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Teaching Literature

 

Club Earth

Plot and Climax:

Club Earth is a series of connected short stories, much like My Life Among The Aliens. So you can discuss the separate plots to each chapter. However, Club Earth's structure changes a little bit toward the end of the book. It becomes more like a novel. This provides an opportunity to discuss how a collection of short stories is different from the chapters of a novel. Ask your students why Club Earth seems more like a novel at the end. (The same alien character appears in the last three chapters.) Why does it still seem to be short stories? (Each chapter is still a separate story with a separate resolution.) Does the book have an overall climax? (The boys manage to get rid of Club Earth's guests once and for all.)

There is a recurring theme woven through these stories--the family's struggle over who is going to maintain the home. You can put your students to work looking for it.

Characters:

Characters should be unique or readers get confused and bored. Discuss whether or not Will and Robby are different from one another. What do your students know about them after reading the book? What about Mr. and Mrs. Denis? Are they interchangeable adults who just run everything? How are they different from one another?

And how about the aliens? Are they different from the humans? Are the aliens in the different stories different from one another?

Science Fiction:

Club Earth is closer to being real science fiction than the first book about Will and Robby was. Here is an opportunity to discuss different definitions of science fiction. Some people feel science fiction must be firmly rooted in science fact, others are willing to allow a little more fantasy to creep in.

Why are aliens in books, television, and movies humanoids so much of the time? Mainly because that makes it easier for them to interact with humans. This question is dealt with in the first chapter of Club Earth. Ask your students why the aliens who come to Club Earth look so much like humans that the neighbors and friends don't suspect that they're too unusual to be from around there. (Saliva assures them that only beings who have evolved in similar ways to humans would want to visit Earth.)

On the other hand, if the aliens aren't different from us than what's alien about them? Some of the aliens truly are different from us. What about Lard Butt? His appearance doesn't conform to what humans would usually call attractive. Why is he not only not bothered by that, but not even aware of it? (Everyone looks like him where he comes from.) His lack of awareness or concern about his appearance is the real thing that makes him different from humans. And what about Ms. Pogie and Ms. Vogel? Casual observers would just write them off as a couple of elderly ladies. But are they?

These questions could lead to a discussion of how in science fiction it's important to create characters who aren't just humans who look different. They have to be different, they have to think differently from us because they live in a different world.

Satire:

Club Earth is a much more satirical work than My Life Among The Aliens was. Humor is used to make comments about tabloid newspapers, the battle of the sexes, comic book characters, and school fundraisers among other things. In addition to explaining and illustrating what satire is, you could discuss the following:

What is being satirized in the various stories?
Do you have to understand what is being satirized in these stories in order to enjoy them?
What is the difference between satire and just making fun of something?

And, finally, after reading Club Earth you can have your students try writing a satire of their own.

[ Teaching Literature - My Life Among The Aliens ] [ Teaching Literature - A Year With Butch And Spike ]
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February 7, 2015