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Artists and Dreamers: May 2016 Middle School Titles

April 24th, 2016 | Posted by etownsend in 2015-2016 | Middle School | May - (Comments Off on Artists and Dreamers: May 2016 Middle School Titles)

bird kingThe Bird King: An Artist’s Notebook by Shaun Books for Middle School AgeTan. Arthur A. Levine Books / Scholastic Inc., 2013.

“Staring at a blank piece of paper, I can’t think of anything original. I feel utterly uninspired and unreceptive. It’s the familiar malaise of ‘artist’s block’ and in such circumstances there is only one thing to do: Just start drawing.” Following this thoughtful introduction, which goes on to say more about creativity and the creative process, Shaun Tan opens the door to a treasure trove of visual gems, sharing sketches and drafts of both published and unpublished works. The book is divided into sections titled “untold stories”; “book, theater, and film”; “drawings from life”; and “notebooks.” Each section begins with a brief introduction by Tan followed by page upon page of sketches, drawings, and paintings. Only the “drawings from life” section offers a glimpse of the world as it really looks, for Tan’s works most often reflect the realm of his unique imagination, where fantastic creatures or impossible scenarios are suddenly possible and vivid, sometimes frightening, sometimes poignant, and always fascinating. A “list of works” at book’s end provides more information about each drawing—including the final version (film, poster, book) if there was one.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Find out more about the author and illustrator, Shaun Tan, as well as a teaching guide for The Bird King at TeachingBooks.net.

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Choose a sketch and tell its story.
  2. Did you notice any common themes among the drawings? Tell about one theme using examples from the book to support your argument.
  3. What thoughts, ideas, or information do you think the author/illustrator wants readers to take away from engaging with this book.

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson. Nancy brown girl dreamingPaulsen Books / Penguin, 2014.

“And somehow, one day, it’s just there / speckled black-and white, the paper / inside smelling like something I could fall right into, / live there — inside those clean white pages.” Jacqueline Woodson’s childhood unfolds in poems that beautifully reveal details of her early life and her slow but gradually certain understanding that words and stories and writing were essential to her. Her older sister was shining smart. One of her brothers could sing wonderfully. She would come to realize words were her smart, her singing, her special thing. Woodson writes about growing up in Greenville, South Carolina, and then Brooklyn, New York, living with family members who were full of love and expectation, from her grandparents to her mother to her siblings, aunts and uncles. She sometimes felt she stood out — a northerner in the south; a southerner in the north; a Jehovah’s Witness knocking on doors. Experiences that shaped her came from within and beyond her family: “Don’t wait for your school to teach you, my uncle says, / about the revolution. It’s happening in the streets. “ And later, “This moment, this here, this right now, is my teacher / saying / You’re a writer, as she holds the poem I am just beginning.” Ten poems titled “How to listen” reveal another essential element of her story because she is also that: a listener, a recorder, an observer, writing something down even when she doesn’t understand it and trusting that “The knowing will come.” An album of black-and-white photographs and an author’s note round out this exquisite, quietly inspiring volume.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Find many excellent resources – multiple lesson plans and interviews – for this multi-awarding winning author and book at TeachingBooks.net.

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. This book is the autobiographical. The author shares her experiences, feelings and memories from her life as well as factual information. How can memory differ from things that really happened? How does affect the story the author is telling?
  2. Choose a poem from the book. What does this poem tell you about the author? Explain your answer with examples from the poem.
  3. How did the author’s experience of Jim Crow align with or differ from other stories you have heard?

Naturalists, Artists, Dreamers: Ready for Adventure with ROW May 2016 Titles!

April 20th, 2016 | Posted by etownsend in Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers | Primary (Grades K-2) | Intermediate (Grades 3-5) | 2015-2016 | Middle School | High School | May - (Comments Off on Naturalists, Artists, Dreamers: Ready for Adventure with ROW May 2016 Titles!)

mommy mommywhat will hatchsee what a seal can do

 

 

 

me janetiny creatureslook up bird watching

 

 

 

 

 

rules of summerbrown girl dreamingbird kingvango

story of owen

Click on any of these book cover images to learn more about that book! Read an annotation from the CCBC! Find discussion questions and activities as well as links to TeachingBooks.net and all of their fabulous resources!

Explore Identity and Friendships in April 2016 Middle School Title

March 24th, 2016 | Posted by etownsend in 2015-2016 | Middle School | April - (Comments Off on Explore Identity and Friendships in April 2016 Middle School Title)

if i ever get out of hereIf I Ever Get Out of Here by Eric Gansworth. Books for Middle School AgeArthur A. Levine Books / Scholastic, 2013.

Lewis Blake is the only Tuscarora reservation kid tracked with the “braniacs” in junior high. Sixth grade was a social disaster—it turns out white kids don’t get Indian humor–so he starts seventh grade in 1975 determined to have a better year. He’s even cut off his braid in hopes of fitting in. George, a recent arrival to the nearby air force base in upstate New York where they live, becomes his first, and only, white friend. The two initially bond over a mutual love of music, especially the Beatles and Paul McCartney and Wings. Surprised that George’s military father and German mother genuinely welcome him into their home, Lewis knows he’ll never be able to reciprocate the invitation. Money has been tighter than ever since his grandfather died, and the house where he lives with his mother and Uncle Albert is literally falling down. So he lies about why George can’t come over, although in many ways Lewis has much more in common with George than with Carson, his closest friend on the reservation. In a narrative full of humor and rife with tender, honest, and unsettling truths, author Eric Gansworth explores identity, and what it means to find and be a friend. Gansworth’s first foray into young adult literature lovingly captures both time and place, and reveals characters whose complexities bring sadness, joy, and survival into full relief. In a novel that exposes racism both subtle and overt (seen most vividly in the subplot involving the school’s unwillingness to punish the son of a school donor who is bullying Lewis), Gansworth also portrays two very different but equally loving families. (MS) ©2013 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Find resources at TeachingBooks.net.

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Lewis and George’s lives intersect for a brief period of time in their seventh grade year. How does the author chronicle their friendship as the plot develops? How does each one of them change over the course of the story?
  2. Identity and friendship are major themes in the story. Do any specific elements (scenes, interactions, etc.) stand out when you think of how either one of these themes was explored in the story?
  3. What role did music play in the lives of the characters? How is it woven into the story?

Try pairing this book with Sherman Alexie’s Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.

Wild Variety in the April 2016 ROW Selections! Check Them Out NOW!

March 23rd, 2016 | Posted by etownsend in Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers | Primary (Grades K-2) | Intermediate (Grades 3-5) | 2015-2016 | Middle School | High School | April - (Comments Off on Wild Variety in the April 2016 ROW Selections! Check Them Out NOW!)

baby animal farmcall me treewolfsnail

meow ruff

 

 

benjamin bear's bright ideas

african acrostics

mr lemoncello

if i ever get out of here

silver people

Click on any book cover image to learn more about that book! Read an annotation from the CCBC! Find discussion questions and activities as well as links to TeachingBooks.net and all of their fabulous resources!

Our March Titles are Here! Check Them Out!

March 1st, 2016 | Posted by etownsend in Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers | Primary (Grades K-2) | Intermediate (Grades 3-5) | 2015-2016 | Middle School | High School | March - (Comments Off on Our March Titles are Here! Check Them Out!)

socksifyouwereadogfirefly july

what forest knows

flora and ulysses

stubby the war dog

scavengers

falling into place

Click on any of these book cover images to learn more about that book! Read an annotation from the CCBC! Find discussion questions and activities as well as links to TeachingBooks.net and all of their fabulous resources!

Action and Adventure in this Survival Story from a Wisconsin Author! March 2016 Middle School Title

February 24th, 2016 | Posted by etownsend in 2015-2016 | Middle School | March - (Comments Off on Action and Adventure in this Survival Story from a Wisconsin Author! March 2016 Middle School Title)

scavengersThe Scavengers by Michael Perry. HarperCollins, Books for Middle School Age2014.

From the publisher: Jeanne DuPrau’s The City of Ember meets Louis Sachar’s Holes (or, as Mike puts it, Little House on the Prairie meets Mad Max) in this imaginative and hilarious middle grade novel from New York Times bestselling author Michael Perry.

When the world started to fall apart, the government gave everyone two choices: move into the Bubble Cities . . . or take their chances outside. Maggie’s family chose to live in the world that was left behind. Deciding it’s time to grow up and grow tough, Maggie rechristens herself “Ford Falcon”—a name inspired by the beat-up car she finds at a nearby junkyard…the same junkyard where Ford’s family goes to scavenge for things they can use and barter with the other people who live OutBubble. Her family has been able to survive this brave new world by working together. But when Ford comes home one day to discover her home ransacked and her family missing, she must find the strength to rescue her loved ones with the help of some friends–including one very feisty rooster.

The Scavengers is a wholly original tween novel that combines an action-packed adventure, a heartfelt family story, and a triumphant journey of self-discovery. It achieves the perfect balance of humor and heart in a world where one person’s junk is another person’s key to survival.

Read an excerpt from the book, hear a clip from the audiobook, read reviews on the Michael Perry’s website, SneezingCow.com.

Find resources for The Scavengers at TeachingBooks.net.

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Why does Maggie change her name to Ford Falcon? What is the significance of her name change? What does it mean when her father calls her Ford Falcon at the end of the book?
  2. Why does Ford Falcon stay in the car instead of in the shack with her family?
  3. Why does Ford decide to stay out of the Bubble at the end of the book? Would you have the courage to do so? Would you choose to live InBubble or OutBubble? Explain.

ROW February 2016 Selections! Engaging Reads! Check Them Out Below!

February 1st, 2016 | Posted by etownsend in Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers | Primary (Grades K-2) | Intermediate (Grades 3-5) | 2015-2016 | Middle School | High School | February - (Comments Off on ROW February 2016 Selections! Engaging Reads! Check Them Out Below!)

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.

Sensitive and Emotionally Compelling: February 2016 Middle School

January 24th, 2016 | Posted by etownsend in 2015-2016 | Middle School | February - (Comments Off on Sensitive and Emotionally Compelling: February 2016 Middle School)

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.

Enthralling Nonfiction: January 2016 Middle School Titles

December 15th, 2015 | Posted by etownsend in 2015-2016 | Middle School | January - (Comments Off on Enthralling Nonfiction: January 2016 Middle School Titles)

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?

The Ultimate Middle School Heist Novel for December 2015!

November 15th, 2015 | Posted by etownsend in 2015-2016 | Middle School | December - (Comments Off on The Ultimate Middle School Heist Novel for December 2015!)

great greene heist001The Great Greene Heist by Varian Johnson. Arthur A. Books for Middle School AgeLevine Books / Scholastic, Inc., 2014.

When Jackson Greene learns classmate Keith Sinclair is trying to steal the election for eighth grade class president—with the help of the principal no less!—he steps up. It might not be the noblest of intentions that convinces him to get involved, but it’s not wholly selfish, either. Jackson’s friend Gaby de la Cruz is Keith’s opponent. Although they had a falling out, Gaby is still someone Jackson likes—a lot—while her twin brother, Charlie, is his best friend. And then there’s the fact that outsmarting Keith and the principal means running a con, something Jackson happens to like doing, and is very, very good at. But he can’t do it alone, so he and Charlie put together a team, each member with specific skills necessary to complete their part of a plan that involves technology, psychology, and a series of carefully crafted interactions. Varian Johnson’s entertaining tale has all the machinations of the best con games, but is set against the backdrop of a contemporary middle school. Johnson’s intentionally diverse cast of characters feels natural rather than heavy-handed in a story of humor and hijinks featuring a winning African American protagonist who, it turns out, is carrying on family tradition.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Resources from TeachingBooks.net

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. This book is a classic con or heist story. Different genre elements are present in Great Greene Heist that make it recognizable as a heist or con story. What are some things that make this book fall into the heist genre?
  2. Some passages in this book make Keith seem sympathetic. Provide some examples of this from the book. Did you ever feel sorry for him? Why or why not?
  3. Jackson is a student, a friend and a con man. What qualities does Jackson possess that makes him a good con man? What are some qualities that Jackson a good friend?
  4. Do you agree with the actions that Jackson takes to help his friend? Why or why not? Is it ever okay to break rules?

Creativity and Determination in Nonfiction Reads: Nov. 2015 Middle School Titles

October 23rd, 2015 | Posted by etownsend in November | 2015-2016 | Middle School - (Comments Off on Creativity and Determination in Nonfiction Reads: Nov. 2015 Middle School Titles)

etched in clayEtched in Clay: The Life of Dave, Enslaved Potter and Books for Middle School AgePoet by Andrea Cheng. Lee & Low, 2013.

Andrea Cheng examines the life of Dave the Potter (who took the name David Drake after the Civil War ended) through a verse novel that tells his powerful, poignant story of endurance, artistry, and rebellion. Cheng’s poems reveal Dave’s hunger for words and learning and self-expression, and his pain of living in slavery. He was trained by and worked for Pottersville Stoneware in Edgefield, South Carolina, where founder Abner Landrum developed unique glazes. Dave later worked for Landrum’s brother and nephew, Lewis Miles, a kind man who nonetheless did not think to free Dave. Dave endured multiple, lifelong separations from people he loved: his first wife, Eliza; his second wife, Lydia; and Lydia’s two sons, whom he had taught to read. The poems are in the voices of these and other individual’s, all listed in a cast of characters near the beginning of the volume. Cheng incorporates some of the inscriptions Dave carved into his pots into her poems, and the novel as a whole gives a context for those words, showing them as a form of rebellion. Lovely, occasional black-and-white woodcut prints punctuate a work that includes back matter with more information on Dave and his poems and pottery in Edgefield, South Carolina. Cheng talks about her interest in Dave in an author’s note that precedes her list of sources. (MS) ©2013 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Close reading and teacher’s guides as well as other resources available from TeachingBooks.net

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Why do you think the author chose to use various points of view to tell Dave’s story? What affect do the different points of view have on the reader’s understanding of the story and Dave’s life?
  2. The author also used poetry to tell Dave’s story. Why do you think the author chose this format? Did you find it effective in relaying information, developing characters, telling a story? Why or why not?
  3. How did Dave rebel against slavery while still remaining a slave? How does the author show this? What risks did Dave take in creating his art? Cite examples for the story that show why he took these risks?
  4. In what way is Dave’s story part of the story of the struggle for Civil Rights?

The Mad Potter: George E. Ohr, Eccentric Genius by Jan mad potterGreenberg and Sandra Jordan. A Neal Porter Book / Roaring Brook Press, 2013.

The folded shapes and crenellated forms created by potter George E. Ohr may not look that distinctive now, but the striking pots he shaped were like nothing else seen in the late 1800s. And they were largely unheralded at the time. But Ohr was more than the genius he knew himself to be; he was a personality and a showman in Biloxi, Mississippi, where he had his potter’s studio. But beneath all his dazzle was incredible talent: He spun out pots and pitchers and vases and vessels with twists and turns that were sometimes quirky and playful and sometimes, simply, strikingly beautiful. He experimented with glazes. And he thrived on his own eccentricity (although his family did not). Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan provide a lively introduction to this American artist who was all but undiscovered until the final decades of the twentieth century, long after his death. Their final chapter shows his influence on contemporary pottery, and even contemporary architecture—a museum dedicated to Ohr designed by Frank Gehry was inspired by his forms. Detailed source notes follow a primer on “How to Look at a Pot.”  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Lesson plans and teacher’s ideas and other resources for The Mad Potter available at TeachingBooks.net.

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Do you think George was unrealistic for continuing to make pottery despite the fact that no one bought it? Why?
  2. How does George’s pottery reflect his personality? Cite examples from the book.
  3. In George’s time, fairs were a place that people visited to discover and explore new ideas and inventions? What fills that role today?

Find ROW November Titles Here!

October 19th, 2015 | Posted by etownsend in Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers | Primary (Grades K-2) | Intermediate (Grades 3-5) | November | 2015-2016 | Middle School | High School - (Comments Off on Find ROW November Titles Here!)

Click on an image to read the CCBC annotation for the title. Check earlier posts below for discussion prompts and resources! And, Read! On Wisconsin!

we all count covergastonbully

 

 

ivan the remarkable true storyarcady's goalkinda like brothers

etched in claymad pottertin star

 

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