Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

My Life With the Wave

Cowan, Catherine (Author)
Paz, Octavio (Author)
Buehner, Mark (Illustrator)
HarperCollins 2004. 32 pages
First published: 1997
ISBN: 9780060562007 (paperback)
Original language: English
Book type: Picture Book

Text Elements:

figurative language, point of view, setting

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL Intensive & Enriched
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

Based on a story by Octavio Paz, this extraordinary tale has a boy literally taking home a wave he encounters on a seaside vacation. Impossible as it is, the family agrees to adopt the wave, and she travels by train inside their water cooler. When they get her home she dances through the rooms and brings joy to the young boy, and amazement and fear to his parents and their wide-eyed cat. When the tides change, she becomes unruly and begins to destroy the house. The boy tries to appease her with shells and fish, but eventually the family decides to abandon their home in winter, leaving the wave to freeze, and finally returning her to the ocean.

Text is baroque and poetic, woven with intricate imagery and descriptive language. Sentences build upon each other, gaining power cumulatively: “She flooded our rooms with light and air, driving away the shadows with her blue and green reflections. Small forgotten corners crowded with dust and dark were swept by her light.”

Hyper-realistic oil and acrylic illustrations depict the wave with power and humour. As the family goes to board the train, the wave stands tall in an upright column that the boy attempts to lift on board. Occasional double-page spreads are spectacular with the boy floating on his bed on top of the wave, or monsters emerging from the deep.

A marvellous combination of the real and the surreal.

  •  

    Go for a picture walk. Start a list of the pros and cons of having a pet wave. Add to it as you read.

  •  

    In a small group, write dialogue for the characters in one of the illustrations. Act out your scene for the class.

  •  

    Record the interesting words and phrases of the author on sentence strips. Cut apart the words and remix them to produce a free form poem.

  •  

    Write a sequel for the story based on the last page of text and the final illustration.

  •  

    Brainstorm and list water-related vocabulary. Discuss and organize the words in categories. Keep adding new words.

  •  

    Before reading, imagine what would happen if a wave came into your house. How would you feel?

  •  

    After the read-aloud, use a teacher-selected graphic organizer tool to make a story map with a partner. Identify elements of the wave that are real or not real. Research the characteristics of waves to help you.

  •  

    As the story is read aloud again, note when the wave has a positive impact in the boy’s family life and when it has a negative impact.

  •  

    The story ends with the boy wanting to take home a cloud on the next vacation. Research clouds. Write and illustrate how you imagine the effects of a cloud (or other natural element) in your house.

  • To adopt effective work methods
  • To use creativity
  • To use information
  • To use information and communications technologies
  • Environmental Awareness and Consumer Rights and Responsibilities