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Pedro is a nine-year-old boy whose main interest in life is playing soccer. The arrest of his friend Daniel's father and a visit to the school of an army captain who wants the children to write a composition entitled "What My Family Does at Night" suddenly force Pedro to make a difficult choice. The author's note explains what a dictatorship is and provides a context for this powerful and provocative story.
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Show details. Ships from and sold by Amazon. Customers who viewed this item also viewed. Page 1 of 1 Start over Page 1 of 1. The Crane Girl. Curtis Manley. Kathleen Krull. Mama and Papa Have a Store Avenues. Amelia Lau Carling. Under the Quilt of Night. Deborah Hopkinson. Molly Bang. Pam Munoz Ryan. Register a free business account. Review "Skarmeta's concise and pointed descriptions of Pedro's acquisition of political consciousness and discretion is brilliant.
Antonio Skarmeta is a Chilean writer. His fiction has won many awards and has been translated into nearly thirty languages worldwide and in his novel Los dias del arco iris won the Premio Iberoamericano Planeta-Casa de America de Narrativa.
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Top Reviews Most recent Top Reviews. There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later. Verified Purchase. I know, I know. Comparing this phenomenal picture book to the classic movie, "Jaws," seems like a bit of stretch.
But stay with me for a minute. This summer, I introduced my kids to "Jaws" and appreciated just how well-made the movie really was. Part of what makes the movie so effective is that you rarely see the shark.
The shark appears only when it is absolutely necessary. All other times, you're left with this great building tension as you watch shark destruction and the fearful faces of victims. It's the same with this book. Aside from being elegantly written and illustrated no small task , what makes this book so good is how well dictatorship is presented.
Much like the great white, you never see the dictator, but always feel his presence. And it was really a stroke of genius to have the dictator make his presence known in their third grade class. As a classroom teacher, I am grateful that I stumbled on this wonderful little book. There are so many possible lessons to do with it. I can present it to show how powerful the written word can be. I can use it to introduce democracy.
I can even start my lesson by asking the kids to write an essay that may seem to have ulterior motives and, once the conversation is generated, move right into the book.
The list goes on and on. It's a great read and can definitely be used as an effective classroom tool. I used this as a read aloud with my 6th graders. They struggle with government systems and I liked this story as another way to approach dictatorship without tying it to a specific point in time. My students really got into the story. We had some great discussions in response to the story.
Great book for kids between 8 years-old and 10 years-old kids. Understanding the various types of government can be confusing or boring. I have used this book for many years with 4th and 5th graders as an introduction to Dictatorships. The balance of humor, tension, and sentimentality within the context of a school-boy's life makes the story very engaging and accessible.
People Pedro knows are being taken away by the government. The theme? What My Family Does at Night. This little picture book shines. It could have easily been a diatribe against dictatorships but the author makes his point without lecturing. And, in the process, he shares little moments in the lives of families during this scary time. They came home, they are, they listened to the radio, they went to bed. Would you cry then?
One person found this helpful. At first glance, "The Composition" is a book that simply describes military dictatorships in a way that children will understand. On a closer look, however, Antonio Skarmeta's brilliant creation does more than that.
It shows how every human being, regardless of age, can fight injustice on an individual level. It displays sympathetic characters that are punished for thinking for themselves. And it is one of the first picture books I've ever read where the main character is a child that outsmarts a fascist regime. Pedro lives in an unnamed South American country with his mother and father. Each day after work his parents sit on the sofa to listen to foreign radio stations about their country's military dictatorship.
Pedro doesn't really understand the importance of this, preferring to play soccer with his friends. One day, while playing, he sees the father of one of his friends being led away by a group of soldiers. That night Pedro finds that his own parents, like Daniel's, are against their country's form of government.
When he asks if he himself is against the dictatorship his mother replies, "Children aren't against anything. Children are just children". The next day a military man enters Pedro's classroom with an assignment.
They are to write a composition under the soldier's watchful eye entitled, "What my family does at night". Pedro thinks it through and after talking with his friend Juan proceeds to write.
In the end, the reader discovers that sometimes children are far cannier than the adults around them might suspect. In many ways the real question this story raises is whether or not children have the ability to make careful informed decisions. On the outset, Pedro's mother thinks this isn't possible.
She believes that kids are innocent and incapable of deep thought. When Pedro tells Juan this, his friend's response is, "They all say that. They took my father away up north". What Pedro writes in the end is a clever tale of how his parents usually come home and, after dinner, play chess. The last line of the book after Pedro has read this composition to his parents is this: "Well", said his father, "we'd better buy a chess set".
Fabulous writing. Would you expect anything less from the author that wrote the novel on which the film "Il Postino" was based?
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Well-meaning if heavy-handed, this picture book views a Latin American dictatorship through the eyes of a nine year old. Children are just children. Useful, perhaps, for social-studies teachers trying to explain what life is like under a totalitarian regime, but not a particularly engaging work. A charming, true story about the encounter between the boy who would become chancellor at the University of California at Riverside and a librarian in Iowa. The librarian welcomes him, inviting him in for a cool drink of water and a book.
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