A Distant Enemyby Deb Vanasse
Have students create Know – Want to Know – Learned (KWL) charts about Alaska, Eskimos, and the Arctic.
Have students free write and share their responses to the following questions: What might people from outside your region and/or culture assume about you and the way you live?
Have students free write on these questions: What do you think of when you hear the word "enemy"? How do people become enemies? What hope might there be for reconciliation in these situations? Students may wish to use hypothetical names or initials rather than refer to real people in their responses.
Upon completion of various chapters, ask students to write in their journal or discuss their predictions.
Ask students to work collaboratively to map Joseph's relationships with other characters in the book. Encourage them to create a visual representation in a meaningful format such as a geometric shape, a tundra scene, or an appropriate metaphor such as fishing, hunting, or trapping. Map relationships midway in the book and again at the conclusion of the novel. Then, compare the maps.
Point of View
Review point of view choices, noting that the novel is written in the third person limited, using Joseph's point of view. Ask students to rewrite a scene or scenes from the novel using another character's point of view, in either first or third person. Share and discuss.
As the novel unfolds, ask students to identify emerging themes. Collaborative groups may log their observations on particular themes, presenting their findings in visual and oral form upon completion of the novel. Among the themes they will likely discover are friendship, anger, honesty, cultural conflict, change, family, and survival.
As a class, chart the old ways and new ways of living within Joseph's culture. Discuss the value of traditions and the ways in which we can hold on to traditions. Ask students to write letters to Joseph in which they comment on his efforts to hold on to the traditions of his people and offer suggestions for the future.