Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

Virginia Wolf

Maclear, Kyo (Author)
Arsenault, Isabelle (Illustrator)
Kids Can Press 2012. 32 pages
First published: 2012
ISBN: 9781554536498 (hardcover)
9781771380935 (e-book)
Original language: English
Book type: Picture Book

Text Elements:

character, language conventions, point of view

Awards

Governor General’s Literary Award – 2012
Elizabeth Mrazik-Cleaver Canadian Picture Book Award – 2012
Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award – Finalist – 2013
TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award – Finalist – 2013
USBBY Outstanding International Books List – 2013
IBBY Honour List – 2014

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:

When Virginia is in a wolfish mood, everything bothers her. She doesn’t want her picture painted, “VANESSA … DOOOONNN’T.” She won’t come to the door for visitors, “I’M NOT HOME.” She can’t stand bright colours, or even the sound of brushing teeth. Told from the point of view of her sister Vanessa, this story addresses the effects of depression on everyone in the family.

The illustrations are charming and delicate, combining scratchy line with rich colour markings and watercolour-style washes. Details such as the smashed alarm clock and the bunny in a bow tie will be appreciated by young readers. The “wolf” and the effects of her moods are cleverly depicted in black silhouette. As the mood persists, the silhouettes dominate. “The whole house sank.… Glad became gloom.” The poetic language plays with the metaphor of the depressive as a wolf. Virginia growls. She moans. “I offered her treats. She wolfed them all down.” Huddled under the covers, the two sisters begin to imagine a place where Virginia would be happy. Virginia’s own words provide the inspiration, and Vanessa creeps off to paint the place to life.

Inspired by writer Virginia Woolf and her sister, the painter Vanessa Bell, this story shows how imagination and creativity can lift one’s spirits.

  •  

    Explore ways of expressing how the character is feeling: in the doldrums, feeling blue, sad, fed-up, low, depressed, etc. Discuss what happens when you feel this way and what you do to feel better.

  •  

    Discuss what you can do to try to cheer up other people (family or friends).

  •  

    Borrow elements from the book as ingredients and create a recipe for cheering someone up. Give it a title and add it to a class ‘cookbook’.

  •  

    Explore ways of expressing how the character is feeling: in the doldrums, feeling blue, sad, fed-up, low, depressed, etc. Discuss what happens when you feel this way and what you do to feel better.

  •  

    Discuss what you can do to cheer up other people (family or friends).

  •  

    Borrow elements from the book as ingredients and create a recipe for cheering someone up. Give it a title and add it to a class ‘cookbook’.

  •  Create a word web of things you do to cheer yourself up when you’re feeling down. With whom do you talk?
  •  What is happening to Virginia? How does her depression affect others? What does her sister do to help? Discuss these questions in a small group.
  •  Think about your favourite place. Is it real or imaginary? Create a poster collage of the place that would brighten your darkest days. On the back, write a short descriptive text.
  •  Write a get-well card to a friend or sibling, or a poem that expresses what you love about your friend/sister/brother.
  • To communicate appropriately
  • To construct his/her identity
  • To cooperate with others
  • To solve problems
  • To use information
  • Health and Well-Being
  • Personal Development
  • Physical Education and Health
  • Visual Arts