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Liar & Spy / The Mighty Miss Malone

March 1st, 2014 | Posted by schliesman in Intermediate (Grades 3-5) | 2013-2014 | March - (Comments Off on Liar & Spy / The Mighty Miss Malone)

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Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead. Wendy Lamb Books / Random House, 2012

1. Georges is uncomfortable with some of the things Safer asks him to do. Would you do anything differently if you were Georges in terms of how he responded? Would you do anything differently than Georges in terms of handling the bullies he faces at school?

2. Things are revealed near the end of the story that change our understanding of both Georges and Safer. Looking back, can you find clues early on to what we eventually learn about each of them and their situations?

3. Why do you think Georges didn’t reveal the truth—to Safer and to us as readers—about his mom? Why do you think Safer wasn’t honest with Georges?

 

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The Mighty Miss Malone by Christopher Paul Curtis. Wendy Lamb Books / Random House, 2012

1. Deza describes each member of her family early on in the story in an essay for her teacher. What do you learn about Deza from the way she writes? Do you think she’s a girl you’d enjoy knowing? Why or why not?

2. What are some ways the author shows how Deza’s family is affected by having so little money?

3. What are some of the differences between Deza’s school experience/teacher at the beginning of the story, when her family is still living in Gary, and later, when she’s going to school in Flint?

 

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Green / Animal Spots and Stripes

March 1st, 2014 | Posted by schliesman in Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers | 2013-2014 | March - (Comments Off on Green / Animal Spots and Stripes)

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Green by Laura Vaccaro Seeger. A Neal Porter Book / Roaring Brook Press, 2012

1. What kind of green would you call a blade of grass? How about a shirt that you love?

2. What are other green things you can think of?

3. What do you think is meant by “forever green” on the book’s final pages?

 

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Animal Spots and Stripes by Britta Teckentrup. Handprint Books, 2012

1. Let’s find all the animals with spots in the book. Now let’s find all the animals with stripes.

2. If you could choose between having spots or stripes, which would you want to have? Why?

3. Let’s count the _________! (name the specific creatures on each page)

 

Poems to pair from Here’s a Little Poem: A Very First Book of Poetry edited by Jane Yolen and Andrew Fusek Peters. Illustrated by Polly Dunbar. U.S. edition: Candlewick Press, 2007 :

“Soggy Greens” by John Cunliffe, p. 19

“Recipe for Green” by Jane Yolen, pp. 54-55

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Unspoken / Chickadee

February 1st, 2014 | Posted by schliesman in Intermediate (Grades 3-5) | 2013-2014 | February - (Comments Off on Unspoken / Chickadee)

unspoken cover

Unspoken: A Story from the Underground Railroad by Henry Cole. Scholastic Press, 2012

1. Who is the person hiding and who or what are they running from? How can you tell?

2. Do you think this is the first time someone has hidden on this family’s farm and gotten help? What can you point to in the illustrations that make you think yes or no?

3. Why do you think the illustrator chose to tell this story without any words?

4. If you were the girl in the story and discovered someone hiding and in need of help, what would you do?

 

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Chickadee by Louise Erdrich. Harper / HarperCollins, 2012

1. Chickadee is taken hundreds of miles from his home and has to find his own way back when he escapes. What knowledge does he draw on? Who are some of his helpers?

2. Everyone in Chickadee’s family is worried about him and misses him, especially his twin, Makoons. What are some of the ways Makoons responds to missing his brother? Why do you think Chickadee’s disappearance is so hard for him in particular?

3. Describe the characters of Babiche and Baptiste. In what ways were they funny? In what ways were they scary?

 

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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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The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano

February 1st, 2014 | Posted by schliesman in Middle School | 2013-2014 | February - (Comments Off on The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano)

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The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano by Sonia Manzano. Scholastic Press, 2012

1. How and why do the relationships between Evelyn, her mother, and her abuela change over time?

2. Do you think the occupation of the church by the Young Lords was justified? Why or why not?

3. Manzano uses powerful descriptive language to set the scene. What sights, smells, sounds stood out to you and what words would you use to describe your neighborhood?

 

 

Books for Middle School Age

Once I Ate a Pie / Wolf Pie

February 1st, 2014 | Posted by schliesman in Primary (Grades K-2) | 2013-2014 | February - (Comments Off on Once I Ate a Pie / Wolf Pie)

once i ate a pie cover

Once I Ate a Pie by Patricia Maclachlan and Emily Maclachlan. Illustrated by Katy Schneider. HarperCollins, 2006

1. If you could have one of the dogs in this book as a pet, which one would you pick and why?

2. Why do you think some of the words in the poems look different—bigger or bolder or with letters that aren’t in a straight line?

3. We learn something about each of the dogs in the poems. For example, Gus likes his people in a group. Mr. Beefy likes to eat. Darla likes people but not other dogs. If you were going to write a poem about you, what is something you would want us to know about yourself? Do you think it would be a funny poem? A serious or sad poem? Why?

 

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Wolf Pie by Brenda Seabrooke. Illustrated by Liz Callen. Clarion, 2010

1. Were you surprised by how the wolf in the story behaved? Why or why not?

2. What are ways Wilfong proves he is a true friend?

3. What part of this book was funniest to you? Why?

 

 

 

 

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Baby Bear Sees Blue / Small Bunny’s Blue Blanket

February 1st, 2014 | Posted by schliesman in Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers | 2013-2014 | February - (Comments Off on Baby Bear Sees Blue / Small Bunny’s Blue Blanket)

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Baby Bear Sees Blue by Ashley Wolff. Beach Lane / Simon & Schuster, 2012

1. What are some things Baby Bear sees throughout the day? What are some things you see when you wake up in the morning?

2. What colors can we find outside (go on a color walk/draw pictures of all the colors you see)

3. What are some colors you can eat?

 

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Small Bunny’s Blue Blanket by Tayana Feeney. Alfred A. Knopf, 2012

1. How does Small Bunny feel about his blue blanket? How can you tell? What do you love?

2. What is something Small Bunny likes to do in the story? Do you like to ____________? (fill in based on child’s response to first question)

3. What do you find it hard to wait for?

 

Poems to pair from Here’s a Little Poem: A Very First Book of Poetry edited by Jane Yolen and Andrew Fusek Peters. Illustrated by Polly Dunbar. U.S. edition: Candlewick Press, 2007:

“Sleepy Song” by Clare Bevan, p. 92

“Silverly” by Dennis Lee, pp. 94-95

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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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The Year of the Book

January 1st, 2014 | Posted by schliesman in Intermediate (Grades 3-5) | January | 2013-2014 - (Comments Off on The Year of the Book)

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The Year of the Book by Andrea Cheng. Illustrated by Abigail Halpin. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012

1. Anna’s mom thinks she is being selfish when she doesn’t want to spend time with other people. Do you think her mom is being fair? What are some of the reasons you do or don’t agree with her based on what you know and learn about Anna in the story?

2. Anna loves to read. What does she enjoy about reading? What role do books play in her life?

3. What are some of the reasons Anna is uncertain about spending time with Laura? What do you think she gains by becoming friends with Laura again?

 

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Marching to the Mountaintop / Fire in the Streets

January 1st, 2014 | Posted by schliesman in Middle School | January | 2013-2014 - (Comments Off on Marching to the Mountaintop / Fire in the Streets)

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Marching to the Mountaintop: How Poverty, Labor Fights, and Civil Rights Set the Stage for Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Final Hours by Ann Bausum. National Geographic, 2012

1. What are some of the factors that led to the garbage workers deciding to strike in Memphis?

2. Why was Martin Luther King, Jr., initially reluctant to come to Memphis? What made him change his mind?

3. There are several major stories in this book: the Memphis garbage workers’ strike; the shifting focus of Martin Luther King’s activism from racism to poverty; and King’s assassination.  What did you learn about the connection among these three things?

 

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Fire in the Streets by Kekla Magoon . Aladdin / Simon & Schuster, 2012

1. What does Maxie find so appealing about being part of the Black Panthers?

2. Based on what you know about Maxie in the story, why do you think she decides to turn in her brother? If you were in Maxie’s position, what do you think you would do?

3. This story is set in 1968, a time of great political and racial turmoil. What details did you find especially interesting about that time? Were there things that struck you as being very different from—or similar to—today?

 

Books for Middle School Age

I’ll Save You, Bobo! / Baby, Where Are You?

January 1st, 2014 | Posted by schliesman in Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers | January | 2013-2014 - (Comments Off on I’ll Save You, Bobo! / Baby, Where Are You?)

I'll Save You Bobo cover

I’ll Save You, Bobo! by Eileen Rosenthal. Illustrated by Marc Rosenthal. Atheneum, 2012

1. Who is your favorite character in this story? Why?

2. Do you think Earl the cat likes Bobo? Why or why not?

3. What do you like about the stories the little boy tells? Do you ever make up stories? (What are they about?)

 

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Baby, Where Are You? by Mack. U.S. edition: Clavis, 2012

1. Let’s find an animal in the book that lives in or near the water. What is it?

2. Let’s find an animal in the book walking in the sand. What is it?

3. Which animals in the book have long necks?

 

Poem to pair from Here’s a Little Poem: A Very First Book of Poetry edited by Jane Yolen and Andrew Fusek Peters. Illustrated by Polly Dunbar. U.S. edition: Candlewick Press, 2007:

“Tide and Seek” by Andrew Fusek Peters, p. 80

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Lemonade in Winter

January 1st, 2014 | Posted by schliesman in Primary (Grades K-2) | January | 2013-2014 - (Comments Off on Lemonade in Winter)

lemonade in winter cover

Lemonade in Winter: A Book About Two Kids Counting Money by Emily Jenkins. Illustrated by G. Brian Karas. Schwartz & Wade, 2012

1. What are some of the things Pauline and John-John do to get ready to have a lemonade stand?

2. How do Pauline and John-John try to get customers? Is there anything else you would have also done if you were in their place?

3. If you were going to sell something in winter, what would it be? Why? What would you need to get ready to have your sale?

 

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