Novel – Nordseepirat – Robert – Ch 1 – English – Level 1-2

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17 thoughts on “Novel – Nordseepirat – Robert – Ch 1 – English – Level 1-2”

  1. I don’t know. Doing away with 70 pirates. Executioners. Swimming and having weird things happen. Hmmm. I thought that the fact that Anne’s mom is a secretary for five doctors was pretty intense. I’ll have to think about it.

        1. OMG what if one of the protagonists turns out to not be beautiful or perfect? What then? What if an ugly pirate turns out to have a heart of gold? What if, in one of these new Compelling Novels that actually contain real and not one dimensional thematics, sexual preferance is treated in a real way and not as it is in Piratas, where that one scene at the end of one of the chapters in mid-book does little to educate kids and in some of my classes has invited cat calls from some of the students. That right there is plenty for me to not use that book anymore.

          1. OK, I’m going to have to read Piratas just so I know what you are talking about.

            BTW, at the moment our hero is having a small crisis of conscience. They have just closed with another ship, and it becomes real to him that these are pirates who are attacking innocent people, and what they are doing isn’t right.

      1. In the knight book we learn that Geoff is 1.72 meters tall and has shaggy blond hair. He is athletic and plays football. I don’t know if I ever give an eye color. Somehow doing all of that for each character simply didn’t seem terribly important. (It would have made the book even longer, and it’s 100 pages of text as it is.)

        Another reason for not being detailed about physical descriptions is so that the reader can imagine himself or herself as the protagonist. It’s not so important when the protagonist is a whiny little girl who has an important life lesson to learn – there the reader gets to feel smug and superior to the protagonist. But in escapist fiction, you want the reader to identify in some way with the protagonist, so exact physical description of the protagonist isn’t important.

        I do have some physical description of other people, based on contemporary descriptions of important people. For example, there is a detailed description of Beatrice of Burgundy in the knight book. In pirate book, Klaus Stoertebeker is “the big man with the fiery red beard”. Later we will learn that his nickname is “the red devil”. (These epithets are also a nice unifying and identifying device and used in sagas since ancient times.)

        My illustrator has the same philosophy for the drawings. We deliberately did them in a style and presentation as if they were torn out of a student’s sketch book. And the hero is never shown from the front. Everything is either from the back or “over the shoulder”.

  2. Thanks for the comments.

    -Actually, I am trying to write this down to end of level 1/beginning of level 2; I originally conceived it as another 3-4 book. Writing down isn’t an easy task. 🙂

    -I’m thinking about starting next year with this book; I’ll probably try it in both level 2 and level 3-4. September 19 is “International Talk Like a Pirate Day”. (Google that and you’ll get a link to a fun site on the theme.)

    -I have been hesitant about doing this one in Spanish for a couple of reasons: 1) there is already “Piratas” and 2) I’m not sure there’s a market for a German pirate in Spanish (although he does make it all the way to Spain in chapter 4). I would appreciate any feedback you have on that one. Of course, I could adapt this to the Spanish Main, but there’s still the issue of “Piratas”.

    -One error that I need to correct: there were actually seventy-three other pirates. I’ll make that change in the manuscript.

    -I outlined the plot in a comment on the other Chapter One thread.

    -I will tell you this, the final sentence of the chapter continues in chapter two:
    “Geoff searches for Miguel, calls his name and looks around. He sees . . .”

    “. . . water, just water, for as far as the eye can see.

    The North Sea, 1400”

    This is the transition to the time of Klaus Störtebeker and the life of a pirate. Geoff is in danger of drowning in the middle of the North Sea and gets picked up by Störtebeker on his way to Spain.

    -Brigitte has taken Chapter 2 to translate, and Martin has Chapter 3. Both are proofreading the German as well.

    Ben, I know this doesn’t compete with the sheer drama of having a father who’s a mechanic with no money, a mother who scolds, a sister who takes your clothes and a brother who won’t help, but I do what I can. :-p

  3. Right on. And we can’t fault those early novels. But when craftsmanship by a craftsman for the purpose of crafting is the focus, as is clearly visible in your authorship, Robert, things are just different. We all know how difficult this is or we would be doing it and we would have plenty of compelling novels already. But we don’t. You don’t just throw together stuff that the kids will vibrate with.

    Indeed, this is a great start. And maybe the collaborative approach that we are harnessing here might provide some extra mojo in the creation of novels that are actually in fact really compelling to our students.

    In the meantime, we will have to continue to do without what is perhaps the greatest tool for language learning ever devised – compelling input in the form of reading (which gets my vote over stories as the best of the best in best CI practices).

    Until we get the new compelling novels, we will probably have to keep our bitchy edge buttons turned to the “on” position when reading those old novels to keep the reading CI flowing.

    But this is a start. When some kid spontaneously yells out, “This is bogus!” in a reading class, I think I would let that go and respond in the L2 and see an opening for what we are all wanting in our reading classes, real discussion in the L2 born of authentic interest. It may happen!

    Again, the privacy and the trust in others to keep our dialogue private is important here. Bashing Blaine’s novels? Just a little? Yes. Why? Out of meanness? No. We just want something better. Piratas? I can’t use it. I can’t follow the plot and the gender issue and I see little there that has to do with any higher qualities, those human values that uplift. I wouldn’t give that a thought, Robert. Pirates grab kids. I know a joke about a pirate with a steering wheel in his pocket but won’t go there right now. Nobody owns pirates – it’s their nature, right?

    My own definition of art is that it serves to uplift people to the higher aspects of man and beyond. Can we not teach a language and try to incoporate that into our work with kids as well? This is a chance now, with the new Compelling Novel as it hits the TPRS scene with Robert’s first shared attempt with us, to start to fulfill for real the promise that CI. What is that real promise?

    It is the one that will allow us to see ALL of our students in fourth year classes studying authentic literature and not just the white female page turners with blond hair who are no more intelligent than the kid with chains on but somehow manage to define the current demographics of our AP literature classes (for what reason is that?).

    And all we have to do for that sublime American goal in education is to build readers that do that? And in so doing, via these compelling novels, put a major size dent in the Achievement Gap? Keep writing, brother Robert, keep writing.

    1. Thanks for the encouragement, Ben.

      Your “bogus” comment reminded me. In both books I have deliberately had people speak in English at certain points in the “bookend” chapters. When I did it for the knight book, some of my early proof-readers wondered about it disrupting the flow of L2. My students, however, had no trouble with it and said that it made sense to them. With some of the other readers they will sometimes ask, “Why are they speaking German? They’re in the US and they both speak English.” (That’s also why I make a point of Geoff’s and Staci’s choosing to speak German to one another.) Or other questions arise. That gives me the opportunity to do what you suggest above – have a discussion in German.

      1. I think it was very, very wise of you to throw in the English. While reading Pobre Ana (thank God we finished it last week) my students would often comment on the fact that they all spoke Spanish at home while in California, even though the novel explicitly says that Ana only speaks a little bit of Spanish. And they just LOVED how in the audiobook a native speaker did Ana’s, Ana’s mom’s, etc. voices.

      2. My own personal style of PQA allows those one word English insertions into the flow of CI. I use English in the way that a long distance swimmer in the ocean would grab onto a pole that was there to take a little break and re-capture a sense of stability. They are not a detriment but a help to the CI.

        If some kid offers, in response to one my questions, that the girl is left handed and I want to use it but I have that moment of insecurity about how to say left handed, I say, “Oui, classe, la fille est left-handed.”

        It just works so well, eliminating my problem of exact language since I am not a native speaker and there is nothing wrong with that, while at the same time giving the kids a pole to grab as they negotiate the L2 currents.

        1. OMG! Ben that is brilliant. I hadn’t thought of that. I’ve stayed in this little channel in the River of Language because I couldn’t do it all in Mvskoke if they went someplace I didn’t know how to navigate. You’ve given me an extra oar for the tight spots (but it is a weak oar so I won’t use it much).
          And Robert–I’m hooked to. The only thing I remember from German class 50 years ago is when the teacher caught me kissing a boy at a class trip to the park and asked me if he tasted good. And I can’t even begin to spell any of that in German.
          Your story is fantastic. I love that you use a little English too. My native spanish speakers loved when I did a read-aloud at their age level written in Spanglish. They especially liked correcting my Spanish pronunciation. But, suddenly they were hooked on those books for reading because it lowered their affective filters to see their “mother’s” tongue somewhere.
          How better to support bi-lingual speakers?

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