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An ICS Book Club Story: Marleni Pimentel Digs Deeper

November 06, 2017
By Shelley Davidson

To say stories impact our lives isn't saying enough. Reading takes us places we many never go, and we experience the stories deep down in our subconcious thoughts and beliefs. When the last page is read and we lay aside the book, our experience still lingers, bouncing around in our minds.

Marleni, a student of 5th grade teacher Heather Hope, and her mother chatted on their way home from our October Book Club about Frances, the main character of several stories by Russell Loban. Experiencing Frances's dilemma, Marleni believed Russell Loban had more gold nuggets to share. That evening, like all ICS Book Club events, we read a picture book and did a literary analysis. We became detectives and dug deeper into what the author was really saying.

On that evening, after decorating warm donuts, we discovered a character, Frances, who had some growing up to do. We readied ourselves with detective tools (eyes and ears) and intentionally listened as Mr. Valdez (Trinity's dad) mesmerized us with his reading of A Bargain for Frances. When the story ended we had much to discuss concerning friendship, manipulation and putting others before self. Marleni found much joy coming through the illustrations as our story was read, knowing an excellent illustrator leaves hidden clues. On this evening, she was not disappointed.

While on her way to bed, Marleni and Mrs. Pimentel discovered the hidden message of Russell Loban choice of a tea set which would become the bargain made between playmates. Like a precious friendship, one where love, patience and kindness has been poured, china is delicate, fragile and easily damaged or destroyed. Gloria, Frances's playmate, owned a plastic, red tea set. Frances, who once had a china set that had been accidentally broken, was saving up for a new one. The plastic set that Gloria owned, wasn't the real deal. It was plastic and cheap, and there was no need to be careful because there was no need to care for and protect it. The set that caught Frances's eye required safekeeping, heedfulnees and attentiveness.

It was clear to Marleni and her mom that Russell Loban purposefully chose a china tea as the sought after toy for Frances to weave the value of friendship into the reader's mind. Like all authors, he wanted us to enjoy his story, but he also knew there were readers like Marleni who want to dig deeper, who find pleasure in basking in the story a bit longer, chatting with their mothers about growing up into the persons God has planned for them to be.

Russell Loban's story, the experience that he made available to Marleni, helped create in her the belief that friendship is precious, fragile and worth the time and energy it takes. She grew up a bit more on that car ride home, and I for one am certain she'll continue to seek the good in stories she reads, allowing them to seep in, becoming a part of who she's growing to be and being thankful for the storytellers like Russell Loban.