The Strange Night Writing of Jessamine Colter

___________________
by Cynthia DeFelice. Novel. 64 pages. Grades 5-8.
Find this book: Local Bookstore, Amazon, B&N icon

___________________

Review

cover art

This book is currently (2014) out of print, but still widely available used and through libraries.

Jessamine is a calligrapher and she has, over the years, printed out the history of her town by printing up wedding and death announcements, invitations and menus. Now she has another ability, she finds herself compelled to print out such calligraphy of events before they happen.

She knows this is a precious and dangerous gift. She convinces a man in town to accept the romance between his daughter and a young man of whom he disapproves because Jessamine has already printed the wedding announcement. Her relationship with Callie, that young woman, is a wonderful inter-generational friendship.

When Jessamine prints her own death notice, she handles it with the same wisdom she has handled all the rest.

The novel is only 51 pages long and, as such, it is non-threatening for less able readers while the idea that one can use a magic power to do good without revealing that power is such an intriguing idea that more able readers will also be drawn to the book.


Advertisement:

Homeschool Burnout?



___________________

Things to Talk About and Notice

  • Readers might be willing to look at the book analytically to see how DeFelice managed to portray such a complex character in so few pages and do it so delicately.

  • There are times when the prose approaches poetry and students might like to read particular selections aloud. For instance, Jessica learns that Callie will not win the scholarship which could take her away from her alcoholic mother and get a fresh start in life. The way she gives Callie the strength to accept the disappointment and yet gain self-respect is worth examining.

Advertisement:


___________________

Related Books

  • cover art

    Grades 4 - 8
    Weasel by Cynthia DeFelice. Novel. 128 pages.
    Find this book: Local Bookstore, Amazon, B&N icon

    Nathan Fowler and his sister are alone in their cabin when Ezra, a mute Indian, arrives and beckons them to follow him into the wilderness at night. With trepidation they follow and find their wounded father. Set in Ohio, in 1839, the book explores the concepts of evil, guilt and revenge. It also concerns the time in US history when the government paid "Indian fighters" to kill Indians in territories in which settlers were arriving. Weasel is one of these people, a psychopathic killer who has now turned on the settlers as well as the Indians. This is a harsh story about a family on the frontier of Ohio. Healing comes through music in the end. Read More.

  • cover art

    Grades 4 - 8
    The Ghost Belonged to Me by Richard Peck. Novel. 146 pages.
    Find this book: Local Bookstore, Amazon, B&N icon

    It's 1913 in small town Illinois and Alexander has been told by a schoolmate, Blossom Culp, that he has second sight and it isn't long before events prove her right. He sees and eventually talks to the ghost of a young Creole girl from the Civil War era who is haunting the barn. The book is not difficult to read or understand and should be well within the reach of most fifth graders and could go up or down. It makes a good read aloud with some great slapstick comedy and not a little historical information. Read More in our Featured Book Teachers Guide with discussion questions, extension activities, related books and links.

  • cover art

    Grades 2 - 6
    Star Mother's Youngest Child by Louise Moeri. Illustrated by Hyman, Trina Schart. Picture Book. 48 pages.
    Find this book: Local Bookstore, Amazon, B&N icon

    A lonely old woman shouts her loneliness at the Christmas sky on Christmas Eve. In the sky a young star child asks his mother for a chance to celebrate Christmas on earth. When the child shows up at her door, the old woman reacts with selfishness and anger until the child's warmth changes everything.


Advertisement:


___________________

Related Areas Within Carol Hurst's Children's Literature Web Site