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Summerland

Chabon, Michael (Author)
HarperCollins 2016. 502 pages
First published: 2002
ISBN: 9780062418081 (paperback)
9780062418098 (e-book)
Original language: English
Book type: Novel
Book genre: Fantasy

Text Elements:

characterization, setting

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

Summerland begins with 11-year-old Ethan proclaiming to his father: “I hate baseball.” Ethan is terrible at baseball and wants to quit the team. But when Ethan’s widowed father is kidnapped by the evil Coyote, and the Lodgepole—a giant tree that connects the worlds—is threatened, it is through playing baseball that Ethan must save his father, Summerland and, ultimately, the universe. The story is meticulously crafted, including were-animals, goblins, fairies, giants and the multiverse.

Chabon’s prose is full of spark and imagination. The narrative is complex but playful, weaving in Norse and Native American mythology. It is both a thrilling adventure and a deeper meditation on life: “Life was like baseball, filled with loss and error, with bad hops and wild pitches, a game in which even champions lost almost as often as they won.”

This coming-of-age novel uses baseball as a backdrop, with layers of mystic, metaphor and archetypes. It is as much about fantastical creatures as it is about finding one’s inner strength and becoming one’s own hero—with the support of a loyal team. It also speaks to the fragile beauty of the parent-child relationship. The protection of the Logepole tree introduces the theme of ecology and our collective role in environmental protection.

  •  

    The text plays with genre (fantasy, legend, realism) and offers the reader magical creatures in a fantasy world that is closely related to our own. Discuss the illustration on the book’s front cover and the map located inside the front and back covers. Make predictions about what type of text this might be.

  •  

    In small groups discuss aspects of the text that you noticed and that interest or confuse group members. Work together to make meaning of the story.

  •  

    Include the text in a literature circle collection on YA fantasy. Set a reading schedule and plan the discussions. Have each member prepare for each discussion by having ideas, questions and select examples to contribute to the discussion.

  • To communicate appropriately
  • Citizenship and Community Life
  • Personal Development