Header

Surprises Around Every Corner! with May 2016 Intermediate Titles

April 24th, 2016 | Posted by etownsend in Intermediate (Grades 3-5) | 2015-2016 | May - (Comments Off on Surprises Around Every Corner! with May 2016 Intermediate Titles)

look up bird watchingLook Up! Bird-Watching in Your Own Icon for the Intermediate (Grades 3-5) readersBackyard by Annette LeBlanc Cate. Candlewick Press, 2013.

“You may not have a yard, but you do have the sky. Look up!” Busy pages and cartoon-like conversation bubbles encourage reluctant naturalists to give birding a chance by emphasizing how easy it is to do anywhere, from the window of a city apartment building to suburban backyards and beyond. Bird-watching requires no expertise and few supplies, but close observation—watching and listening—is key. There’s a wealth of information about bird appearance and behavior packed into this slim, highly visual volume in which author/illustrator Annette LeBlanc Cate shares her enthusiasm for and knowledge about birding, along with her silly sense of humor, with young readers.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Find multiple lesson plans and interviews for Look Up! at TeachingBooks.net.

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Before reading: What adventures can you have close to home?
  2. If you went birding and found ten birds, how would you classify them?
  3. What story does the map tell?
  4. How does this book combine information and narrative?

Rules of Summer by Shaun Tan. Arthur A. Levine Books /rules of summer Scholastic, Inc., 2014.

Shuan Tan’s imagination always harbors a rich and arresting world of possibilities. Here the wild and the extraordinary is found in paintings accompanying a simple, straightforward narrative in which a young boy states the things he learned last summer. “Never leave a red sock on the clothesline.” The accompanying illustration shows the boy and his brother huddled against a stark fence in an uninviting urban landscape. The single red sock on the clothesline, small and unassuming in the foreground, has attracted (one assumes) the giant, menacing, red rabbit-like creature that lurks on the other side of the fence. “Never argue with an umpire.” Especially, one gathers, when the umpire is your big brother, never mind the mechanical creature that is your opponent. There is both tension and whimsy in the relationship between what is stated and what is shown. A brief, wordless series of page spreads in the middle, preceded by “Never wait for an apology” and followed by “Always bring bolt cutters” underscores the slightly ominous yet playful feel of the entire volume. Is it all meant to be real? Surreal? Symbolic? The beauty is that it’s up to each individual reader of the words and images to decide.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Find helpful resources for educators and librarians for Rules of Summer at TeachingBooks.net.

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Before reading: What are your rules of summer?
  2. How do the illustrations and text work together to tell the story?
  3. How can the illustrations change the meaning of the text?
  4. Do you ever get told not to do something and you don’t know why?

Amazing, Enthralling Science: May 2016 Primary Titles

April 24th, 2016 | Posted by etownsend in Primary (Grades K-2) | 2015-2016 | May - (Comments Off on Amazing, Enthralling Science: May 2016 Primary Titles)

me janeMe … Jane by Patrick McDonnell.  Little, Primary Icon of a White-Tailed DeerBrown, 2011.

Patrick McDonnell’s picture book about chimpanzee researcher Jane Goodall as a child depicts her as a curious, scientific-minded young girl whose favorite stuffed animal was a chimpanzee named Jubilee. She took the stuffed chimp everywhere as she explored and carefully observed the natural world of her childhood … and dreamed of someday going to Africa. McDonnell’s spare and skillful text is set against beautiful, soft-toned illustrations that have a sense of playfulness even while conveying Goodall’s focus and determination. Occasional double-page spreads represent young Jane’s detailed scientific notebook full of drawings and notes. A stirring transition from illustrated story to Goodall’s adult life comes with the final page of the story, illustrated with a photo of Goodall as a young woman reaching out to touch a real chimpanzee. An author’s note about Jane Goodall and a message from Goodall herself round out this distinctive volume. Winner, 2012 Charlotte Zolotow Award  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Find excellent educator and librarian resources, including activities, interviews and discussion questions for Me … Jane at TeachingBooks.net.

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Jane is curious about the natural world? What are some ways that she learned more about what interested her?
  2. What attributes did Jane have as a child that would make her a good scientist?
  3. Describe the different types of illustrations in the book? Do they tell you different types of information?

Tiny Creatures: The World of Microbes by Nicola Davies. tiny creaturesIllustrated by Emily Sutton.  U.S. edition: Candlewick Press, 2014.

Tiny creatures in vast numbers, microbes are far too small to see with the naked eye and exist in quantities hard to fathom. But Nicola Davies gives young readers and listeners a starting point for understanding their small size (millions could fit on the antenna of an ant), huge numbers (a single drop of water can hold twenty million — the number of people in New York State), their omnipresence (on sea, on land, in the air; at the back of your fridge; inside your stomach and on your skin); their variety (as different in size as ants and whales; most helpful, some harmful); and their power (turning food into compost; milk into yogurt; rocks into soil). Davies’s finely crafted, informative text is paired with Emily Sutton’s marvelous illustrations that further demonstrate and illuminate these tiny creatures that transform our world. “All over the earth, all the time, tiny microbes are eating and eating, and splitting and splitting, changing one thing into another.”  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Find great resources for Tiny Creatures at TeachingBooks.net.

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. What do microbes look like? How do you know? How is this information evident in the text and illustrations in this book?
  2. Name some of the helpful or good things microbes do?
  3. What are some examples of how microbes change one thing into another? How is this illustrated in the book? Does it help to have illustrations as well as text to explain this science information?

Engage with Nature: May 2016 Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers Toddlers

April 24th, 2016 | Posted by etownsend in Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers | 2015-2016 | May - (Comments Off on Engage with Nature: May 2016 Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers Toddlers)

mommy mommyMommy! Mommy! by Taro Gomi. Translated Icon_PreSchoolfrom the Japanese. U.S. edition: Chronicle, 2013.

A sweetly comical board book features a pair of chicks repeatedly searching for their mother. “Mommy! Mommy!” There she is, behind the fence. “Here I am!” Now she’s behind the shrubs, only her ruffled pink frill visible. But it turns out to be a flower. “Oops!” Is that her behind the rocks? Yikes! It’s something large and pink and frilly with gnashing teeth. How about peeking out behind the roof of the barn? No, it’s the rippled sun rising. But who’s that next to the sun? It’s mommy! Taro Gomi’s spare, repetitive text is funny, but the real charm is in the stylized illustrations featuring two big-eyed, boxy chicks with the suggestion of tail feathers, and their bigger boxy mother, not to mention the rectangular pink menace. Young children will enjoy the humor and drama both.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Find resources at TeachingBooks.net.

  • Read: Mommy! Mommy!
  • Talk: What do you call the grown-ups you live with?
  • Sing: Sing “Where is Thumbkin?”
  • Play: Play hide and seek.

What Will Hatch? by Jennifer Ward. Illustrated by Susie what will hatchGhahremani. Walker / Bloomsbury, 2013.

Eggs of eight different animals are presented with a few carefully selected words (“Sandy ball”) paired with the question “What will hatch?” An equally spare answer (“Paddle and crawl – Sea turtle”) augments the illustration of the brand-new juvenile. A balanced array of animals goes beyond birds (goldfinch, penguin, and robin) to include a caterpillar, crocodile, platypus, sea turtle, and tadpole. Egg shapes are die-cut, with the page turn cleverly revealing the result of each hatching. A few pages of additional information at the book’s end introduce young children to the term “oviparous” and relate egg facts for each species (time in egg, parents’ incubation behavior, number of siblings). Simple gouache on wood illustrations, while not always strictly representational, are consistently lovely with a warm palette of gold, green, and brown.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Find activities and ideas for What Will Hatch at TeachingBooks.net.

  • Read: Find other books about the animals in this book.
  • Sing: Put some dried beans in a plastic egg and create an egg shaker. Dance and sing along to your favorite songs.
  • Play: Take a plastic egg and hide something inside and have your child guess what it is. Now, have your child hide something inside the egg and you guess what is inside.
  • STEM: Name animals that hatch from eggs. Count all the eggs in the book.

see what a seal can doSee What a Seal Can Do by Chris Butterworth.  Illustrated by Kate Nelms.  Candlewick Press, 2013.

“If you’re down by the sea one day, you might spot a seal, lying around like a fat sunbather or flumping along the sand.” Lyrical, descriptive language and appealing mixed media illustrations highlight the characteristics and behavior of gray seals. Diving deep, catching mackerel, evading a killer whale on the hunt, and returning to the beach to sleep are some of the events in one gray seal’s day. While a large-font narrative tracks the seal’s activities, offset single sentences in a smaller italicized type add snippets of relevant factual information.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Find out more about the author and illustrator at TeachingBooks.net.

  • Read: Take a look at the index at the back of the book and go back to the pages of the various topics. Visit the websites mentioned on this page.
  • Talk: Name things a seal can do and name things you can do.
  • Write: Seals eat fish. With your child, make a list of the things your child eats. Encourage them to draw a picture of the things they eat. Take this list with you when you go grocery shopping.
  • STEM: Talk about the seals’ habitat. Test what floats and what doesn’t float in your sink or tub.

Find more early literacy activities from the Youth Services Section of the Wisconsin Library Association’s 2015 Early Literacy Calendar created by Youth Services librarians across Wisconsin.

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?

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.

Games Galore in the April 2016 Intermediate Titles

March 24th, 2016 | Posted by etownsend in Intermediate (Grades 3-5) | 2015-2016 | April - (Comments Off on Games Galore in the April 2016 Intermediate Titles)

african acrosticsAfrican Acrostics: A Word in Edgeways by Icon for the Intermediate (Grades 3-5) readersAvis Harley. Photographs by Deborah Noyes. Candlewick Press, 2009.

Animal lovers, poetry appreciators, and puzzle fiends will all find something to appreciate in this collection of poems about birds and animals of the African savannah. Most of Avis Harley’s clever descriptive poems are traditional acrostics, in which the first word of each line spells out a word relating to the poem’s subject. But some are more devious—there are double acrostics, which feature words spelled from both the beginning and end letters in each line, multiple acrostics—one poem has five imbedded vertical words—and other variations on the acrostic form. Accompanying each poem is full-page photograph of the animal subject. Photographer Deborah Noyes took most of the photos in Namibia and includes a note about that experience. Brief additional notes about each of the animals, and a more lengthy explanation of the acrostic form, round out this unusual volume. (MS) ©2009 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Find more resources at TeachingBooks.net.

Start conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Before reading: Both of these books (African Acrostics and Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library) feature puzzles. What is your favorite type of puzzle?
  2. How do the text and pictures work together to add meaning to this book?
  3. How did the acrostic part of the poem add to the meaning of the poem?
  4. How does this book use puzzles? To enhance setting? To share information? To add detail?

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library: A Puzzle Mystery bymr lemoncello Chris Grabenstein. Random House, 2013.

Check out this comprehensive list of resources for Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library and more on the author’s website: Chris Grabenstein: fast-paced fun reads for young(er) readers.

Find even more resources at TeachingBooks.net.

Start conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Before reading: Both of these books (African Acrostics and Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library) feature puzzles. What is your favorite type of puzzle?
  2. Solving puzzles helped the characters win the challenge. What else helped them?
  3. Teamwork gave some kids an advantage. How did the book show this?
  4. How does this book use puzzles? To tell a story? To create tension? To enhance setting?

Pictures and Words Make Meaning Together in the April 2016 Primary Titles

March 24th, 2016 | Posted by etownsend in Primary (Grades K-2) | 2015-2016 | April - (Comments Off on Pictures and Words Make Meaning Together in the April 2016 Primary Titles)

benjamin bear's bright ideasBenjamin Bear in Bright Ideas! by Philippe Primary Icon of a White-Tailed DeerCoudray.  Toon Books/Candlewick Press, 2013.

An unusual entry in Toon’s comic series for beginning readers features one-page comic strips, each with a clever visual punchline. For example, Benjamin Bear says to a fish swimming in a bowl, “Let’s go play at your house” and, after dumping the fish in the lake, dons the upside-down fish bowl to wear as a diver’s helmet before entering the lake himself. Or, after seeing his rabbit friend jump over a stream, Benjamin Bear builds a bridge for the rabbit, who proceeds to jump over the bridge. It’s one laugh after another in this engaging easy reader. The humor is simple enough for new readers and sophisticated enough so that older children will enjoy it, too.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Find lesson plans, book trailer and more for Benjamin Bear in Bright Ideas! at TeachingBooks.net

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. What are some of the problems that bear solves?
  2. How would you describe the relationship between bear and rabbit?
  3. Which of the stories is the most realistic and which is the least realistic? Show examples for your reasoning.

Meow Ruff: A Story in Concrete Poetry by Joyce Sidman. meow ruffIllustrated by Michelle Berg. Houghton MIfflin, 2006.

Plump / bright dome / of sugary white / sky muffin.” Joyce Sidman’s descriptive cloud poem will change shape, form, and content over the course of this intriguing picture book, just like the clouds themselves. If there’s a story here, it’s of small dog and a small cat at odds with one another until a sudden storm finds them sheltering beneath the same picnic table. But the real story is the way that tale is told—in a series of concrete poems that chronicle the storm’s rise and fall, the changing relationship of the two animals, and their surroundings. The rain is represented in falling words that convey both the sight and sound of the downpour: “sudden ferocious drilling” (the storm’s onset), “stinging ropes of water” (the height of its fury), “fat fingers tip tapping” (as the rain begins to subside). A series of lovely descriptive poems also describe the tree in the yard, the grass beneath the animals’ feet, and, of course, the clouds. While some of Sidman’s poems are true concrete verse, taking the shape of their subject, others are merely suggestive of a form. Illustrator Michelle Berg’s task was to draw the characters and complete the scene, and the bold, clear, graphic design of her illustrations provide a perfect complement to Sidman’s words.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Find lesson plans and more for Meow Ruff at TeachingBooks.net

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. What story does the book tell about the dog and cat?
  2. Give some examples of how the print looks like what it’s describing or representing? Why do you think the author and illustrator chose to show the words this way?
  3. What are some of the different voices expressed in the poems?

Enjoy Nature with April 2016 Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers Titles

March 24th, 2016 | Posted by etownsend in Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers | 2015-2016 | April - (Comments Off on Enjoy Nature with April 2016 Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers Titles)

baby animal farmBaby Animal Farm by Karen Blair. Icon_PreSchoolCandlewick, 2014.

A group of five racially diverse toddlers visit a baby animal farm in this board book sure to invite noisy participation from the toddlers with whom it is shared. On each page, the toddlers in the story interact with baby farm animals, their actions coupled with a matching sound. Throughout the farm visit, one of the children is looking for his missing teddy bear, which is obligingly returned by a playful puppy by story’s end. All of it is conveyed in a minimal, rhythmic text (“Follow the ducklings. ‘Quack, quack, quack.’ Chase the chicks. ‘Cheep, cheep, cheep’ ”) and tidy illustrations in cheery watercolors  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Resources for Baby Animal Farm available at TeachingBooks.net.

  • Talk: Talk about animals sounds and encourage your child to make some.
  • Sing: Sing “Old MacDonald Had a Farm”.
  • Write: Find some pictures of farm animals and have your child trace the outlines of the animals. Talk about the size and shape of each animal.
  • Play: Visit a farm. Enjoy a picnic.

Call Me Tree = Llámame árbol by Maya Christina Gonzalez. call me tree Translated by Dana Goldberg. Children’s Book Press / Lee & Low, 2014.

“I begin / Within / The deep / dark / earth.” A child imagines himself a tree, beginning as a seed that pushes through the earth, reaching and rising to discover other trees all around. Maya Christina Gonzalez pays tribute to both trees and children, affirming the beauty of each in a picture book that pairs a bilingual (English/Spanish) text with lush, colorful illustrations that convey something magical in their literal depiction of children embodying trees. Together, the text and illustrations work as a both an imaginative flight of fancy and as a stirring, strong statement about the importance of nature and value of all children: “All trees have roots / All trees belong.”  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Find excellent resources — video of author reading book as well as teacher’s guide – at TeachingBooks.net.

  • Talk: This book is written in English and Spanish? What other languages do you hear or speak. What is the Spanish word for tree?
  • Write: Practice writing with a tree branch in some sand or dirt.
  • Play: Try the yoga tree pose. What other yoga poses can you try?
  • STEM: Go for a walk and observe different trees.

wolfsnailWolfsnail: A Backyard Predator by Sarah C. Campbell. Boyds Mills Press, 2008.

Drama on a small scale unfolds in this introduction to the wolfsnail, a gastropod that feeds on snails and slugs. A sentence or two per page and large close-up photos document a wolfsnail as it follows a slime trail across a hosta leaf in search of prey. After a brief retreat into its shell when a bird lights nearby, the wolfsnail catches a small snail and uses its tooth-lined tongue to scoop the meat from the shell. A glossary, fact page, and additional information on wolfsnails are included at the book’s close.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Educator and librarian resources for Wolfsnail available at TeachingBooks.net.

  • Talk: Reinforce new vocabulary by labeling the body parts on a picture of a wolfsnail.
  • Write: Take photos and write some words to describe them.
  • Play: Move slowly and crawl like a snail or a slug.
  • STEM: What were some interesting facts you learned about a wolfsnail? Drip some water on a leaf and watch it roll. Try other liquids like cooking oil, milk, juice and syrup. Find a recipe to make some slime.

Find more early literacy activities from the Youth Services Section of the Wisconsin Library Association’s 2015 Early Literacy Calendar created by Youth Services librarians across Wisconsin.

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?
Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial