Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Picture Book: Weslandia by Paul Fleischman

Summary of Weslandia:  
Wesley is an outcast in his rigid suburban-like civilization.   He is not interested in the same hobbies, styles, and foods as his peers.  Fleeing his many tormentors is a daily occurrence.   A single idea from school—each civilization has a staple crop--sets Wesley off on a summer project.   After a chance incident, the backyard transforms into garden with an unusual-looking fruit.   Wesley is fascinated by this new plant for which there is no previous documentation.  Using various parts of the plant and different preparation techniques, he is able to produce all the food he needs.  He uses other parts of the plant to create clothes and a hat.  The plant's seeds produce an oil, effective as a sunscreen and an insect repellent.  Wesley begins selling the oil to his neighbors.  Soon, the inquisitive neighborhood children begin to participate in his newly-formed recreational activities.  Much of his time, though, is spent building and creating the items he needs for daily living.  Topping off all his inventions, Wesley develops his own 80-letter alphabet to record the history of his civilization.  In the fall when he returns to school, he has no shortage of friends (or followers). 

Weslandia (by Paul Fleischman) is an excellent book for recreational or educational purposes.  The illustrations are vibrant and inviting.  The story is well-written and imaginative.  Weslandia is ideal for a multitude of teaching opportunities.   First, use it to accompany a study of ancient civilizations or communities.   Students can be challenged to make parallels to the formation of Weslandia and other early cultures as well as to create their own culture or some aspect of it (writing, sports, foods).  Next, like Stand Tall Molly Lou Mellon, this narrative depicts a boy who is bullied for being different.  Instead of becoming bitter or discouraged, he uses his unique talents and interests to create something that others want to be a part of.   Finally, Wesley exhibits many character qualities worthy of study and discussion.  He is hard-working, persevering, and forgiving.  Ingenuity and business smarts are also depicted in his summer project.  Children can identify these (and other) character qualities and examples of them in the story. 

1 comment:

  1. This story is amazing! I read it a thousand times! And... i made up my own civilization!


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