Tuesday, January 8, 2008

PHW ~ Bonnie's discussion of the questions

1. Why is the first picture called "X"? And why do you think Hollis has kept it in spite of the X? Discuss Hollis’s idea of home.

What an insensitive teacher! This first picture, which has peanut butter and jelly smudges, was not one Hollis drew herself. It was cut out of a magazine for homework when she was only six years old. The teacher didn't see any "W" words in it, but Hollis did:
W for wish, or W for want, or W for "Wouldn't it be loverly," like the song the music teacher had taught us? (p. 1)
Hollis had to sit in the hall for defacing another student's picture; I think the teacher needed the same punishment ... go sit in the hall for defacing Hollis's wish-want picture! Though I don't want to search through the book to find it, I remember Hollis later thinking this early picture also represents "WITH" in her mind. I think it's precocious of Hollis to come up with a picture of "with" ... I wonder what I'd have suggested to illustrate that word. Nothing so inovative, I'm sure.

Hollis's idea of home is family: a father, a mother, a brother, and a sister. I noticed that the Regans plus Hollis fulfills that wish-want exactly. But by the end of the book, Hollis's idea of family has broadened. And that is finally a perfect family, not only for Hollis, but also for Izzy.

2. We've heard that "a picture is worth a thousand words," so think up a picture of your family when you were a child. What would your "picture" show? Why is that particular moment in your family so special?

Well, maybe I'd show a picture of my daddy flying a kite with us kids, but Jimmy wasn't even born yet. Maybe it would be a picture of Mom sitting with us in the second pew at (her) church so she could take us out the nearby door if we got rambunctious, but Daddy wouldn't be there (until we children were mostly grown and flown). Maybe it would be the day Daddy came home from World War Two ... and I (age 5) sat down at the piano to play my favorite piece for him, while Billy (age 2 or 3) cavorted around him, and Mother greeted him holding baby Ann, whom he had not yet seen in person; but once again, Jim wasn't born for another four years. Hmmm, maybe I can't draw a picture that includes all of us four kids plus parents, especially since I married at 18 and Jimmy was a week short of being ten years old at the time.

3. Except for the first chapter, all the others are said to be "The Time with Josie." What happens in chapter one? What name would you give this chapter?

Shelly's name for the chapter is so perfect: Mustard Lady Delivers Hollis to Art Teacher Wielding Knife. I love it! Wow, publishers should hire her to write chapter titles. This may sound like I'm being facetious, but I am really impressed with her title. It had me laughing out loud, truly! "Time with Josie" ~ how exciting is that? Shelley's chapter heading would draw in any reader, wouldn't it?

4. Beatrice had been an art teacher for 40 years, but had never seen anyone who could do what Hollis could do (p. 43). The Old Man had said, "Where'd you ever learn to do that?" (pp. 44, 47), and Izzie had said, "You have a gift, pure and simple" (p. 44). What are some of the many many art career options for Hollis?

My twin daughters went different ways in their art interests. When she was in high school, one used tweed cloth glued to paper to illustrate fashion models; the other painted impressions of a wooded area, later using watercolors to blend pastel colors into dancers or flowers. The first could have been a fashion designer or a magazine illustrator or a newspaper ad editor, while her sister could have become a starving artist selling her original fine art on Parisian street corners. Actually, the first daughter uses her artistic talents when she puts pictures or 3-D objects on the walls of her home, and her sister isn't starving ... even though she still prefers fine art ... she is now part of an artists' cooperative, while her banker-husband supports the family. Hollis could do something like my daughters ... or she could illustrate books, design greeting cards, become an art teacher like Beatrice, lots of possibilities. The field is wide open for Hollis.

5. I'm testing your memory with this question. What was Hollis's favorite color in the leather box of colored pencils the Old Man gave her? What do you imagine Hollis would draw with that color?

Her favorite color was French Blue, as others have said. Sure, Hollis could draw the sky or the Delaware River, but also her favorite mountain. I looked up the color online and found a variety of shades of blue ... this yarn shows several shades of French blue. I guess I think of blue for mountains because I live in the Cumberland mountain range and near the Smoky Mountains, which look smoky blue-gray from a distance. Shades of purplish-bluish hills and mountaintops disappear into the distance in my mind, layers and layers of blues so that sometimes I can't decide whether that most distant one is a mountain or a cloud. I love that image.

6. Josie told Hollis, "There are saltwater people, and freshwater people" (p. 23). Which was Hollis? Which are you? Tell us why.

Hollis preferred freshwater, as I do. As a child I loved reading about sailors climbing up into the sails and sailing the wild blue sea. Then I learned that I couldn't become of sailor of schooners (in the late 1940s) for two reasons: (1) schooners and square-riggers had gone the way of the dodo bird, and (2) women in the navy were not (then) allowed to actually sail off in ships. Too bad. When I got to know the ocean, however, it felt so wide open and huge! Not like the Tennessee River or the small creeks and streams in my area of the world. Nah, I'm happy to have spent my sailing life on a dammed-up lake not more than a couple of miles wide, blowing in the wind sweeping down on my 19-foot sailboat from the surrounding hills. I like being in sight of mountains.

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