Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Shade Of The Moon Game (Anyone Can Play)

It occurred to me a couple of weeks ago that the heroine of The Shade Of The Moon (Mom's daughter Juliet) was an awfully fluent and talented writer, given that she'd hardly had any schooling at all.

I had two choices. I could either make her a near illiterate writer (which to me is similar to writing in dialect, and I hate reading dialect and therefore don't write it), or I could come up with an explanation of how Juliet got her literary skills.

I opted for Number 2, and wrote a nifty flashback scene (I'm trying very very very hard to limit flashback scenes, and I think this is the only one I've written and may well be the only one in the book once it's finished which it will be in time for its absurd September 1 deadline) to explain it.

It seems (cover your eyes ye spoiler hating readers) there was a library in the town where Juliet grew up and the library was closed and everyone in the town was allowed to keep one book. So Mom decided to get as many books as she could and connived accordingly and the family ended up with a fair sized number, which were then used to educate and enlighten Juliet and her half-niece Meggie.

We'll get back to this in a moment, but I want to interrupt myself to say I came up with a wonderful exchange of dialogue this morning (I think I was exercycling at the time).

Mom: I'm not afraid of dying.
Another character retorts: You want to live long enough to be able to say I told you so.

At first I had Alex saying that, and then I had Syl saying it, and then I had Miranda saying it. And the great thing is, Mom reacts completely differently based on who says it.

Also, to interrupt my interruption, I have the greatest end line for the book (which isn't going to get used, but I love it).

Mom (striking her forehead with the palm of her hand): What a fool I've been. The President was right all along!

Okay. Back to the library (I typed that as bake to the library; my typos are worth an entire blog all their own). It was up to me (on account of Juliet and Mom and all the others not really existing) to figure out what books Mom would decide should be taken to provide an educational base for Juliet and Meggie.

Here's what Juliet says:

We ended up with 31 books, a volume of all of Shakespeare’s plays, and a dictionary and a Columbia Viking 2 volume desk encyclopedia (I took one volume, Meggie took the other) and the complete works of Jane Austen, and The History Of World Art and Little Women and a World Almanac from the last year in the time before. 31 books. Only 1 made Mom cry. Miranda was supposed to take Alice In Wonderland, but instead she found a book Mom had written and took that instead.

The books were my school. I learned spelling and the meaning of words from the dictionary, and history and science from the encyclopedia and geography from the World Almanac. Shakespeare taught me about the beauty of language. Little Women taught me what families were supposed to be like. The History Of World Art gave me a way of escaping the dark ugly reality I lived in every day.

I told this to my friend Christy (aka St. Christy, since she listens to all my ramblings about The Shade Of The Moon), and she said she loved World Atlases. I'm not a big Atlas (just typed as Atlast- I told you my typos were fabulous) person, which is why I went with World Almanacs (I loved the Almanac as a kid, and it has maps). But her comment got me thinking (always a dangerous thing) and that's why I've invented the following game:

You have a library to choose from, and can take a half dozen or so books, in a desperate effort to educate the young and keep alive the memory of civilization. What books do you take?

Remember (as Mom and I did) that the longer the book, the better. That's why she took the complete plays of Shakespeare and novels of Jane Austen. Although I do have a scene later on where Mom is reading The Great Gatsby, which is nothing if not short.

Let me know what you choices are. If one pops up repeatedly, or if one strikes my fancy, and therefore Mom's, I'll put it in The Shade Of The Moon.

I should have enough time to do that before the absurd September 1 deadline!


Anonymous said...

A Northern Light; most of my students loved it so much I read it myself.
To Kill a Mockingbird; minus author bit, see below
Chains by LHA:If we had to start the world over again, I'm sure that racism would show up again. Plus, it's Laurie Halse Anderson people! The world wouldn't exist without books like Speak!
The Iliad; I like it. So it should be saved.
Blood Wounds; Yes, I've read it. I loved it. What I say goes.
Speak; evil is human nature. You have to know how to cope, or how not to.
I'm sure there are better ones but I'm going off of the books that have helped kids in my classroom the most that I can think of off of the top of my head.


im sorry but who is juilet and meggie did i miss somthing?

SarahTKD said...

I am eagerly awaiting your The Shade of the Moon, I loved the previous three books and am currently enjoying "The Dead and the Gone" on audio book. To answer the question/game, have you thought about Steinbeck novels? I would definitely grab East of Eden or Grapes of Wrath if I could only choose one book out of my library. Both are books I read over and over, though Grapes of Wrath might be more appropriate for your dystopian world characters. Again, can't wait for the book, good luck meeting your deadline!

Emily said...

What a great question. These aren't just the books that you'd want to read forever and ever, but ones that you think would be important to educating future generations.

To Kill a Mockingbird is a must. It's an important lesson on courage and integrity.

I would take my religious texts, which include the bible. I am a very religious person, and it would be important that my children had those to read as well.

I learned to read with these McGuffey primer books that were popular many many years ago. I would take them to help my children learn to read.

As far as fiction goes, I think I would also take Treasure Island, Great Expectations, and Robison Crusoe.

Great question! I can't wait to see how this book turns out!

Robin Talley said...

I'm not religious, but I'd take a Bible too, for the same reasons as the Shakespeare -- great stories, beautiful poetry, cultural touchstone, etc.

I second To Kill a Mockingbird, and I'd add Huck Finn.

And finally, I'd take Harry Potter. In case you find yourself dealing with a kid who's a reluctant reader, and also because everyone needs a fun, light read every now and then.

Sydne said...

Hmmmm.... this is tough.

1. To Kill A Mockingbird - who doesn't love this book?

2. Harry Potter (all 7, if possible) - he faced adversity all throughout his young life, which I'm sure the girls face everyday.

3. The Laura Ingalls Wilder Books - Juliet would be growing up in hard times, and so did Laura. I think Juliet and Meggie would find it very easy to relate with her.

4. The Diary of Anne Frank - every teenage girl should read this, end of story.

And that's all. Oh, and I sort of wish Alice in Wonderland had stayed, because I love that book. :(

Kathy said...

I think you're missing some philosophy, maybe some Plato?

Nina said...

To Kill a Mockingbird and Diary of Anne Frank. For sure. But if Alex is involved I am positive that there would need to have been a Bible there as well. Shakespeare of course, and I am thinking some "how-to" books. Weaving? Building? Sewing? I don't know, just brain-storming, but it's a great exercise! I also second the Atlas. I like almanacs, but I could sit and pore over an atlas any time for hours :*)

Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Hello and thank you to Anonymous and Yourbiggestyoungestfan! (Juliet and Meggie are characters in the book I'm working on now) and SarahTKD and Emily and Robin Talley and Sydne and Kathy and Nina-

Those are great suggestions and I'm loving reading them (and hope for more, because I'm a naturally greedy person).

I'm reasonably sure the family owns a Bible, but I should put in a reference to it, so that it won't be in question. Alas, with the end of civilization came the end of separation of church and state, so my guess is everyone owns a Bible (all those Gideon Bibles have to get some use after all).

To Kill A Mockingbird is a perfect suggestion, definitely a book Mom would love and one I can see her reading out loud multiple times. I'm pretty sure I'll replace The Great Gatsby with it.

The Grapes of Wrath and the Laura Ingalls Wilder books also resonate with me. Classics about people living through tough times would definitely appeal to Mom.

By the way, Lisa picks up various early 21st Century best selling novels, so don't worry. Mom and Miranda and Juliet and Meggie all have access to the occasional James Patterson book as well!

Abigail said...

What about a tale of Two cities?
or any other Charles Dickens?

Anonymous said...

I grew up on an early 1920's edition of the Children's Encyclopedia Book of Knowledge. The photos on the linked page of some individual pages are what my edition looked like.

There were 20 volumes, and I was a voracious reader. I read all the interesting articles and stories over and over, and the some of the boring (to me) ones, too. I learned, or at least learned about history, literature, geography, science, crafts, and more. Of course, since it was the 1960's, some of the information was out of date, but much of it was universal. I probably learned more from my Book of Knowledge than I learned at school.

I still have my Book of Knowledge set.

Twenty volumes would have been too much for Mom to take, but either she might have taken a few volumes, or taken another similar children's encyclopedia that condensed similar content into one or two volumes.

Susan said...

Maybe I'm just a weird person, but I'd be taking romance novels, fashion books, etiquette books, etc. I'd want to immerse myself in a world that I would've wanted to live in--not depressing books like To Kill a Mockingbird, The Grapes of Wrath, etc. Maybe even a book on Tarot and/or Astrology so that I could find hope in my current existence.

-Another Susan

Friendly Neighbourhood Bookseller said...

I'm not sure this is what you want, but along with the novels I would look for some good non-fiction - maybe a first aid primer, or one of those survival handbooks that teaches you how to build shelter and catch fish and boil water, etc. (I don't mean it teaches you how to boil water. Maybe it teaches you how to make a fire. But it teaches you that you should boil water.) Basic generator maintenance, maybe?

As far as actual novels - Mockingbird, Terry Pratchett's Nation, maybe A Little Princess to teach them how to deal with deprivation? :D

tigerlily* said...

This is a fantastic question!

1. To Kill a Mockingbird - it's a must!
2. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn - I just finished reading this for the first time and loved it!
3. Chains - they need to know how our country earned it's freedom so they can rebuild it!

Jamie Cline said...

I would suggest a volume of poetry, some Stephin King, a bible.

Anonymous said...

A 21st century book I would suggest is:
Percy Jackson and the Olympians. It is a very good series and is educational (because of Greek mythology) and fun (because it puts the Greek mythology in modern times). It's about kids trying to save the world; which may inspire Juliet and Meggie.

Gillian said...

I would suggest the complete Sherlock Holmes - eminently readable, a classic, and the tech level will be quite familiar... and maybe some Dickens.

Personally, I would take LoTR over Harry Potter or Percy Jackson. I might grab Winnie-the-Pooh for the pure joy of them, or Beatrix Potter - whichever I could get a "complete works" of.

I would take a copy of the Iliad and the Odyssey, the Kalevela, and the Mabinogion, and the Golden Bough or Edith Hamilton's Mythology alongside the Bible. Or a good volume of "world mythology" of any sort. And as many volumes of Andrew Lang's colored fairy book series as I could find (at least the original Blue Fairy book).

Madison Field said...

I would chose fiction and fantasy. Something to let me escape from the harsh world into a much cooler, if not nicer, one. Books that are entertaining.
Hunger Games
Catching Fire
Pride and Prejudice
Little Women
Percy Jackson

Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Hello and thank you to Abigail, Anonymous, Susan (another or otherwise), Friendly Neighbourhood Bookseller, tigerlily*, Jamie Cline, Anonymous, Gillian, and Madison Field-

All of you are coming up with such smart suggestions. Maybe you should be writing The Shade Of The Moon!

I have no idea how many books Juliet is likely to mention, but I agree about the need for some fun books (I particularly love the Winnie The Pooh suggestion, having played Eeyore in little theater once, and quite brilliantly I might add, because no one else is likely to and that includes the people who saw me play Eeyore, lo these many decades ago), and a basic skills book, and some kind of mythology book (I can really see Mom favoring that) and A Tale Of Two Cities and Sherlock Holmes, and so many others you have suggested.

I wanted to include a poetry anthology, but I couldn't come up with the name of one that wasn't clunky (like that History Of World Art).

And I think it's interesting people aren't suggesting fairy tales. I thought about Grimm, but the problem is the real Grimm stories are pretty darn grim. Maybe Hans Christian Andersen instead.

Or maybe a giant collection of Peanuts cartoons. Now that I think about it, if I were living in the miserable dregs of post moon civilization, some Charlie Brown and Snoopy would really help!

Anonymous said...

I would choose the Left Behind series. The characters can really relate to the characters in the story, because the world is ending for them too. They can find strength that the characters in Left Behind have, and follow their example.
I would also choose the Twilight series because it has really good language in it. The words and writing could help Juliet become a better writer. Plus they're pretty big books.
The Bible is a must to have.
I think I would also choose adventurous, fun stories like Harry Potter and Percy Jackson; because not all of the stories have to be sad and depressing. Some stories should be fun.

Nora Durbin said...

I'm late to this but I would have taken some Laura Ingalls Wilder. Great for young girls.

Anonymous said...

The Daring Book for Girls or the Dangerous Book for Boys might be fun to have. They have a lot of fun and games but some survival things as well inside.

I would want something fun like Where the Sidewalk Ends or a Light in the Attic.

Jane Austin's complete works are a must.

I think the Secret Garden or the Chronicles of Narnia might be good to have as well.

This was hard, but fun.

Anonymous said...

Plays anthology which includes Ibsen's 'An Enemy of the People', Walt Whitman's 'Leaves of Grass', a history of ancient Rome, a fairytale/mythology anthology, Blue Highways by William Least Heat Moon, (who is not a Native American), an Einstein, a mathematics book, and smuggling an art, and a music book as well, and the Constitution of the United States.

Cecilia said...

I would say that Robert Frost is a poet I would read again and again. I had a pocket sized novel of some of his most memorable works. I think a mother goose book would have to be one of the 31 books because mother goose created the rhymes that everyone knows and loves. The first chapter book I ever read was 'The Boxcar Children' I am honestly unsure as to how proclaimed the book is but thought it was one of the first actual books I remember. A MUST IS 'THE OUTSIDERS'. This book was a book that everyone cherished when my class read it in 7th or 8th grade. 'The Giver' maybe? I just thought I would throw in some must reads that people might enjoy. Also I was wondering if the kids were going to be educated with other languages? If so, maybe you might introduce something funny like 'Spanish for Dummies' that would be neat to see a modern day 'how to' in their future. Have fun writing!!!

shm said...

I would definitely have to add James Thurber (My Life and Hard Times), Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, The Boxcar Children, Cheaper by the Dozen, The Cay, Anything by Howard Fast, Chaim Potok, and Judy Blume. Wuthering Heights, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, The Call of the Wild, The Scarlet Letter and the list could go on and on.......

Friendly Neighbourhood Bookseller said...

Oooh! Can I go again? How about something like The Girl who Owned a City, or Empty World, or possibly the Gone series? {Maybe not Gone, it's a bit fantastical.} They're all about children being left alone when the adults die. Not completely applicable, since there's tons of supplies just lying around, but there are some lessons to be learned in there. Or maybe The Stand, by Stephen King, about a plague that wipes out 99.6percent of the population...gosh, these are gloomy suggestions, aren't they? How about Watership Down? I love that book.

{my captcha is amess, which is what this comment is...}

Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Good Tuesday morning to Anonymous and Nora Durbin and Anonymous Hannah and Anonymous and Cecelia and shm and Friendly Neighbourhood Bookseller-

Whoo. I think Mom's library is going to be bigger than the Library of Congress.

I am pleased to report (because I just checked) the World Almanac has the US Constitution. I love me some World Almanac.

Mother Goose is a great suggestion. The fun thing for me is picking books that are in Mom's (and to a lesser extent Miranda's) character. And we all know Mom is a woman of strong opinions.

Hmm... I wonder where she got that from!

Anonymous said...

definatly winnie the pooh or some other kids books. there needs to be some happiness in this world right?
i like the idea for a book about rome or some other great civilization. that would be a must for any child's education
great game!

Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Thanks Jon.

I am definitely in favor of some happiness!

Jenny said...

Gone with the Wind. My absolute favorite. I'm reading it for the thousandth time right now. In fact, having so much fun reading again that I'm reading it outloud to my teenagers when they are around. Seems to be very fitting with your series: a girl's life is shattered due to a catastrophie and must learn to cope in a whole new world, with some love thrown in.

Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Thanks for the suggestion Jenny!

Renee Carter Hall said...

I'll second (or third, or whatever they're up to now) Lord of the Rings and/or The Chronicles of Narnia. I could also agree with something silly like Where the Sidewalk Ends (or, are there any Dr. Seuss collections that aren't just single books?). As far as a poetry anthology goes, I can see where titles might be a problem (I have one called The Top 500 Poems). Does Oxford put out poetry anthologies -- or maybe one of those annual "Best American Poems" or whatever it is, with the year as part of the title. I also wonder about maybe just having an old high-school English textbook around.

And obviously these aren't things most people would salvage from a library, but any sort of periodicals would be interesting, even things like catalogs or fashion magazines.

Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Hello Renee Carter Hall-

Maybe Mom prefers just one poet- Emily Dickinson perhaps, and takes a single volume of her poetry. I might be able to work that in.

The magazine suggestion is a terrific one, and I can see how old magazines might be left around and picked up for family use.

I love old movie magazines from the 1930s and 1940s, for the light they shed on those times (as well as all their nifty articles about the stars!).

Anonymous said...

The whole Twilight series/saga

Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Thanks for the suggestion, Anonymous!

Anonymous said...

I know this comment is really late but I love reading books and have some suggestions. I would definitely include a bible, east of eden, pride and prejudice, animal farm, gone with the wind, the divine comedy, and wuthering heights.I would also include a book of poetry, art, or music. Thanks for listening to my suggestions I hope they help you.

Anonymous said...

Wait... does this mean there is going to be a fourth book??? Is the deadline you are talking about for the shade of the moon?? if so when is it coming out??