cropper said...

Thank you so much for sharing that quote from Susan Patron! Understanding all of that makes me appreciate it more, too. When I got to the scene at the end where Lucky asks about it, I didn't really make that connection--that finally there was enough trust.

lori said...

I finished RULES a few minutes before Wes got home from a football game. When he came in the door, the first thing I said to him was: "That was a good book!!" "The scrotum one?" he asked without missing a beat.

No dear. The other one. :)

Rules. And yes, I REALLY LIKED IT.

*The present tense was akward for about two sentences. After that I feel like it put me right in the middle of the plot.

*Voice of a 12 yr. old? Good question. Undecided. I defer to the previous comments.

*Literary quality? Comparison? MMMMmmmm. Hard. I liked the Higher Power of Lucky. But, to be honest, I liked it several months ago and have not thought of it much since. Rules somehow struck a deeper chord in me. I think Ms. Lord did a masterful job of character development - even with difficult characters. How hard to write a David! I think her story touched a VARIETY of social issues: Disability, Divorce, Friendship, Self Image, Parenting...

I was really impressed with Lord's ability to organize a meaningful story through the declaration of Catherine's rules. I was impressed with the double meaning implicit in the "rules," the way she used rules as chapter titles. Also the consistant use of Lobel's dialog. Impressive writing. Hard.

In the end, I guess I just found Lord's characters relatable, (what girl didn't want a next door friend to signal Morse code with??!), endearing (how do you not love Catherine with her paper clipped calendar, her desire to be loved, and her courage to love?!), and inspiring (is not Catherine's willingness to place real friendship and love above popular apearances admirable?).

Yes, I really, really liked the book. sniff, sniff.

The Innkeeper said...

Okay, I read both books. But it has been so long. I requested Rules from the library when you first posted about it and got the book that week and read it an afternoon. So it's been back at the library for a while.

I don't feel like I have great insight to add to this discussion. I just wanted to say that I enjoyed Rules more. I agree with Lori that it left a more lasting impression. I just loved the characters of Catherine and David. I liked The Higher Power of Lucky, but I didn't fall in love with Lucky.

I think next month I am going to wait until the discussion begins to read the book. Hopefully then I'll be able to contribute better!

lori said...

I haven't forgotten that I have your book!! :)

jeanine said...

Okay, I totally forgot about this book and then when you posted that it was time to discuss it was checked out at the library. So I got it friday and finished just a little while ago. I just wanted to add my two cents. I agree with Lori.. .I thought that the characters (especially Catherine) were much more relatable than with Lucky. I remember being like Catherine... wanting be accepted by certain people and being afraid that they wouldn't accept my other friends. I thought it was very touching that in the end she decides to stick up for Jason and David and doesn't mind so much that they are different. So much more to say... but that's all for now.