Monday, October 29, 2012

Wake Up Rip Van WInkle

Rip Van Winkle/Wake Up, Rip Van Winkle is another book in Steck-Vaughn's Point of View Series.

One side of the book tells an abbreviated version of the Rip Van Winkle Story. While I am not a huge fan of abbreviated classics it is always possible to skip this version and have students or your child read the classic instead. The other side is of more interest to me. When you flip the book up side down, the other side of the story is presented.

In the classic tale, Rip Van Winkle is married with children and while he will help the neighbors with chores never does any work for his own family. His wife grows frustrated with his failure to provide and Rip spends more time away from home telling stories to the local villagers. One day he leaves home and encounters some creatures in the wood who give him some drinks, which make him tired. He falls asleep. When he wakes he finds his gun is rusted and his beard long. He arrives home to find his wife dead and that he has missed the American Revolution.

In the alternate version, Rip’s daughter tells the tale. She is very protective of her mother and wants the world to know her mother is no shrew. She believes her mother was supportive of her father's storytelling and that it was her father who started the stories of her mother's nagging to cover up his own embarrassment. The daughter claims Rip Van Winkle's manipulation of the villager's opinions made life very difficult for her patient mother. In fact, any attempts to persuade him to come home and help reinforced the rumors he had started about her being a shrew. The daughter believes her mother ultimately died of a broken heart, not of anger as the cruel villagers implied.

This is one of the stronger entries in the series. Since both characters are flawed, there is a case to be made for both sides and the author has done a good job of using the daughter as a character witness for the mother.

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