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The Coldest Girl in Coldtown / Charm & Strange

February 1st, 2015 | Posted by etownsend in 2014-2015 | High School | February - (Comments Off on The Coldest Girl in Coldtown / Charm & Strange)

coldest girl in coldtown

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black. Little, Brown, 2013.charm & strange

Charm & Strange by Stephanie Kuehn. St. Martin’s Griffin, 2013.

Having read both or one of these books…

1. Why would an author choose to use vampires and werewolves to explore changing identity?

2. How are the vampires and werewolves similar and different from supernatural characters in other stories?

3. What plot elements allow you to suspend your disbelief?

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Boxers and Saints / Open Mic

January 1st, 2015 | Posted by etownsend in 2014-2015 | High School | January - (Comments Off on Boxers and Saints / Open Mic)

boxers saintsHSBoxers (Boxers and Saints) by Gene Luen Yang. First Second, 2013.
Saints (Boxers and Saints) by Gene Luen Yang. First Second, 2013.

1. How do you think the order in which the books are read impacts a reader’s perspective on the rebellion?

2.  How is the influence of religious and spiritual beliefs in this pairing of books developed? How do Four Girl and Bao’s religious beliefs, as portrayed across the two books, parallel one another?

3. What elements of this book can you find in today’s headlines about similar religious or political conflict?

 

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Open Mic: Riffs on Life Between Cultures in Ten Voices by Mitali Perkins. Candlewick Press, 2013.

1. How does the use of humor in these stories help to open discussions about race and ethnicity?

2. What are some similarities between the styles and perspectives of  the short stories? What are some differences?

3. Choose one of the stories. What is the author’s experience with racial and ethnic differences? How does the author convey this in his or her story? How does humor help the author explore and understand these differences?

 

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Far Far Away

December 1st, 2014 | Posted by etownsend in December | 2014-2015 | High School - (Comments Off on Far Far Away)

far far awayFar Far Away by Tom McNeal. Alfred A. Knopf, 2013.

1. What connections can you make between this story and fairy tales?

2. Throughout the novel, characters actively try to help others. Give some examples of when the help is sincerely offered and other examples when help is offered for selfish motives. How does this advance the plot?

3. Where and when do you think this story takes place? What tells you this?

 

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Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass

November 1st, 2014 | Posted by etownsend in November | 2014-2015 | High School - (Comments Off on Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass)

yaqui delgadoYaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina. Candlewick Press, 2013.

1. What reasons does Piddy give for not telling anyone about the bullying? What are specific ways the novel shows that silence – not letting anyone know about the bullying – makes things worse for Piddy? How does finally breaking her silence give Piddy some control as shown in the story?

2. Give examples of adult authority in Piddy’s life. What expectations do they have of her? How do these expectations impact the decisions she makes?

3. Piddy can be seen as both an obedient daughter and also a rebel. What other individuals in the story are portrayed with two conflicting sides to their character? How does the author show two sides of the same person?

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Maggot Moon

October 1st, 2014 | Posted by etownsend in October | 2014-2015 | High School - (Comments Off on Maggot Moon)

maggot moonMaggot Moon by Sally Gardner. Illustrated by Julian Crouch. U.S. edition: Candlewick Press, 2013.

1. What are the different factors that pressure characters to not seek the truth?

2. What are specific ways the author provided information in this alternate history to help you make sense of what was going on? In what ways did the fact that it was an alternate history—rather than a futuristic dystopia—hinder or help your understanding of the characters and their situation?

3. As you consider the sequence of events in the novel, what are the details that reveal the hoax to Standish?

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Eleanor & Park

September 1st, 2014 | Posted by etownsend in September | 2014-2015 | High School - (Comments Off on Eleanor & Park)

eleanor and parkHS

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell. St. Martin’s Griffin, 2013.

1. Eleanor and Park bond over comic books and mix tapes. How do teens in your community forge relationships / friendships? What are your interests and how do you share interests with others?

2. What are ways Eleanor and Park each change over the course of the story? How are they each influenced by one another and their relationship? How does it impact what happens as the story develops?

3. What do you believe are the words written on the postcard? What evidence can you find to support your conclusion?

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The First Part Last / The Fortunes of Indigo Skye / The Name of the Wind

June 1st, 2014 | Posted by schliesman in High School | 2013-2014 | Summer - (Comments Off on The First Part Last / The Fortunes of Indigo Skye / The Name of the Wind)

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The First Part Last by Angela Johnson. Simon & Schuster, 2003

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Fortunes of Indigo Skye by Deb Caletti. Simon & Schuster, 2008

 

 

 

 

 

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The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. (Kingkiller Chronicles, Day 1). DAW, 2007

 

 

 

 

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Ask the Passengers / Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

May 1st, 2014 | Posted by schliesman in High School | 2013-2014 | May - (Comments Off on Ask the Passengers / Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe)

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Ask the Passengers by A. S. King. Little, Brown, 2012

1. Would you encourage Astrid to label herself and come out, or support her desire to resist labeling? Why?

2. Astrid resists the conformity and small-mindedness of her town. In what ways does she defy it? In what ways does she unintentionally participate in the culture she despises?

3. What do you think Astrid’s conversations with “Frank” (Socrates) do for her?

4. What purpose do you think the chapters in which Astrid sends out her love to the passengers of airplanes serves? What do they reveal about Astrid? What do they reveal about life beyond the confines of her small town

 

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Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamine Alire Sáenz. Simon & Schuster, 2012

1. Ari considers himself a loner and is surprised by how much he enjoys spending time with Dante. Why do you think the two boys get along so well? In what ways do their characters differ? How are they similar? How do they complement one another?

2. How does the secret about Ari’s brother affect Ari and his family?

3. This book is set in the late 1980s. Are there things you can point to that make it feel different from today in terms of attitudes toward being gay? Are there things that seem the same?

 

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October Mourning / My Book of Life by Angel

April 1st, 2014 | Posted by schliesman in High School | 2013-2014 | April - (Comments Off on October Mourning / My Book of Life by Angel)

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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?

 

my book of life by angel coverMy Book of Life by Angel by Martine Leavitt. Farrar Straus Giroux, 2012

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?

 

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Final Four

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

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The Final Four by Paul Volponi. Viking, 2012

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

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

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

 

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Bomb / Code Name Verity

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. Hyperion, 2012

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

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

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

 

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No Crystal Stair / Darkroom

January 1st, 2014 | Posted by schliesman in High School | January | 2013-2014 - (Comments Off on No Crystal Stair / Darkroom)

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No Crystal Stair by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson. Illustrated by R. Gregory Christie. Carolrhoda LAB, 2012

1. Lewis Michaux believed that books change lives. What are ways you can see this exemplified in the narrative?

2. This is a work of documentary fiction—much of it is based on fact, but the author had to take artistic license as well. How does it differ from a straightforward work of non-fiction? What are some of the ways the book as a whole succeeds in giving you both facts about Lewis Michaux and a deeper understanding of who he was and what he believed?

3. A number of factors led to the closing of Michaux’s bookstore in the 1970s, from racism to economics to politics. What do you think was the biggest reason the store had to close? What did the community lose as a result?

 

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Darkroom: A Memoir in Black and White by Lila Quintero Weaver. The University of Alabama Press, 2012

1. What were some of the pivotal events throughout her childhood that gave the author deeper insight into the struggle for civil rights?

2. The author talks about knowing from the time she was young that she did not fit on either side of the racial divide, but as she gets older she finds that she connects more with Black kids than white kids. Why do you think this was the case?

3. In what ways does the title connect to the story the author tells?

 

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