Sunday, April 29, 2012

Pictures on Exhibition: Program Music

Music can be a powerful learning tool (in particular its strong memory and association paths), and program music in particular, can be easily integrated into classroom curricula. Wikipedia states that:

Program music or programme music is a type of art music that attempts to musically render an extra-musical narrative...The term is usually reserved for purely instrumental works (pieces without singers and lyrics), and not used, for example for Opera or Lieder.
While Hector Berlioz's Symphonie fantastique  is the paradigmatic example of this type of music, as this is a family oriented blog (and Berlioz's epic piece relates a drug-induced series of morbid fantasies of unrequited love), I focus this post on another example of program music which I have used in middle and elementary school curricula: Modest Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition.

Pictures at an Exhibition was composed by Modest Mussorgsky as a memorial for his recently deceased artist/architect friend, Victor Hartmann who suddenly and prematurely died at the age of 39 (of an aneurysm). Mussorgsky was devastated by Hartmann's death and a mutual friend of theirs, Vladimir Stassov put a memorial exhibit together at the Academy of Fine Arts in Saint Petersburg, Russia, honoring Hartmann that included his drawings, watercolors, and Mussorgsky's music.

Mussorgsky's piece relates ten of the roughly four hundred pictures displayed at the exhibition and are linked by a recurring Promenade theme. The ten "pictures" include:
  • Promenade - used to link the 'pictures'  the regular pace and irregular meter helps relay the act of a meandering walk.
  • Gnomus - The Gnome - believed to be based upon Hartmann's design for a Christmas tree nutcracker displaying large teeth, Mussorgsky's music depicts an impish gnome limping , pausing and lunging to the music
  • Il vecchio castello - The Old Castle - based on a watercolor of an unidentified medieval tower with a minstrel and lute sketched outside its gates to help illustrate the scale and grandeur of the castle.
  • Tuileries (Dispute between Children at Play) - depicts a walk in the Tuileries Gardens of Paris where nurses brought children to play
  • Bydlo - Polish for Cattle - depicts a Polish cart on enormous wheels drawn by laboring oxen.
  • Ballet of the Unhatched Chicks - based on costume designs of a picturesque scene in the ballet "Triby." The ballet contains a scene of children dancing as chicks in their shells.
  • Samual Goldenbert and Schmuyle - (Two Polish Jews) believed to be based upon two separate portraits - one richly dressed, the other in rags. The music portrays them deep in discussion with the rich man's theme overbearing and pompous, and the poor man's one of wheedling and whining.
  • The Market at Limoges based on Hartmann's drawing of French women haggling and gossiping at the market.
  • Catacombs - depicts Hartmann and two accomplices exploring the old Roman catacombs in Paris.
  • Baba-Yaga's Hut on Hen's Legs - the witch Baba Yaga, a familiar character in Russian folklore had a hut in the woods that ran around on chicken legs.  Victor Hartmann designed an ornate clock inthe shape of Baba Yaga's hut which was the inspiration for this section. Mussorgsky's music begins with the wild flight of the witch's hut which disappears into the forest and reappears later stalking in thin woods and then flyingoff. 
 Here is an old Russian cartoon of Baba Yaga's hut using the Hut on Hen's Legs and the Promenade:
  • The Great Gate of Kiev - based on Hartmann's entry in a competition to design a great gate commemorating Tsar Alexander II's miraculous escape from an assassination attempt. Hartmann's design depicts city gates in the ancient Russian massive style with a cupola shaped like a slavonic helmet. His design won the competition but the plans were never completed due to lack of funds.
Educational Applications: I have found that the lack of surviving art has made this story even more intriguing and inspiring for my students.  Here is how I have successfully integrated and taught this work. (NOTE: This can be in one, or over many sessions depending on the age and attention span of your students.):
  • Briefly introduce the story and history
  • listen to the music - stopping at each segment to name the 'picture' upon which it was based, 
  • move to the music (march, fly, lumber, limp, work, run, play, etc.)
  • draw our own renditions of the art (as suggested by the music), 
  • write our own stories/poems/comics for each of the musical segments and then 
  • (with older studetns) research Mussorgsky, Hartmann, Russian period art and literature, and search for Hartmann's remaining sketches.
  • discuss the role and compositions of memorials
These lessons are incredibly motivating and can be used with kids of all ages. 
While most of Hartmann's work has been lost, damaged, or destroyed by time and neglect, here are some online resources that contain some sketches or resources you can use with your children/students:
For a more 'modern' Emerson Lake & Palmer's rendition of this work:

 And a link for a classical guitar rendition:
One of my favorite transcriptions is Vladimir Horowitz's transcription for piano.  Absolutely brilliant - it is amazing to hear the depth of sound he creates.  Here is an excerpt:

Before closing, here is a list of suggested Program Music, and a few more of my favorites:
  • PDQ Bach's 1712 Overture  (also lends itself incredibly well to classroom inclusion and lots of smiles)
  • Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue  (and An American in Paris)
  • Smetana's Moldau (Vltava) - depicting the journey of the Bohemain river from its source to its merging with the Elbe
  • Paul Dukas's The sorcerer's Apprentice - based on Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's ballad "Der Zauberlehrling" (and found in Disney's Fantasia)
  • Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade
  • Vivaldi's Four Seasons
Thanks for the visit.  I hope you enjoyed this sojourn.  Please leave your comments and I look forward to more visits!

Sunday, April 22, 2012 for Opera: A Parent/Teacher Guide

Opera (English plural: operas; Italian plural: opere) is an art form in which singers and musicians perform a dramatic work combining text (called a libretto) and musical score, usually in a theatrical setting. (From:
I was raised more on "program music" (a form of music which relays a story/narrative through music - Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique, for example - more about this next week) than on opera, but have learned to enjoy and appreciate the latter as an adult.  As a parent though, I decided to introduce opera to my kids - when they were kids, in the hope of expanding and enriching their horizons.

Their exposure and appreciation of opera was further reinforced in their pre-teens when studying "History of Disease" at Johns Hopkins University Center for Tale ted Youth (CTY) one summer. This was an extraordinary course that studied disease and its impact on and influence upon culture. They learned that opera is not just music - it is an art form that reflects and relays history, culture and even science (in this CTY course, "science" relayed the forms, function and devastation of TB - tuberculosis) and how the impact of this disease reverberated through history and art.  They were hooked!

Why introduce opera to kids: Opera is an interactive story-telling format that incorporates multiple presentation modes.  It allows kids of all types of learning styles, learning strengths and learning weaknesses to better incorporate, practice, and understand the art of story-telling.  It is also a window into past and present histories and cultures, that not only teachers story-telling, but histories as well.

How to introduce opera to your kids:
  • Play a CD, DVD, or online link of selected parts of operas.  I would first play it to them as young kids while in the bath (let them swish to the music), in the car, or on a rainy day. Ask them what the music feels like to them.
  • Play select parts or whole operas and dance or march to the music.  Talk about how the music 'builds' story and tension, emotions, colors, story, and energy.
  • As your children get older, read about and explain the opera's story outline and ask them what part of the story the music might be relaying.  There are also book versions of many operas - read them and then listen/watch the opera.  Put on puppet productions.  Talk about the music, mood, costumes, settings, messages.
  • Looney Tunes Golden Collection and Bugs Bunny are EXCELLENT vehicles for opera appreciation with kids - we still love these versions!
Recommended operas/arias to begin with:
  • 1957 Looney Tunes "What's Opera Doc" - begins with Elmer Fudd dressed as the demigod Siegfried looking to "kill da wabbit" which is put to song through the themes and motifs of Richard Wagner's Der Ring Des Nibelungen and Tannhauser and borrows from his second opera Die Walkure as well.

  • 1950 Looney Tunes  "Rabbit of Seville" has Elmer Fudd pursuiing Bugs Bunny again.  Through a turn of events, Bugs becomes the Barber of Seville and torments Elmer in ways only Bugs can.  Here is an YouTube excerpt:

  • 1949 Looney Tunes "Long-Haired Hare" in which Bugs' banjo playing is constantly interrupted by his neighbor's (Giovani Jones') opera singing which "of course, you know this means war..." They end up at the Hollywood Bowl with Bugs impersonating the great conductor Leopold Stokowski and opera classics performed include "Largo al Factotum" from The Barber of Seville.
  • Mozart's The Magic Flute - poor Pamina is thrown into a world of magic and confusion.  The music is outstanding and you can easily hear how the different 'voices' reflect the different characters. You might want to compare Pamina's world of magic to Harry Potter's.
  • Aida's Grand March - here is a great clip of the Grand Triumphal March from the Metropolitan Opera - a feat of music and staging:

  • Puccini's  La Boheme, Rossini's The Barber of Seville, and Bizet's  Carmen are also excellent introductory operas.
For more ideas and suggestions on introducing opera to your children, here are some links that may help:
  • Opera for Children - overall resource with excellent links.
  • Opera for Everyone - downloadable CD's for popular operas (The Barber of Seville, La Traviata, Carmen, and Madam Butterfly) with optional teacher manuals and instructions for setup.
  • Opera for Beginners - with instructions/suggestions on how to listen and appreciate opera.  They recommend starting with two of Puccini's masterpieces La Boheme and Madam Butterfly - full of arias and duets with melodies simple enough to hum after a few brief 'listens'.  They also recommend which recordings/DVD's to get.
  • Opera Study Guides - put out by the Manitoba Opera, this site has study guides, composer bios, opera synopses, and suggested books and articles for further reading.
  • Classics for Kids - Puccini
  • Classics for Kids - Bizet
  • Classics for Kids - Mozart
  • Classics for Kids - Rossini
  • Interactive "Create Your Own Opera: Hansel and Gretel"- with overture and animated acts. You feel like you have a front-row seat at a very cool (English) opera/video game.  There is a narrator who describes the music in simple terms, directing listeners to listen for dance music, various mood and 'color' changes, energy, motion, and a cello melody suggesting night in the forest. In each act you can assume various roles essential for opera production such as costume designer, choreographer, set designer, prop manager, and lighting director - all while you follow the words to the music.
  • A Brief History of Opera by Deanna R. Hoying, Director of Education, Kentucky Opera
  • Opera History - history of opera, composers, singers and music
  • A Brief History of Opera from Opera America
What are your experiences with opera and with introducing opera to children?  Please share them in the comments.

Have a great week and thanks for visiting!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The No Nonsense of Nonsense

This post is a follow-up to an earlier post "Jabberwocky & Dr. Seuss:  A Lesson in Nonsense" (although one can be read at the exclusion of the other).

Playing with nonsense is important to language learning, critical thinking and creativity...aside from just being so much fun!

Whether playing with nonsense words (as in Lewis Carroll's Jabberwocky) or nonsense ideas, places, and things (Edward Lear's The Owl and the Pussycat or Dr. Seuss' The Lorax), the author invites the reader to:
  • play with language - in terms of phonics and vocabulary;
  • play with language - in terms of allegory, and metaphor;
  • play with concepts - considering greater depth, inference, detail, fun and surprises as they pop up in the reading journey; and
  • play with reading making it more active and interactive as author and reader play with words, sounds, and sentence structure.

Shakespeare, Carroll, Lear, Dr. Seuss are just a few authors well-known for their integrating nonsense words, verse, and ideas in their writing.

Shakespeare created his 'words' combining alliteration, onomatopoeia, and word play as he took two unrelated words and combined them to express some often-foul-filled image such as "boil-brained" to create a new, scathing curse or slam [Here is a link to create your own slams from Shakespeare's word lexicon].

Lewis Carroll used nonsense words to play with the sound and structure of language. He also integrated sound, onomatopoeia, illusion and alliteration and, in the case of Jabberwocky, was more inventive in terms of words /word choices (go to: for complete text):

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

Yet, even with Carroll's truly nonsensical words, given their use and placement in the sentence, the reader can create an image and story. And upon closer examination, many of the nonsensical words are quite similar to ones we might substitute.  "Gyre" alludes to gyrate, and "mimsy" is close to whimsy, and whether intentional or not, the reader has fun actively constructing his or her own sense of meaning and intent.

Edward Lear, a third English author also integrated nonsense words with nonsense ideas (an owl marrying a pussycat, and the important thing is a ring?)  in his works, often in limericks and songs that he asserted were "nonsense, pure and absolute." His best known songs are probably The Owl and the Pussy-Cat and "The Daddy-Long-Legs and the Fly." [For more, visit Edward Lear Home Page. ]

Owl and the Pussy-Cat Verse II
Pussy said to the Owl, 'You elegant fowl!
How charmingly sweet you sing!
O let us be married!too long we have tarried:
But what shall we do for a ring?
They sailed away, for a year and a day,
To the land where the Bong-tree grows
And there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood
With a ring at the end of his nose,
His nose, 
His nose,
With a ring at the end of his nose.

The Daddy Long-legs and the Fly - Verse 1
Once Mr. Daddy Long-legs,
Dressed in brown and gray,
Walked about upon the sands
Upon a summer's day;
And there among the pebbles,
When the wind was rather cold,
He met with Mr. Floppy Fly,
Add dressed in blue and gold.
And as it was too soon to dine,
They drank some Periwinkle-wine,
And played an hour or two, or more,
At battlecock and shuttledore.

Dr. Seuss' nonsense words were both like Shakespeare's in combining two unrelated words to create a third, and like Lear's and Carroll's in their play on sound, language, and sentence structure (as seen in Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please go Now):

 Marvin K. Mooney will you please go now!...
You can go On a Zike-Bike 
If you like....
You can go in Crunk-Car 
If you wish...
You might like going in a Zumble Zay...
You can go by bumble-boat...or jet
I don't care how you go.  Just get!

[For those of you who love political satire, here's a link to Dr. Seuss' play with political satire - as he sent a copy of Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now! text to columnist Art Buchwald in July, 1974, with Marvin K. Mooney crossed out and Richard K. Nixon plugged in "Richard M. Nixon Will You Please Go Now!"]

"NONSENSE" in these instances in not nonsense at all - it is, in fact WORD-PLAY and we should be encouraging this with our kids as they learn to read, write, create, and express themselves. 

Lanaguage: Playing with nonsense words in rhyme, as Dr. Seuss does, allows young readers and language learners to:
  • play with long and short vowel sounds;
  • play with consonants, and consonant blends;
  • play and experiment with sentence structure (using this along with mapping is integral for verbal and written expression)
  • play with vocabualry, alliteration, onomatopoeia (Do you like the "piano tuna" ...create your own with your child!)

Critical thinking: Dr. Seuss, Edward Lear, nursery rhymes and fables all encourage children and readers in general to:
  • compare and contrast to distinguish the 'real-life' from the fantastical fantasy. 
  • infer - gaining greater understanding and expertise with metaphor, allegory, double/multiple meanings;
  • brainstorm and  imagine our natural world not just for what it is, but for what it could be or might be.
  • create - seeing and reading famous works about nonsensical characters, animals, and places encourages young writers to create their own worlds, to learn to exaggerate, to create and to express humor and metaphor. [Like this greeting "WHISK"ing you a Happy Valentine's Day!...make your own!]
But the most important thing, is that this kind of word play is fun, it is engaging, it creates multiple memory paths and it is incredibly interactive.  So have fun with nonsense.  Read some of the masters' works and create your own.  

In closing - here is a ditty my daughter wrote when she was young - her take on "Oowey Goowey":

The original
Oowey Goowey was a worm,
A gooey worm was he.
He sat upon the railroad tracks
The train he did not see....

OOOOweyyy Gooweey!!!

My daughter's version:

OOwey goowey was a slug
He was slimy and fat
He crawled upon the railroad tracks...
Chugga, chugga SPLATT!

Please leave some of your fun, nonsensical ideas in the comments so we can all laugh and enjoy!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Mapping for Memory, Clarity, and Creativity

Mapping - in education - refers to a means of graphically organizing things.  Students map sentences, geometric shapes, statistical analyses, stories, ideas, data, and images to see how they are related and connected, to better understand concepts, and to aid in information organization and memory.

Why is Mapping so important?   Mapping helps students organize words, concepts, and /or images.  It provides additional memory associations and connections as well as offer a means of organizing and analyzing information.
  • By mapping ideas, or sentences, stories, directions, etc., you are providing means of associating different but related items and this in turn helps memory.  
  • By seeing, reading, and constructing maps for various subjects, students are creating more memory associations, more ways to see and think about the material at hand.
  • More memory associations mean more ways of retrieving information on demand.
  • Once incorporated into long-term memory, mapping and remembering structures (of sentences, of stories, of ideas) frees the mind to construct, abstract and be more creative as the underlying structures are so clearly understood.
Types of Mapping in school:
  • Cartography - stars are mapped much as seas and lands are mapped - to help navigate and determine points of reference;
  • (Military, political) campaigns;
  • Math -  functions, shapes, patterns, relationships are all mapped to gain a clearer conceptual understanding;
  • Science (experiments, concepts, surveys) - to understand relationships of factors studied;
  • Concepts, Metaphors and Analogies can be mapped to help understand inferences and relationships;
  • Language:
    • Words - are mapped to help students recognize definitions, antonyms, synonyms and to build overall vocabulary;
    • Sentences  - are mapped to help students better understand how sentences are constructed, to help them better understand word usage, and to help them be more effective and efficient communicators;
    • Stories - are mapped to help students better understand relationships between characters, concepts, plots, settings and themes.
In this post, I will be focusing on language mapping.

Word mapping is a visual means to help students think about and remember words and word usage.  Here is one example from

Sentence mapping encourages students to break down a sentence into its component parts. Sentence mapping promotes vocabulary and encourages students to think about terms or concepts in several ways. It also helps students better understand, recognize, and employ proper sentence structure.  Sentence mapping encourage students to build upon prior knowledge and visually represent new information. And yet, given these essential skills, it is often not done or is certainly not done enough.  Sentence mapping should be routine - especially for weaker language learners.  So here is what you can/should do for younger and older language learners:
  • For preschoolers this might mean finding the noun or subject of the sentence, adjectives or 'describers' and the verb or action in a sentence. 
  • For grade-schoolers this means decomposing sentences in to verbs, nouns, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, clauses, modifiers, and compliments.  
Understanding parts of a sentence- decomposing sentences and mapping sentences should become routine exercises. There are many ways students can do this:
  • They can color code different parts of speech within the sentence,
  • They can put nouns and verbs above and modifiers below a sentence diagram (see below), or
  • They can simply label parts of speech above or below the sentence.  
Here is one example (from where students put nouns and verbs above a sentence line diagram and modifiers below:

Here is a different type of sentence mapping (from where words are identified by their usage:

...And from

Story Mapping - helps students visually organize various story elements such as characters, plot, setting, themes, problems, and solutions.  Story maps are used to help student comprehension, to illustrate the framework, structure, and organization of a story, and to teach students how to compare, contrast and organize various story elements.

There a dozens of different types of story map graphic organizers.  For young students, story maps often simply plot on the beginning, middle, and end of the story. Understanding story sequence is essential for critical thinking, for writing, and for communicating.  There are maps that help describe characters, that trace sequences and relationships of story events, that graph word usage and compare and contrast concepts and themes.

Here is a simple beginning/middle/end story map, again from :
Another type of visual story map may involve showing how two themes are related. In the example below (again from Reading Rocket) students use a venn diagram to map relationships:
The list and types of story maps are varied according to themes, goals, and preferences.  Experiment with them or create your own.

While many kids find this challenging (and some - I was one) boring, it is actually quite important for students to do.  Once the concept of mapping is understood, you might let them create their own types of 'mapping' while incorporating form and structure. Talk about what works and doesn't work with their maps and why.  Make it fun and meaningful.

Thank you for your time and your visit. I'd love to hear what you think...

Monday, April 2, 2012

Laika...Space Dog

This post was inspired by ABCWednesday's weekly meme, and "Bully" movie coming out this week in NYC and LA (April 13th in other selected locations).

Laika, in 1957 became the first animal launched into space and while not the first animal to be abused in the name of 'science' - her story is remarkable and moving. 

I have chosen to write about Laika because this week an extraordinary film "Bully" is being shown in LA and New York City and (as of April 13th) in selected theaters throughout the country about bullying.  I think the two stories are in some ways, connected. Both Laika's story as told by Nick Abadzis and the film, I hope, will help all of us be kinder to those not like us, not as strong, and those less fortunate. 

Laika's story:
Laika was a stray dog who found her way into the Soviet space program and was chosen to be the first animal to be launched into space.  She was found wandering the streets of Moscow, was an 11 pound female mutt approximately three years old who had already endured conditions of extreme cold and hunger. While her true pedigree is unknown, she was believed to be part husky/part terrier. While the Soviets knew Laika would not return, the goal of sending her (aside from the propaganda agenda) was to prove that a living passenger could survive launch, orbit, and endure weightlessness, paving the way for human spaceflight.

Historical Background: The 1950's was a time of tension and competition between the Soviet Union and the United States and the space race was one of the frontiers to feel this tension.  After the success of Sputnik 1 - the first satellite to orbit earth, Nikita Khrushchev, the Soviet leader wanted to launch a spacecraft with the first sentient being into space on November 3, 1957 - to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution.

Sputnik 2 Mission: With the goal of making a public statement in mind, Khrushchev and the planners decided to have a dog orbit in Sputnik 2, an obvious precursor for human space travel. At this point in time, little was known about the impact of spaceflight on animals AND the technology to return from orbit had not yet been developed.  There was therefore, no expectation of Laika's survival, nor was there any reference to whether animals could survive launch or survival in space once in orbit. The Soviets, therefore, were under no illusion - Laika would not be returning.

According to Russian data recently released, the official decision to launch Sputnik 2 was made in October, giving the team about 4 weeks to design and build the spacecraft.  The Soviets had been planning on sending a canine up for some time and had narrowed the selection to three dogs, from the initial 12 they began training.  Aside from carrying Laika, Sputnik 2 also carried instrumentation for measuring solar radiation and cosmic rays.

Laika's training: Laika and two other dogs were trained by the Soviets for this mission.  To adapt the dogs to the confines of the tiny Sputnik 2 cabin, they were kept in progressively smaller cages for periods of up to 20 days. The animals were placed in centrifuges to simulate the acceleration of a rocket launch and in machines that simulated the noise of the spacecraft.  They were also trained to eat a special high-nutrition gel that would be their food in space.

Laika's flight:Sputnik 2 was equipped with an oxygen generator and devices to avoid oxygen poisoning and to absorb carbon dioxide.  A fan, designed to activate when the cabin exceeded 15 degrees Centigrade (59 degrees Fahrenheit) and food for a seven-day flight was provided. Laika was placed in a harness to  restrict her movements in the tight capsule (so she would not be tossed around the padded cabin or hurt), and was fitted with a bag to collect waste. Her heart rate and respiration were tracked as was her limited movement in the cabin.

Documents have shown that after launch and reaching orbit,  the nose cone was jettisoned successfully, but the "Block A" core did not separate as planned and this prevented the thermal control system from operating properly.  Some of the thermal insulation tore loose, raising the cabin temperature to 40 degrees Centigrade (104 degrees Fahrenheit).  Heart rate and pulse monitors showed Laika was under stress but she did eat some food, and after five to seven hours into flight, no more life signs were received from the space craft.

Sputnik 2 made 2,370 orbits and returned to Earth after traveling 100 million kilometers on April 14, 1958.  The satellite dropped out of orbit and the spacecraft with Laika's body burned up upon entering Earth's atmosphere.

Laika likely died within hours of launch and while the initial report was that she died when her oxygen ran out on day six, her actual death - from overheating - was not made public until 2002.

As noted in Wikipedia, In 1998, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Oleg Gazenko, one of the scientists responsible for sending Laika expressed:
"Work with animals is a source of suffering to all of us.  We Treat them like babies who cannot speak.  The more time passes, the more I'm sorry about it.  We shouldn't have done it... We did not learn enough from this mission to justify the death of the dog."
On April 11, 2008, the Russians unveiled a memorial for Laika - a stature and plaque at Star City, Russia, the Russian Cosmonaut training facility.

The graphic novel: Nick Abadzis and First Second Books have published an extraordinary graphic novel detailing Laika's story. It is an excellent read for kids (8+) and adults.  Nick Abadzis' graphic novel, while telling Laika's story also relays the political and ethical issues faced by the scientists, politicians, animal handlers and trainers. We learn from words, images and great graphic design about the emotions and issues facing Laika and her trainers.

This panel is one example. I love how Mr. Abadzis portrays the trainer's blank face.  On the one hand her opinion is clearly of no value to her superiors.  On the other hand, she cannot show emotion or her true feelings because she would have been relieved of her job.  Throughout this incredible book and story we see the interplay of language, art, color, and graphic design.

Teaching suggestions.  Laika by Nick Abadzis can be used to teach and discuss:
  • History, particularly the Space Race and the Cold War;
  • Science and technology: ethical, social, technical aspects;
  • Ethics of animal research;
  • The use of image, graphic design, color selection, and prose to relay various dimensions of a story;
  • I would recommend pairing it with October Sky by Homer Hickam.  I will be featuring lesson plans for this book in my book Teaching Content Area Graphic Novels which will be published at the end of this year.   
Thank you for visiting.  Please leave your thoughts, reactions, and opinions in the comments. Have a great week.

For those interested, below is the full page 143 further detailing the author's use of color, graphics, image and prose.  It's a great book and reading in its entirety.  It is a wonderful statement of humanity.  We see the director taking Laika - out of the lab, with the image of a bereft, helpless trainer (notice this use of black/white foreground and background).  Notice also the director's face.  He's sad, and we see in the remaining images that he has taken Laika to his home, to play with his children before she is sent into orbit. 
Thanks again for your visit.
Have a great week.