THE LAST FIFTH GRADE OF EMERSON ELEMENTARY

THE LAST FIFTH GRADE OF EMERSON ELEMENTARY
April 12, 2016

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Poetry Friday: Monsters

It’s the first Poetry Friday of Halloween month. Today I’m going to tell you about great Halloween read for teens. There will be a poem, too. We’ll save that for last.

Heidi Mordhorst is kicking off
our Happy Halloween season
at My Juicy Little Universe.

The book in question is a horror novel, one I loved, even though I almost never read horror. I am not brave when it comes to scary books. Or movies. Or TV shows. If you insist on watching the Halloween episode of “Little House on the Prairie,” I will quietly disappear from the room before things get intense.

But I made an exception for the YA novel SHALLOW GRAVES by my fellow 2016 debut author, Kali Wallace. I bravely signed up to read Kali’s ARC. I took a funny picture of my dog freaking out with fear. 

No dogs were harmed in the taking of this picture.
Rudy just looks ridiculous when he yawns.
To explain why I fell in love with the story of a Breezy Lin, a teenage revenant (not “zombie,” please, our protagonist is neither mindless nor is she into eating brains), I have to tell you a true story.

Last weekend, my friend’s niece was in a terrible car accident. Although she survived, one of her friends was killed. How will this teenager cope? Witnessing the death of a classmate will irrevocably change who she is and how she interacts with the world.

So, my question is, how do teens begin to recover from this kind of intense trauma? The same question is at the heart of SHALLOW GRAVES. The more I thought about the novel, the more I realized that -- like the best science fiction and fantasy books -- the story serves as a metaphor for difficult things that we confront in real life.

Pre-order from Amazon.

A year after she is murdered, seventeen-year-old Breezy Lin wakes up in a shallow back-yard grave. The circumstances of her revival are mysterious, magical, and as violent as her initial death.

Although she wants nothing more than to return, alive, to her life as it was, Breezy is fundamentally a different person because of the trauma she has experienced. She can’t go back to her family or be her old self. Instead, she has to let go of the labels with which she once defined herself (future astronaut – that’s not going to happen) and find new, more complex ways of understanding who she is. METAPHOR.

Breezy’s quest to find out what she is and how she came to be undead takes her to some truly frightening places. Along the way, Breezy is forced to learn how to tell the difference between those who want to help her and those who want to hurt her (a great cast of religious fanatics, ghouls, and one ancient creature so evil, your skin will crawl), a skill she did not have when she was alive.

SHALLOW GRAVES was recently reviewed by Kirkus. Check out what they had to say here. 

Breezy is courageous in her willingness to confront the truth. Underneath this tale of imagined monsters is a real road map for survivors. Because the paranormal elements are a metaphor, a lens for looking at real human experience, the reader  follows along as Breezy copes with trauma, recognizes that it has changed her forever, and begins the process of being comfortable with who she is now.

I wanted to find the perfect poem to read alongside Kali’s wonderful book. And here it is…

Monsters
By Dorothea Lasky

This is a world where there are monsters
There are monsters everywhere, raccoons and skunks
There are possums outside, there are monsters in my bed.
There is one monster. He is my little one.
I talk to my little monster.
I give my little monster some bacon but that does not satisfy him.
I tell him, ssh ssh, don’t growl little monster!
And he growls, oh boy does he growl!
And he wants something from me,
He wants my soul.

Read the rest at the Poetry Foundation.

Stay spooky.

7 comments:

Linda Baie said...

I don't mind scary stories, have read my share of Stephen King, and your point of learning from the courage of a girl amidst monsters and unreal events could be true. I have had a lot of students all these years immerse themselves in horror, scary, fantasy worlds, and perhaps they saw the way courage works from them. The poem is gritty, isn't it? I'm not sure about it, but have kept reading it. Thanks for the October introduction!

Tabatha said...

I am so with you re: scary tv and movies. I think "Pet Sematary" counts as the shortest time I have spent in a theater (I left soon after the opening credits).
The photo of your dog is perfect.
Shallow Graves sounds great. Thanks for the heads-up.

Keri said...

I can't read scary stuff either -- it usually haunts me when I'm asleep. I don't watch the movies either. That said, like you, I've had reason to read certain books outside my comfort zone and have found some of them to be profound. Thanks for being candid, and for being a friend to your fellow authors!

Heidi Mordhorst said...

I also don't do horror. I was scared to read "The Lovely Bones" but I did. I was scared to read "Room" but I did, and gained from both those experiences. Maybe those don't count as horror, but I'm a real-life kind of reader rather than fantasy and real life holds enough horror, if you ask me.

I wonder what I might be missing, now...

Mary Lee said...

That is an important realization you came to.

I plan to have a discussion with my students this coming week on the place of hard (topic hard, not words hard) books in the world, as we work towards the ending of THE HONEST TRUTH.

Michelle Heidenrich Barnes said...

Sounds like a great book, Laura, and I really appreciate your take on it– the horror/real life trauma connection. (So sorry for your friend's niece though! I can't even imagine.)

I liked the poem you shared as well. It starts out innocently enough, but pulls you in and ends on quite a creepy note.

Thank you for the perfect entry into this month of thrills and chills!

Diane Mayr said...

Yikes! Shallow Graves sounds anything but shallow! It also sounds like a perfect book for a teen discussion group.