The Blossoming Universe of Violet Diamond

The Blossoming Universe of Violet Diamond by Brenda Woods

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Summary:

Violet Diamond, or ‘V’ as her family calls her has a pretty good life in Moon Lake, Washington. She’s got a mom who loves her a lot, loving attentive grandparents, a beautiful, fun big sister Daisy(even if she is spending more and more time with her boyfriend) and 2 great besties Taz and Athena. Yes, Violet’s got it pretty good, but she can’t help wishing, one, to know the dad she never met, and two,  that some people wouldn’t be so stupid with their stares and questions, when she is with her family. You see, Violet’s mom, sister, Gam and Poppy are white with long, straight hair, and Violet is brown with corkscrew ringlets. She is a biracial girl, living in an all white Washington suburb feeling odd and incomplete.

While Violet can’t ever meet the father who died before she was born, she begins to wish for the other family that she belongs to, the black side. Violet’s wishes, stir up a painful past, and family angst, that threaten to dash her hopes of knowing who she really is. Violet however is smart and persistent, traits that came straight from the father she never knew. When Violet finds her famous artist grandmother, Roxanne Diamond, her universe begins to grow and blossom into something more beautiful than she ever imagined.

Genre - Realistic Fiction
Text Structure - novel
Lexile Level  - 670L

Themes -Identity, self-knowledge/love,  being biracial, family, love, loss, forgiveness,  overcoming grief/sadness

Rings of Culture represented -

Ethnicity: whiteness/black
Age: 10-12/ intergenerational
Gender: girl
Socio-Economic: middle class
National: USA
Religion: Christian

Why it’s VABBulous -  

  • rich with authentic representations of the complexities of being bi-racial/cultural, intercultural family dynamics, prejudice/bias, as well as age perspective

  • Surface level  culture is easily identified in the juxtaposition of whiteness/black culture, in language, food, dress, celebrations, visual arts, and music.

  • consistent presence of explicit and  nuanced examples of  unspoken, and unconscious rules of whiteness/black  culture that make this novel both a wonderful read and excellent choice for CLR teaching.

    • Some of the deep culture rules evident in the novel - rules of conduct, conversational patterns, patterns of handling emotions, concept of beauty, concepts of food, ideals of child rearing, tone of voice, attitudes towards elders, concept of self, concept of past and future, problem solving roles in relation to age, kinship, class

Ideas for CLR -

Set it Off (Into the Text)

Literacy Strategy - Reading Tea Party

  1. Write the  quotes from the book listed below on strips of paper.
  2. Divide the class into small discussion groups of 4-5 students. Distribute one quote to each group.

  3. Ask students to read their assigned quote and discuss them.

    1. What do you think the quote means?

    2. Why do you think your quote might be important to the story line?

    3. Who do you think says your quote?

    4. What predictions can you make based on your quote?

  4. Have each group share their quote with the rest of the class - one student reads the quote, another student explains their thoughts/predictions

Possible Sentence Strips from Text

  • I grabbed my 500 page journal where I write down words I’ve never heard before along with their definitions, lists of all sorts of things, and my wishes that never seem to come true.
  • I wish my dad was alive instead of dead.
  • Tomorrow was the last day of school before summer vacation, but my best friend Athena was leaving tonight for Greece, where her grandparents live in a house that overlooks the beach.
  • My grandpa claims that in our town, Moon Lake, Washington, umbrellas are big business. Moon Lake is not too far from Seattle.
  • When some people meet my mom and me for the first time, they get that funny question-mark look in their eyes.
  • I had been wishing for a cat for months.
  • My name’s Violet, not Curly. I informed her.
  • Either Gam or Poppy are always here when I get home from school because Mom has funny hours at the hospital where she works in the NICU-Neonatal Intensive Care Unit-as a doctor who takes care of teeny tiny just born babies.

I gave this a 7-10  on Responsive Dots. What would you give it?

 

Lydia McClanahan