Bomb / Code Name Verity

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

bomb cover

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?



No Crystal Stair / Darkroom

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

no crystal stair cover

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?



The Raven Boys

December 1st, 2013 | Posted by schliesman in December | High School | 2013-2014 - (Comments Off on The Raven Boys)

raven boys cover

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater. Scholastic Press, 2012

1. Every character in this novel is on a quest. Pick two characters and describe their quests. In what ways are their quests mutually supportive, or in conflict with each other early on. Does this change over time?

2. How do you interpret the quotes in the prologue from Edgar Allen Poe and Oscar Wilde in light of the novel? What character or characters does each quote remind you of? Why?

3. What is your theory on what happened to Blue’s father? What evidence in the narrative do you base this on?


Never Fall Down

November 1st, 2013 | Posted by schliesman in November | High School | 2013-2014 - (Comments Off on Never Fall Down)

never fall down cover

Never Fall Down by Patricia McCormick. Balzer + Bray / HarperCollins, 2012

1. Author Patricia McCormick explains in her author’s note why she chose to write in Arn’s own “distinct and beautiful voice,” which doesn’t follow the rules of English grammar and syntax. What impact did this decision have on you as a reader? In what ways do you think your understanding of Arn and his experience would be different if the book had been written in grammatically correct English?

2. Why do you think the transition from the life as a boy soldier to life in the United States was difficult for Arn?

3. The Holocaust during World War II is something with which most of us are familiar. Why do you think so little is known about other genocides, like the one Arn survived in Cambodia?


The Pregnancy Project

October 1st, 2013 | Posted by schliesman in October | High School | 2013-2014 - (Comments Off on The Pregnancy Project)

pregnancy project cover

The Pregnancy Project by Gaby Rodriguez with Jenna Glatzer. Simon & Schuster, 2012

1. What were some of the events in her family that made Gaby so adamant about not becoming a teen mom?

2. How would you have felt if you were one of Gaby’s friends or family when she announced her pregnancy was a hoax?

3. Gaby says: “Could it be that people don’t want others to beat stereotypes? Could it be that people who don’t fit the mold make it uncomfortable for others to hold on to their prejudices?” What do you think?



Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

September 1st, 2013 | Posted by schliesman in September | High School | 2013-2014 - (Comments Off on Me and Earl and the Dying Girl)

me and early and the dying girl cover

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews. Amulet / Abrams, 2012

1. Greg tries to tell the reader he is not upset over Rachel’s death when he clearly is. What are ways the author makes clear through Greg’s actions that he finds what is happening to Rachel upsetting? What other things in his life does Greg try to deceive the reader about?

2. How did the use of humor affect you as you read a book about a dying girl? Can you point to one or two specific scenes where you thought the humor was surprising or especially effective?

3. If you had the chance to make a movie about one of your friends, whom would you choose and why? What are some scenes you would want to film, or information you would want to include, and what would these reveal about your subject?



The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime

June 1st, 2013 | Posted by schliesman in High School | 2012-2013 | Summer - (Comments Off on The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime)

Book Cover
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nightttime by Mark Haddon. U.S. edition: Vintage, 2004

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Code Talker

June 1st, 2013 | Posted by schliesman in High School | 2012-2013 | Summer - (Comments Off on Code Talker)

Code Talker cover
Code Talker: A Novel about the Navajo Marines of World War Two by Joseph Bruchac. Dial, 2005

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June 1st, 2013 | Posted by schliesman in High School | 2012-2013 | Summer - (Comments Off on Rash)

Rash cover
Rash by Pete Hautman. Simon & Schuster, 2006

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Pick-Up Game

May 1st, 2013 | Posted by schliesman in High School | 2012-2013 | May - (Comments Off on Pick-Up Game)

Pick-Up Game cover
Pick-Up Game: A Full Day of Full Court edited by Marc Aronson and Charles R. Smith Jr. Candlewick Press, 2011

1. This book was written with each author adding to the sequence of stories. In what way(s) were you surprised by something revealed in a later story about a character or characters introduced in a previous story?

2. Do you know much about basketball? How do you think your knowledge/lack of knowledge about basketball affected your response to the stories?

3. Choose a character you would like to be friends with. Why?

The Watch That Ends the Night

April 1st, 2013 | Posted by schliesman in High School | 2012-2013 | April - (Comments Off on The Watch That Ends the Night)

Watch That Ends the Night cover
The Watch that Ends the Night by Allan Wolf. Candlewick Press, 2011

1. Which character were you the most drawn to and why?

2. How does knowing the ending of this story affect you as you read?

3. What did you learn about the Titanic that you didn’t know before?

Beauty Queens

March 1st, 2013 | Posted by schliesman in High School | 2012-2013 | March - (Comments Off on Beauty Queens)

Beauty Queens cover
Beauty Queens by Libba Bray. Scholastic Press, 2011

1. What is this book making fun of?

2. What stereotypes are broken down or reinforced in this novel (e.g. stereotypes of the states)?

3. Who would you cast as the characters if this were a movie and why?

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