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Variety of the Spice of Life: Try These Summer 2016 High School Titles

May 24th, 2016 | Posted by etownsend in 2015-2016 | High School | Summer - (Comments Off on Variety of the Spice of Life: Try These Summer 2016 High School Titles)

love is the drugLove is the Drug by Alaya Dawn Johnson. Arthur Icon_HighSchoolA. Levine Books, 2014.

Icon to identify Summer Reading BooksTeenager Emily Bird feels pressure to be perfect — a credit to her family and all African Americans. But inside, she’s far more Bird than Emily, longing to fly away from rigid expectations that have nothing to do with her desires. Bird meets private government security contractor Roosevelt David at a party in Washington, D.C. — her boyfriend Paul is angling for an internship with the man’s company. She wakes up in the hospital eight days later. Bird has hazy memories of leaving the party. The most vivid one is of Coffee, a known drug dealer and son of a Brazilian diplomat, chasing the car as Paul drove her away. Coffee, whom she’s always found intriguing. Did he drug her? She doesn’t believe it despite what Roosevelt and Paul suggest. Bird senses something far more sinister in her lost memories, and begins to realize Roosevelt is afraid of something she might know but doesn’t remember, and that it’s related to her scientist parents’ work and the flu pandemic spreading across the globe and nation. As the death toll begins to mount in D.C., and as Bird tries to piece together what’s going on, she feels the menace of Roosevelt everywhere she turns. Staying with her Uncle Nicky — underachiever in her mother’s eyes, free man in Bird’s — because her parents can’t return to the city, and not sure whom to trust, she puts her faith in new friend Marella, and in Coffee, with whom she is falling in love. Alaya Dawn Johnson’s compelling thriller is marked by thickly woven storytelling that features complex plotting, rich language, and a cast of multidimensional characters.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

100 Sideways Miles by Andrew Smith. Simon & Schuster, 100 sideways miles2014.

When high school senior Finn Easton was seven, a dead horse fell off of an overpass into the canyon where he and his mom were walking. She was killed when it landed on them. He was left with epileptic seizures and a distinctive scar from back surgery to repair his broken vertebrae. Finn’s dad is the author of a science fiction book with a cult-like following in which a boy named Finn with a distinctive scar is an alien trying to pass as human. Now sixteen, Finn feels like his dad stole his life. Finn’s best friend Cade Hernandez is charismatic, sex-obsessed, and crass. Cade is a terrific friend to Finn. But Finn doesn’t even tell Cade how unhappy and overwhelmed he sometimes is — about the novel, his seizures (which he also sees as a gift), the overprotectiveness of his dad and stepmom. When Julia Bishop, wry, insightful, and another survivor of trauma, comes to their small California desert town, she is the first person Finn is honest with about everything. He falls in love and is devastated when she eventually returns home. Andrew Smith’s story is tender and outrageous and improbable and, somehow, both true and funny every step of the way. Richly woven into the landscape and history of one specific area of Southern California canyon country, and with details of Finn’s father’s novel, The Lazarus Door, slowly revealed, it culminates in a road trip in which Finn, who measures time by distance, is given the extraordinary opportunity to be someone else. In the process, he gains a sense of perspective on, and possibility for, his own life.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

silhouette of a sparrowSilhouette of a Sparrow by Mary Beth Griffin. Milkweed Editions, 2012.

Sixteen-year-old Garnet Richardson is staying with relatives in the Minnesota resort town of Excelsior in the summer of 1926. Both her aunt and slightly younger cousin are far too proper for Garnet, who longs to visit the dance hall and explore the amusement park; she settles for a job working in a hat shop. Bird-lover Garnet immediately thinks of a scarlet tanager when she meets lively Isabella, a dance-hall girl who comes into the shop. The two girls feel an immediate connection that deepens as they spend time together. Talking to Isabella, and kissing her, feel absolutely right to Garnet, even though she knows the end of summer will bring a return to Minneapolis and a proposal from Teddy, the boy she’s been dating but doesn’t love. Garnet’s developing relationship with Isabella, who knows the costs of independence but also understands its rewards, helps her resolve to apply to college to study birds. Then everything unravels, first when she hears from her mother at home, and then in Excelsior when Garnet and Isabella’s relationship is discovered. Molly Beth Griffin’s quiet, compelling, beautifully written novel features lyrical descriptions, numerous bird metaphors, and a young woman poised to take flight.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Vanishing Point. (Tune: Book 1) by Derek Kirk Kim. First vanishing pointSecond, 2012.

Andy Go is a dropout. He exits school after his third year in the Illustration Department at the College of Visual Arts in San Francisco, sure that his career is about to take off and further education is unnecessary. Andy gets a rude awakening: No one wants to hire him. His Korean American parents are dismayed by his failure to finish school or stay employed, and his father finally issues an ultimatum: Get a job, any job, or don’t come home. His last-gasp job interview comes after responding to a vague ad for a position at a zoo. He assumes it’s for an animal caretaker, but he couldn’t be more wrong. It turns out he’s up for the position of human exhibit at an alien zoo, and the father-daughter extraterrestrials conducting the interview are desperate. In fact, they keep sweetening the benefit pot (Medical coverage! Retirement package! Three weeks paid vacation!) until the offer is too good to pass up—at least that’s what Andy’s mother says. Derek Kirk Kim’s hilarious graphic novel ends with Andy traveling by spaceship to start his new job in a story to be continued, and featuring a subplot about Andy’s sweet, somewhat lust-filled crush on a fellow art school student.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Exciting Adventures and Political Intrigue: May 2016 High School Titles

April 24th, 2016 | Posted by etownsend in 2015-2016 | High School | May - (Comments Off on Exciting Adventures and Political Intrigue: May 2016 High School Titles)

story of owenThe Story of Owen: The Dragon Slayer of Icon_HighSchoolTrondeim by E.K. Johnston. Carolrhoda Lab, 2014.

In this alternate to the world as we know it, most things are the same with one huge exception: carbon-craving, mammal-eating dragons have always existed, along with a long, proud tradition of dragon slaying. Every town once had its own dragon slayer, but the Industrial Revolution saw dragon slayers lured away from small towns to defend big cities like Detroit (it didn’t work — Detroit and most of Michigan were laid to waste). Recently retired, world-famous dragon slayer Lottie Thorskard wants to renew the tradition of community-based dragon slaying, so she’s moved to a small town in southern Ontario to train her nephew, Owen, and to recruit Owen’s classmate, Siobhan McQuaid, as Owen’s bard — another tradition that’s languished. Observant, musically talented Siobhan is the narrator of this lively, richly imagined story chronicling Owen and Siobhan’s emergence into their new roles, which coincides with a new rash of dragon attacks that leads them to suspect previously undiscovered hatching grounds may be closer than anyone realized. Fast-paced (locating the hatching grounds turns into a race against time), funny (driver’s ed. includes dragon evasion, since the beasts are attracted to most cars), and thoughtful (What is lost when traditions are abandoned in the name of “progress”? What is gained when traditions are challenged?), E. K. Johnston’s sure hand succeeds in all dimensions of world-building, from the cleverly reimagined events in world history to the complexity and appeal of her characters.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Find resources for The Story of Owen at TeachingBooks.net.

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. How does having a bard support the cause of the dragon slayers? Additionally, how does the role of the bard shape the structure of the story?
  2. Dragons are the personification of petroleum gluttony. What geopolitical details in the story support this idea?
  3. Associating personality with the sound of a specific musical instrument is a technique the author uses to help develop the story as well as characters. Siobhan calls Owen a “French horn.” What instruments would the other main characters be and why?

Vango: Between Earth and Sky by Timothée de Fombelle. vangoTranslated from the French by Sarah Ardizzone. U.S. edition: Candlewick Press, 2014.

An intricate and intriguing story — part adventure, part mystery, part political intrigue — takes place across the map of Europe between the two world wars and revolves around a young man named Vango Romano. The story alternates between Vango on the run — he’s wanted by Rome police for the death of Father Jean, his beloved mentor — and other characters, and moves between the present and the past. Vango grew up on a small Italian island after he and his nurse washed ashore when Vango was three. His nurse always claimed to have no memory of where they came from. As Vango grew, the monks of Arkadah, a secret island monastery, became his second home. Ethel is a young Scottish woman who met Vango years before, when she was twelve and he was fourteen, on a Zeppelin trip around the world. A young Russian girl wonders about the escaped Bird her father sometimes speaks of, who has eluded capture for years. Her father, it turns out, is Joseph Stalin. And then there is the small, multinational group of World War I veterans who have vowed to do anything necessary to prevent another war. Everything and everyone ultimately revolves around Vango, who realizes he needs to know who he was before he ever landed on that island in order to make sense of what is happening now. Beautifully translated from the French, this breathless work offers clues to Vango’s origins, but leaves many answers for the coming sequel.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Find a teaching guide and more resources for Vango at TeachingBooks.net.

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. How does the backdrop of World War II create tension in the story?
  2. What is Vango’s destiny? What in the story convinces you of this?
  3. How do the female characters in Vango contribute to his development as a character?

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!

Thought-provoking and Highly Discussable: April 2016 High School Title

March 24th, 2016 | Posted by etownsend in 2015-2016 | High School | April - (Comments Off on Thought-provoking and Highly Discussable: April 2016 High School Title)

silver peopleSilver People: Voices from the Panama Canal by Icon_HighSchoolMargarita Engle. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014.

At what price progress? Margarita Engle follows four individuals involved in the building of the Panama Canal in the early twentieth century. Mateo is a fourteen-year-old Cubano whose dangerous work digging the canal helps him escape a cruel father. Henry is a Black Jamaican wanting to earn money for his family. His job is blasting through rock. Augusto is a Puerto Rican mapmaker who can’t ignore issues of race and class that mean he is treated better than laborers like Mateo and Henry, but worse than the white engineers who oversee the project. Anita is a local Panamanian girl, adopted daughter of the village healer, who knows all the flora and fauna in jeopardy because of the canal. These “silver people” (dark-skinned workers paid in silver rather than gold) are living and laboring under Colonialism, and their voices illuminate the impact of its arrogance. Engle also, strikingly, gives voice to elements of nature—trees, birds, insects, and the ever-present screaming monkeys—whose world is being brutally destroyed as work on the canal progresses, offering another critical perspective on “progress” in a stirring work that invites thought and discussion. (MS)  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Find resources for Silver People at TeachingBooks.net.

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Silver People is an historical novel in verse. How would this story be told differently if it were a [prose] novel? A textbook?
  2. The story is told from the perspective of different people. How do the different voices add to the readers understanding of the story? Whose voice resonated with you and why?
  3. Hollywood called and they are doing a casting call for Silver People. Who would you recommend for the main characters and why? What elements of this story would lend itself to the big screen?

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!

Great Read from Debut Wisconsin Author! March 2016 High School Title

February 24th, 2016 | Posted by etownsend in 2015-2016 | High School | March - (Comments Off on Great Read from Debut Wisconsin Author! March 2016 High School Title)

falling into placeFalling into Place by Amy Zhang. Greenwillow / Icon_HighSchoolHarperCollins, 2014.

Popular Liz Emerson was trying to commit suicide when she ran her car off the road. But she’s survived, at least for now. With Liz in the ICU, flashback chapters from the perspective of her best friends, Julia and Kennie, her mom, Monica, and Liam, a boy who loved Liz without ever telling her, reveal what led Liz to the point of such despair. Liz, it turns out, was good to her friends, but not very nice to others. In fact, she could be quite cruel, and Liam was one of the victims of her cruelty. But the journey back in time also reveals that Liz wasn’t always this way. After her dad died in an accident for which she blames herself, Liz moved away from the kind person she once was. Self-hatred fueled her downward spiral, compounding itself because she also hated the person she’d become. The tension in Amy Zhang’s debut novel is revealed not only through the constant reminder of Liz’s devastating act (chapters are titled in relation to the event, e.g., “Five Years Before Liz Emerson Crashed Her Car,” “Fifty-Five Minutes Before Liz Emerson Crashed Her Car”) but also in Liz’s despicable behavior and genuine despair. Her survival, it is clear, depends on much more than her body healing. The novel concludes with hotline numbers for anyone needing help if they or a friend are considering suicide.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Find educator resources at TeachingBooks.net.

Start some conservation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Why do you think Zhang tell Liz’s story in a non-chronological format? How would a different plot structure change the tension and pace of the story?
  2. What techniques does Zhang use to take an unsympathetic protagonist and make the reader care about her?
  3. How does Zhang’s inclusion of an unknown narrator influence the plot development?

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.

Heroes Rule in these Riveting Non-fiction and Graphic Novel Titles: February 2016 High School

January 24th, 2016 | Posted by etownsend in 2015-2016 | High School | February - (Comments Off on Heroes Rule in these Riveting Non-fiction and Graphic Novel Titles: February 2016 High School)

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?

Life Stories from Native Youth: January 2016 High School Title

December 15th, 2015 | Posted by etownsend in 2015-2016 | High School | January - (Comments Off on Life Stories from Native Youth: January 2016 High School Title)

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.

Powerful and Beautiful: December 2015 High School Title

November 15th, 2015 | Posted by etownsend in 2015-2016 | December | High School - (Comments Off on Powerful and Beautiful: December 2015 High School Title)

house of purple cedarHouse of Purple Cedar by Tim Tingle. Cinco Puntos Icon_HighSchoolPress, 2014 (c2013).

In 1967, Rose is an old woman looking back on her childhood in Skullyville, Oklahoma, in 1897, in a novel that moves back and forth between Rose, her family and Choctaw community, and residents of the nearby town of Spiro. Among them is the marshall, a man who is despised by Choctaw and whites alike. His cruelty is often random, as when he strikes Amafo, Rose’s grandfather, at the train station one day. Amafo turns the other cheek, and in doing so finds allies among some of the whites in Spiro while leading his community away from confrontation. Tim Tingle writes beautifully and deeply about love and forgiveness as antidotes to violence and hatred in a novel that also doesn’t ignore hard realities. Sometimes bringing the truth into the light isn’t enough; sometimes you have to fight back with violence. This is illuminated not only through what happens to Rose and her community but also through the lives of several women in Spiro, one of them the marshall’s wife, who has endured his beatings for years. The power of family, of community and connection, and of love and compassion to transcend divides — among individuals, across cultures, between the living and the dead — is profound and hopeful in a story that is, above all, about the human heart. The tense plot unfolds through characters drawn with astonishing depth and subtlety, their actions and interactions richly revealing. Solace for Rose’s community is also found in both Christianity and in spiritual experiences imbedded in their culture, the two seamlessly reconciled in their lives.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Resources from TeachingBooks.net.

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Decisions to perform acts of violence and nonviolence play a pivotal role in the course of the book. For example, Amafo’s response to the marshall’s attack was deliberate. Argue how this was or wasn’t an effective strategy.
  2. Explain the significance of the title, House of Purple Cedar.
  3. Find two examples of symbolism in this novel. Explain the importance of each to the narrative arc of the story or development of a character.

Enter New Worlds with this Gritty Sci-Fi Story: November 2015 High School Title

October 23rd, 2015 | Posted by etownsend in November | 2015-2016 | High School - (Comments Off on Enter New Worlds with this Gritty Sci-Fi Story: November 2015 High School Title)

tin starTin Star by Cecil Castellucci. Roaring Brook Press, 2014.Icon_HighSchool

Teenager Tula Bane, beaten and left for dead aboard a space station in a remote part of galaxy, is now living in the station underguts, bartering to survive. Heckleck and Tournour, members of two different insect-like species, have both been kind to Tula, but she’s still incredibly lonely as the only human on board. Then the Imperium takes control of the station and Tula hears rumors that it’s putting political pressure on isolationist Earth to join it. It’s an effort apparently orchestrated by Brother Blue, the man who tried to kill her. The arrival of three more human teens on the station who may or may not be loyal to the Imperium gives Tula the opportunity she’s been looking for to plan revenge against Brother Blue, if she can get them to reveal information she needs. At the same time, they ease her loneliness as she delights in human contact and conversation, and even begins to fall in love. Cecil Castellucci’s satisfying work of science fiction has a complex political backstory, but it’s the wonderful characterizations and relationships that shine. Castellucci is adept at imagining how a wide variety of species whose cultural norms and habits differ relate to one another on a personal level, including how lack of cultural knowledge leads to misunderstanding. Tula’s survival has been dependent upon her ability to understand and communicate in a variety of ways. But as successful as she’s been, she’s failed to realize the most important thing: she has never been as alone as she thought. A novel that feels complete on its own leaves the door wide open for a sequel.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Find resources at TeachingBooks.net.

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. How are insider/outsider lines defined in this book and in what cases are they blurred?
  2. Where do Tula’s loyalties lie? How do her loyalties change throughout her experience on the space station? Cite examples from the text.
  3. Make a text-to-world connection relating the political figures and issues in Tin Star to historical or contemporary events.

 

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