Very Last First Time By Jan Andrews

This story was about a girl (elementary-aged) that had the responsibility of going under the ice to collect food during a very tide-dependent time.  The family lived in a part of Alaska where the ice that freezes over the water eventually gets to a point where the ice is still in tact but the liquid water follows high and low tide and the ocean floor is exposed when the tide goes out.  It was an important source of food for the family and the story is about her very first time going down alone to collect clams, oysters, etc.  Her mom saws a hole open in the ice for her to jump down and explore.  She had done it many times with her mother but this was her first time alone and by the end of the book, she realizes she will never have that “first time” experience again.  When she is down under the ice, she gets too far from the hole she jumped in and realizes she is lost and the tide starts to come back in.  There is a time of panic and then she remembers to follow the glimpse of light to find her way out.  The storybook had beautiful drawings and the title is initially what drew me to it.

I think the phrase Very Last First Time is very powerful.  There is a first for everything you do and it will be your only time that it happens.  I love this overall saying for any class setting.  Also, the girl was able to overcome an obstacle based on her problem-solving skills and this lesson/skill has always stuck with me.  I hope to teach the students that they are capable of anything and they need to be the first ones to realize that.  Besides the overall meaning of the book, I think a lesson could be made out of tides and how the girl in the book knew what danger that meant for her.  Earth’s tides are so moving (pun intended) and this book could easily be a SPARK to a lesson/activity on tides.

6 thoughts on “Very Last First Time By Jan Andrews”

  1. Katie,
    I like how this story allows students to pave their own way for learning. They can be the teachers of their own discovery and this could blossom into a great lesson for self-directed learning!

  2. Katie,
    I like the dramatic juxtaposition of the ocean that gives and yet potentially kills. I’ve heard that there is a Tlingit saying that goes “When the tide is out, the table is set.” But this story sounds a little further north, and a little more dangerous potentially.
    I think the idea of a young protagonist who goes under the “ice” to retrieve something of value for the community has a strong mythic quality and you could use this to have students explore how people in their own community undergo similar dangerous journeys for the greater welfare. Sounds like a cool book!

  3. There is something magical about the ‘very last first time’. Coming of age tale of absolute accountability we have to face the fact that we’re in it all alone, but wait. We also carry with us the ability to work our way out of those situations that allow it because we learned the lesson we were taught earlier in life. The lessons we may have thought were meaningless. Incorporating the tidal lesson is a great idea.

  4. I read this book too, and I really liked it!! I like your statement ” I hope to teach the students that they are capable of anything and they need to be the first to realize it.” I think that is a powerful statement to pull from the book; the girl went through the entire range of emotions in her journey but still arrived home, capable and experienced..

  5. Wow this book sounds really awesome 🙂 And what a coincidence that David’s talk on the last day of class yesterday spoke about the respect for the tides! I agree that the students should be the first ones to realize that they are capable of doing anything–they are unique and precious beings of the Earth. Thank you for this post! It really brought what David was saying yesterday to life. Respect the changing tides and appreciate what we human beings are capable of achieving!

  6. Hey Katie, Thanks for sharing.

    I really liked what you said about how this book is not only a lesson about the environment and its features, but also about life in general. That title definitely rings a bell with me as well, and I could see it becoming a beautiful phrase to use in my classrooms, especially during periods of transitions (graduation, freshmen, unit to unit, etc…)

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