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Perspective and Perseverance: January 2017 Intermediate

December 15th, 2016 | Posted by etownsend in 2016-2017 | Intermediate (Grades 3-5) | January - (Comments Off on Perspective and Perseverance: January 2017 Intermediate)

marvelsThe Marvels by Brian Selznick. Scholastic Press, 2015

Almost the first two-thirds of this hefty novel is told through black-and-white illustrations depicting generations of the Marvels, a theater family in England, from 1766 to 1900. A jump to 1990 begins the prose narrative in which Joseph, cold, wet, and sick, arrives on the doorstop of his Uncle Albert’s Victorian home in London after running away from boarding school. He doesn’t really know Uncle Albert, but Joseph’s parents are traveling outside the country, so he stays. Uncle Albert’s neighbor, a girl named Frankie, strikes up a friendship with Joseph, and the two of them begin trying to string together information about a famous theater family, the Marvels, who clearly once lived in the house, which is a living museum in their honor. There are personal belongings and even letters to be found in rooms that are staged like tableaus. Uncle Albert won’t talk about them, which makes Joseph and Frankie even more curious: How are the Marvels connected to Uncle Albert, and to Joseph? When finally revealed, the answer is bitter for Joseph. But for Joseph and for readers, too, it becomes bittersweet, and then wonderful, a tribute to the power of story, and the gifts of imagination, friendship, and love. Brian Selznick moves back and forth between prose and visual narrative in the final third of a novel that concludes with an extensive and fascinating author’s note about the two men and the house that were the real-life inspiration for the story.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. How do Joseph’s actions affect his uncle’s life?
  2. How does perspective in the illustrations help tell the story? (Distance: close-up and far away)
  3. How do the different characters deal with death?
  4. Brian Selznick chose to tell this story in alternating illustrations and prose, or text. Why do you think he uses both mediums? What story do each of these mediums tell? Why do you think he alternates between the illustrations and the text?

irasshakespearedreamIra’s Shakespeare Dream by Glenda Armand. Illustrated by Floyd Cooper. Lee & Low, 2015

Ira Alridge’s dream of performing Shakespeare was difficult for a young African American man to achieve in early 19th-century America. Despite his obvious talent, his father urged him to forgo acting and put his vocal skills to use as a minister. Instead, Ira became a cabin boy on a cargo ship heading to South Carolina, where he narrowly escaped being sold into slavery. Ira signed on as a valet to British actors James and Henry Wallack for their voyage home. Once in England, he worked in theaters running errands and as an understudy, all while studying acting. His perseverance paid off, and by the 1840s he was considered “one of the most celebrated Shakespearean actors in Europe.” He spoke out against slavery in the U.S. and encouraged audience members to financially support abolitionists. Oil wash illustrations employ warm earth tones and soft edges to follow the evolution of Alridge’s career from eager school boy to mature professional, a welcome account.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Pre-reading question: Who was Shakespeare?
  2. How does perseverance help Ira achieve his dream?
  3. What problems does Ira want to solve by acting?
  4. Find examples in the story of individuals who take chances on Ira and protect him along the way.

Find teaching guides and other resources for The Marvels and Ira’s Shakespeare Dream at TeachingBooks.net.

Community and Civic Engagement! November 2016 Titles!

October 17th, 2016 | Posted by etownsend in Primary (Grades K-2) | 2016-2017 | Intermediate (Grades 3-5) | November | Middle School | High School - (Comments Off on Community and Civic Engagement! November 2016 Titles!)

Our November 2016 titles make great conversation starters for civic and community engagement discussions. Coached in historical fiction, biography, and graphic novels, themes of social justice and freedom run through many of the Read On Wisconsin November books. Check them out below! Click on the title below to read the annotation for the title. Find discussion questions and other resources below or in the Resources tab above!

last-stop-on-market-street-small

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

war that saved my lifeRhythm-Ridebetter nate than ever

 

 

 

 

 

out of darknessdrowned city

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also, check out these great concept and nonfiction books from the Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers this month:

moving blocks

Alphabet School

i dont like snakes

 

 

 

 

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Dream Big: September 2016 Primary (K-2) Titles

August 20th, 2016 | Posted by etownsend in September | Primary (Grades K-2) | 2016-2017 - (Comments Off on Dream Big: September 2016 Primary (K-2) Titles)

Drum Dream Girl:  How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music by Margarita Engle. Illustrated by Rafael López.  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015drum deam girl

Millo Castro Zaldarriaga was born in Cuba in the 1920s and grew up attuned to the rhythms in the world around her, and inside her. She dreamed of drumming, but only boys and men learned how to play at that time. She dared to drum anyway, “tall conga drums / small bongo drums / and big, round, silvery / moon-bright timbales … Her hands seemed to fly / as they rippled / rapped / and pounded / all the rhythms / of her drum dreams.” Her father said no when her sisters asked ten-year-old Millo to join their band. Only boys should play drums, he said. But Millo couldn’t silence the sounds. Eventually her father found her a teacher who listened to her, and taught her, and gave her the chance to change the way people thought about girls and drumming. Margarita Engle’s poem makes a striking picture book narrative and is set against the vibrating tropical colors of Rafael López’s lush illustrations. A note tells how Afro-Chinese-Cuban Millo went on to a world-famous musician who played alongside jazz greats, in addition to changing hearts and minds with her beats. Winner, 2016 Charlotte Zolotow Award  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. What words does the author use that make you think of drumbeats? How does the author create rhythm with words?
  2. How do the illustrations show us when Milo (the protagonist) dreams of drumming and when she is actually drumming?
  3. Why do you think Papa decided to provide a drum teacher for Milo?

Emmanuel’s Dream:  The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah by Laurie Ann Thompson. Illustrated by Sean Qualls. Schwartz & Wade, 2015

Born with only one functioning leg, Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah grew up with a mother who focused on his abilities. “He learned to crawl and hop, to fetch water and climb coconut trees.” When he grew too heavy for her to carry, he hopped two miles to school and two miles home again. “Emmanuel had a sharp mind, a bold heart, and one strong leg.” At 13, he left home for the city of Accra in Ghana to earn money to help support his family. Time and again he encountered people who assumed he couldn’t do much because of his disability. After his mother’s death, he decided to honor her last words by showing that being disabled doesn’t mean being unable, and, after much organization and planning, embarked on a bike ride across Ghana: 400 miles in 10 days, with one strong leg. An understated narrative emphasizes Emmanuel’s spirit and persistence in addition to his physical abilities, while the stylized illustrations are full of emotion. An author’s note tells of Emmanuel’s continued disability rights activism.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. How is Emmanuel physically different? What challenges does he face because of his difference?
  2. How do you think Mama Comfort supports and inspires Emmanuel?
  3. How does Emmanuel show that being disabled doesn’t mean being unabled?
  4. Looking back at the book, what information do you learn from the illustrations that the text does not provide?

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