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7th Grade Book Club for Girls: Irises

YA Book Irises Reflects Middle School Life

It was with great difficulty that I managed to schedule a book club for my 7th grader, Grasshopper and Sensei, and there are only four girls in her book club! Yes, they are so busy these days!

I have to confess that I’ve been so busy that this is the first book club I’ve hosted where I didn’t pick the book or even read it! My daughter discovered it at school and thought everyone would like it. She assured me that an “easy” book club would be fine and to stop stressing.

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Her friend Isabelle arrived at 6:45 pm after dance. Jane’s family had forgotten so she arrived shortly after that. And somehow Rachel’s parents missed the memo.

Like the sisters in Irises, these three girls have also been going through lots of change. Jane has recently returned after spending four years in Munich. Though she is at the same middle school as my daughter, they are in different groups so they never see each other. Not at lunch. Nor even on the school bus. Isabelle switched to a private school last year, so they don’t see her either. Between five days of dance and her upcoming Bat Mitzvah, she’s very busy.

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So, this book club was a chance for them to slow down and reconnect. After a quick dinner — pizza or pasta delivered — they settled into their book club project. I had bought some irises for them to paint. The florist assured me that the blooms would open if I put them in warm water for a few hours, but still they were tight little buds.

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Jane, another artist, took time to carefully sketch out her painting. I provided tag board and tempera paint, primary colors with white and black so they had to mix paint to get purples, greens and browns.

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Isabelle noted that the book was unusual in that most books build to a crescendo whereas this book started that way and worked its way down. In some ways, their lives have paralleled this dynamic. 6th grade was a seismic change but 7th grade has been gliding along. The girls are figuring out both who they are and what they can be. Isabelle wanted a reprieve from art critiquing as she claims no artistic talent. I disagree!

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Jane’s careful sketching paid off. Her rendition is beautifully realistic.

Irises, Irises painting, book club for Irises

Grasshopper and Sensei has one realistic bud and then a burst of colorful exuberance.

book club for Irises YA novel

Like the girls, each painting is unique but with a common thread. The evening too was filled with, “Do you remember when …?” followed by lots of laughter. The girls had all been in the same class in first grade when their book club started. Now 6 years later, they spend the evening reminiscing and reconnection, building on that common thread that binds them.

 Irises by Francisco X. Stork

The sisters in Irises, too, had to redefine who they are and their relationship to each other as seismic changes rocked their world. Their mother was in a catatonic state after a car accident put her in a coma two years ago. Their father dropped dead in chapter one (not really a spoiler since it’s chapter one, right?).

Still in high school, Kate thinks she has to choose between Stanford and her family. Younger sister Mary, a gifted artist, has lost her passion for art. Three men also complicate matters. Kate’s boyfriend Simon is an easy solution but easy is never the right answer. Andy challenges Kate into thinking in new directions but will that mean losing what is left of her family? And Marcos is a bad boy who good girl Mary is drawn too.

As for drawing (and painting too), I’d recommend buying the irises three days before you want them in full bloom. Here they are on day 2:

iris flowers, painting irises, This is day 3:

irises in bloom, iris book club

And like the sisters in Irises and the 7th grade girls in the book club, each bloom is recognizably an iris but very, very different.
two irises, irises YA book, two sisters

iris flowers to paint, book club painting iris flowers

It was a lovely evening of respite for these busy middle school girls. Like the irises in the vase, may they each bloom to their full unique potential. But I will always think of them as those little buds!

p.s. If you would rather paint irises in a natural setting, I happend upon these last spring near a soccer field. The reminded me of Van Gogh’s famous work.

photo

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Van Gogh Irises

 To view the book at Amazon, click on the image of the book or go here for Barnes and Noble.

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By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom

28 Comments

  1. The paintings are just awesome.
    Viren recently posted…Email Marketing To Senior Citizens – How ToMy Profile

  2. Beautiful art work. I am just starting to see my irises pop their heads out of the ground, It sounds like a wonderful book choice. Enjoy and Happy Easter!

  3. How neat that they have been reading books together since first grade!
    maryanne recently posted…Sister Bonding and a Piggy Paint Giveaway!My Profile

  4. Elle Carter Neal

    Beautiful, and one of my favourite flowers. A quite difficult subject to paint, too, but very rewarding.
    Elle Carter Neal recently posted…Orb’s Return (Poetry)My Profile

    • Thanks so much Elle! I’ll let the girls know that you liked their paintings. One girl was convinced that she’s not artistic so she will be happy to know that everyone loved her painting. The other two girls are quite artsy and likely headed to art school one day so they will happy as well!
      Pragmatic Mom recently posted…Poetry by 2nd Grade BoysMy Profile

  5. Alexandra

    Irises…Love these flowers. I will remember it takes some time for them to bloom.
    I am glad your girl re-connected with her old friends; friendships during teen years are very fragile but at the same time can do so much good!
    Alexandra recently posted…Happy Easter!My Profile

    • Hi Alexandra,
      You are so right about teen friendships having a certain fragility (like the Irises too) because the girls are changing in so many ways. I think they all enjoyed a chance to reconnect. It’s so hard to do that too these days because teens are also so busy. Their friends become somewhat happenstance of what teams they are on, what activities they do and what schools they attend.

      Still the world is small and I’m sure they will reconnect many, many times as life moves forward.
      Pragmatic Mom recently posted…Poetry by 2nd Grade BoysMy Profile

  6. Alison

    I enjoyed this post. I’ve hosted a book club for my sixth grade daughter for over a year, but took several months off and need to get it back on track. Thanks for the inspiration!

  7. Though Irises is the story of sisters, I love your story of your daughter and her friends. There is something so special about this age. Their lives are changing so quickly but there are these captured moments of remembering how things use to be.
    Your photos are so beautiful and the paintings the girls did fit the moment perfectly. It tugs at the heartstrings.
    Valarie recently posted…Happy Easter!My Profile

    • Hi Valarie,
      It is such a crazy time for new teens!!! I am experiencing it as a mother for the first time and it’s daunting for a parent to observe so it must be even more seismic for the kid. The shifts are so major as they try to figure out who they are and “try” a lot of things out. The changes in friendships happen so fast too that it’s nice to spend a little time reconnecting. My daughter’s middle school is quite large and it’s been great in terms of making lots of new friends, but also challenging to keep up with everyone. It’s been hard to keep her book club going now that they are getting older (and all reading quite well). I hope we can keep it alive though.
      Pragmatic Mom recently posted…A Little Too Exciting Flying Trapeze Book Club for KidsMy Profile

  8. Ann

    What a beautiful post – with the girls growing and reconnecting and seeing the irises blooming – love it!
    Ann recently posted…Building LettersMy Profile

  9. Oh Wow, I loved this post. Just hearing the unique way you have encouraged your girls to connect through books is wonderful. I can’t wait to have these kinds of moments with Gigi in the future.
    The book sounds like a real coming of age story, so thanks for linking it in to the Kid Lit Blog Hop, cheers Julie
    Julie Grasso recently posted…Kidlit blog hop 13: Charlie and LolaMy Profile

  10. I just love to see the different painting styles and ideas the girls had- What a fun book club. And the irises finally opened.
    Jeanette Nyberg recently posted…Our Two Favorite ABC AppsMy Profile

  11. I love that they’ve been reading together for so long. Also what a great art + book project. I’ve never heard of this book before. Thanks for sharing at The Children’s Bookshelf.
    Mom and Kiddo recently posted…Sprinkle Rainbow Joy Around Your Living RoomMy Profile

    • Hi Mom and Kiddo,
      I think the YA book is newly published. I had never heard of it either but my daughter found it at her English teacher’s classroom library. She reads book blogs to choose books for the kids and that was one of them. I was glad that an activity was fairly obvious since I didn’t have time to read the book. This particular group of girls likes crafts and time to sit together talking while working.

      My younger daughter’s group is more field-trip oriented and higher energy. They always need some outdoor running around time.
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  12. Renee C.

    I love that your daughter has a book club. As the girls’ lives diverge it is a mechanism to keep them connected. That transition from tween to teen is such a big deal – it can really be a time where friendships shift and change but it’s so important to have some things that are consistent and dependable. Only a few more years for us and we’ll be in the same boat (not looking forward to that!) lol

    I have irises all over in all of my gardens around the house. They are definitely one of my favorites, but daffodils will always be my number 1! Thanks for sharing in the Kid Lit Blog Hop. 🙂
    Renee C. recently posted…Spring Break Destination Revealed (and Gushed About)My Profile

  13. Yet another inspiring post. Thank you. In a few years, my daughter will be this age and I love that you have found a way for your daughter to stay connected with friends through the many changes in their lives. Way to go and beautiful paintings, ladies.
    Cool Mom for Stanley and Katrina
    Hopping along on the Kid Lit Blog Hop
    Cool Mom (Christine M.) recently posted…Pet Projects: Criminal Martian Bloodhounds Throw Bookshelves to Remove Book ExpectationsMy Profile

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