Thursday, January 24, 2008


A-buzz with questions

"Questions are bobbing around like bumblebees" -- Dinah Galloway, in The Summer of the Spotted Owl

I like asking questions, so I'm really impressed by all the Silver Birch readers who are e-mailing in questions and comments about Shadows on the Train. Here's a honey of a batch forwarded to me by my good friend, the ultra-cool Gianna Dassios of the Ontario Library Association. Reprinted, as someone who believes in freedom of expression, without editing!

"Shadows on the train has been one of my favourite books! I think that even though it is not the first book in the series it explains the main character Dinah's personality very well! In this book there have been some very good parts :) and some bad parts :( ! One of the bad parts were when she was taking to her paino teacher and then it just went to another topic without even going into another paragraph or chapter. That was pretty much the only bad part I found! ( So it is full of good parts!) Over all this was an amazing book! :) ;) I thought that this book was amazing :) I haven't read the other books, but I will! I really like all of the trouble and fights that she gets into, trying to prtect the "king"! It was really amazing!"

"I think this was a good book because it was very exciting to hear about the 80,000 dollar envelope and traveling on the train to Toronto from Vancouver. But it sometimes gets a bit boring at parts in the beginning I also like the part(s) on the train like when the nurse gets on and they think there kidnaping Ms.cheerbly. That part i liked."

"I think this is a really good book there is lost of action and I really like the author who did it. I also like it because there was really weird shadows I think "Shadows On The Train" is a good book. I recommend it."

"The part where she reviles herself and everyone is missing is reall cool. I think that they loved the dad."

"I really like this book because I thik Dinah was a realistique caracheter. I like books that are mysteries. I especially like the part where Dinah puts the stamp below her tong. That was cool. At first I thought that she had actually gotten writ of the stamp. I also like the part where on the train where everyone is disapearing. I could really imagine that happening. I did not like the part where Dinah was "captured" the lady. I found it really confusing. I liked the book so much that I even went to the library to get two more."

And, from Theresa Sawada, an ESL and Reading Recovery teacher at Ranchdale Public School: "Dinah is an interesting little detective, with her corny jokes and clever insights. I can see why she would want to understand more about her father and his friends. I liked when she said, "When I sang, I was singing into the shadows as well as everywhere else." It was a passion she shared with her father, and she didn't want to forget or ignore their times together.

"I checked out the blog mentioned in the front of the book, www.dinahgalloway.blogspot.com. You can see a clear drawing of Dinah, with her curly red hair, freckles and glasses. I tried to visualize what she looked like as I read the story, but the cover, of course, just shows a shadow of the character. The blog also talks about how a book reviewer compared the author, Melanie Jackson, to Agatha Christie, one of my favourite mystery writers."

1 comment:

The Mysterious Mrs. Jackson said...

Another student comment just forwarded to us:

I Have just started to read this book called Shadows on the Train.

"My Dad told me to put my heart at singing, so I always do.
And all at once, thinking about belting my heart out, I got it. I understood what Dad had meant. He was the knave of hearts ; that's what he'd be saying. The knave the unreliable one, the scoundrel.
Dad must have sensed that, with his drinking, he'd one day disappear and take our hearts with him.
And he did."

The main idea the author Melain Jackson wanted us to think about was how Dinas Dad died and how she figured out that her Dad was the knave of hearts which meant he was not trustworthy. She knew that someday, her father would die and take her heart with him.

I chose this quote because it is the beginning of the adventure that will soon happen in the story, and it had lots of information in a small text.

My Question:
Earlier in the book, on page 2, Dinah said, "I was getting a lot of talks from mother and dad about making personal remarks to people."
Why does she call her parents mother and dad instead of mother and father or mom and dad?

Melanie's answer:
Isn’t that interesting what kids pick up on! I suppose she calls her dad the more informal Dad because she feels closest to him, even though of course she loves her mother. Yes, I’d say that was it.