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The Composition by Antonio Skármeta
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The Composition

by Antonio Skármeta

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Great story and interesting concept. Dealt with dictatorships, family life and how children respond to political issues. The illustrations were great and added to the story. This is a great book to share with high school students as they study history and the role of dictatorships and politics. ( )
  Erika.D | Jan 28, 2016 |
People Pedro knows are being taken away by the government. It’s a scary time. Then a general comes to Pedro’s school and announces a contest for the best composition. The theme? What My Family Does at Night.

This little picture book shines. It could have easily been a diatribe against dictatorships

but the author makes his point without lecturing. And, in the process, he shares little moments in the lives of families during this scary time.

Here’s a little bit from the story, with Pedro talking to his friend about the essay.

“What are you going to write?” he (Pedro) asked.

“Anything,” said Juan. “How about you?”

“I don’t know,” said Pedro.

“What did your parents do yesterday?” asked Juan.

“Same as usual. They came home, they are, they listened to the radio, they went to bed.”

“Just like my mother.”

My mother started crying,” said Pedro.

“Mothers are always crying,” said Juan.

“I hardly ever cry,” said Pedro. “I haven’t cried for a year.”

“What about if I hit you and you get a black eye. Would you cry then?” asked Juan.

“Why would you do that when you’re my friend?” said Pedro.

“That’s true. I wouldn’t,” answered Juan. ( )
  debnance | Jun 27, 2014 |
Media: Watercolor
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Critique: This book is a realistic fiction and paints a vivid picture of what is taking place in many countries around the world which are currently ruled by dictatorships. This book is also a good example of plot. The conflict of the dictatorship arises when people start getting arrested. The tension rises as the officers forces students to write papers about what their family does, and the climax is when we fear Pedro has given away his family in his paper. ( )
  kkelso04 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0888995504, Paperback)

In a village in Chile, Pedro and Daniel are two typical nine-year-old boys. Up until Daniel's father gets arrested, their biggest worry had been how to improve their soccer skills. Now, they are thrust into a situation where they must grapple with the incomprehensible: dictatorship and its inherent abuses. This sensitively realized story touches a nerve and brings home the uncomfortable fact that some children do encounter issues of this magnitude. Here, deft realism is brought to the page by Antonia Skarmeta's story and the edgy drawings of Alfonso Ruano, portraying a child's view of a repressive society. The Composition is a winner of the Americas Award for Children's Literature and the Jane Addams Children's Book Award.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:35 -0400)

When a government official comes into a third grade classroom and tells the students to write a composition entitled "What My Family Does at Night," Pedro must decide how he feels about the military dictatorship that is running his country.

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