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Author Archives: schliesman

Outcasts United / Temple Grandin

April 1st, 2014 | Posted by schliesman in Middle School | 2013-2014 | April - (Comments Off on Outcasts United / Temple Grandin)

outcasts united coverOutcasts United: The Story of a Refugee Soccer Team That Changed a Town by Warren St. John. Delacorte Press, 2012

1. The kids in Outcasts United come from various countries, but all have experienced difficult things both before and after coming to the United States. Why do you think being on The Fugees means so much to them?

2. Luma had no background in teaching or social work but seemed to instinctively understand what her players needed. What are some of the things that she does that goes above and beyond what a typical sports coach might do?

3. Why is Luma so strict with her players?

 

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Temple Grandin: How the Girl Who Loved Cows Embraced Autism and Changed the World by Sy Montgomery. Houghton Mifflin, 2012

1. What were some of the challenges Temple faced growing up? What were some of the ways she overcame them?

2. Temple notes that the unique way her brain works is the reason she has succeeded. What are some of the specific skills and gifts she credits to her autism that have helped her in her work?

3. Did this book make you think about the food you eat, especially meat, in a different way? Did it make you uncomfortable, and if so, why do you think it had that impact?

 

Books for Middle School Age

Step Gently Out / Laughing Tomatoes and Other Spring Poems

April 1st, 2014 | Posted by schliesman in Primary (Grades K-2) | 2013-2014 | April - (Comments Off on Step Gently Out / Laughing Tomatoes and Other Spring Poems)

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Step Gently Out by Helen Frost. Photographs by Rick Lieder. Candlewick Press, 2012

1. Do the photographs in this book make you think more about the words? Why or why not?

2. What do you think it means to “step gently out”?

3. How does reading this poem and looking at these photographs make you think differently about insects?

 

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Laughing Tomatoes and Other Spring Poems / jitomates risueños y otros poemas de primvera by Francisco X. Alarcón. Illustrated by Maya Christina Gonzalez. Children’s Book Press, 1997

1. What makes these “spring” poems? Pick one or two of them—how do you think they connect to spring?

2. What are some ways poems are different than a story? Are there ways the two are similar?

3. Do any of the poems in this book feel like they are telling a story? Which one(s) and why?

 

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The Arrow Finds Its Mark

April 1st, 2014 | Posted by schliesman in Intermediate (Grades 3-5) | 2013-2014 | April - (Comments Off on The Arrow Finds Its Mark)

arrow finds its mark

The Arrow Finds Its Mark: A Book of Found Poems by George Heard. Illustrated by Antoine Guilloppé. Roaring Brook Press, 2012

1. What is a “found” poem?

2. If the text of a “found” poem is taken from something that’s already been written, what role does the poet play? What kinds of things does she or he do to make it into a poem?

3. Pick a poem from this book that you particularly like. What do you like about it?

 

 

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Unwind

March 1st, 2014 | Posted by schliesman in Middle School | 2013-2014 | March - (Comments Off on Unwind)

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Unwind by Neal Shusterman. Simon and Schuster, 2007

1. Connor, Risa and Lev have followed three different paths to the same fate and are all destined for “unwinding.” How do their individual experiences draw similarities between the future in which this story is set and our society today?

2. What are some of the ways the three main characters influence one another’s understanding of and attitudes toward “unwinding”? How do Connor, Risa and Lev change in other ways from knowing one another?

3. This book takes a highly controversial issue in our society today and offers up a fictional future where the solution is a compromise that seems unimaginable. What do you think the author wants readers to think about or take away from this?

 

Books for Middle School Age

Final Four

March 1st, 2014 | Posted by schliesman in High School | 2013-2014 | March - (Comments Off on Final Four)

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The Final Four by Paul Volponi. Viking, 2012

1. This book raises a lot of questions about whether college athletes should receive compensation from the NCAA for their talent. What do you believe and why? In what ways, if any, has your opinion been informed by or changed by this novel?

2. Malcolm McBride, Roko Basic and Michael Jordan are each facing challenges—some off the court, some on. What are their similarities and what are their differences. How do they work individually and together as characters to illuminate realities for college athletes?

3. In what ways do you think the secondary female characters were stereotyped? How could they have changed those roles to make them less stereotypical?

 

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Penny and Her Song

March 1st, 2014 | Posted by schliesman in Primary (Grades K-2) | 2013-2014 | March - (Comments Off on Penny and Her Song)

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Penny and Her Song by Kevin Henkes. Greenwillow / HarperCollins, 2012

1. How do you think singing her song makes Penny feel? How can you tell?

2. How does Penny’s family respond when they finally hear her song? What things happen?

3. What can you tell about Penny’s parents from the story and the illustrations? If you could be Penny’s friend, do you think you’d enjoy spending time with her family? Why?

 

 

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Liar & Spy / The Mighty Miss Malone

March 1st, 2014 | Posted by schliesman in Intermediate (Grades 3-5) | 2013-2014 | March - (Comments Off on Liar & Spy / The Mighty Miss Malone)

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Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead. Wendy Lamb Books / Random House, 2012

1. Georges is uncomfortable with some of the things Safer asks him to do. Would you do anything differently if you were Georges in terms of how he responded? Would you do anything differently than Georges in terms of handling the bullies he faces at school?

2. Things are revealed near the end of the story that change our understanding of both Georges and Safer. Looking back, can you find clues early on to what we eventually learn about each of them and their situations?

3. Why do you think Georges didn’t reveal the truth—to Safer and to us as readers—about his mom? Why do you think Safer wasn’t honest with Georges?

 

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The Mighty Miss Malone by Christopher Paul Curtis. Wendy Lamb Books / Random House, 2012

1. Deza describes each member of her family early on in the story in an essay for her teacher. What do you learn about Deza from the way she writes? Do you think she’s a girl you’d enjoy knowing? Why or why not?

2. What are some ways the author shows how Deza’s family is affected by having so little money?

3. What are some of the differences between Deza’s school experience/teacher at the beginning of the story, when her family is still living in Gary, and later, when she’s going to school in Flint?

 

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Green / Animal Spots and Stripes

March 1st, 2014 | Posted by schliesman in Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers | 2013-2014 | March - (Comments Off on Green / Animal Spots and Stripes)

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Green by Laura Vaccaro Seeger. A Neal Porter Book / Roaring Brook Press, 2012

1. What kind of green would you call a blade of grass? How about a shirt that you love?

2. What are other green things you can think of?

3. What do you think is meant by “forever green” on the book’s final pages?

 

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Animal Spots and Stripes by Britta Teckentrup. Handprint Books, 2012

1. Let’s find all the animals with spots in the book. Now let’s find all the animals with stripes.

2. If you could choose between having spots or stripes, which would you want to have? Why?

3. Let’s count the _________! (name the specific creatures on each page)

 

Poems to pair from Here’s a Little Poem: A Very First Book of Poetry edited by Jane Yolen and Andrew Fusek Peters. Illustrated by Polly Dunbar. U.S. edition: Candlewick Press, 2007 :

“Soggy Greens” by John Cunliffe, p. 19

“Recipe for Green” by Jane Yolen, pp. 54-55

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Unspoken / Chickadee

February 1st, 2014 | Posted by schliesman in Intermediate (Grades 3-5) | 2013-2014 | February - (Comments Off on Unspoken / Chickadee)

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Unspoken: A Story from the Underground Railroad by Henry Cole. Scholastic Press, 2012

1. Who is the person hiding and who or what are they running from? How can you tell?

2. Do you think this is the first time someone has hidden on this family’s farm and gotten help? What can you point to in the illustrations that make you think yes or no?

3. Why do you think the illustrator chose to tell this story without any words?

4. If you were the girl in the story and discovered someone hiding and in need of help, what would you do?

 

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Chickadee by Louise Erdrich. Harper / HarperCollins, 2012

1. Chickadee is taken hundreds of miles from his home and has to find his own way back when he escapes. What knowledge does he draw on? Who are some of his helpers?

2. Everyone in Chickadee’s family is worried about him and misses him, especially his twin, Makoons. What are some of the ways Makoons responds to missing his brother? Why do you think Chickadee’s disappearance is so hard for him in particular?

3. Describe the characters of Babiche and Baptiste. In what ways were they funny? In what ways were they scary?

 

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Bomb / Code Name Verity

February 1st, 2014 | Posted by schliesman in High School | 2013-2014 | February - (Comments Off on Bomb / Code Name Verity)

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Bomb: The Race to Build—and Steal—the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin. Flash Point / Roaring Brook Press, 2012

1. The author has described this book as a “non-fiction thriller,” which suggests it reads like fiction even though it is factual. What are some of the things he does in the writing to make the book read like fiction? What are some of the things he does to make clear this is a work of non-fiction?

2. Individuals involved with the Manhattan Project were motivated by a variety of things—from the challenge of the work itself to patriotism to politics. What are examples of ways the perspectives of some of the individuals in the book changed regarding how they felt about the bomb after the bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki?

3. In what ways has this book changed your thinking about atomic weapons and who should have them?

 

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Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. Hyperion, 2012

1. What are some of the ways both Maddie and Julia exemplify courage and friendship across the narrative?

2. What are some of the things you learned in Part II about Julia’s situation as a hostage of the Gestapo that she didn’t reveal in Part I? Would you define her as a reliable or unreliable narrator in Part I? Why?

3. In your opinion, was the choice Maddie makes when she sees Julia get off the bus in Part II the right thing to do? Why or why not?

 

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The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano

February 1st, 2014 | Posted by schliesman in Middle School | 2013-2014 | February - (Comments Off on The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano)

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The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano by Sonia Manzano. Scholastic Press, 2012

1. How and why do the relationships between Evelyn, her mother, and her abuela change over time?

2. Do you think the occupation of the church by the Young Lords was justified? Why or why not?

3. Manzano uses powerful descriptive language to set the scene. What sights, smells, sounds stood out to you and what words would you use to describe your neighborhood?

 

 

Books for Middle School Age

Once I Ate a Pie / Wolf Pie

February 1st, 2014 | Posted by schliesman in Primary (Grades K-2) | 2013-2014 | February - (Comments Off on Once I Ate a Pie / Wolf Pie)

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Once I Ate a Pie by Patricia Maclachlan and Emily Maclachlan. Illustrated by Katy Schneider. HarperCollins, 2006

1. If you could have one of the dogs in this book as a pet, which one would you pick and why?

2. Why do you think some of the words in the poems look different—bigger or bolder or with letters that aren’t in a straight line?

3. We learn something about each of the dogs in the poems. For example, Gus likes his people in a group. Mr. Beefy likes to eat. Darla likes people but not other dogs. If you were going to write a poem about you, what is something you would want us to know about yourself? Do you think it would be a funny poem? A serious or sad poem? Why?

 

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Wolf Pie by Brenda Seabrooke. Illustrated by Liz Callen. Clarion, 2010

1. Were you surprised by how the wolf in the story behaved? Why or why not?

2. What are ways Wilfong proves he is a true friend?

3. What part of this book was funniest to you? Why?

 

 

 

 

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