Welcome to Lizard Motel: Children, Stories, and the Mystery of Making Things Upby Barbara Feinberg
Welcome to Lizard Motel is a completely original memoir about the place of stories in children's lives. It began when Barbara Feinberg noticed that her twelve-year-old son, Alex, who otherwise loved to read, hated reading many of the novels assigned to him in school. These stories of abandonment, kidnapping, abuse, and more-called "problem novels"-were standard fare in his middle school classroom. Alex and his friends hated to read these books. As one of them said, "They give me a headache in my stomach." So Feinberg set out to discover just what these kids were talking about.
She started to read the books, steeping herself in novels like Chasing Redbird, Bridge to Terabithia, The Pigman, and more. She consulted librarians, children's literature experts, and others, trying to get a handle on why young-adult novels had become so dark and gloomy and, to her mind, contrived.
What she found both troubled and surprised her. "In the middle of the 1960s," observed one children's literature expert, "political and social changes leaned hard on the crystal cage that had surrounded children's literature for ages. It cracked and the world flowed in."
Welcome to Lizard Motel documents this dramatic change in the content of young-adult novels but does so in a uniquely touching memoir about one family's life with books, stories, and writing. Feinberg's examination of the problem novel opens her eyes to other issues that affect children today-such as how they learn to write, how much reality is too much for a young child's mind, and the role of the imagination in children's experience.
Quirky, moving, serious, and witty, Welcome to Lizard Motel is one of the most surprising books about reading and writing to come along in years. Not only does it explore the world of children and stories, but it also asks us to look at how our children are growing up. Feinberg wonders if, as a society, we have lost touch with the organic unfolding of childhood, with that mysterious time when making things up helps deepen a child's understanding of the world. This memoir will reacquaint readers with the special nature of children's imaginations.
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 5.75(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.75(d)
Meet the Author
Barbara Feinberg is the originator of Story Shop, a creative arts program for children ages three through fourteen. She has won awards for her writing, including a grant from the New York Foundation for the Arts. Feinberg lives with her husband and two children in Westchester County, New York. This is her first book.
and post it to your social network
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
See all customer reviews >
This fascinating book addresses two issues close to my heart: reading AND writing by kids. Long before my children were assigned 'problem novels' to read, they were asked to conform to the writing system Feinberg criticizes, to write non-fiction 'memoirs' and rewrite and edit them, starting in first grade. This was the entire focus of their writing experience in elementary school, and it was engineered by adults from beginning to end. The emphasis was entirely on the PRODUCT and certainly not on a playful, imaginative process. The result is that my two wonderfully imaginative kids despise 'writing', and are convinced they can't 'do it.' I wish they could have been nurtured in the author's Story Shop instead. As for the problem novels, which for my older son began in earnest in 7th grade, he soon came to identify English class with unbearably depressing reading assignments, with very little relief for years to come. Feinberg correctly recognizes that while some of the books are very well written, more variety in assignments is in order. I am thrilled that she has finally challenged the status quo in such a beautifully written book.