Over the past two weeks, the Stone Soup Book Club has been reading Harbor Me by Jacqueline Woodson. The story is about six children in Brooklyn, NY, who end up talking to each other in the old art room without any adult supervision (they end up calling the room the “ARTT Room” (A Room to Talk)). The kids–Haley, Holly, Estaban, Amari, Tiago, and Ashton–become friends as the year goes on, and they share their problems with one another, helping each other through all of their issues.
In our first week of discussion, we focused on themes and characters. We discussed how we found the characters to be relatable, and how the interactions between the characters seemed very real, as well as talking about major themes–such as immigration, bullying, racism, incarceration, friendship, and family–and what roles they play in the book, as well as how they affect the lives and actions of the characters. Next, we talked about what it means to be a harbor to someone, as is suggested by the title of the book. We also shared experiences of either harboring someone, or being harbored by someone, and how meaningful both of those were.
In our second week of discussions (our fifteenth week of Book Club!) we started out with a very fun activity! We split the group up into breakout rooms of two or three, and let each group be its own ARTT room. The participants talked about whatever they wanted, and were not required to report what they discussed. Reflecting on their experience, it seemed that most people thought it was fun to talk to people they didn’t really know, and find out what interests they held in common. It seems that the Book Club participants would be interested in participating in more ARTT rooms! Next, we discussed the end of the book; overall, we all agreed that it was very ambiguous. This led to a brief conversation where we discussed if there was a sequel, what we would want it to be about. Most people agreed that they would want a sort of reunion between the characters. Other ideas included: the characters must save the ARTT room from being destroyed, or even having an entirely different set of characters who bond in the room.
Finally, we chose our new book, which is listed below!
IMPORTANT: Book Club is taking a week off, and will not meet on Wednesday, July 29. We will resume Book Club on August 5. Keep reading in the meantime!
The Stone Soup Book Club is open to all Stone Soup contributors and subscribers, age 9-13. We meet every Wednesday at 1pm PST (4pm EST) for one hour via Zoom to discuss our chosen book. Join us!
Paint the Wind by Pam Muñoz Ryan