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I Am Not a Number by Jenny Kay Dupuis and Kathy Kacer. Illustrated by Gillian Newland. Second Story Press, 2016

Irene Couchie is an eight-year-old Anishinaabe living happily with her family on the Nippissing Reserve in Northern Ontario. But when the Indian agent comes to their home to take her and her two brothers away to attend a residential boarding school, the only thing her parents can do to protect them is to tell them to never forget who they are. Life in the school is terrifying. Irene is separated from her two brothers and has her identity stripped from her—even her name. She is told that from now on she will be number 759. The year passes slowly. Irene faces harsh living conditions and cruel physical punishment for speaking her own language. When summer finally comes, she and her brothers return home, and her parents vow to never send them back after hearing what the children endured, hiding them when the agent returns. Based on the childhood experience of the author’s grandmother, the heart- wrenching story is illustrated with realistic paintings that convey Irene’s fear and sadness. © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Pre-read: Why do you think it is it important for people to share their stories/experiences?
  2. What are some of the ways that Irene and the others are being denied their identity?
  3. How do the illustrations help to tell the story? To you think the story would have been the same without the illlustrations?
  4. Is this part of history new to you? Read the afterward. Why is it important to share this history?O

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In the Footsteps of Crazy Horse by Joseph Marshall. Amulet/Abrams, 2015

Jimmy McLean is self-conscious about his blue eyes, fair skin, and light hair. He even worries about his last name—McLean—which doesn’t sound Lakota, and is sometimes teased at middle school about being too white. Over summer, Jimmy’s Grandpa takes him to visit places significant in the life of the Lakota warrior and leader Crazy Horse, who was known as Light Hair as a boy. Over the course of their journey, which moves chronologically through a number significant events in Crazy Horse’s life, the history of Westward expansion and the Indian Wars, including the Battle of Little Bighorn, unfolds from a Lakota perspective, rooted in the drive for survival, while Jimmy gains insight into courage and identity. Lakota author Joseph Marshall echoes the oral tradition he grew up with in Grandpa’s stories about Crazy Horse. Set in italics, these are gripping accounts full of urgency that reveal the warrior’s intelligence and effort to keep his people free. Light Hair, later Crazy Horse, is witness time and again to brutality, persistence, and lies of Long Knives and others. But Grandpa is not unsympathetic to the fear and discomfort of U.S. soldiers fighting the Lakota and others so far from home—war is a human story for everyone. The present-day narrative featuring Jimmy and Grandpa is less fluid, but at times unexpectedly moving.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. What causes Jimmy and his grandfather to start their road trip?
  2. Grandpa Nyles and Jimmy point out that the battle has a different name than they have given it (page 49). Why are there different names?
  3. What does Jimmy learn about himself through this road trip with his grandfather?

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Burn Baby Burn by Meg Medina. Candlewick Press, 2016

Nora López is finishing high school uncertain about the future. Encouraged to apply to the New York City Community College trades program, she can’t imagine being able to go when her mom, Mima, struggles to pay the rent. When recent murders of young, dark-haired women in the city turn out to  be the actions of a serial killer, who begins writing letters to the press signed “Son of Sam,” the growing tension and fear is tangible. It pulses through Nora’s Queens neighborhood and the city like the disco rhythms and intense heat so prevalent that spring of 1977. And it explodes into looting following the citywide blackout. But the more pressing danger for Nora is at home, where her younger brother, Hector, is increasingly violent and out of control. Cuban- born Mima says Hector is just a boy in need of a good girl to help him settle down. Mima’s sexism and blinders infuriate Nora, but Nora is also too ashamed to tell her best friend, her boyfriend, her caring boss at the market, teachers, or anyone else what’s happening. Son of Sam is caught, almost anticlimactically, even as the threat in Nora’s personal life escalates. An exceptional novel captures the textures and turbulence of time and place and the complexities of Nora’s relationships vividly. Even before Son of Sam is arrested, it’s becoming clear that community rather than family is Nora’s greatest source of safety, while her own resilience is her greatest strength, especially once she breaks her silence. ©2016 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Why do you think Nora keeps the issues she was experiencing at home secret?
  2. “The real dangers are often closer to home then we’d like to admit.” What do you think this quote from the blurb on the back cover of the book means or conveys?
  3. How does setting both at home and in the world impact Nora’s life?

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Wolf Howl by Lauren Wolk. Dutton Books for Young Readers, 2016

Growing up in the shadows cast by two world wars, Annabelle has lived a mostly quiet, steady life in her small Pennsylvania town. Until the day new student Betty Glengarry walks into her class. Betty quickly reveals herself to be cruel and manipulative, and while her bullying seems isolated at first, things quickly escalate, and reclusive World War I veteran Toby becomes a target of her attacks. While others have always seen Toby’s strangeness, Annabelle knows only kindness. She will soon need to find the courage to stand as a lone voice of justice as tensions mount.

Brilliantly crafted, Wolf Hollow is a haunting tale of America at a crossroads and a time when one girl’s resilience, strength, and compassion help to illuminate the darkest corners of our history. (Age 10 and up) From the publisher

 

Start some conversation with there discussion prompts:

  1. If you were Annabelle’s parents, would you have lied to the authorities to protect Toby? If you were Toby, would you have let them? Why or why not?
  2. Did Betty deserve her fate? Did Toby deserve his fate? Explain.
  3. What connections can you make from this story to today’s world?

Find more resources here

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Riding Chance by Christine Kendall. Scholastic Press, 2016

Since his mom died, it’s been hard for Troy, 13, to stay on an even keel in his tough Philadelphia neighborhood. When he and his best friend, Foster, get caught for petty larceny they are offered the chance to participate in a juvenile offender program working at a city stable, cleaning out horse stalls and, if they’re interested, learning to ride. Unlike Foster, Troy discovers he has an affinity for horses. Step by step he learns how to trust them and how to earn their trust in return, and before long caring for and riding his favorite horse, Chance, is always on his mind. He’s also interested in one of the other riders, a kind, outspoken girl who seems to like him, too. The two men in charge of the program see Troy’s potential and get him involved in the all-Black polo team they also run. The competition is typically upper-class white kids, but the bigger challenge for Troy is that the best player on his own team clearly has it in for him. And just when he needs a friend most, he and Foster are struggling to reconnect after a fallout. Author Christine Kendall has crafted a compelling and relatable story populated with well-developed, realistic characters in a debut that will keep readers turning the page. (Ages 11–15)  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion questions:

  1. Horses require a lot of care, attention, and money. What do friendships require?
  2. Troy rode a horse named Chance. How else does the title fit the story?
  3. What role do secrets play in the story?

    Find more resources here

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Explore Body Positivity: October 2016 High School

September 20th, 2016 | Posted by etownsend in October | 2016-2017 | High School - (Comments Off on Explore Body Positivity: October 2016 High School)

dumplinIcon for High School AgeDumplin’ by Julie Murphy. Balzer + Bray / HarperCollins, 2015

Willowdean routinely introduces herself as a fat girl, but her feelings about her body are much more complicated than this forthrightness suggests. The daughter of a former beauty queen, she’s rarely allowed to forget she isn’t thin. Still, Willowdean makes no apologies for her weight. She decides to enter the local Miss Teen Blue Bonnet pageant for her beloved late aunt, who lived largely in seclusion because of her weight. She’s also doing it for the girls she’s convinced to join her—three other teens at school who don’t meet typical standards of beauty. Together, she tells them, they can make a statement. But when Willowdean’s pretty best friend Ellen signs up with them, Willowdean feels betrayed. Meanwhile, Willowdean is growing close to Bo, on whom she’s had a longstanding crush. But she recoils when he puts his hand on her waist while they’re kissing, worried what he’ll think of her fat. She can also imagine what people at school would say if they see the two of them as a couple. It’s easier to picture herself with Mitch. Like Bo, Mitch is an athlete. Unlike Bo, he’s on the heavy side. Both boys genuinely like her. Bo is the one she’s attracted to. Mitch is the one she’s convinced herself makes sense, although she knows she’s not being fair to Mitch in letting him think she feels more. Willowdean’s ultimate struggle isn’t accepting herself; it’s accepting the love of others in an insightful, honest, funny novel that comes with a big ol’ riotous dose of Dolly Parton.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

  1. Willow Dean is simultaneously confident and insecure. Can she both proud of her body and afraid to show it in public? Do you find this realistic?
  2. How does perform in beauty pageants? Who are the pageants for?
  3. Who do you think one the pageant? Does it matter? Why do you think Julie Murphy does not tell the reader who won the pageant?

Real-World and Otherworldly : October 2016 Middle School

September 20th, 2016 | Posted by etownsend in October | 2016-2017 | Middle School - (Comments Off on Real-World and Otherworldly : October 2016 Middle School)

hoodooBooks for Middle School AgeHoodoo by Ronald L. Smith. Clarion, 2015

Eleven-year-old Hoodoo Hatcher has a bad feeling about the Stranger in town, with good reason. The man is a servant of the devil after something he calls Mandragore, or Main the Gloire—“the one that did the deed.” To Hoodoo’s dismay, his own left hand is what the Stranger is looking for. Hoodoo’s father, lynched years before, tried to escape into his young son’s body but succeeded only as far as his hand. Hoodoo knew none of this before the Stranger’s arrival. Determined to face the Stranger on his own in order to protect his family and friends, Hoodoo goes in search of spells and knowledge beyond the conjuring his family already knows. He finds answers following clues in an old book of his father’s, and he finds great, just power in his left hand. Author Ronald L. Smith takes his time—in a wonderful way—establishing setting (a small rural African American community in Tuscaloosa County Alabama in the past) and characters in a story that deftly balances real-world and otherworldly scary but never feels heavy or heavy-handed, in part because Hoodoo is such an appealing, smart, and often funny narrator who never loses his sense of goodness, or even innocence, in spite of all the knowledge he gains of darkness in and beyond this world.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

  1. How does Hoodoo grow into his name?
  2. Who does the stranger represent in this story? What evidence helps you figure this out?
  3. Why does the author use italicized writing throughout the text?
  4. Why does Hoodoo reject the help of his family and insist on pursuing the challenge on his own?

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Leadership and Politics: October 2016 Intermediate (Gr 3-5)

September 20th, 2016 | Posted by etownsend in October | 2016-2017 | Intermediate (Grades 3-5) - (Comments Off on Leadership and Politics: October 2016 Intermediate (Gr 3-5))

hiawatha and the peacemaker

Icon for the Intermediate (Grades 3-5) readersHiawatha and the Peacemaker by Robbie Robertson. Illustrated by David Shannon. Abrams, 2015

Hiawatha is consumed by thoughts of revenge after his village is burned and his wife and children killed by Onondaga Chief Tadoaho. Then a leader called the Peacemaker convinces him that unity, not fighting, is the path to take, and asks Hiawatha to help him carry his message of peace among the nations of the Iro-quois. They travel in turn to the Cayuga, Seneca, Oneida, Mohawk, and finally, the Onondaga. On the journey, the Peacemaker meets skepticism and anger with quiet courage and soft-spoken wisdom and his cause is championed by the Clan Mothers. Eventually, Hiawatha’s thoughts of revenge are replaced by forgiveness. He meets his former enemy with understanding, helping Tadoaho defeat the evil that possesses him. Robbie Robertson’s emotionally rich retelling of the origin story of the Iroquois Confederacy he first heard as a child visiting his Mohawk and Cayuga relatives is vivid and compelling. Punctuating the longer narrative is a slightly varied, repeated refrain that gives the story the rhythm of a cumulative tale, this one drawn from history. A historical note explains that Hia-watha and the Peacemaker, a spiritual leader named Deganawida, are thought to have lived in the 14th century. The story is set against strong, beautifully rendered oil illustrations by David Shannon that respect rather than romanticize the characters.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

  1. What did you know about Hiawatha before reading the book? What do you know about Hiawatha after reading the book?
  2. How do the illustrations help tell the story? How does the music enhance this story?
  3. What message did you get from this story? Is peace possible without forgiveness?

funny bonesFunny Bones: Posada and His Day of the Dead Calaveras by Duncan Tonatiuh. Abrams, 2015

José Guadelupa Posada’s etchings of calaveras (skeletons) are a cultural treasure in Mexico. Posada, who was known as Don Lupe, began creating them to illustrate short, funny poems called literary calaveras in the late 19th century. Duncan To-natiuh combines biographical elements about Posada with a history of the calaveras he created, including his artistic mentors and the printing process he used. Tonatiuh discusses the cultural importance of Don Lupe’s calaveras and their connection to El Día de los Muertos. He moves seamlessly through these elements in the narrative while going back and forth visually between his own distinctive art style and reproductions of a number of calaveras created by Don Lupe and an earlier artist named Manuel Manila. Don Lupe’s calavera images included social and political figures, and Tonatiuh ponders their meaning, and also imagines what subjects Don Lupe might choose if he were alive today. A volume that is playful, admiring, and informative is also visually arresting across the two styles of art. A substantial author’s note provides more information on the Day of the Dead, Posada, and calaveras.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

  1. How did Posada express his political opinions through art? Why did you decide to do this? Was it effective?
  2. What makes Posada’s original work timeless?
  3. Compare the book’s illustrations with Posada’s. How does this affect your perspective on all the ways skulls are used now?
  4. Day of the Dead and Halloween are celebrated within a day of each other in different cultures. In what ways are they similar? Different? Why are the differences between the holiday’s important?

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These Books have Character: October 2016 Primary (K-2)

September 20th, 2016 | Posted by etownsend in Primary (Grades K-2) | October | 2016-2017 - (Comments Off on These Books have Character: October 2016 Primary (K-2))

Primary Icon of a White-Tailed Deer

These books work well for learning about character and narrative. We see emotions and actions well as satisfying resolutions from both Penny and Elinor. 

penny and her marblePenny and Her Marble by Kevin Henkes. Greenwillow Books / HarperCollins, 2013

When Penny finds a marble in her neighbor Mrs. Goodwin’s yard she can’t resist taking it home. Later she sees Mrs. Goodwin looking for something outside, and Penny begins to worry. She hides the marble in a drawer. She stays close to Mama all afternoon. She isn’t very hungry at dinner. She dreams about the marble that night. The next day, she puts the marble back, only to discover Mrs. Goodwin had left it out hoping someone like Penny would see it and take it home. “Penny rolled the marble between her fingers. It seemed even more shiny and smooth and blue than before.” Kevin Henkes is so adept at translating the emotional world of young children into entertaining stories that bring a smile and a sigh of satisfaction that it can be easy to forget how much skill goes into them. The latest “Penny” book for advanced beginning readers is as winsome and appealing as the others.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

  1. How does the author/illustrator let us know that Penny feels that she has done something wrong by taking the marble?
  2. Why do you think Penny’s mother tells her she can only go as far as Mrs. Goodwin’s?
  3. What does Penny see or dream about that she compares to the marble? How does the author/illustrator convey this information through illustrations or text?

poem in your pocketA Poem in Your Pocket by Margaret McNamara. Illustrated by G. Brian Karas. Schwartz & Wade, 2015

The students in Mr. Tiffin’s class featured in two prior volumes (How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin?, The Apple Orchard Riddle) spend the weeks leading up to “Poem-in-Your-Pocket Day” and a school visit from poet Emmy Crane learning about poetry, reading poetry, and writing poems of their own. Overconfident Elinor is sure she’ll write more poems than anyone. But time and again she gets frustrated when the idea in her head doesn’t come out right on paper. She wants perfection. Instead, she’s the only one without a poem to share for Emmy Crane. The poet reassures her, saying, “No poem is perfect.” And when Emmy Crane asks Elinor to talk about her ideas, Elinor’s recitation of all the things she’s seen and felt over recent days is like a poem, of course. Margaret McNamara again hits just the right tone in looking at a classroom learning experience in an engaging, nurturing picture book blithely illustrated by G. Brian Karas. Highly Commended, 2016 Charlotte Zolotow Award  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

  1. Pre-reading: What are some different kinds (forms) of poems that you know?
  2. What do you think made it difficult for Elinor to write her poem?
  3. How do you think that Emmy Crane helps Elinor?
  4. Which kind of poetry in the book do you like best?

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Fun Food Adventures: October 2016 Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers

September 20th, 2016 | Posted by etownsend in Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers | October | 2016-2017 - (Comments Off on Fun Food Adventures: October 2016 Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers)

bear ate your sandiwch

Icon for Babies Toddlers & Preschoolers

The Bear Ate Your Sandwich by Julia Sarcone-Roach. Knopf, 2015

“It all started with the bear.” An unknown narrator weaves an impossible story to account for someone’s missing lunch in a picture book pairing a straightforward narrative with beautifully realized illustrations made whimsical by their impossibility. The bear, it seems, fell asleep in the back of a truck full of berries and ended up in a new forest (a city), where he found “climbing spots” (e.g., fire escapes, clothes lines between buildings), “good bark for scratching” (a brick-sided building), and “many interesting smells” (garbage cans). Eventually the bear got hungry, and there was the sandwich, all alone in the midst of leafy green (on a bench in a park). An already delightful story takes an even more waggish turn in its final pages when the identity of the speaker and subject are revealed: a small black dog (somewhat bear-like) pouring out the tall tale to a now lunch-less little girl. The warm, colorful acrylic and pencil illustrations are superb, their realistic accounting of the bear’s adventure will be a source of glee for young readers and listeners, as will the play between narrative and art. ©2015 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

  • Talk: Talk about the differences between the forest and the city.
  • Sing: Bear crosses a bridge to the city. Sing London Bridge.
  • Write: Make sandwiches and cut them into shapes of bears or into the letter B.
  • Play: Can you move like the bear? Can you stretch and sniff, can you climb and scratch? How else does the bear move?
  • Math or Science: Can you make a bridge? With another person? What else can you make a bridge with?

hoot owlHoot Owl, Master of Disguise by Sean Taylor. Illustrated by Jean Jullien. Candlewick Press, 2015

Unconventional Hoot Owl concocts one outrageous costume after another as he attempts to bag his evening meal. But just as his carrot disguise doesn’t fool a rabbit, his ornamental birdbath get-up fails to result in a pigeon dinner. Undaunted, Hoot Owl moves from one lost opportunity to the next, finally nailing an inanimate pepperoni pizza while wearing the white jacket and toque of a waiter, complete with a mustache penciled below his beak. Despite his repeated failures, this bird of prey remains unfailingly confident (“I swoop through the bleak blackness like a wolf in the air”) as he invokes his flamboyant descriptive powers (“The shadowy night stretches away forever, as black as burnt toast.”) Bold black outlines and saturated, flat colors add dramatic flair to Hoot Owl’s nighttime escapades, while his melodramatic prose extends the humor of his plight. After scarfing his pizza, Hoot Owl flies off “into the dark enormousness of the night. “And the world can sleep again.” Honor Book, 2016 Charlotte Zolotow Award  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

  • Talk: Talk about all the ways that Hoot Owl moves in the story. Point out the verbs or action words in the book.
  • Sing: Mary Had a Little Lamb
  • Write: Practice the letter O in pudding or shaving cream
  • Play: How can you disguise yourself? Who or what can you become?
  • Math or Science: Talk about what owls eat. What does Hoot Owl eat? What do you eat? How are alike or different?

 

Try these poems about food:

Changes: A Child’s First Poetry Collection: page 32

Lullaby and Kisses Sweet: Food section

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Amazing Read Alouds and Highly Discussable Titles for October 2016!

September 16th, 2016 | Posted by etownsend in Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers | Primary (Grades K-2) | October | 2016-2017 | Intermediate (Grades 3-5) | Middle School | High School - (Comments Off on Amazing Read Alouds and Highly Discussable Titles for October 2016!)

Looking for a read aloud for your classroom or your library or at home? Looking for suggestions for independent reading, book groups, or reader’s advisory? Try some of the titles below. Find annotations, discussion questions and TeachingBooks.net resources for all of the October 2016 titles in the previous posts below! You can find our complete list of 2016-2017 Read On Wisconsin titles here. If you’re only interested in titles for a specific age group, try our age group icons on the right side of this site.

bear ate your sandiwch

hoot owl

penny and her marble

poem in your pocket

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

hiawatha and the peacemaker

funny boneshoodoodumplin

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Wow! Two New Booktrailers from Jack Young Middle School Students!

June 21st, 2016 | Posted by etownsend in October | Book trailer | 2015-2016 | Middle School | January - (Comments Off on Wow! Two New Booktrailers from Jack Young Middle School Students!)

Enjoy and share these student-made promotional videos for Read On Wisconsin titles below. Booktrailers are a great way to share your thoughts with others on books that you’ve read and enjoyed. Maybe you and your kiddos would like to make one for another ROW title. Have fun and let us know so we can post your video, too!

Thanks for the super booktrailers, Jack Young Middle School!

Middle School Books

Courage Has No Color: The True Story of the Triple Nickles, America’s First Black Paratroopers  (Jack Young Middle School) January 2016 Title

The Screaming Staircase (Jack Young Middle School) October 2015 Title

 

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