OCT OEEO

PS_June_2014

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R E V I E W S 45 June 2014 | Professionally Speaking Mr. Flux, Kids Can Press, Toronto, 2013, hardcover, ISBN 978-1-55453-781-5, 28 pages, $18.95, kidscanpress.com Love it or hate it, change is the way of the world. And, if we're going to embrace it, we need many so-called 21st-century skills, including flexibility, adaptability, risk taking, critical and divergent thinking, planning, resilience and creativity. Mr. Flux is a story about change — the change makers and the change resisters. A self-proclaimed artist, Mr. Flux does not create art. Rather, he creates the disequilibrium that is the founda- tion of all art and creative living. Martin, a little boy in Mr. Flux's new neighbourhood, believes the unknown is frightening. But once he begins to taste the unknown in small, manageable bites, he realizes how much fun taking risks and creating change can be. So, with Martin's help, Mr. Flux helps residents of his new community explore the possibilities of change, from wearing a different shirt to painting a house a new colour. Mr. Flux encourages the members of his community to question the status quo and to look at events, objects and others through a different lens that eventually allows them to open their minds to new and exciting possibilities. Loosely based on the 1960s Fluxus avant-garde art move- ment, the book is beautifully illustrated using gouache on paper. The story can be used for a lesson in art, perception or technique, but its most obvious connection is to the character education component within the curriculum. Mr. Flux and Martin embody characteristics that, as teachers, we try to mod- el for our students as we attempt to instill the grit, courage and creative thinking they will need for the world of tomorrow. Jennifer Wyatt, OCT, is a vice-principal and director of curriculum, Junior School, at The York School in Toronto. The scene is a Metro station in Washington, DC. The characters are a little boy, his mom and a violinist. The context is a visual and aural swirl of music. Dylan, the little boy, stops to listen. Meanwhile, his mom tugs at his hand, hurrying him to catch the train. The Man with the Violin is a lyrical story based on real-life events. The violinist was the world-renowned Joshua Bell, who one day in 2007 played in a Metro station for 45 minutes. Only a hand- ful of people stopped to listen for a few moments. The rest rushed on. The fictional little boy draws the reader into his enchantment with the soaring notes of the music. The vocabulary is vivid with melodic words and the illustrations depict the eloquent rhythm and clear sound that only a violin can make. Working in watercolour and using smooth, swirling brush strokes, the artist depicts not only the sound of the music but also the bustle of the subway station. Dylan can hear the music in his head throughout his day, and by the end of it he makes his mother stop and really hear it, too. In an afterword, Bell sums up the importance of music with a quote from Plato: "Music gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything." The Man with the Violin is a rich springboard for creative learning across the curriculum, great for all age groups. It's a must for any classroom or school library. Sarah Lynn Frost Hunter, OCT, is a Grade 3 teacher at Kindree PS in the Peel DSB. The Man with the Violin, Annick Press, Toronto, 2013, hardcover, ISBN 978-1-55451-565-3, 28 pages, $19.95, distributed by Firefly Books, annickpress.com The Man with the Violin BY KATHY STINSON, ILLUSTRATIONS BY DUSAN PETRICIC Mr. Flux BY KYO MACLEAR, ILLUSTRATED BY MATTE STEPHENS

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