Thursday, December 10, 2009

Hannah, Divided, by Adele Griffin

Over the past year I've learned a new term: 2e, or twice exceptional, is a term used by advocates of kids who are exceptionally smart, along with having exceptional learning differences. (I'm paraphrasing Tiffani, who blogs beautifully at Child's Play about 2e issues. Another blog I've enjoyed on the subject is Life Among the Gifted.)

Hannah, Divided is the sweet story of a girl who would be designated 2e nowadays. Growing up during the depression on a farm, she's not too worried about her struggles with reading, and the comfort she takes in numbers is very personal. She doesn't much expect either her learning trouble or her gift to take her away from milking cows and sharing the chores with her family. But they do.

Her teacher, Miss Cascade, has prepared the one-room schoolhouse and all its students for a visit from a possible benefactor. On the day Mrs. Sweet arrives, she takes an interest in Hannah's math abilities and quizzes her after school. On the way home, Hannah is so fired up, she just has to run, and count.
Finally, she took this year, 1934, and divided it by two. Over and over, skipping the decimal point like a checkers piece until it stood at the front of the line.

Granddad McNaughton encouraged her mathematics. Sunday afternoons, they passed gleeful hours inventing games with figures and sums, making up riddles and puzzles to solve.
She's given a chance to go to Philadelphia to study math, and takes it. Leaving home is difficult for her, and she leans on her need to pace her room 32 times, get each item in exactly the right place, and tap her paper 32 times. As hard as it is, the math she's able to learn from her tutor at Ottley Friends' School makes all the hardship worthwhile.

As I read this simple story, I kept thinking of how moving it might be for my young friend Artemis, and other kids like Hannah. I hope some of you have a chance to enjoy it soon.

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