The Green Glass by Ellen Klages

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The Green Glass Sea

Book: Klages, Ellen. The Green Glass Sea.  New York: Penguin Group, 2005. http://ellenklages.com/

Genre: Historical Fiction

Audience: 4th-6th grade

Summary:
Ellen Klages,The Green Glass Sea, tells a remarkable story about childhood and the importance of friendship. Dewey Kerrigan is an eleven year old girl who is extremely smart and loves to invent things. She is always working on constructing new things that she finds at the dump. Dewey’s father works for the government on a secret mission and they are forced to live on the Hill, surrounded by other scientist and physicist. On the hill, Dewey meets a girl name Suze. They don’t immediately hit it off, after a very unfortunate circumstance Dewey and Suze link together and create a bond they call “SHAZAM!”

Themes:
This novel discusses the extreme importance of friendship. Dewey is forced to move out of her home and live with her father’s friends. Her friendship with Suze did not come easily. When she first moved in Suze drew a line on the floor to separate their spaces. Deway was forced to adapt to a new living situation that was not easy at first, but with the help of Suze she begins to adjust. Suze and parents treat her like she is their own. She soon learns that sometimes the lack of blood relation does not make people any less important. She is loved and finally knows what it is like to have a sister and be part of a family. During the rough time after her father passes, she is lost and has no one to depend on. Suze is the only person that she can relate to and share her feelings. They are both very intelligent and share the love of reading and creating new projects.

Another theme that can be found in this novel is family. We are introduced to Dewey while she is staying with a neighbor after her grandmother passes. She was lonely and felt as if she had no place that she belonged. Dewey was thrilled when she found out that she would be taking the train to Los Alamos to live with her father on the hill. She arrives in a town that does not exist. Shortly after her father picks her up and takes her to a cylinder block building that she could now call home. Dewey barely gets time to adjust to living with her father when he has to travel to Washington D.C. Dewey goes to stay with Suze’s family and realizes that she will not be going home anytime soon. It is here that she finds that what she has been searching for for so long she has finally found. She has found a sense of belonging, with a mother to love her and care for her.

Connection:
This book is targeted for students who are the same age as Dewey and Suze. They are both eleven years old and are trying desperately to find their place in school. Dewey is an outsider, who doesn’t have a lot of friends and is often called “Screwy Dewey.” Suze, nicknamed “Truck,” by the girls in her class will go along with things just so she doesn’t stick out. This theme is very relevant to students of that age. This novel also discusses what is going on historically with WWII. I would also teach or coordinate a lesson with the history teacher to make the connection with the setting and atmosphere of those days. The Green Glass Sea, can provide the opportunity for a discussion about the need to fit in. A group activity could also be conducted to help students get to know each other better so show that most probably have more in common with each other than they thought.

Reaction:
I really enjoyed this novel. It took me back to my grade school days when the need to fit it was so prominent in my daily life. It was refreshing to read a story about friendship and daily struggles, opposed to romance and relationship problems. The strength of friendship at that age is crucial in a happy and healthy development of self at that time. This novel also had a large coming of age theme and it was really exciting to be able to see Dewey grow as a person from beginning to end. She finds herself, her strengths, and a new family that loves her. I also appreciated the historical background information that allowed me as the reader to understand the environment that the characters were living in.

Reception:
Ellen Klages, The Green Glass Sea, has received many awards and been acknowledged by several magazines and newspapers as a great read. Klages captures the essence of childhood and how children as struggling to find who they are at age eleven. “The characters are exceptionally well drawn, and the compelling, unusual setting makes a great tie-in for history classes,” says Booklist.
http://www.booklistonline.com/SearchResults.aspx The friendship of Dewey and Suze have captured the hearts of many.  “Details about the era-popular music, pastimes and products-add authenticity to the story as do brief appearances of some historic figures including Robert Oppenheimer….the author provides much insight into the controversies surrounding the making of the bomb and brings to life the tensions of war experienced by adults and children alike” stated Publishers weekly. http://subs.publishersweekly.com/features_page/book_reviews/

 

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About kjnorman

English Education Major Psychology Minor I would love to teach high school English. I am 22 years old and commute to WIU from Galesburg, IL.
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3 Responses to The Green Glass by Ellen Klages

  1. Kayla, what aspects of World War II did the author discuss? Thinking about what you know about the time period, did you find the book historically accurate? Do both her mother and her father die in the novel? If so, how does loss play out?

  2. kjnorman says:

    Loss was not a major theme in the novel. However, the loss of her parents did place her in the circumstances to build a great friendship with the others supporting characters. I do believe that this novel is historically correct. At the end of the novel it actually states a list of references of where she researched to implement her information into the story. This novel was based for a much younger audience so they did not focus too much on the characters feelings other than saying she was sad, and cried one night alone. The main focus was on their friendship and how family can be created by anyone who loves and cares for you.

  3. kayla, I personally feel that bullying in schools has become a huge problem that is spiraling out of control. what if you saw a child being bullied like this while you were teaching, how do you think you would handle the situation? How would you address this issue and do you feel these types of books could minimize bullying in schools? Also, with cyber bullying currently on the rise do you think you could possibly tie this book into that type of bullying? I’ve personally seem my younger sister harassed until she was in tears because of text messages, facebook, and instant messages; what is your view of this opinion and do you think if schools were more proactive in the classroom the amount of kids being cyber bullied would decrease?

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