The Magic Beads

In our reading group we have been exploring different genres. Today was day three of looking at realistic fiction. Last week what kept coming up on our list of what makes a book realistic fiction was that many people would find things to connect to easily in the story. Today we read a story together and our writing focused on possible connections.

The story that we read today had a lot to it and our discussion and subsequent writing was rich. In fact, I don’t think I can think of a time all year where the group was so quietly engrossed in their writing. When I read notebooks at recess, I was blown away by the maturity and thought that was shared. The Magic Beads written by Susin Nielsen-Fernlund and illustrated by Genevieve Cote is an important story addressing the emotions of a young girl starting school while her life is full of change.

Lillian begins Grade 2 at a new school after she and her Mom have had to move to a shelter to escape her abusive father. They have left everything behind and Lillian is feeling a range of emotions from anxiety to anger. A part of her misses her father even though her memories of his bad moods are difficult to think about. She loves her Mom and knows why they had to leave but she also feels angry that her Mom was the one that took them away. When she is asked to share at Show and Tell on Friday, Lillian’s upset grows. She no longer has her pesonal possessions with her. What could she share? The butterflies in her tummy turn into grasshoppers, donkeys and eventually buffalos as Friday approaches and she has nothing to share.

Finally as she stands before the class on Friday, Lillian talks about her plastic beads, terming them magic beads and explaining that with just a little imagination, the beads can be all kinds of things. Lillian’s inventive imagination intrigues her classmates and provides a way for friendships to begin.

Student writing ranged from personal connections to ideas of what events or emotions readers might feel connected to in the story. Here are excerpts:

Carmen writes: Some people might connect to being sad because of leaving your Dad all alone since you might have played with your Dad and you might miss your favourite happiness. 

Truman shared: I connected to when I first went to this school and I felt scared and shy. Some people might connect to their feelings on the first day of school. I connected to when I didn’t bring my Chinese homework and felt nervous.

Catriona wrote: People could connect to being mad at a person when the person you’re really mad at isn’t there. 

Heman shared: When I first went to this school, I felt like I had a tummy ache just like Lillian. 

Khai made a list of possible connections: using your imagination to feel better, feeling anxious at school on the first day, having a Dad with some anger problems, having to move somewhere when you don’t really want to, . . .




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