All is Fair by Dee Garretson

All is Fair is a well written, intriguing WWI rescue story with a hint of romance. I read the ARC tonight and in just one sitting. I love a good female empowerment book and our heroine in this novel has moxie, brains, and a good sense of humor. While it is possible that some people will sigh about ‘another rescue’ novel (we have had some incredible ones recently), I especially like this novel for upper middle school and lower high school. It has some complexity that will appeal to a slightly older reading set but (spoilers) a resolution that is somewhat fanciful and a tiny bit incredible. Yet in the details, it is often more realistic than any other rescue novel I can think of. The author’s descriptions of the smell of a wrist watch or the hair oil and petrol oil on a scarf really struck me as adding a truly authentic layer. So, if you have someone new to the genre and/or a reader who adores the genre, All is Fair would be an excellent book to put into their hands.

#netgalley @deegarretson

Unmarriageable by Soniah Kamal

We can all agree that it is rare for a reboot to rival the original. But in this world, where #MeToo and #WeNeedDiverseBooks live, I have found you a single novel that can be a gateway drug to fine literature, world literature, and women’s literature.

Unmarriageable is indeed “Pride and Prejudice in Pakistan.” But more importantly, it is the version of Pride and Prejudice modern students NEED to read. While a modern Westerner can intellectually understand the dilemma of Elizabeth Bennet in 19th century Regency Britain, the predicament of her and her sisters is somewhat removed emotionally for us. Women’s lives got better. Women became able to inherit and work and even marry for love. Having this tale play out in modern day Pakistan adds a level of reality and urgency to the story that is hard to experience from the original with our perfect historical hindsight.

Simply put, Unmarriageable has legs because so many of the original norms Austen wrote about are still at work in the world today. We read stories about honor killings, forced and arranged marriages, preference of boys to girls, shooting of girls going to school from all over the globe (not just South Asia). And in this novel, we see the seeds of how small micro-aggressions lay the ground work for macro-aggressions against the disenfranchised.

Because Unmarriageable is able to step just a bit beyond Austen’s exposure of the misogyny of the day, I hope and encourage educators to read it and consider adding it into your ELA curriculum. Unmarriageable not only presents the plight of women, especially “older” unmarried women, but also touches upon the struggles of gay men, interracial couples, unwed pregnant women, plus sized women, and class biases. And while the setting is Pakistan, many of these biases hit disturbingly close to the mark in Western society too. This book will also give educators an opportunity to teach about Partition, colonial occupation, India-Pakistan relations, Islam, the importance of education to women. And it may help some students realize how little they know about this important, populous and critical area of the world.

So…

Dear ELA Teachers Everywhere,

Please put down your copy of Pride and Prejudice. Just stick in that drawer next to you. Now open your computer and place an order for a class set of Unmarriageable by Soniah Kamal (due out January 2019). Your Jane Austen discussions are about to get wild.

#Unmarriageable #NetGalley @Soniah Kamal

Information Literacy – Part Deux

Screenshot 2018-10-31 18.11.08This afternoon I watched a really interesting Webinar on Digital Forensics (via Common Sense Media and EdWeb).  The speaker, from the News Literacy Project, was @PeterD_Adams . He had some great insights and I recommend watching his presentation (free from the above websites).  But in case you want the crib notes, here is my Very Important takeaway.

Peters highly discourages having students create Fake news or Fake Tweets (all easy to do on many many websites or via apps these days).  I wasn’t sure I liked this idea (having created a few myself for teaching purposes.)  Yet, the more he talked, the more I agreed.  In most classes or courses, we don’t ask students to do something incorrectly in order to learn the right way.  (“Please incorrectly solve this equation” or “Please use poor grammar in this essay”).  Rather we accept accidental errors as opportunities to learn but we don’t assign improper tasks.

Peter recommends that we treat the multitude of websites and apps that can create Fakes like pollution – something you notice in order to plan to avoid it in the future.  It makes sense.  EVERYTHING on the Web is there FOREVER. So no matter how you try, you can’t really purge your Fake creation – even if it was created just for sake of a class or as an example.  In some instances, purging a Fake might give you no forum to explain that it was a Fake (think Twitter).  This is especially egregious if your Fake went viral.

No, there are (alas) MANY good opportunities to decry Fakes without us making our own.  Peter recommends not just NewsLit.org but also Checkology, Snopes.com, factcheck,org, Politifact.  All have great examples that can be used while at the same time promoting beneficial, digital citizenship positive sites. This has the added benefit of denying the Fake Creation websites clicks, which in turn denies them revenue.  Because, as Peter pointed out, that is ALL Fakes are – a way to drive revenue (see https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-38168281 or read Peters analysis at https://newslit.org/get-smart/rumor-review-denzel-washington-supports-trump-false/).