Monday, July 24, 2017

BOOK: New Boy by Tracy Chevalier

New Boy by Tracy Chevalier, 204 pages

Hogarth Shakespeare Series

1. After reading Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood, I became interested in the Hogarth Series, rewriting of Shakespeare plays by modern authors with a modern take.

2. I love Tracy Chevalier's books. She has written some amazing historical fiction novels (Girl With Pearl Earring, The Lady and the Unicorn, Remarkable Creatures). When I saw that Chevalier was the latest author to tackle Hogarth with her take on Othello, I was pumped.

3. Anyone remember the Disney show Recess? It's a classic that follows all the stuff that happens at recess in elementary school. The hierarchy, the cliques, the rules and leaders that occur everywhere - the diggers, the teachers, the skip-ropers, the girl who tries to get the swing to go over. The rules and interactions on a playground are real as children learn to maneuver social situations a lot can happen in a short time of recess and lunch (or as kids today call it - big recess)

4. Othello is a play I have not read, but I'm familiar with some of the characters like Iago, Othello and Desdemona. Oh, remember the song Desdemona from Fame? Loved this.

5. New Boy takes place in the run of a day (Before School, Recess, Lunch, Afternoon Recess, After School - Othello is a 5 Act play). Osei, a new student originally from Ghana arrives at a 1974 Washington DC school and is the only black student. Dee immediately befriends him, but Ian is not happy to see the balance of the playground shifted. Betrayal and tragedy ensues.

6. I read this over one day and was impressed with Chevalier's ability to remember how real and intense childhood can be. The main characters here are in grade six, and 'going together' is a big deal but probably doesn't seem important to adults. Ian as a manipulative mean child is oh so real. Eleven and twelve year olds are in the conflicting age of starting to understand grown-up ideas, and then able to flip back to childhood games.