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March 2017 Middle School

February 20th, 2017 | Posted by etownsend in 2016-2017 | Middle School | March - (0 Comments)

The Boys Who Challenged Hitler: Knud Pedersen and the Churchill Club by Phillip M. Hoose. Farrar Straus Giroux, 2015

When Germany invaded Denmark in April, 1940, the Danish government signed an agreement not to fight back. This capitulation did not sit well with many ordinary Danes. Knud Pedersen was a school boy, but he and his brother and some friends began acts of resistance—small scale annoyances and mayhem. When the Pedersens moved, the brothers formed the Churchill Club, and their activity began to escalate. From the time they stole their first gun, the boys began thinking about what they were doing in moral terms: Could they shoot a German? Under what circumstances? Meanwhile, they focused on the sabotage of train cars and vehicles. Caught, they were eventually sent to prison, but their trial sparked greater resistance efforts across the nation. By the time Knud got out of prison, his family had become an important part of the growing Danish resistance. Phillip Hoose interviewed Knud Pedersen extensively as part of this riveting account, which goes back and forth between Knud’s reminiscences and Hoose’s narrative. The boys’ youth, and at times immaturity, is conveyed along with their commitment and passion for their cause.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. How did the boys’ deeds have an effect on Denmark’s resistance movement?
  2. Would you categorize the boys as impetuous or heroic? Support your answer.
  3. What world/societal issues could this story relate to today?
  4. If this book became a movie, which part, person or role would you want to play?

A Night Divided by Jennifer Nielson. Scholastic, 2015

With the rise of the Berlin Wall, twelve-year-old Gerta finds her family divided overnight. She, her mother, and her brother Fritz live on the eastern side, controlled by the Soviets. Her father and middle brother, who had gone west in search of work, cannot return home. Gerta knows it is dangerous to watch the wall, to think forbidden thoughts of freedom, yet she can’t help herself. She sees the East German soldiers with their guns trained on their own citizens; she, her family, her neighbors and friends are prisoners in their own city.

But one day, while on her way to school, Gerta spots her father on a viewing platform on the western side, pantomiming a peculiar dance. Then, when she receives a mysterious drawing, Gerta puts two and two together and concludes that her father wants Gerta and Fritz to tunnel beneath the wall, out of East Berlin. However, if they are caught, the consequences will be deadly. No one can be trusted. Will Gerta and her family find their way to freedom? from the publisher

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. What purpose did the quotes serve at the beginning of each chapter?
  2. Gerta got help from unexpected people. What were their motivations for helping her?
  3. Why did the East Germans need a wall to keep people from leaving?

Find more resources at TeachingBooks.net!

Get Kids Talking with These Books! January 2017 Middle School

December 15th, 2016 | Posted by etownsend in 2016-2017 | Middle School | January - (Comments Off on Get Kids Talking with These Books! January 2017 Middle School)

fatal feverFatal Fever: Tracking Down Typhoid Mary by Gail Jarrow. Calkins Creek/Highlights, 2015

Sanitary engineer and chemist George Soper functioned as a “germ detective” in the early 20th century. After a typhoid outbreak in Ithaca, New York, in 1903 infected local residents and Cornell University students, Soper tracked the contamination source to a creek and recommended better practices in outhouse siting and maintenance, as well as construction of a city water filtration plant. When six members of the Thompson family of New York City fell ill with typhoid in the summer of 1906, the family hired Soper. Through a meticulous process of elimination Soper determined that a cook, Mary Mallon, was the most likely source of the bacteria. When public heath doctor Sara Josephine Baker tracked down Mary Mallon, aka Typhoid Mary, Mallon refused to believe she carried typhoid. Mallon’s case became a civil rights issue when she was quarantined against her will on Brother’s Island off the coast of Manhattan. Finally released if she promised not to work again as cook, she was returned to the island after another typhoid outbreak was traced to her. She lived there the rest of her life, even as it was acknowledged she was surely far from the only typhoid carrier in the city. Soper’s rigorous methodology, Baker’s doggedness, and Mary Mallon’s unfortunate story illustrate the confluence of science, detective work, and social attitudes during the early decades of the 20th century. This captivating, well-researched volume is augmented by numerous photographs and back matter that includes source notes, a timeline, and bibliography. (MVL) ©2015 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. How was Mary Mallon treated fairly? unfairly? Why?
  2. What would a germ detective like George Soper be investigating today?
  3. This story was told from a medical perspective. Whose side or perspective of the story would you like to hear?

orbitingjupiterOrbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt. Clarion, 2015

Jack is in sixth grade when his parents bring a foster child to their small farm in Maine. Fourteen-year-old Joseph is from an abusive background and got into trouble for attacking a teacher. He is also a father, of a baby girl named Jupiter whom he’s never met. A chronic runaway from juvenile detention placements, Joseph arrives withdrawn and uncommunicative. Taking his cue from how the farm’s cows respond to Joseph, Jack is loyal to his foster brother from the first day they go to school together. While most of the kids and teachers assume Joseph is bad news, a few look deeper and see a boy who is smart and kind, but deeply hurt. Eventually Joseph learns to trust Jack and his parents enough to share his whole story. How he met 13-year-old Madeleine and how the time they spent together was solace from the rest of his painful life. How Madeleine ended up pregnant and was sent away. How she died but the baby lived. Now Joseph is aching to see his daughter, who is in foster care with her status in limbo because Joseph’s father—a volatile and violent man—will not sign off on the papers allowing adoption. Hauntingly real characters and disciplined writing that maintains a tight and true emotional core centers Joseph’s dramatic tragedy within Jack’s perspective.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. What challenges would an 8th grader face if he or she was a parent?
  2. How do the adults in Joseph’s life help him? How did the adults hold him back?
  3. How do you feel about the conclusion of this book?

Find more resources for Fatal Fever and Orbiting Jupiter from TeachingBooks.net.

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Our October Titles!

September 18th, 2015 | Posted by etownsend in 2015-2016 | Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers | Primary (Grades K-2) | October | Intermediate (Grades 3-5) | Middle School | High School - (Comments Off on Our October Titles!)

Find out more about these titles! Click on the book cover to read the annotation! Check out resources from TeachingBooks.net for links to teaching guides, videos, author interviews and more for all of the titles below! And, now, check out the posts below for discussion prompts, annotations, and prompts for each title.

Cover for book i am so braveBook cover to go shapes gobook cover of Shh! We Have a Planbook cover for sam and dave dig a holebook cover for gravity

book cover for separate is never equal

book cover for madman of piney woodsswallowscreaming staircsehow it went down