A Hero Ain’t Nothin but a Sandwich
In this book the dialect is all Black English. Have some of your students compare examples of their creative writing with that of Benjie.
The descriptive dialogue in this novel leads the reader to visualize people and places as Benjie must view them. Have your students try writing descriptive sentences about easy items first: school, food, sports’ activities, clothes, current heroes: that is Michael Jackson, the Menudos, Mr. T, and the Incredible Hulk. To do this it helps to brain storm first where the students throw around ideas. Start with the five senses to have them practice listing orally smells, tastes, feelings, sounds, sights. For example the clouds look soft, puffy, white, like cotton balls, like shaving cream, comfortable.
Vocabulary drill-difference in dialects, for example, a hero is often called a submarine, a grinder, or a wedge.
Summer of 42
Rent the video cassette and show the movie in class first—it will take two class periods. Then, have your students read the novel. Initially students can describe their best friends and ways they have spent their summers. Discuss the influence peer pressure has on an individual as noted in the case of Oscy and Hermie. What happened to Benjie when he did not tow the line?
Take a field trip to the New Haven Public Library to look at past magazines especially
. They are bound in volumes. Just as I was amazed I think your students will find the comparison of the 40’s in particular with the 80’s interesting. Specifically they could compare commercials of today with the ads of then, or the ads of today’s
e and Life with then. The things that are popular today; Hermann boots, punk rock boots, spikes, leather bomber jackets, Dynasty, E.T. The Fonz and so on, how would they compare with past fads and heros? Elvis? Frank Sinatra? The Big Band Era? leather jackets, the 50’s happy days’ look, crew cut, vitalis, poodle skirts, loafers, and so on. Are there any fashions from the past that have been repeated in 1984? mini shirts? textured nylons? clogs?
History is said to be cyclical. It would be interesting for students to see in terms of things that interest them that that statement is true.