As we begin this journey through White Bird: A Wonder Story we invite you to be curious. If you don’t know something, look it up. If you want to know more about something, look it up. Many of the tools you need to explore and be curious are included here, but you may find others. Share them in the comments. Share your feelings and emotions and findings and thoughts. This sharing will help us all grow in our understanding of faith.
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” George Santayana
As the graphic novel begins, readers witness Julian, a character introduced in Wonder, FaceTiming his Grandmère for a school project. In answer to her inquiry about how things are going at his new school, Julian tells her that he wishes he could go back in time and have a do over. His Grandmère responds by telling him, “We are not defined by our mistakes . . . but by what we do after we’ve learned from them.” Do you agree with her? Why or why not? Think about a mistake you’ve made. Have you learned from it? Where is forgiveness in this learning?
Don’t know how to say a French word. Use this: https://translate.google.com
Grandmère tells Julian, “Those were dark times, yes . . . but what has stayed with me the most is not the darkness but the light. That is what I have held on to all these years.” Why do you think Grandmère is ultimately willing to revisit her painful past, though she is initially hesitant to do so? What does she hope sharing her story and focusing on the light will accomplish?
The birds know mountains that we have not dreamed . . . -Muriel Rukeyser, “Fifth Elegy: A
Turning Wind” https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/muriel-rukeyser
“The birds know mountains that we have not dreamed.” What does this statement mean to you? How are birds symbolic of the human condition?
Grandmère opens her story with “Once upon a time . . . ,” a traditional beginning for fairy tales. How was her early life like a fairy tale? Are there any ways Sara’s family is like yours? How are they different? Does her early life seem privileged? Do you think a life of privilege can make oppression and hardship more challenging?
In the language of flowers, the bluebell is a symbol of humility, constancy, gratitude and everlasting love.
Sara’s dad, Max loved to play the flying game with her. Was there a game you played as a child that involved moving through the air? What did it feel like? Make a paper crane to keep with you as continue to read White Bird. Write words on your crane that come to you as you read.
The video below will help you fold a beautiful crane. How many kinds of white birds exist in our world today?
Summer of 1940 costs in the USA
New House $3,920
Average Income $1,725/ year
New Car $850
Average Rent $30/ month
Movie Ticket 30 cents each
First Class Postage Stamp 3 cents
Gasoline 25 cents/ gallon
Top of the charts in the summer of 1940
These are the movies that were playing in the box office in 1940 –
This is what France looked like –
These are the stars Jewish people were required to where in France.
Sara loved to doodle and draw. Practice some doodling of your own. What marks come from your pen?
Though she has been seated next to him in class for years, Sara’s first real interaction with Julien is after he returns her forgotten sketchbook. What can you learn about their characters from this initial exchange?
Use the Collins Dictionary to look up words you don’t the meaning of in French. Deliberately look up the name the children give to Julien. What other meanings do you find? Consider the nickname Julien is given by his peers. How does being called “Tourteau” impact him? Why is this name particularly cruel? Why do his classmates behave like this?
Find out more about polio here: https://polioeradication.org/polio-today/history-of-polio/. In the US there have been no cases of polio in a long time until this year.
A boy at school tells Sara, “You’re a pretty good artist . . . for a Jew.” When she tells her parents, they resume their debate about fleeing France due to the worsening conditions. Her mother does not want to leave; her father thinks they are no longer safe, saying, “There IS no Free Zone anymore.” What can you glean about each of her parents based on these reactions?
After asking why people hate them for being Jewish, Sara’s father reminds her that not all people hate them. She asks if the people who do are bad. He tells her that rather than seeing people as good or bad, he believes that people have a light inside them, but some have lost that light. “They have darkness inside them, so that is all they see in others: darkness.” He continues, “Why do they hate us? Because they cannot see our light. Nor can they extinguish it. As long as we shine our light, we win.” Think about his explanation. Do you agree? Do you see ways this also applies in your life? Do you believe people who live in darkness can onceagain find their light? How? Can you help?
A Light for the Nations
Isaiah 49 1-3 Listen, far-flung islands,
pay attention, faraway people:
God put me to work from the day I was born.
The moment I entered the world he named me.
He gave me speech that would cut and penetrate.
He kept his hand on me to protect me.
He made me his straight arrow
and hid me in his quiver.
He said to me, “You’re my dear servant,
Israel, through whom I’ll shine.”
4 But I said, “I’ve worked for nothing.
I’ve nothing to show for a life of hard work.
Nevertheless, I’ll let God have the last word.
I’ll let him pronounce his verdict.”
5-6 “And now,” God says,
this God who took me in hand
from the moment of birth to be his servant,
To bring Jacob back home to him,
to set a reunion for Israel—
What an honor for me in God’s eyes!
That God should be my strength!
He says, “But that’s not a big enough job for my servant—
just to recover the tribes of Jacob,
merely to round up the strays of Israel.
I’m setting you up as a light for the nations
so that my salvation becomes global!”
Sara’s father, Max, talks about the light within each one of us. As Sara moves through thesesudden changes and dangers to her life, where does she find light? How does she shine God’s light as verse 3 states? This scripture shows hope in God, where does she find hope? In what ways does your life demonstrate what God is doing?
Spring of 1943 in the US–
Average Cost of new house $3,600.00
Average Monthly Rent $40.00 per month
Average Price for a new car $900.00
Army Doctor/Nurses Kit $1.98
Average wages per year $2,000.00
Cost of a gallon of Gas 15 cents
Bottle Coca Cola 5 cents
World War II Model Plane Kits $1.00 for 5
Top of the charts 1943 –
What was on the minds of folks in the US as war raged in Europe?
Box Office Hits in 1943 –
Fashion in 1943 –
Reflect on the favor Sara’s father asks of her. Does his request that she continue wearing her winter boots seem unusual? What do you believe his motivation is? What does the fact that Sara chooses not to honor her promise indicate about her at this time? Can you think of an experience where you chose not to follow the advice of a parent or an important adult in your life? What were the consequences of your decision? If you could change your decision, would you? Why?
Sara loved her red shoes!
How many miles is 20 kilometers? How long would it take to walk that far? What does the word gendarmes mean? The Beaumiers put themselves at great risk to help Sara. What do you think was their response when Julien told them what he had done? Do you think they would have made the same choice?
What makes you think that?
When have you had a dream that was reality? Sara has this experience with her white bird as is she flies over France and sees her mother taken away. What symbolism do you find as Mamanrecognizes Sara’s white bird? Maman is transported to Auschwitz. What does the sign above Auschwitz mean? Read more
Pray for all those who are living in darkness. Whatever their circumstance that they may in fact find the light within themselves and in others. Also, that God’s light can shine so brightly that it is seen globally.