I usually only review books on Mondays and Wednesdays, but this time I'd like to introduce a recent fabulous picture book. I can see so many ways it will be a treasure in every classroom from about third grade and beyond. Some younger children might enjoy the concept and the illustrations, but they are rather abstract. If you need something that introduces new ways to think about things, an art project that can integrate beautifully with poetry and language, or one that combines mathematics and relationships, this is the book.
Where do I end and you begin? - written by Shulamith Oppenheim and illustrated by Monique Felix
It's a most gorgeous rhyming book to engage in both the lovely illustrations along with discussions of the connectedness within our world: "Where do I end and you begin? asked the cat of its tail/asked the shell of the snail." It includes questions from nature and more abstract relational questions: "Asked the song/of the bird/Asked the phrase/of the word." Children enter into the pictures sometimes. A favorite page is a boy jumping; "Asked the jump/of the rope" and "Asked the hill/of the slope." There are predictable rhymes, one thinks, and then when the page is turned, other ideas surprise. This time, the "slope" is on a camel's hump. I see wonderful ways of using this in both conversation and in writing. I love that Monique Felix painted two different Möbius strips on the first and second title pages, showing an immediately interesting view of connecting. Is there always a beginning and an end?
One can use the book for poetry, discovering connections within the classroom community or the wider school community. within nature or between words. I imagine a lot of conversation and brainstorming before writing, talk about systems and the creation of mindmaps. "Where does my story end, and yours begin?" is one sentence I created, although a bit different from the book. Here is another: "Where do I end and you begin? Asked the bloom of its petals/asked the steam of the kettle?"
There is the mathematical concept introduced at the beginning named the möbius strip because it was first introduced by a mathematician, Möbius, and simultaneously by another named Listly. It's a band that has a half twist, makes an interesting look at connecting, especially if you study Escher's art, filled with interesting meanderings that connect, or do they?
One final thought. There are big problems in the world that teachers want their students to learn about, and often use books to give information about some of those. Some of the words connected to world issues are 'walls'. Can children create questions that show definitions of "wall" both symbolically or metaphorically? "Where do I end and you begin? Asked the black of the white/asked the times when we fight?"
I hope that I have explained some ideas well enough, and that you will find the book enchanting just to see and integrate into your days as fits your own students. Here are some page examples:
|one of the title pages with a möbius strip|