Tuesday, March 3, 2009

ARTICHOKE'S HEART, by Suzanne Supplee posted by Mrs. Schauer

by Suzanne Supplee
AR: Yes
Interest Level: Middle and Upper Grades

I picked this book up at TLA (Texas Library Association's Conference) almost a year ago. I was so excited about getting it, and then for some reason it took me until now to read it--but I'm so glad I finally did. Since I got an "advanced reader copy" I don't have it on the shelves yet, but it's already been ordered, so it should be here soon--and I'm sure when it gets here it won't spend a lot of time on the shelf.
Rosemary Goode (Rosie to the people who love her) has always been overweight--well, not just overweight--she's always been fat. She got the nickname "Artichoke" in the sixth grade, when she got a new winter coat in an awful shade of green--and the cruel girls at school said she looked like a giant artichoke. Raised by a single mom who got pregnant in high school, she's always soothed herself with food--until one day, she decides enough is enough. This book follows her journey, from being harassed by the popular girls at school, to getting her first boyfriend, and dealing with her mom's battle with cancer--her story is chronicled in the pages. As the pounds melt away, the reader gets to see Rosie come into her own and develop into a better, stronger version of the person who's always been there on the inside. I don't want to give too much of the story away, but I do want to encourage everyone to read it--it's a fantastic story.


  1. It sounds like a really good book!I should try to read it someday.

  2. Dear Mrs. Schauer:
    I enjoyed this book too. I'm an aspiring writer and am analyzing this story. What/who would you say the antagonist is? Fatness?
    thanks for your help.

  3. Bear with me--I've read a lot of books since then!

    While it's definitely a major issue for Rosie, I don't think fatness would be the antagonist--I think fatness is a symptom of the real antagonist, which is low self-esteem/image. Rosie overeats because she has a low self image.

    I may not have all the details right, but I think I recall that when she tried to lose weight in an unhealthy manner (starving, eating rotten mayo of all things, drinking "magic" diet potions) she wasn't successful. It was when she decided that she WAS worthy -- and she WAS worthy, that the weight truly came off.

    Just my two cents--that and a dollar will get you--well, not much!

  4. Mrs. Schauer and I had an "email conversation" concerning this book. I've copied and pasted below:

    "I didn’t feel like Rosie had unusually low self-esteem; I felt like she was kinda rebelling against what her mom and aunt EXPECTED her to be like. Finally she reached a point when she got sick of herself (her weight) and made a change. She did what she had to do to lose the weight – however unhealthy the method was! She was very strong-willed – when she was fat as well as while she was losing weight."

    Mrs. Schauer:
    "So what’ the antagonist? Her mom? Her aunt?"

    "Primarily her mom. Because of her “normal weight” expectations. And although she’s not as harsh as the aunt is, the mom still allows the teasing and sarcasm to continue (from the aunt), and that fact contributes to Rosie’s attitudes and actions/reactions. However, if the antagonist can be intangible, then I’d say it’s “social norm rebellion”! Hah!

    Of course, I’m not the Librarian of the Year, as you are! Neither am I a Reading Specialist / Book Trailer Officianado / Master of the Animoto! Hahahah! "

    Mrs. Schauer:
    I'm not a reading specialist! I'm just a lowly librarian. (Those weren't her exact words)

  5. LOL I would never say I'm a "lowly librarian," because I think being a librarian is the best job on the planet!

    On the subject of figuring out the antagonist in this book....I am not too sure anymore. I thought Rosie had low self-esteem, but come to think of it, she really was witty, sharp, and quick-thinking. I don't think it was her mom, though...hmmmmmm I'm thinking the antagonist has to be intangible. I would say I'll re-read the book, but there are SO MANY in my pile of "I gotta read this ASAP." (What a great problem to have!)

  6. Hi Mrs. Schauer and bcamden...
    Mom as the antagonist? Hmmm....

    I have to agree with bcamden that Rosie's self-image isn't the antagonist....i think her attitude (witty and frankness) is what ultimately pulls her through???

    I confess: I dug out my writing books and checked with wikipedia and googled online writing website, so let me think this through online.....

    The literary definition of "antagonist" is that which forces the main character (of the story) to do something/take action. And antagonist is not necessarily a classic 'villain' character. To quote Wikipedia: "Contrary to popular belief, the antagonist is not always the villain, but simply those who oppose the main character." And....antagonist is often (always?) the driving force behind a protagonist's external conflict (something/someone that forces the MC to act).

    So, antagonist can be anything that opposes the main character/protagonist. Which means it can be THE ACTIONS OF Mother Nature (ex.: tsunami), corporation (big tobacco; candy and junk food makers); a group of characters (slender, popular high school girls); or society (fat people are lazy and lack self-contol); or loving a loving mom who wants her daughter to slim down for many reasons.

    So, I could buy that Mom and Aunt (rather, their intentions driven by social norms, as bcamden puts it) are the antagonists, but only out of LOVE for Rosie. But wait! Can there be more than one completely separate, unrelated antagonist? I say YES! The popular, slender girls at Rosie's high school can also be viewed as antagonists (out of meanness and viciousness that's often found in cliques of teen girls).

    So, this sort of answers my question in that FATNESS isn't really the antagonist. I'm revising my thinking about FATNESS: it's really the catalyst/set-up for both external and internal conflicts to happen.

    Ok, you two got me thinking and analyzing. THANK YOU!
    --linda, a lowly, aspiring YA writer