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mouse who ate the moonmooncakes  grandma and the great gourdhttp://readon.education.wisc.edu/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/little-roja-e1440433353684.jpgsugargracefully grayson port chicago 50      http://readon.education.wisc.edu/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/shadow-hero-e1440432919341.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wow! We’ve got super appealing, accessible books for children and young adults this February here at Read On Wisconsin! The Shadow Hero is a multi-layered graphic novel about a Chinese American super hero in 1940’s America sure to appeal to a wide array of readers from middle school through high school. We also have some absolutely riveting non-fiction from award-winning author, Steve Sheinkin. Port Chicago 50 is difficult to put down. And, those are just the high school selections.

Check out all of this month’s titles below. Click on the book cover image for the CCBC annotation of the book, links to resources from TeachingBooks.net, and discussion prompts or early childhood activities.  Tell us what you think of this month’s titles @ReadOnWI.

port chicago 50The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Icon_HighSchoolFight for Civil Rights by Steve Sheinkin. Roaring Brook Press, 2014.

In the segregated military during World War II, Black sailors were responsible for loading munitions at Port Chicago on the San Francisco Bay. They were given no training in how to handle the dangerous cargo, and often felt pressure to increase their speed. On July 17, 1944, a tremendous explosion resulted in the deaths of 320 sailors on the dock and in the ships being loaded. In the aftermath, surviving Black sailors were soon ordered back to loading munitions. A group of them refused, saying they would obey any order but that one. They admitted they were afraid. And they were court martialed and found guilty of mutiny, sentenced to 15 years hard labor in prison. Steve Sheinkin offers a mesmerizing account of individuals and events surrounding the trial of the men who became known as the “Port Chicago 50,” revealing the impact of racism and segregation within the military at that time. The overtly racist Navy prosecutor aimed to show the men had conspired together ahead of time to refuse the order but there was no evidence of this in the testimony. Thurgood Marshall, then with the NAACP, sat in on the trail and appealed the guilty verdict, but the appeal failed: to reverse the decision would be to admit the original trial was unjust. Political and public pressure resulted in the men’s release from prison after sixteen months. They were allowed to resume work as sailors, some serving on ships as the Navy began to desegregate, but the mutiny convictions were never dropped despite recurring efforts over the decades. Sheinkin’s compelling narrative, clearly positioned on the side of social justice, draws on the full-transcripts of interviews done with members of the Port Chicago 50 in the 1970s as well as transcripts of the trial. These accounts and other research is thoroughly documented in an offering that is sure to evoke strong emotional responses among y.a. readers. (MS) ©2014 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Great resources for Port Chicago 50 available at TeachingBooks.net.

Start some conversation with these discussion questions:

  1. The first chapter in the book, “First Hero,” describes an African American naval kitchen worker who saves many lives during an air raid in 1941 at Pearl Harbor. In what ways does this story foreshadow the events and personal experiences during the Port Chicago 50 disaster?
  2. In the chapter “The Verdict,” the author describes the court proceedings against the Port Chicago 50. The author reports that testimony “ignited” the prosecutor’s “biggest tantrum” thus far (p. 137).   How do words like “ignited” and “tantrum” influence the reader’s perspective about the prosecutor and the court proceedings?   What feelings does the author elicit in the reader in using these descriptors? How would your reaction be different if the author had used the words “prompted” rather than “ignited” or “frustration” rather than “tantrum?’
  3. Have you or someone you know ever been in a situation where you needed to disagree with someone in authority? What were the consequences of that disagreement? How was that situation alike or different from the Port Chicago 50 situation? If you had been on that naval base, would you have continued to load ammunition or would you have joined the 50?   Why or why not?

The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang.  First Second, 2014.shadow hero

The origins of the 1940s comic book hero Green Turtle are imagined in the story of Hank, a young Chinese American man whose mother is desperate he become a superhero, even exposing him to toxic chemicals and other possible mutation-causing agents. This is one of the many moments of high humor in a graphic novel also packed with action, moments of pathos, and social commentary. It’s his humble father’s murder that finally gives Hank a superpower: It turns out one of the four spirits of China — a tortoise — possessed Hank’s father and moves on to Hank when the father dies. The tortoise becomes Hank’s mentor, although he’s as acerbic and droll as he is wise. Hank discovers gangster Ten Grand is at the bottom of his father’s death, but Ten Grand’s daughter, Red Center, complicates his plans for revenge. There is so much to appreciate about this work, from the humor and action to the seamless way racism, sexism and stereotypes are laid bare. As impressive as the story itself is the extensive note about the original Green Turtle comic, developed by a cartoonist named Chu Hing for publisher Rural Home during World War II. Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew look at the facts and rumors and discuss their own theory on how Hing fought back against his publisher’s refusal to allow him to openly depict Green Turtle as Chinese American. The entire original comic is then reproduced, racism and all, they note, as they encourage readers to make up their own minds about Hing’s intentions in this absolutely entertaining work that openly invites critical thinking.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Great resources for The Shadow Hero available at TeachingBooks.net.

Start some conversation with these discussion questions:

  1. The book ends with a short history of the comic industry in the 1940s and, in particular, how a comic called “The Green Turtle” was created by an Asian American artist. In retrospect, how did this information influence your understanding of the story? Do you think it was necessary to provide this backstory? Did knowing this information change how you felt about the story? In what ways?
  2. This book examines issues of immigration and race in addition to crime and its consequences. How do the images in the book reinforce the story’s treatment of immigration and race? Examine the panels on page 118. In one image, Hank pulls his eyes into slits. How does this image reinforce the accompanying text and the story’s treatment of race? Do you think it adds or detracts from the text’s message? How?
  3. Some people believe graphic novels teach “visual literacy” whereby you examine the images in context with the text, rather than simply reading the text alone. How does the visual representation of immigration and race contribute to or detract from your understanding of these issues? Would your reaction be different had you simply read about it without pictures? Did you find the use of visuals and the graphic novel format effective in examining these issues? Why or why not?
  4. On page 118, the police detective calls the Chinese gang, “Those sneaky slant-eyed bastards.” How does his word choice reflect the time and place in which this story takes place? Why do you think the detective is surprised that the Green Turtle is also a “slant-eyed” bastard? Why do you think the author used those words to describe the criminals?

gracefully graysonGracefully Grayson by Ami Polonsky. Disney Books for Middle School AgeHyperion, 2014.

Sixth grader Grayson hides his desire to wear dresses and skirts and other girls’ clothes from everyone but is finding it harder and harder. Grayson has no friends until new student Amelia arrives at their progressive private school. But their wonderful weekend forays to Chicago area thrift stores come to an end after Grayson tries on a skirt; Amelia isn’t amused. Then Grayson auditions for The Myth of Persephone at the urging of the wonderful Humanities teacher. Intending to read for the role of Zeus, at the last minute he decides to try out for Persephone. When Grayson gets the part, his aunt is furious, believing the teacher crossed a line (he did call their family first). Grayson’s parents died in a car accident when he was four, but the discovery of letters written by his mom are a revelation: As a preschooler, Grayson insisted he was a girl, and Grayson’s parents were trying their best to be supportive of Grayson’s expression of identity. Grayson begins wearing a pink heart shirt underneath a sweatshirt, and hanging out at play practice with the girls, who love to braid Grayson’s hair, all the while coming closer to speaking the truth once more: I am a girl. Threats from two older boys, and the ongoing anger of Grayson’s aunt — phobia cloaked in the guise of concern for Grayson — are challenges, but Grayson’s uncle is trying to do the right thing, while the teacher and the kids in the play take Grayson’s identity in stride in a sensitive, emotionally compelling debut novel from Amy Polonsky.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Check out the always fabulous resources from TeachingBooks.net for Ami Polonsky’s Gracefully Grayson.

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. How does Grayson different at the end of the story than from the beginning of the story? What are some turning points for Grayson?
  2. How did the adults in Grayson’s life react to him being in the play? What are the different adult perspectives? Why do you think the author shared these points of view?
  3. Discuss the relationship between Grayson and Mr. Finnegan.

Just for fun! Let us know what you think!

  1. If this book were made into a movie, which character would you want to be and why?
  2. If this book were made into a movie, who would you cast in what role and why?

Share your answer with us @ReadOnWI or join our Read On Wisconsin Google Community where tweens and teens can discuss the ROW monthly titles online. Or, any where on social media using #ROWmaple.

sugarSugar by Jewell Parker Rhodes. Little, Brown, Icon for the Intermediate (Grades 3-5) readers2013.

Five years after the Emancipation Proclamation, Sugar works in the sugarcane fields of a plantation on the Mississippi River. An orphan, Sugar abhors her name with its constant reminder of the crop that has defined her life in many hard ways. Although some of the recently freed slaves have headed north, those with the fewest resources—like Sugar—are stuck in the cane fields and inescapable poverty. A friendship with Billy, the son of the plantation owner, gives Sugar some pleasure and freedom in her daily life, but no one among Billy’s family or Sugar’s fellow workers approves of their relationship. When the plantation owner brings in a group of Chinese laborers to help with the harvest, the other African Americans feel threatened and resentful of the newcomers until Sugar makes the overtures that ultimately allow the two groups to find connections. This accessible and compelling tale, set at a time about which little has been written for children, focuses on the transformative power of compassion and humanity. While Billy’s attitudes may be unrealistically progressive for the era, they mark a sense of hope found in few African American books of historical fiction.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Find resources for Sugar, including teaching guides, a book trailer, and more at TeachingBooks.net.

Something for everyone to discuss before reading the book:

  • Do you like your name? Why or why not?

Start some conversation about the book with these discussion prompts:

  1. Why does Sugar still feel like she is not free even though she is no longer a slave?
  2. What makes Billy seem as though he is also not free?
  3. Why is Sugar so able to make friends with people who are not like her?

grandma and the great gourdGrandma and the Great Gourd: A Bengali Primary Icon of a White-Tailed DeerFolktale by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. Illustrated by Susy Pilgrim Waters. A Neal Porter Book / Roaring Brook Press, 2013.

Traveling through the jungle in India to visit her daughter, an old woman named Grandma meets a fox, a bear, and a tiger in turn. She convinces them each she’s far too skinny to eat. “See how bony I am? I’ll be a lot juicier on my way back from my daughter’s house.” For the return journey, her daughter seals Grandma inside a giant gourd to keep her safe and gives her a push. She rolls through the jungle, encountering each animal once again. “I’m just a rolling gourd, singing my song. Won’t you give me a push and help me along?” It almost works. But the fox finally figures out Grandma’s inside. That’s when Grandma’s loyal dogs come to the rescue. A lively retelling of a traditional, humorous Bengali tale is distinguished by many fresh examples of onomatopoeia (dhip-dhip, khut-khut-khut, gar-gar, gar-gar), not to mention a strong, smart, clever main character. The vibrant illustrations are distinctively stylized. Steeped in warm, bright colors, they incorporate an array of decorative patterns into the backgrounds.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Check out these resources for Grandma and the Great Gourd from TeachingBooks.net.

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. What three animals does Grandma meet on her way through the forest?
  2. What problems does Grandma need to solve? How does she solve them?
  3. How do Grandma’s dogs help her?
  4. How might this story be different in a different setting? Give an example of a different setting and resulting story.

Little Roja Riding Hood by Susan Middleton Elya. little rojaIllustrated by Susan Guevara. Putnam, 2014.

Richly flavored with Spanish words and Latino cultural details, this retelling of “Little Red Riding Hood” is also full of spirit and good humor. Young Roja is suspicious of the wolf that questions her in the woods on the way to her Abuela’s, but doesn’t notice him stealing off with her red capa and hood when she stops to pick flores for her ailing grandmother. The wolf, meanwhile, arrives at Grandma’s in disguise, but Grandma (working on her laptop while in bed) only pretends to be fooled. Armed with a religious statue, she’s joined by Roja, who arrives in time to swing la canasta of hot soup at the beast. Susan Middleton Elya’s retelling is a masterful—and delightful—rhyming narrative. Susan Guevara’s watercolor, ink and gouache illustrations are the perfect accompaniment, providing not only visual context for Spanish words and greater cultural context for this version of the story, but also full of funny details, including a cast of characters from other traditional folktales, most notable the three blind mice who accompany Roja on her journey.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Check out helpful resources for Little Roja Riding Hood from TeachingBooks.net.

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Have you read other versions of Little Red Riding? What is similar and different in this version?
  2. The duendes are in many of the illustrations. What do you notice about them?
  3. How do the illustrations help to tell the story? What do the illustrations tell you about Little Roja, her mother and her grandmother?

mouse who ate the moonThe Mouse Who Ate the Moon by Petr Horáček. U.S. edition: Icon_PreSchoolCandlewick Press, 2014.

Little Mouse is so struck by the beauty of the moon that she wishes she could have a piece of it to keep. The next morning, her wish has come true when she wakes up and finds a yellow crescent outside her hole. It smells so good! It turns out to be tasty, too. She eats half of her piece of the moon before sadly realizing the moon won’t be round anymore. Luckily, her friends Mole and Rabbit reassure her that she didn’t really eat the moon. Deep-hued illustrations with occasional die-cuts are the backdrop for a gently humorous story that never makes fun of Little Mouse while giving young listeners the satisfaction of understanding Little Mouse’s mistake early on: Her piece of the moon is clearly a banana, although that’s never stated.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Find resources for this book at TeachingBooks.net.

Talk: Talk about the different foods and their shapes. What are some special things you do with your family? Are there special foods you eat with your family?

Sing: Play a recording of “I’m Being Followed By a Moon Shadow” and sing along.

Play: Play peek-a-boo! Create finger shadow puppets. Host a tea party for family, friends, toys or dolls.

STEM: Discuss the different shapes and phases of the moon.

Mooncakes by Loretta Seto. Illustrated by Renné Benoit. Orca, 2013.mooncakes

A young Chinese North American girl describes her first time staying up to celebrate the autumn Moon Festival. There are round mooncakes to eat. “They make a circle for me and Mama and Baba. They make a circle for my family.” There are round paper lanterns to light. And there is the circle of Mama and Baba’s arms. The night also includes storytelling as the parents share three Chinese legends about the moon with the little girl. They are the perfect length for stories parents would tell a small child, and so integrate seamlessly into the narrative of this picture book that is full of warmth. It’s in the simple, beautiful language, and in the loving depiction of family. The story’s cozy feel is echoed in the illustrations’ warm tones. Discovering that the three legends are reflected in the decorations on the family’s teapot adds to the pleasure.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Find resources for this book at TeachingBooks.net.

Read: Look at maps of the world. Find China and North America. What other countries can your children find?

Talk: Talk about holidays that your family celebrates. What foods does your family eat on these special occasions. Why is this important to your family?

Sing: Sing a favorite holiday song with children.

Write: Draw different holiday foods and let your child decorate them with crayons, paint, sequins, beads or sprinkles.

STEM: Bake a treat with children. Explain the need to follow a recipe. Talk about the steps needed to make the treat. What would happen you followed the steps in the recipe out of order?

Find more early literacy activities from the Youth Services Section of the Wisconsin Library Association’s 2015 Early Literacy Calendar created by Youth Services librarians across Wisconsin.

nestlion and the birdblizzard

incredible life of baltolulu and the cat in the bag

misadventures of the family fletcher001

patient zero

courage has no colorlooks like daylight

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Liven up January with these highly discussable books. Click on each cover for an annotation, discussion questions, and link to resources from TeachingBooks.net.

lion and the birdThe Lion and the Bird by Marianne Duboc. Translated Icon_PreSchoolfrom the French by Claudia Z. Bedrick. U.S. edition: Enchanted Lion, 2014.

A picture book of great tenderness begins with a lion raking his yard. When a bird from a flock flying high overhead is injured, the lion bandages the bird’s wing, but the flock moves on — autumn is clearly waning. So the lion and the bird spend a snug winter together, warm in his cozy home, sometimes venturing out for some cold-weather fun, the bird tucked into his mane. “It snows and snows. But winter doesn’t feel all that cold with a friend.” Spring brings warm weather, and the return of the other birds. It’s time for the lion and the bird to part. Time passes, lion carries on his solitary life, then it’s autumn again and he wonders about his friend. There is an absence, an ache, and, finally, sweet joy. Marianne Dubuc’s picture book is told largely through beautifully composed, muted illustrations that make use of both full-page spreads and spot illustrations surrounded by white space, with brief lines of lovely narrative punctuating the images every so often. There is a film-like quality to the visual storytelling in this rich, emotionally resonant tale.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

  • Read & Talk: On the wordless spreads, ask your child to describe what is happening. Let your child have time with this activity. Use a bookmark so you can come back to the story. Ask your child what their favorite season is and why?
  • Write: Together with your child, write a letter to someone they love that lives far away and take a trip to the post office to mail your letter. Create a bookmark for the book.
  • Play: Take care of a friend, toy, or imaginary friend by hosting a tea party. Find out what they like they to eat. Act out some of the activities in the book like fishing, sledding, and gardening.
  • STEM: Provide dried beans or seeds. Feel them, count them, sort them or plant them in a cup. While sorting, create charts and graphs.

Nest by Jorey Hurley. A Paula Wiseman Book / Simon & Schuster,nest 2014.

A single word per double-page spread takes very young children through a year in the life cycle of a robin, from “nest” to “hatch” to “explore,” eventually ending with another “nest.” The simple narrative is an accompaniment to the uncluttered, striking, stylized illustrations, each of which is an artful work of graphic design. The art strongly and realistically conveys the beauty of the changing seasons and the drama within and beyond the natural world, as on the “jump” page, where the robins sit in a tree just out of the reach of an eager and interested cat, or “surprise,” which as a purple kite on a taut string flying above their treetop resting place. An author’s note provides additional information about robins.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

  • Talk: Talk about the four seasons with your child.
  • Sing: Sing “Two Little Blackbirds Sitting in a Tree”. Now replace blackbirds with robins and other birds.
  • Write: Collect leaves. Ask children to trace the different parts of leaves – stem, outline, veins – with their fingers. Point out curved and straight lines on the leaves and how letters are made of straight and curved lines.
  • STEM: Go for a walk and observe nature. When spring comes, place four inch strands of yarn on tree branches for nest building. Discuss the order of the events in the book.

Find more early literacy activities from the Youth Services Section of the Wisconsin Library Association’s 2015 Early Literacy Calendar created by Youth Services librarians across Wisconsin.

blizzardBlizzard by John Rocco.  Disney / Hyperion, 2014.Primary Icon of a White-Tailed Deer

“Outside, the ground is cold and white. Inside, my home is warm and bright,” begins this satisfying picture book for young children. A small boy describes what is happening, both outside and inside his home, during a snowstorm. While the snow “swirls and blows” deeper and deeper into drifts, he warms his toes by the fireplace, drinks hot cocoa, and snuggles under a quilt. Pairs of simple sentences and their accompanying illustrations contrast the wild beauty of the storm with the snug comfort of the boy’s warm house. As the storm abates, the boy ventures out into a calm, cold, crystalline nighttime to make a snow angel. Then it’s back inside and off to bed, but not before he takes one more look at his sleeping angel. CCBC categories: Seasons and Celebrations; Books for Babies and Toddlers; Concept Books.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Resources from TeachingBooks.net.

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Before reading: What would you not want to be without in a snow storm?
  2. What visual clues show you the depth of the snow?
  3. How do the illustrations tell you about the passage of time?
  4. Which member of the family saves the day? How does he or she save the day? Show examples of this from the illustrations.

The Incredible Life of Balto by Meghan McCarthy.  Alfred A. Knopf, incredible life of balto2011.

Meghan McCarthy offers a compelling expansion on the usual story of Balto, the sled dog leader of the team that completed the famed delivery of Diptherium serum to Nome in 1925. From an exhilarating description of the final leg of the serum run, McCarthy goes on to describe Balto’s celebrity status after the event (he even starred in a movie!), and then his decline from fame into life as a side-show attraction. Eventually money was raised in a public effort in Cleveland to purchase Balto and his teammates from the sideshow owner. The dogs were donated to the Brookside Zoo, where “Balto could relax and enjoy the rest of his life.” A lengthy section in the afterword titled “Detective Work” is a fascinating account of the author’s efforts to track down Balto’s history and accurate physical description, separating rumor and error from fact. McCarthy’s distinctive art style offers up an endearingly googly-eyed Balto, which seems fitting for a dog considered an unlikely choice for a hero.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Resources from TeachingBooks.net.

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. What is the setting for the book or when and where does Balto’s story take place?
  2. In what ways do you think Balto was a hero? Show examples from the book to support your opinion.
  3. Kimble did not have enough money to buy Balto, how did he manage to pay for him?

lulu and the cat in the bagLulu and the Cat in the Bag by Hilary McKay. Illustrated by Icon for the Intermediate (Grades 3-5) readersPriscilla Lamont. U.S. edition: Albert Whitman, 2013.

Irrepressible, animal-loving Lulu is back in two new breezy outings. In Lulu and the Cat in the Bag, Lulu’s grandma, Nan, has come to stay with Lulu and her cousin, Mellie, while their parents are on vacation. Nan is decidedly not an animal lover, and the arrival of a breathing burlap bag on the doorstep has her in a panic about what might be inside. The marigold cat it proves to be isn’t too thrilled, either, and bolts when Lulu opens the bag. But she returns when Nan isn’t looking, making herself at home on Lulu’s bed. When the cat disappears, it’s Lulu’s turn to panic. The outcome of her search for the missing feline is surprising to everyone—perhaps Nan most of all. In Lulu and the Dog from the Sea, Lulu’s parents take Lulu and Mellie on a trip to a seaside cottage. After spotting a stray dog on the beach, Lulu is determined to capture the canine and take care of it. Mellie, meanwhile, is determined to build a kite from the complicated kit she has brought along. Hilary McKay, masterful at writing funny books about families and friends alike, once again offers up a cast of singular, delightful characters in two outstanding books for newly independent readers continuing the series about brown-skinned Lulu that began with Lulu and the Duck in the Park (U.S. edition: Albert Whitman, 2012).  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Resources from TeachingBooks.net.

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Before reading: What would you do if you found a cat on your doorstep?
  2. What role do pets play in the family in this book? What role do pets play for the main character?
  3. How is the grandmother different at the beginning of the story from the end of the story? Why did the grandmother change her mind about the cat?
  4. How does the setting affect the story? What setting might create a different ending for this story?

The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher by Dana Alison Levy. misadventures of the family fletcher001Delacorte, 2014.

The multiracial Fletcher family is comprised of four boys — twelve-year-old Sam, ten-year-olds Jax and Eli (who are not twins), and six-year-old Frog — along with their adoptive Dads, whom they call Dad and Papa. Set over the course of a single school year, a warm, funny story in the tradition of classics like The Saturdays features wonderful family dynamics that will ring true to readers regardless of what their own family structure looks like. Over the course of the novel, each of the boys faces a dilemma. Sam, who has been single-minded about soccer, is taken by surprise at how much he enjoys acting in the school play and feels torn about where to put his energy. Jax chooses their crabby next-door neighbor as the focus of a year-long Veteran’s Project for school, but then finds it impossible to engage the unfriendly man. Eli hates the special school for gifted academic kids that he begged to attend, but now feels he has to stick with it. And Frog has a new friend, Ladybug, that the rest of the family assumes is imaginary, like the cheetah that lived under his bed. Their good-humored yet often exasperated parents and a variety of friends and neighbors all add to the fun of a story that is fresh, lively, and comforting.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Resources from TeachingBooks.net.

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. How is each brother featured as a protagonist? How does that change the story?
  2. This book features messages and emails at the beginning of each chapter. How does that affect your understanding of the narrative? What do you learn about the characters from these notes?
  3. Why did Mr. Nelson appear to be grumpy for much of the story?
  4. Which character changes the most throughout the story? Why do you think this? Cite examples.

patient zeroPatient Zero: Solving the Mysteries of Deadly Books for Middle School AgeEpidemics by Marilee Peters. Annick Press, 2014.

“Who’s our Patient Zero?” Today this is one of many questions scientists ask when looking at a disease outbreak. This captivating look at the development of the field of epidemiology, which blends hard science and social science, looks at seven significant outbreaks of disease over the past 350 years. Starting with the Black Death in London in 1665, readers see how the approach to investigating diseases has developed over time. Each account, which include the Soho Cholera outbreak (1854), Yellow Fever in Cuba (1900), Typhoid in New York City (1906), Spanish Influenza (1918–19), Ebola in Zaire (1976), and AIDS (1980), reads like a mystery as those on the front lines looked for clues to understanding what was happening, where it started, and how it spread, often developing better practices that applied to both the specific illness and the broader field of epidemiology. (The current Ebola outbreak had not yet happened when this book was written; but the discussion of Ebola notes that a re-occurrence is an ongoing concern.) A paperback volume with an engaging design includes numerous visual elements and informative sidebars, as well as a glossary, chapter-by-chapter sources, suggestions for finding out more, and an index.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Resources from TeachingBooks.net

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. What does Patient Zero mean? Do you think this is fitting title for this book? Why?
  2. What were some of the similarities of the different epidemics? How does the time period each epidemic was set in influence how each epidemic was handled?
  3. What are some elements of this informational text (text size, organization, design, illustrations) that are engaging to you as a reader?
  4. Which disease would you like to learn more about? Why?

Courage Has No Color: The True Story of the Triple Nickles, courage has no colorAmerica’s First Black Paratroopers by Tanya Lee Stone. Candlewick Press, 2013.

In 1943, Sergeant Walter Morris, a guard at Fort Benning, Georgia, saw how his fellow Black soldiers were struggling with morale. He began leading his men through the ground training exercises he saw the white paratroopers doing. No one had given him permission, but he wanted to prove to them that they were just as capable as white soldiers. Instead of being reprimanded, Morris got official go-ahead for formation of the first Black paratrooper unit, the 555th Parachute Infantry Company. Tanya Lee Stone follows Morris and other soldiers through the first training classes, and their subsequent expectation that the newly minted Triple Nickles would be sent into battle—the war in Europe was raging. Instead, they were sent to fight forest fires in the Pacific Northwest and California as smoke jumpers. A repeated theme in Stone’s narrative is how the members of the Triple Nickles had to swallow bitterness over and over. But they did, performing the jobs they were asked to do with distinction because they knew the long road was important. Stone introduces a number of the unit’s members, some of whom she interviewed as part of her research. She also provides broader social context for the racism that defined much of the experience of Black soldiers both within and beyond the military during World War II. Her author’s note is an informative discussion of her research and decision-making as a writer—the difficulty of gleaning some facts, and the choices she made at certain points as she gained information and insight through reading and first-person interviews. Numerous black-and-white photographs, and detailed source notes, are included.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Resources from TeachingBooks.net

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. What are specific ways the author shows how racism was a barrier and a burden for individual members of the Triple Nickles and the group as a whole?
  2. How did the Triple Nickles change history and people’s perceptions of African Americans? Cite evidence from the book.
  3. Do people of color experience the same kinds of prejudice today?

looks like daylightLooks Like Daylight: Voices of Indigenous Kids by Deborah Ellis. Icon_HighSchoolForeword by Loriene Roy. Groundwood / House of Anansi Press, 2013.

 Forty-five contemporary Native youth in Canada and the United States, most of them teens, share details about their lives in this gathering of voices that resounds with hopes for the future and echoes with pain from the distant and not-so-distant past. The kids come from many different Indian nations. Some live on reservations (called “reserves” in Canada), some in cities. Some have had lives of stability, some have struggled, and continue to struggle, within or outside of families facing challenges. Many of the young people find grounding and solace and strength in their culture. Native and non-Native readers alike will find elements of their stories relatable. Deborah Ellis provides an introduction to the volume as a whole that gives an overview of the politics that have come to shape many realities of Native lives. She also provides an introduction to each profile. But it is the voices and lives of the kids that stand out, whether they are young artists or activists, horse-lovers or budding engineers, or struggling with harsh things that have happened, in need of support and finding their way.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Resources from TeachingBooks.net

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. This book is entitled, Looks Like Daylight. Why do you think the author chose this title? How does it reflect the overall tone of the stories the author chose to include? What do you think it suggests about the long term prognosis for Native youth in America? Provide examples from the stories to support your opinion.
  2. In each chapter, Native youth describe some of the challenges they face. Frequently, these challenges include alcohol abuse, discrimination, and suicide. How has the history of Native Americans (i.e., repatriation to reservations, boarding schools, language extinction) contributed to these challenges? In what ways do Native youth cope positively with these challenges? How are these challenges similar or different from the experiences of non-Native youth or even from your experience?
  3. Many of the Native youth describe their relationship to Native history. Give examples of how this has been a positive experience as well as a negative experience for these youth. Are there examples of your personal history, or the history of someone you know, that affect your behavior or life outlook today? Discuss why it’s important for these Native students to remember history and, equally, why it’s important to identify with the present and plan for the future.