In March 2015, Ali Khan, a senior at Middleton High School, interviewed author Mitali Perkins about her book, Open Mic: Riffs on Life Between Cultures in Ten Voices (Candlewick, 2013). As part of a book trailer project with Simpson Street Free Press, Madison Public Library, and Read On Wisconsin, Ali created a book trailer of Open Mic. Mitali’s approach to adding humor to discussions of race strongly resonated with Ali. Fortunately, we were able to bring Mitali and Ali together on Skype to share thoughts on the book, racial identity, and humor. Check back soon to see excerpts from the interview! In the meantime, enjoy Ali’s book trailer for Mitali Perkin’s Open Mic.
This month we started a trial program called Read On Wisconsin Ambassadors! We’ll have different youth services librarians from across Wisconsin showcase some of the engaging, educational and easy ways that they are integrating Read On Wisconsin titles into their library programming and outreach.
For April 2015, our ROW Ambassador is Heide Piehler from the Shorewood Public Library.
Here’s what Heide told us about her storytime with April 2015 ROW titles, Lucky Duckling by Eva Moore: “I read stories about lost ducklings. We compared the pictures of the traffic stop in Lucking Ducklings to the one in Make Way for Ducklings. I had also printed photos of actual duckling rescues to demonstrate how a story in a book can be based on an actual event. …
… In between stories, we did duck themed finger games and sang duck themed songs like Six Little Ducks. We also talked about we’d name ducks and created ducks with “feathers in the back” out of peep chicks.”
Thank you to Heide Piehler and the Shorewood Public Library for the time, creativity, extra work and photos!
Teenage Seth drowns in the chilly waters of the Pacific Northwest only to awaken, feeble and dehydrated, in the long abandoned house of his British childhood. Trying to make sense of the inexplicable world in which he’s found himself—the entire town appears lifeless—Seth struggles to find the basic necessities he needs to survive. He meets teenage Regine and young Tomasz on one of his scrounging forays, and they warn him about the Driver, a menacing individual who seems intent on hunting all three of them down. They also begin to explain the world in which Seth has found himself, and he mightily resists what they tell him. As more and more proof presents itself, Seth is forced to revisit painful moments from his long-ago childhood, and recent events that sent him walking into the ocean intent on dying. If he believes Regine and Tomasz, then much of Seth’s life is a lie. If he rejects what they tell him, then they are the lie, and he’s come to care too much about them to believe that, either. Masterful rather than manipulative, the ambiguity of Patrick Ness’s wholly original and compelling novel gives readers a richly developed array of possibilities but leaves the meaning-making up to them when it comes to divining the situational truth of Seth’s story. But some truths exist at every point along the continuum of possibilities laid out or waiting to be imagined: Meaningful relationships matter, and a life is so much more than can be measured or felt at any single moment in time. © Cooperative Children’s Book Center
1. How does the author explore the idea expressed by the title, that life is “more than this,” throughout the story? What about the importance of memory and of human connection? What are examples of details and scenes through which you see these ideas developed separately and in relation to one another?
2. Which world do you believe is real? What evidence do you have to support your idea? Do you think it is important to determine which world is “real”?
The largest passenger pigeon nesting on record happened in South Central Wisconsin in 1871. Millions of birds spanned an area of at least 850 square miles. Amy Timberlake’s novel sets a compelling human tale against this fascinating history of the natural world. Thirteen-year-old Georgie lives in a small Wisconsin town in the nesting area. She likes working in the family store and likes being known as the best shot in town. Georgie’s older sister, Agatha, longs to attend college at the university in Madison. Weeks before Agatha ran away with a group of pigeoners—people who follow the pigeons for economic opportunity. Now, the badly decomposed body of a young woman has been found in the woods outside a neighboring town. The dress on the body is Agatha’s. So, too, is the color of the woman’s hair. Georgie refuses to believe Agatha is dead, and flashbacks reveal their sometimes prickly but deeply loving bond. Determined to find Agatha, Georgie runs away on a borrowed mule (she wanted a horse) and reluctantly accepts the company of Billy McCabe, Agatha’s former suitor. Georgie’s fresh, lively, and surprisingly funny voice propels a narrative rich with language and metaphors suited to the setting and the time period. Nothing is predictable, from Georgie’s relationship with Billy McCabe to what the two of them discover in a tale about women and girls and decency and deceit that is full of humor and tenderness. Timberlake provides more information about her research, the nesting, and the tragedy of the now extinct passenger pigeon in an author’s note. (MS) ©2013 Cooperative Children’s Book Center
1. How do the setting and time period of this book (frontier town in Wisconsin, 1871) influence Georgie’s first-person voice? How does Georgie defy traditional expectations for women’s roles in 19th century Wisconsin?
2. Which events in Georgie’s journey change her willingness to kill? Why do you think Georgie had a change of heart about shooting animals?
3. Georgie’s grandfather pays Billy to secretly take Georgie to Dog’s Hollow. Why does he do this, instead of encouraging Georgie to look directly for Agatha?
1. What are some of the problems Gabriella faces at school? Do you relate to her? How does Gabriella’s teacher help her to solve one of her problems?
2. Why do you think the author used two different fonts in the story? What do you think the two different fonts represent?
3. Read the prologue and the poem on page 22. Why is the main character named Gabriella and how does this name fit her? Think about your own name. How does your name fit you?
Take Me Out to the Yakyu by Aaron Meshon. Atheneum, 2013.
1. What are three things that are similar at a baseball game in the United States and Japan? What are three things that are different?
2. What do you like to do with your grandparents?
3. Can you think of something that you do in two or more different places? (for example, eating, reading, jobs) How is it the same? How is it different?
My First Day by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page. Illustrated by Steve Jenkins. Houghton Mifflin, 2013.
1. Where is the baby?
2. What is the mother doing?
3. Can you find the baby’s eyes? What other body parts can you find?
Lucky Ducklings by Eva Moore. Illustrated by Nancy Carpenter. Orchard / Scholastic Inc., 2013.
1. How many baby ducks can you count?
2. Who helped save the ducklings?
3. What would you name a baby duckling?
1. Find a poem that rhymes. Which words in the poem rhyme?
2. Do the poems describe any things you like to do?
3. What’s your favorite poem? Why do you like it?
October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard by Lesléa Newman. Candlewick Press, 2012
1. In her introduction to October Mourning, Newman notes that she began writing this book to gain better understanding of how Matthew Shepard’s murder impacted her and the larger world. How did the different viewpoints presented in Newman’s poems meet this objective? Were there specific poems/perspectives you found particularly surprising or unexpected? How did they change or deepen your understanding of these events?
2. The attack on and death of Matthew Shepard was a tragic yet pivotal event in recent history, opening people’s eyes and to hate and injustice, and opening their minds to the need for change. There are several examples of this within the narrative. Why do you think this event has had such a profound impact on attitudes toward gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people?
3. Which poem affected you most deeply? Why?
1. Do you think the verse style made it easier or harder to navigate the painful experiences in My Book of Life by Angel? Why?
2. Why do you think Angel is able to fight to save Melli when she hasn’t been able to fight to save herself? What do you think she learns in trying to save Melli?
3. Even if you haven’t read Paradise Lost, what do the conversations between Angel and the professor about this book reveal about Angel? What connections can you make between what you learn about that work and Angel’s story?
Who Likes Rain? By Wong Herbert Yee. Henry Holt, 2007
1. What are some of the animals/things in the story that like the rain.
2. What do you like about rain? What are things you don’t like about rain?
3. What does the rain sound/feel like? (Imitate the rain/a storm)
underGROUND by Denise Fleming. Beach Lane Books / Simon & Schuster, 2012
1. What are some of the things found underground in this story?
2. Let’s go dig. What can we find underground?
3. Would you want to live underground? Why or why not?
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:
“Rain” by Spike Milligan, pp. 72-3
“April Rain Song” by Langston Hughes, pp. 74-75
“Mud” by Flanders and Swann, pp. 76-77
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?