By: Paul Fleischman
This is a very funny story about a very creative boy who just doesn't quite fit in at school or at home. Wesley, the main character, is an outcast from the civilization around him so he decides to devote his summer to a wonderful project- creating a new civilization. He starts his project by planting his own staple food crop. Soon his seeds turn into a magical world. Wesley moves into this beautiful new civilization and survives on the fruits and veggies produced by the seeds that he planted. Using all natural products from his garden Wesley is able to weave himself new clothes, ones that are much cooler and more comfortable then the jeans and t-shirts everyone else is wearing. Soon all the children that used to make fun of him are curious about Wesley's "summer project" and want to see what his civilization is all about. Wesley realizes that his civilization would benefit from the help of others and he invites his schoolmates in. The other students also gain an appreciation for Wesley and admire and praise him for his talent and creativeness.
There are many topics that could be taught as a follow up to this read aloud. This could be the start of a fiction writing unit where students can create there own "civilizations". The unit could be _____landia and the students names would go on the line. They could use this book to help them get idea's about a creating a land where they can chose what clothes they wear, what language they speak, what food they eat, etc. This book could also be used in a unit about planting. For younger grades studying the life cycle of plants they could talk about the stages that the plants in the book went through and all the different purposes that the plants served. This book could also be used on a unit about the importance of being yourself, and how it's okay to be different. Students learn from Wesley that it's okay to embrace your differences and not follow what everyone else is doing. This book can also be used for a lesson where you want students to notice change in a character over time. In the beginning of the book Wesley is sad, and depressed because he has no friends and doesn't fit in, and by the end of the book Wesley comes out of his shell and has a much improved morale.
1. Self love and acceptance
2. Respect for others
Touches on #3. Issues of Social Justice- bullying