Monday, December 14, 2015

finding the explanations that no one else can give you

On a recent trip, I read The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin. It is wonderful! Every teacher, every parent, and every library should consider this book for a read aloud. It's the type of book that can change lives and reads beautifully.

From Goodreads:
This stunning debut novel about grief and wonder was an instant New York Times bestseller and captured widespread critical acclaim, including selection as a 2015 National Book Award finalist!

Suzy Swanson is in seventh grade and dealing with tragedy.

During the first three weeks of seventh grade, I'd learned one thing above all else: A person can become invisible simply by staying quiet.

The book moves back and forth through time from the present to the previous school year. It reflects a lot on the importance of the choices we make, the consequences of those choices, and the power and redemption of empathy.

Sometimes you want things to change so badly, you can't even stand to be in the same room with the way things actually are.

This is also a wonderful book about science, and women in science, and the beauty of science. I loved Mrs. Turton, and I wish there were more Mrs. Turtons in the world.

Mrs. Turton says when something happens that no one can explain, it means you have bumped up against the edge of human knowledge. And that is when you need science. Science is the process for finding the explanations that no one else can give you.

The point, she said, was to learn how to research, how to find out more about anything we wondered about. "That's what science is," she explained. "It's learning what others have discovered about the world, and then - when you bump up against a question that no one has ever answered before - figuring out how to get the answer you need." 

 As readers of The Thing About Jellyfish, we learn many fascinating facts... about jellyfish, about the scientific method, cosmology and the expanding universe, about the accomplishments of long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad, the pathogenesis of zombie ants, the sixth mass extinction, and many other scientific topics.

Back in 1968, people saw Earth rising over the moon and believed they mattered. They believed they could accomplish anything. What if we could feel that way again? There are so many things to be scared of in this world: blooms of jellies. A sixth extinction. A middle school dance. But maybe we can stop feeling so afraid. Maybe instead of feeling like a mote of dust, we can remember that all the creatures on this Earth are made from stardust.

I highly recommend this book! It would make a wonderful gift for all the middle grade and young adult readers you know. 

If you're still not convinced, read the beginning for free HERE.

Be sure to read the author's note at the end, because as Mrs. Turton says...

"What did you learn from your research? Take a step beyond your own investigation to consider the implications for future questions. What else is there to learn? Where might your inquiry take you next?"

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