Tag Archives: Janelle Bailey

The Monday Book: THE ROSIE RESULT by Graeme Simsion

This week’s Monday book is The Rosie Result, a novel by Australian author Graeme Simsion (the third in a series focused on an autistic man named Don Tillman). It is reviewed by JANELLE BAILEY. Bailey is an educator out of Wisconsin; she was one of the Little Bookstore’s shopsitters and in the summer reads AP English tests for college applicants. Take it away, Janelle!

I have really, through all three books, come to enjoy Don Tillman as a character, along with his wife Rosie…and the others, really, who are part of their story, round or flat, static or dynamic. This particular “episode” is focused more narrowly on Don and Rosie’s son, Hudson, and his challenges at school and in friendships and in life…and especially facing the question of whether, like his dad, he may be on the autism spectrum…in ways.

And I also enjoy Simsion’s writing and the issues he addresses in his books. Not only does one laugh out loud at Don and his very narrow, literal thinking, how hard he has to work to expand his perspectives, but one also appreciates his work ethic and how smart he is and how willing to take on subject matter to learn or “projects” to pursue, for his perseverance always leads things–ultimately, at least–up a valuable course.

In this third book he not only takes on autism and its potential influence in their lives but also homeopathic practices and anti-vaxx perspectives and what impact this can have on a child when parents are insistent…resistant…and expecially when that child has some serious medical issues. 

When I attempt to see, concisely, Simsion’s success in writing, I think it is again here that he gives a voice, through his characters, to those who might not otherwise get to speak but have important things to address. In part because of who and how Don is, he can bring it all to light in ways that others, “with filters applied,” might not. Whether it is he and his wife speaking to their son’s principal and teachers about very relevant concerns with their son’s classroom issues or addressing their son’s wish to have his friend, the daughter of the anti-vaxxing homeopath, seen by a medical doctor for her condition, there is simply a lot of believable truth to these situations and valuable, thoughtful response opportunity and empathy building on the part of the reader.

I truly enjoy and appreciate Simsion’s smart and thought-filled, valuable writing and story.

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Filed under book reviews, humor, Life reflections

The Monday Book: BRAIDING SWEETGRASS by Robin Wall Kimmerer

Today’s Monday Book comes from Janelle Bailey, an educator from Wisconsin

Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer.

a beautiful book! I have had this on my shelf since a former student gifted it to me years ago after it had been required reading for her for a college course at the University of Minnesota. I picked it up at least one other time and tried to start it…and was unsuccessful in “getting into it.”

And then something propelled me to suggest it for a book club reading for April, and it was selected…and then, as things sometimes go, I heard Ms. Kimmerer on public radio just a couple of days later, and as soon as we announced it as the April book, a book club friend responded that Ms. Kimmerer is speaking this next week in a local to her lecture series; I’m going! (Because going places virtually these days is such a wonderful opportunity to be included elsewhere. LOVE that!)

So, I then proceeded to read this book for last night’s book club meeting. And it is NOT a quick read. And that is NOT a bad thing. This is a long, dense, thoughtful book…quiet and poetically beautiful in its stories and the tellings of them, and Kimmerer’s heart and mind are working on restoring the people’s relationship with the land and its non-people, and she has just a beautiful way with the words and urging she does with readers to see what is wrong–even, perhaps, with their individual practices–in hopes of reconnecting the masses to a reciprocal relationship with not just sweetgrass but allllllllllll that sweetgrass represents here, that which grows naturally and in a system that worked…before humans got involved and manipulated it and/or dismissed that the relationship was supposed to be mutual, not just one of exploitation and/or destruction.

Kimmerer shares also reflection on some of her teaching experiences, the opportunities she has seized to share her wisdom and understanding with young people, how enriching it is to watch them grow back into a new understanding of and better appreciation for the land and its products. I really enjoyed watching those revelations unfold; take away all of the difference in subject matter between her courses and the ELA courses I taught, even, and I was reminded of how much valuable learning comes into play just from the necessary relationship building between students and teachers, the classroom management and teaching style that develops a classroom culture, a set of inside jokes and understanding and valuable exchange between teacher and student and among students present and engaged. It’s a beautiful thing. (And if you haven’t heard me say it before, I’ll mention again here: I miss my classroom and students…all of them, though it was not COVID or the pandemic but a change of job that made that happen.)

All that Kimmerer presents here about returning to a peace of restored relationship with nature, and its avenue being along the lines of the indigenous and native people is heartwork as well as mindwork and physical labor and making changes to how we do some things, and I value all that she says and how rationally she presents it. I will very happily plant the Three Sisters myself this spring…and have already made a batch of Indian pudding for dessert one evening last week. Kimmerer has touched me in all sorts of rich, thoughtful ways. And I am grateful for her and her sharing of all of this wisdom here.

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Filed under book reviews, Life reflections