The March Against Fear: The Last Great Walk of the Civil Rights Movement and the Emergence of Black Power by Ann Bausum

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Nonfiction Wednesday

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday is hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy and was started to help promote the reading of nonfiction texts. Most Wednesdays, we will be participating and will review a nonfiction text (though it may not always be a picture book).
Be sure to visit Kid Lit Frenzy and see what other nonfiction books are shared this week!

The March Against Fear: The Last Great Walk of the Civil Rights Movement and the Emergence of Black Power
Author: Ann Bausum
Published January 3rd, 2017 by National Geographic Society

Summary: James Meredith’s 1966 march in Mississippi began as one man’s peaceful protest for voter registration and became one of the South’s most important demonstrations of the civil rights movement. It brought together leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. and Stokely Carmichael, who formed an unlikely alliance that resulted in the Black Power movement, which ushered in a new era in the fight for equality.

The retelling of Meredith’s story opens on the day of his assassination attempt and goes back in time to recount the moments leading up to that event and its aftermath. Readers learn about the powerful figures and emerging leaders who joined the over 200-mile walk that became known as the “March Against Fear.”

Thoughtfully presented by award-winning author Ann Bausum, this book helps readers understand the complex issues of fear, injustice, and the challenges of change. It is a history lesson that’s as important and relevant today as it was 50 years ago.

About the Author: Ann Bausum writes about U.S. history for young people, and she has published eight titles with National Geographic Children’s Books including, most recently, Marching to the Mountaintop (2012) and Unraveling Freedom (2010). Ann’s books consistently earn prominent national recognition. Denied, Detained, Deported (2009) was named the 2010 Carter G. Woodson Book Award winner at the secondary school level from the National Council for the Social Studies. Muckrakers (2007) earned the Golden Kite Award as best nonfiction book of the year from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Freedom Riders (2006) gained Sibert Honor designation from the American Library Association and With Courage and Cloth (2004) received the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award as the year’s best book on social justice issues for older readers. In addition, Ann has written about the nation’s chief executives and their spouses—Our Country’s Presidents (2013, 4th edition) and Our Country’s First Ladies (2007)—as well as the intrepid explorer Roy Chapman Andrews (Dragon Bones and Dinosaur Eggs, 2000).

Review: Ann Bausum’s text is a suspenseful story of the last Civil Rights march from Memphis, TN to Jackson, MS told in chronological order with captioned photographs that help the reader feel like they are present at the time of this march and the social, racial tension that filled America. I am having a very hard time reviewing this book, not because I don’t have nice things to say, but because this timely story is tough because although it is history, it seems like we haven’t come far from where the story takes place (which is terrifying).

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: I believe that now is the most important time to teach resilience to our children as rights of many people are being threatened. Much of this education can come from conversation and amazing fictional stories, but I think it is vital to teach the history of diverse people within our nation that fought for rights. Children need to learn about women’s history, Black American history, Native American/American Indian history, Asian American history, LBGTQIA history, Irish American history, Jewish history, and so many more–all diverse populations that were prejudiced against and fought. Ann Bausum’s text (and her bibliography!) is a must-read in this education of our future.

Discussion Questions: Why was this march the last of the Civil Rights Movement?; This book is being called “timely” by many reviewers. Why do you think that timely is being used to describe the book?; Why would Bausum choose this march as the topic of her book?; How do the photographs and quotes throughout the book change the experience of reading the text?

Flagged Passages: “A cornerstone of this social justice movement became the willingness of people to put their lives on the line in the fight for change, much as Meredith had done during the integration of Ole Miss. Volunteers in the movement countered the violence of segregationists with tremendous acts of courage. They stood their ground peacefully in the midst of racist attacks, confident that love was a more powerful emotion than hate. Year after year, they persevered, whether it meant walking to work instead of riding segregated buses during the Montgomery bus boycott of 1955 and 1956, or braving violent mobs during the freedom rides of 1961, or enduring police attacks with high-pressure fire hoses during the Birmingham campaign of 196.

Such efforts drew on what movement leaders called the power of nonviolence. Some viewed nonviolence as a strategy, a series of tactics that forced reluctant foes to submit to change; others saw it was a way of life. For nonviolence to work, people had to be willing to remain peaceful, but determined, in the face of any level of violence. They had to outmaneuver their violent oppressors and step in and complete a protest whether their comrades had been arrested, injured, or even killed.” (p. 12-13)

Read This If You Love: To learn about the history of Civil Rights Movement

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**Thank you to Karen at Media Masters Publicity for providing a copy for review!**

Blog Tour with Review!: Blood Brother: Jonathan Daniels and His Sacrifice for Civil Rights by Rich Wallace and Sandra Neil Wallace

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Nonfiction Wednesday

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday is hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy and was started to help promote the reading of nonfiction texts. Most Wednesdays, we will be participating and will review a nonfiction text (though it may not always be a picture book).
Be sure to visit Kid Lit Frenzy and see what other nonfiction books are shared this week!

blood-brother

Blood Brothers: Jonathan Daniels and His Sacrifice for Civil Rights
Author: Rich Wallace and Sandra Neil Wallace
Published September 13th, 2016 by Calkins Creek

Goodreads Summary: Jonathan Daniels, a white seminary student from New Hampshire, traveled to Selma, Alabama, in 1965 to help with voter registration of black residents. After the voting rights marches, he remained in Alabama, in the area known as “Bloody Lowndes,” an extremely dangerous area for white freedom fighters, to assist civil rights workers. Five months later, Jonathan Daniels was shot and killed while saving the life of Ruby Sales, a black teenager. Through Daniels’s poignant letters, papers, photographs, and taped interviews, authors Rich Wallace and Sandra Neil Wallace explore what led Daniels to the moment of his death, the trial of his murderer, and how these events helped reshape both the legal and political climate of Lowndes County and the nation.

Blood Brother has received two starred reviews so far from Kirkus and Booklist, and a very strong review from School Library Journal:

*”This powerful biography of a little-known figure underscores the fact that civil rights workers in the 1960s South knowingly put their lives on the line for the cause…. The authors deftly convey Daniels’ complex personality, drawing from letters and interviews, including 18 they conducted. Numerous photographs, relatively large print, and an open design invite readers in… An unusually inspiring story skillfully told.”—Kirkus Reviews, starred review

*”Outside of his hometown (Keene, New Hampshire), the name Jonathan Daniels isn’t well known, but it should be… a thoroughly researched, meticulously documented biography, which is interesting from the start, but increasingly absorbing… The many well-chosen photos show up beautifully on the large, glossy pages. The riveting story of one individual among the many working for Civil Rights during the 1960s.”—Booklist, starred review

“In a masterly demonstration of scholarly research and nonfiction writing, the Wallaces have crafted a powerful biographical narrative of civil rights activist Jonathan Daniels…. careful annotations and thorough indexing help readers keep track of the many players and scenes in this true-life drama. The authors have created a biography that brings to light the life and legacy of a lesser-known civil rights activist… this visually stunning and morally significant history is highly recommended…” —School Library Journal

About the Authors: Sandra Neil Wallace had a lengthy career as a news anchor and ESPN sportscaster before writing realistic fiction and nonfiction for young readers. A pioneer in the journalism field, she was the first woman to cover the National Hockey League on network TV. Selected as a promising new voice in children’s literature by The Horn Book, Wallace’s titles have been named to state and national awards lists including Bank Street College’s Best Children’s Book of the Year, ALA-YALSA Quick Picks, and Booklist’s Top 10 Sports Books for Youth. Visit sandraneilwallace.com.

author_sandra_neil_wallace_2013

Rich has been writing since he was a little boy, when he wrote and illustrated his own comic books. He has since published more than 25 novels for kids and teenagers. Many of those books have been award winners. Rich has an extensive background as a writer and editor, having served for many years as a senior editor at Highlights for Children magazine. He still writes the monthly “Timbertoes” feature for that venerable publication. Writing about sports and athletes comes naturally to him, as he has competed in athletics his entire life. He was a champion runner in high school and college, and still competes in Masters track and field. He’s also played a lot of basketball and soccer. For several years he was a newspaper sportswriter.

These days, Rich continues to pen a wide range of novels in addition to writing about human nutrition and other health issues for the adult market. Rich and his wife Sandra recently moved to New England with their dog Lucy. He is the father of two sons.

author_rich_wallace

Review: This book is not just an important book for young adults to read, it is an important book PERIOD. The story of Jonathan Daniels and his impact within the Civil Rights Movement shows how rights for equality is a fight for all people, not just those who are being discriminated against. Daniels had the guts to stand up for what he believed in. The connection between Jonathan Daniels’s story and the current racial tension is scary yet hopeful because it shows how differences can be made by those who believe in equity, equality, kindness, and love.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This is a text that needs to be in social studies and language arts classrooms in middle and high school. It needs to be shared. View the publisher’s Educator’s Guide, Blood Brother Educator’s Guide, to view some suggestions on how to use the text in your classroom.

Discussion Questions: How does the Civil Rights Movement compare to the Black Lives Matter movement?; Jonathan Daniels did what he knew was right even though there were dangers. What does this tell you about Daniels?; What did Daniels sacrifice for the Civil Rights Movement?; How did the structure of the text impact the central idea and theme of the text?

Book Trailer: 

Read This If You Love: Learning about the Civil Rights Movement 

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**Thank you to Kerry at Boyds Mills Press for having me be part of the blog tour!**

Candlewick Nonfiction Picture Books: Who’s Like Me? by Nicola Davies; Can We Help? by George Ancona; Belle, the Last Mule at Gee’s Bend by Calvin Alexander Ramsey & Bettye Stroud; and The Boy Who Fell Off the Mayflower by P.J. Lynch

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Nonfiction Wednesday

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday is hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy and was started to help promote the reading of nonfiction texts. Most Wednesdays, we will be participating and will review a nonfiction text (though it may not always be a picture book).
Be sure to visit Kid Lit Frenzy and see what other nonfiction books are shared this week!

who's like me

Who’s Like Me?
Author: Nicola Davis
Illustrator: Marc Boutavant
Published February 28th, 2012 by Candlewick Press

Goodreads Summary: Lift the flaps and learn about animal life in this fresh, fun-filled book for curious preschoolers.

A bunny is furry and breathes air. Who else is like that — a pigeon, a fish, a chameleon, or a fox? Some animals have fins to swim with, some have feathers and a beak, some have skin that is scaly, or smooth and wet. But whatever features a creature has, someone else has them, too. Can you guess who? Big flaps and a matching spread at the end make animal classification fun.

My Thoughts: This flap book is going to be a big hit in my house both because it is entertaining and because it is informative. First, the author does a great job making the identification of animal types a game including flaps and comparisons/contrasts then she ensures that factual information follows the matching to explain the type of animal and the characteristics of the type.

can we help

Can We Help? Kids Volunteering to Help their Communities
Author: George Ancona
Published August 25th, 2015 by Candlewick Press

Goodreads Summary: Real kids make a real difference in their communities in this vibrantly photographed chronicle by George Ancona.

George Ancona celebrates the joy of kids giving back. In one after-school program, middle-school students mentor and tutor younger children. Via a special partnership, schoolchildren help professionals train assistance dogs for people with disabilities. At a community farm, families plant, grow, and harvest produce for soup kitchens and charities. In these and other examples of volunteering, kids of all ages work together knitting hats and scarves for those who could use warm clothes, packing hot meals to deliver to housebound people, and keeping roadways clean. Young humanitarians reading these accounts may well be inspired to find ways that they can help, too.

My Thoughts: I think this picture book would be a wonderful one to read in conjunction with the 31 Ways to Change the World because that book includes suggestions while this one gives us narratives about those actually making a difference. I love the variety of ways the author highlights: from knitting to a community farm to training dogs and mentoring. These stories are inspiring and will make the reader (adult or child) want to do something to make a difference!

belle last mule

Belle, the Last Mule at Gee’s Bend
Authors: Calving Alexander Ramsey and Bettye Stroud
Illustrator: John Holyfield
Published September 13th, 2011 by Candlewick Press

Goodreads Summary: A true story inspires the moving tale of a mule that played a key role in the civil rights movement– and a young boy who sees history anew.

Sitting on a bench waiting for his mother, Alex spies a mule chomping on greens in someone’s garden, and he can’t help but ask about it.””Ol Belle?” says Miz Pettway next to him. “She can have all the collards she wants. She’s earned it.” And so begins the tale of a simple mule in Gee’s Bend, Alabama, who played a singular part in the civil rights movement of the 1960s. When African-Americans in a poor community– inspired by a visit from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.– defied local authorities who were trying to stop them from registering to vote, many got around a long detour on mule-drawn wagons. Later, after Dr. King’s assassination, two mules from Gee’s Bend pulled the farm wagon bearing his casket through the streets of Atlanta. As Alex looks into the eyes of gentle Belle, he begins to understand a powerful time in history in a very personal way.

My Thoughts: This story adds an extra truth to the story of Martin Luther King that many of us know. MLK was an advocate and leader and activist for all African and Black Americans and this meant a lot to so many communities of people around America including Gee’s Bend. To learn about Belle and King’s reason for having Belle pull his coffin really just shows how true his intentions of being a man of the people while fighting for the rights of all. And I loved how this story was told as a story from a Bender to a young boy visiting the town. Gee’s Bend is such a historical place, and I love this new part of their history that I didn’t know. (I love the quilts produced in Gee’s Bend! If you haven’t viewed them, Google it now!)

boy who fell

The Boy Who Fell Off the Mayflower or John Howland’s Good Fortune
Author and Illustrator: P.J. Lynch
Published September 22nd, 2015 by Candlewick Press

Goodreads Summary: In the first book he has both written and illustrated, master artist P.J. Lynch brings a Mayflower voyager’s story to vivid life.

At a young age, John Howland learned what it meant to take advantage of an opportunity. Leaving the docks of London on the Mayflower as an indentured servant to Pilgrim John Carver, John Howland little knew that he was embarking on the adventure of a lifetime. By his great good fortune, John survived falling overboard on the crossing of the Atlantic Ocean, and he earned his keep ashore by helping to scout a safe harbor and landing site for his bedraggled and ill shipmates. Would his luck continue to hold amid the dangers and adversity of the Pilgrims’ lives in New England? John Howland’s tale is masterfully told in his own voice, bringing an immediacy and young perspective to the oft-told Pilgrims’ story. P.J. Lynch captures this pivotal moment in American history in precise and exquisite detail, from the light on the froth of a breaking wave to the questioning voice of a teen in a new world.

My Thoughts: I have to start my review with discussing the art work. Describing P.J. Lynch as a master artist is a perfect statement. His watercolor and gouache full page plus illustrations are so lifelike and beautiful that the reader will spend time on each page viewing the art in addition to reading the text. And what makes the book even better is that the text is interesting. Told in first person from John Howland’s point of view, we travel from London to America through storms, a fall off the Mayflower, death, disease, famine, and shows how friendship and kindness pay. In the classroom, this text would be an informational and interesting introduction to the Mayflower voyage and Plymouth.


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Text Sets for Teachers: Prejudice: Is It Something We Can Control?

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Prejudice: Is It Something We Can Control?
Text Set for Frankenstein by Mary Shelley and Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
created by Brenna Conrad

I will be working with an 11A class studying British Literature. In class, we will be reading Frankenstein and Pride and Prejudice. At first, I had a lot of difficulty finding a theme that would be applicable not only to both texts but also to two sets of students who get to choose which book they want to read. I chose to focus my unit on the concept of prejudice and if it is something that we can control. In Frankenstein, prejudice is visible when everyone rejects the monster based on its appearance. In Pride and Prejudice, it is inherent in how the classes are divided and how characters treat one another. I chose this overarching theme because I think that this idea of prejudice is a very prominent issue in today’s society and should be considered and discussed in an educational setting. I want students to be able to not only get a more complex and complete understanding of what prejudice is and how it is prevalent in society but also to understand that there are many subtle ways it is incorporated into the media and texts. This is important for students to be aware of, especially as technology and media is becoming increasingly more influential as time progresses.

With this goal in mind, I constructed my text set with illustrating prejudices not only in as many forms of media as possible but in as many different time periods as possible. I want students to place these books among many other works that display the dangers and horrors of prejudice. Though I tried to incorporate multiple sources from different time periods to plot prejudice through time, I narrowed my focus to current media that my students have witnessed in their lifetime, allowing them to personally connect with these sources. Prejudice is one of the most prevalent issues in today’s society, and I think creating an awareness about how prejudice is incorporated into our society in multiple forms of media is very important for learners.

Anchor Texts (although other texts may be used!):
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Frankenstein
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Pride and Prejudice

Children’s Books
The Sneeches by Dr. Seuss (Also available on YouTube)
sneetches

Young Adult Texts
This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel (YA pairing to Frankenstein)
this dark endeavor
Prom and Prejudice by Elizabeth Eulberg (YA pairing to Pride and Prejudice)
prom and prejudice

Films
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (with Kenneth Branagh and Robert Di Niro)
Pride & Prejudice (with Kiera Knightly)
Pride and Prejudice (with Colin Firth)
Cinderella

Plays
The Laramie Project by Moisés Kaufman
Othello by William Shakespeare

Images Used as Propaganda for Protest Movements
Gay Rights:
3.25.2015Prior to WWIJune 2015 Gay Rights MovementJune 2015 Anti-Gay Rights Movement

3.25.2015 Prior to WWI June 2015 Gay Rights June 2015 Anti-Gay Rights

Women’s Suffrage:
Anti-SuffragePro-Suffrage2013

 SuffragePro-Suffrage2013

Civil Rights:
1960sAnti-Civil RightsBlack Lives Matter MovementBlack Lives Matter MovementCounter to Black Lives Matter Movement

1960s Anti-Civil Rights Black Lives Matter1 black lives matter white lives matter

News Articles
Transgender Student Seeks Acceptance as She Runs for Homecoming Queen
BBC News: The Girl Who Was Shot for Going to School
Girls who Code aim to Make Waves in a Man’s World
Seeking Self-Esteem Through Surgery

Poems
“I, Too” by Langston Hughes
“Caged Bird” by Maya Angelou
“Beautiful City” by Alfred Tennyson
“Discrimination” by Kenneth Rexroth
“Breaking Prejudice” by Daniel Tabone

Songs
“Teenage Frankenstein” by Alice Cooper
“Same Love” by Macklemore
“Blackbird” by The Beatles
“Chains” by Usher

Charts
Gap in Yearly Earnings
Race of Prisoners

Essays
Gilbert and Gubar: “The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth-Century Literary Imagination”

TV Shows/YouTube Clips
Family Guy: African American Prejudice
Family Guy: Asian Prejudice
Family Guy: Mexican Prejudice
Family GuyItalian Prejudice
Family Guy: Muslim Prejudice
Family GuyChristian Prejudice
Social Mobility with Legos

Guiding Questions

  • What is prejudice?
  • How is prejudice seen in today’s society? Has this changed in comparison to the past?
  • How does society portray prejudice? How do we speak back to prejudice?
  • Are there prejudices that we are unaware of, but still possess? How do we know? What can we do about it?
  • Do people live in fear of prejudice? What do they do to avoid it?
  • Are prejudice and racism the same thing?
  • What different types of prejudice are there? Do some levels of prejudice feel stronger or more impactful than others? How might ranking levels of prejudice be problematic?
  • Can we eradicate prejudice or is it a reality of human nature?

Writing Prompts

  • How many different forms of prejudice are there? Are they all prejudice?
  • Make a list of things you’ve seen in the media that promote a prejudice society. Consider media such as television commercials, shows, movies, songs, magazines, or even comics. Pick 5 media that you believe are the most detrimental and briefly explain why.
  • After reading Frankenstein or Pride and Prejudice, has your concept of prejudice changed?
  • Choose a group that has been historically marginalized—either one that we talked about in class or a different group—and examine how the prejudice against this group has shifted across years.
  • Do you believe that it is human nature to be prejudice or that it is something society has taught. Write an argument for the side that you believe in. Be sure to include example from class and at least two credible outside sources.
  • In a journal entry, discuss prejudice in our society. Consider: Do people use prejudice in a way to benefit themselves? How do we as a society associate prejudice and humor? Is that ok? Are we making progress away from prejudice? Why or why not?

A special thanks to Brenna for this phenomenal text set! We think this text set would be useful for many anchor texts! What do you think?

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Freedom Summer by Deborah Wiles (Kellee’s Review)

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Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday is hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy and was started to help promote the reading of nonfiction texts. Most Wednesdays, we will be participating and will review a nonfiction text (though it may not always be a picture book).
Be sure to visit Kid Lit Frenzy and see what other nonfiction books are shared this week!

Disclaimer: This book is technically historical fiction, but I felt it belonged on a Wednesday because of its base in fact (see “A Note About The Text”).

freedom summer

Freedom Summer
Author: Deborah Wiles
Illustrator: Jerome Lagarrigue
Published January 1st, 2005 by Aladdin

Goodreads Summary: 

John Henry swims better than anyone I know.
He crawls like a catfish,
blows bubbles like a swamp monster,
but he doesn’t swim in the town pool with me.
He’s not allowed.

Joe and John Henry are a lot alike. They both like shooting marbles, they both want to be firemen, and they both love to swim. But there’s one important way they’re different: Joe is white and John Henry is black, and in the South in 1964, that means John Henry isn’t allowed to do everything his best friend is. Then a law is passed that forbids segregation and opens the town pool to everyone. Joe and John Henry are so excited they race each other there…only to discover that it takes more than a new law to change people’s hearts.

My Review:  Deborah Wiles amazes me every time I read something by her. I think I need to get everything she has written and devour it. Her books make me a better person. This one is no exception to these statements. Freedom Summer starts with a personal story of Wiles’s and sets the stage for the book: What would it be like to have a best friend who is black in the South in 1964? Do you know what it is like? Any other friendship! Except many people felt that it was wrong and you cannot go places together. Freedom Summer is about Joe and John Henry. They are both young boys. They both like to swim. They both love ice cream. However, only one can go to the pool and only one can buy ice cream from the store. I think what makes this story so impactful is that Wiles sets the stage of the friendship as something so normal (because it is!!) then shows how different their lives are. So powerful. Made me cry. It’s lyrical writing, soft and beautiful illustrations, and powerful message are so moving. Go read it if you haven’t.

You can view Ricki’s review of Freedom Summer here.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This book belongs in classrooms. It will start discussions and make students think. Luckily, Deborah Wiles helps us out a ton by sharing so many resources with us on her Pinterest board https://www.pinterest.com/debbiewiles/ and her website http://deborahwiles.com/site/resources-for-educators/.

Discussion Questions: Why was the pool being filled with tar?; What do you think will happen after the end of the book?; Based on Joe’s parents letting him be friends with John Henry, what can you infer their viewpoint of integration is?

We Flagged: 

freedom summer spread
from http://books.simonandschuster.ca/Freedom-Summer/Deborah-Wiles/9781481422987

Read This If You Loved: Revolution by Deborah WilesSeeds of Freedom by Hester BassSeparate is Never Equal by Duncan TonatiuhThe Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine, Sin-In by Andrea Pinkney

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2015 Big Book Summer Challenge: Revolution by Deborah Wiles & East of Eden by John Steinbeck

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bigbooksummer

Big Book Summer Challenge is a challenge hosted by Sue at Book by Book. The inspiration behind the challenge is to push the bigger books to the top of the TBR pile during summer time.

The Details:

  • Anything over 400 pages qualifies as a big book.
  • The challenge will run from Memorial Day weekend (starting May 22 this year) through Labor Day weekend (Labor Day is September 7 this year).
  • Choose one or two or however many big books you want as your goal.  Wait, did you get that?  You only need to read 1 book with over 400 pages this summer to participate! (Though you are welcome to read more, if you want.)
  • Choose from what’s on your shelves already or a big book you’ve been meaning to read for ages or anything that catches your eye in the library – whatever peaks your interest!
  • Sign up on Book by Book.
  • Write a post to kick things off – you can list the exact big books you plan to read or just publish your intent to participate, but be sure to include the Big Book Summer Challenge pic above, with a link back to Book by Book.
  • Write a post to wrap up at the end, listing the big books you read during the summer.
  • You can write progress posts if you want to and/or reviews of the big books you’ve read…but you don’t have to!  There is a separate links list below for big book review posts.

Today, we are combining the last three bullet points–we both have finished our big books!

Kellee

revolution

Revolution
Author: Deborah Wiles
Published May 27th, 2014 by Scholastic Press
538 pages

Goodreads Summary: It’s 1964, and Sunny’s town is being invaded.  Or at least that’s what the adults of Greenwood, Mississippi, are saying. All Sunny knows is that people from up north are coming to help people register to vote.  They’re calling it Freedom Summer.

Meanwhile, Sunny can’t help but feel like her house is being invaded, too.  She has a new stepmother, a new brother, and a new sister crowding her life, giving her little room to breathe.  And things get even trickier when Sunny and her brother are caught sneaking into the local swimming pool — where they bump into a mystery boy whose life is going to become tangled up in theirs.

As she did in her groundbreaking documentary novel Countdown, award-winning author Deborah Wiles uses stories and images to tell the riveting story of a certain time and place — and of kids who, in a world where everyone is choosing sides, must figure out how to stand up for themselves and fight for what’s right.

*A 2014 National Book Award Finalist

Kellee’s Thoughts: What is so amazing about this book is that it doesn’t feel like a big book. Well, it FEELS like a big book because it is heavy and thick, but when you are done reading, it doesn’t feel like you had to trudge through anything. Not once did I feel like there were too many pages. Wiles does an amazing job filling each and every page with important information for the historical context, characterization, or plot development.

Revolution is a perfectly-crafted look at one of the toughest times in American history. What Wiles does is truly delve into the emotions felt during the Freedom Summer and some of the smaller actions that may not have made the history books. One of my favorite things about Wiles’s Sixties Trilogy books is that she includes historical resources throughout the book that truly puts the story in context. The primary sources/stories and other embedded pieces of history really show that the narrative she has created is not truly a work of fiction. It may include fictional characters, but the setting, the feelings, the conflict, the time period, the history–those are all fact.

Revolution couldn’t work without the Sunny and her cast of characters though. This book could have gone terribly wrong if the voice, thoughts, and feelings of our protagonist were not so believable since Wiles was having us learn about such a tumultuous time through the eyes of a child. However, no need to worry about that because Sunny is perfect. She is easy to connect to and seems true. My favorite characters are those around her that push her and help change her: Annabelle, Jo Ellen, and Ray. Annabelle is so patient, truly loves Sunny, and has some of the best lines in the book; Jo Ellen is so head-strong, forward-thinking, and intelligent; and Ray is just crazy but also overwhelmingly brave.

I am part of an informal Twitter book club, and our June read was Revolution. Deborah Wiles even stopped by to chat with us! If you are interested in reading it, I archived it here. Warning: There may be spoilers if you haven’t read the book. Some of my favorite quotes from the chat that truly show the impact of the book are:

“What a brilliant idea Deborah Wiles had with these books–to embed all of the history.” -Carrie Gelson

“Sunny’s story hit my heart.” -Michele Knott

Countdown and Revolution are like…seeing beyond the headlines.” -Cheriee Weichel

“So hard to read how something you think people could do (register) but couldn’t because of effects (lose job, name in paper, etc.)” -Michele Knott

“It took Sunny witnessing the civil unrest to grow up and realize how to accept her own life.” -Kellee Moye

“There is so much about the Civil Rights Movement that seems like it should be easy, but ignorance stops it.” Kellee Moye

“Immerse as much as possible.” -Deborah Wiles, referencing part of her research process

Favorite quote from the book: “Everything is connected. Every choice matters.Every person is vital, valuable, and worthy of respect.” pg. 361

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Ricki

I also plan to tackle Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick, as well, but I am not sure if I will make it by the end of the summer. East of Eden was quite an epic read!

east of eden

East of Eden
Author: John Steinbeck
Published in 1952
601 pages

Goodreads Summary: Set in the rich farmland of California’s Salinas Valley, this sprawling and often brutal novel follows the intertwined destinies of two families—the Trasks and the Hamiltons—whose generations helplessly reenact the fall of Adam and Eve and the poisonous rivalry of Cain and Abel. Here Steinbeck created some of his most memorable characters and explored his most enduring themes: the mystery of identity; the inexplicability of love; and the murderous consequences of love’s absence.

Ricki’s Thoughts: I’ve had this book on my to-be-read list for several years. In fact, I realized I own three identical copies of it, so I have considered reading it for quite some time. I love Of Mice and Men and Grapes of Wrath. In fact, I love the six or so Steinbeck books I’ve read. I’d heard this book was related to the Cain/Abel story, so I never got around to reading it because I thought I knew the ending. As an aside, I didn’t, but even if all of my predictions were accurate, it still would have been well worth the read.

The book consists of several interwoven stories and families. Two good friends (who aren’t avid readers) listened to this book in the car, and they continually urged me to read it. When I finally started, they kept saying, “We know which character you will love.” Sam Hamilton is a good man–a salt of the Earth kind of man. He reminds me of Slim for Of Mice and Men. Essentially, he teaches us what it means to be good to the very hollows of our souls. Another character who will stick with me forever is Cathy. Phew. She is quite a complex character—a sociopath, I would say—and her evilness makes my skin crawl. She is unlike any other character I’ve ever read. I could continue forward and describe more characters, but it feels as if I won’t do them justice.

The story does meander at times, but anyone who appreciates Steinbeck’s work knows that this is, in fact, a positive quality. His stories feel very true to life. We don’t follow plot diagrams. I will never forget reading this book. The story and its characters will stay with me forever. I highly recommend it.

A few great quotes that depict the beauty of Steinbeck’s words:

“I believe a strong woman may be stronger than a man, particularly if she happens to have love in her heart. I guess a loving woman is indestructible.”

“All great and precious things are lonely.”

“I believe that there is one story in the world, and only one. . . . Humans are caught—in their lives, in their thoughts, in their hungers and ambitions, in their avarice and cruelty, and in their kindness and generosity too—in a net of good and evil. . . . There is no other story. A man, after he has brushed off the dust and chips of his life, will have left only the hard, clean questions: Was it good or was it evil? Have I done well—or ill?”

“There’s more beauty in truth, even if it is dreadful beauty.”

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Thank you to Sue for hosting the challenge and pushing us! 

What big books do you have planned for the summer? You should join in the challenge too!

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