Blog Tour with Review, Giveaway, and Author’s Guest Post!: Emmanuel’s Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah by Laurie Ann Thompson

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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!

emmanuel

Emmanuel’s Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah
Author: Laurie Ann Thompson
Illustrator: Sean Qualls
Published January 6th, 2015 by Schwartz & Wade

Goodreads Summary: Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah’s inspiring true story—which was turned into a film, Emmanuel’s Gift, narrated by Oprah Winfrey—is nothing short of remarkable.

Born in Ghana, West Africa, with one deformed leg, he was dismissed by most people—but not by his mother, who taught him to reach for his dreams. As a boy, Emmanuel hopped to school more than two miles each way, learned to play soccer, left home at age thirteen to provide for his family, and, eventually, became a cyclist. He rode an astonishing four hundred miles across Ghana in 2001, spreading his powerful message: disability is not inability. Today, Emmanuel continues to work on behalf of the disabled.

Thompson’s lyrical prose and Qualls’s bold collage illustrations offer a powerful celebration of triumphing over adversity.

Includes an author’s note with more information about Emmanuel’s charity.

Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah quote_Unleashing Readers

Author’s Bio: Laurie Ann Thompson is the author of Be a Changemaker: How to Start Something That Matters, a how-to guide for teens who want to change the world. An advocate for social justice, Laurie is dedicated to inspiring and empowering young readers. Emmanuel’s Dream is her picture-book debut. Visit her at lauriethompson.com.

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Kellee’s Review and Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Emmanuel is inspiring. It is no wonder that Laurie Ann Thompson wrote this story: Emmanuel is truly a changemaker. What gets me about Emmanuel’s story is that he never gives up even when faced with challenges that most of us would crumble under. He proves that kids can make a tremendous difference and that we should be strong in the face of hardships.

Laurie Ann Thompson and Sean Qualls did an amazing job on this text. The story is perfectly paced and truly takes readers on Emmanuel’s journey with him. Additionally, the illustrations are pieces of artwork. I think mixed media was the perfect form for the story.

Please read this story to your students. Talk about Emmanuel, talk about the theme of his story, talk about how he changed the world, and talk about how anyone can do the same.

Ricki’s Review and Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: As Kellee said, this is an inspirational story about a boy who refuses to be overcome by his disability. Others tell him he should just become a beggar, but he is determined to be the best he can be. The illustrations are absolutely beautiful, and the story flows well. Students will find hope and strength in Emmanuel’s strong, resilient spirit.

There aren’t enough books about disabilities in classrooms, and this frustrates me as a teacher. Frankly, there aren’t enough books being published about disabilities–both physical and mental. After reading this book, students could be encouraged to research about different individuals who have been strong in the face of disability. Then, as students share these stories with the class, students will learn lessons of bravery and resilience.

A CCSS-aligned curriculum guide is available at http://www.scribd.com/doc/251881365/Emmanuel-s-Dream-Curriculum-Guide#scribd

Discussion Questions: What adjectives would describe Emmanuel?; How has Emmanuel changed life for himself and other people with disabilities in Ghana or worldwide?; How does Emmanuel show strength—both physically and emotionally? Can you relate him to anyone in your life?

We Flagged: “…He would honor them by showing everyone that being disabled does not mean being unable. It was a big dream, but Emmanuel had a plan.”

Read This If You Loved: Be a Changemaker by Laurie Ann Thompson, A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park, So Long a Letter by Mariama Ba, The Queen of Water by Laura Resau, Now is the Time for Running by Michael Williams, Soccer Star by Mina Javaherbin, Mama Miti by Donna Jo Napoli

Recommended For: 

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Author Guest Post

At the very end of Emmanuel’s Dream, you’ll find this quote:

“In this world, we are not perfect. We can only do our best.” –Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah

I chose to include that quote from Emmanuel because I think it exemplifies Emmanuel’s attitude toward life, but also because it was an important lesson for me to learn in my life… and it’s one I still need to be reminded of sometimes.

When I was a child, I was a perfectionist. I would never raise my hand in class. I always chose comfortable options over more challenging ones. I lived in constant fear of making a mistake—any mistake, in any area of my life. Of course, I still made them, and each one haunted me.

After college I got a job as a software engineer. In programming, I soon discovered, there’s no such thing as perfect. Every decision comes with a trade-off: better performance vs. flashy bells-and-whistles, a sooner delivery date vs. adding more features, a clean and simple design vs. a complex and robust one, cross-platform portability vs. the benefits of customization. You learn to do the best you can for the user in the time you have available. And, always, you know there will be bugs.

When I got involved in entrepreneurship, imperfection still ruled. Most startups fail, and successful entrepreneurs accept that, preparing themselves mentally (and financially) to try and try again until they find something that sticks. Even then, they’re often forced to make decisions quickly without having all the relevant information but knowing that to wait would also risk failure.

And now, with writing, perfection is just as hard to come by. Deadlines can cause us to put things out before we’re ready. Even without the pressure of a deadline, knowing when something is good enough to take to the next level is a guessing game. And what’s “good,” anyway? Despite years of working on them and dozens—if not hundreds—of revisions, copyedits, and proofs, there are still things I wish I could go back and change about each of my published books. I love them, but they can never be perfect.

What all of this has taught me is that it’s far better to do something and fail than to do nothing at all just because you were too worried about making a mistake. Worrying never does anyone any good, and the stress from it can actually harm you. But when you DO something, you learn, whether you succeed or not. You move forward, and you help everyone else following along behind. It’s not about perfection: it’s about progress.

I hope readers of Emmanuel’s Dream (and readers of this blog post!) will be inspired to follow their own dreams,  that they’ll accept that they’re not perfect but resolve to do their best anyway. Maybe just doing our best is—in its own way—the very perfection we are seeking.

Follow all the stops on Laurie’s blog tour!
 
Mon, Jan 12
Great Kid Books
Tues, Jan 13
5 Minutes for Books
Wed, Jan 14
Unleashing Readers
Thurs, Jan 15
Sharpread
Fri, Jan 16
Cracking the Cover
Sat, Jan 17
Booking Mama
Mon, Jan 19 (MLK Jr bday)
Once Upon a Story
Tues, Jan 20
Proseandkahn
Wed, Jan 21
Geo Librarian
Thurs, Jan 22
Nonfiction Detectives
Fri, Jan 23
The Fourth Musketeer
Mon, Jan 26
NC Teacher Stuff
Tues, Jan 27
Teach Mentor Texts

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**Thank you to Barbara at Blue Slip Media for providing copies for review and to Laurie Ann Thompson for her guest post!**

Winger by Andrew Smith (Kellee’s Review)

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winger

Winger
Author: Andrew Smith
Published May 14th, 2013 by Simon & Schuster

Goodreads Summary: Ryan Dean West is a fourteen-year-old junior at a boarding school for rich kids. He’s living in Opportunity Hall, the dorm for troublemakers, and rooming with the biggest bully on the rugby team. And he’s madly in love with his best friend Annie, who thinks of him as a little boy.

With the help of his sense of humor, rugby buddies, and his penchant for doodling comics, Ryan Dean manages to survive life’s complications and even find some happiness along the way. But when the unthinkable happens, he has to figure out how to hold on to what’s important, even when it feels like everything has fallen apart.

Filled with hand-drawn info-graphics and illustrations and told in a pitch-perfect voice, this realistic depiction of a teen’s experience strikes an exceptional balance of hilarious and heartbreaking.

My Review: Andrew Smith sure knows how to write a teenage boy’s voice. He gets inside of adolescent male’s mind, and puts it all on paper for us. (It probably has something to do with teaching high school.) Ryan Dean’s voice and his story are so authentic. This book will make you cringe, laugh out loud, shake your head, and cry.  I am also so impressed with all of the themes that are dealt with in this book without ever feeling over done. These themes include bullying, absent parents, peer pressure, identity, sexuality, prejudice, and friendship.  In addition, Smith builds his characters, setting, and plot seamlessly. You fall in love with all of the characters, main and secondary. Even the antagonist. The setting itself is a character. And finally the plot arc was perfectly done, and was so unpredictable all the way to the end.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: First and foremost, this book needs to read by teens. However that happens, it is the right thing. The easiest way would be to get it into libraries and classrooms. There are also parts of the book that could definitely be pulled out to be used in the classroom in may different ways. On that junps to mind right away is using Ryan Dean’s comics as mentor texts for writing comics to write narratives of everyday events. Ricki also has some great ideas for Winger in the classroom in her review.

Discussion Questions: What kind of social challenges does Ryan Dean have to overcome since he is 14 but a junior?; Were you able to predict the end of the book?; What are some traits about Ryan Dean that made him easy to connect to?; How does Opportunity Hall and the rest of the school become a character in Winger?

We Flagged: 

winger2(p. 21)

Read This If You Loved: Looking for Alaska by John Green, Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg

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Baseball Is… by Louise Borden

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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!

baseball

Baseball Is…
Author: Louise Borden
Illustrator: Raul Colon
Published February 18th, 2014 by Margaret K. McElderry Books

Goodreads Summary: The ultimate celebration of an all-American sport, this picture book captures the joy and the history of baseball;and knocks it out of the park!

Don’t wait for Opening Day to start your baseball season! Crack open Baseball Is…; and revel in the fun of this all-American game! Perfect for the stats-counting superfan and the brand-new little leaguer,Baseball Is…; captures the spirit of this cherished pastime, honoring its legendary past, and eagerly anticipating the future of the sport that is stitched into our history.

My Review: I am a huge baseball fan, have been for over 24 years now, so I am a sucker for baseball books. This one is special though. It captures the beauty of the baseball stadiums around the country, the intricacies of the sport, and the amazing history that baseball holds. I also love the choice of telling baseball’s story in verse. It made it rhythmic like the sport.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This book is a wonderful mentor text for free verse. The poetry is very rhythmic, but has  no rhyme. The book also has some amazing vocabulary: craftsman, poise, spectators, finesse, etc. It captures the sport through imagery: “the crack of the bat,” “slow stride of the manager,” “groans or boos,” etc.

On top of the poetic aspects of the book, you can learn so much about baseball and history from the book. It discusses greats like Babe Ruth and Jackie Robinson. Also talks about the Negro and Women’s Leagues. All parts of history in general, not just baseball.

Discussion Questions: How did Jackie Robinson change the game?; Why was their a Women’s League?; What sounds would you hear at a baseball game?

We Flagged: 
“Baseball is our game…
the sport of America.
Its stories are stitched
through our nation’s history.
Its teams and its heroes
we carry in our heart.” (p. 1-2)

Read This If You LovedBarbed Wire Baseball by Marissa Moss, Chin Music by Lee Edelstein, Something to Prove: The Great Satchel Paige vs. Rookie Joe DiMaggio by Robert Skead, Brothers at Bat: The True Story of an Amazing All-Brother Baseball Team by Audrey Vernick, Silent Star: The Story of Deaf Major Leaguer William Hoy by Bill Wise, The Legend of the Curse of the Bambino by Dan Shaughnessy

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Winger by Andrew Smith (Ricki’s Review)

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winger

Winger
Author: Andrew Smith
Published: May 14th, 2013 by Simon and Schuster

GoodReads Summary: Ryan Dean West is a fourteen-year-old junior at a boarding school for rich kids. He’s living in Opportunity Hall, the dorm for troublemakers, and rooming with the biggest bully on the rugby team. And he’s madly in love with his best friend Annie, who thinks of him as a little boy.

With the help of his sense of humor, rugby buddies, and his penchant for doodling comics, Ryan Dean manages to survive life’s complications and even find some happiness along the way. But when the unthinkable happens, he has to figure out how to hold on to what’s important, even when it feels like everything has fallen apart.

Filled with hand-drawn info-graphics and illustrations and told in a pitch-perfect voice, this realistic depiction of a teen’s experience strikes an exceptional balance of hilarious and heartbreaking.

Review: With every page I turned, I fell more in love with this book. I found elements of this text to be reminiscent of Looking for Alaska by John Green, another wonderfully compelling work. Andrew Smith does a beautiful job unraveling the plot of this story. I found it to be incredibly unpredictable—all of my predictions, in fact, were incorrect. The book surprised me in wonderful ways. The characterization and setting shine brightly. I felt as if I was in the boarding school right with the characters, and they were my friends just as much as they were Ryan Dean’s friends. I couldn’t stop reading by the end of the book, and I think readers will equally be hooked to this coming-of-age tale.

Teacher’s Tools for Navigation: This text would fit in well with many units—particularly those of bullying, heroism, or homophobia. I could also see it matching well with Looking for Alaska, and readers might draw parallels between the two texts.

Discussion Questions: How does Andrew Smith build character? How does this characterization bolster elements of the plot?; What does the book teach us about friendship? About judging people?; Who is the hero of this story?; How does the sport of rugby play a role in the plot, characterization, and theme of this text?

We Flagged: “And then it’s always that one word that makes you so different and puts you outside the overlap of everyone else; and that word is so fucking big and loud, it’s the only thing anyone ever hears when your name is spoken.

And whenever that happens to us, all the other words that make us the same disappear in its shadow.”

Read This If You Loved: Looking for Alaska by John Green, Deadline by Chris Crutcher, The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson

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Barbed Wire Baseball by Marissa Moss

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NF PB 2013

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!

barbed

Barbed Wire Baseball
Author: Marissa Moss
Illustrated by: Yuko Shimizu
Published April 9th, 2013 by Harry N. Abrams

Goodreads Summary: As a boy, Kenichi “Zeni” Zenimura dreams of playing professional baseball, but everyone tells him he is too small. Yet he grows up to be a successful player, playing with Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig! When the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor in 1941, Zeni and his family are sent to one of ten internment camps where more than 110,000 people of Japanese ancestry are imprisoned without trials. Zeni brings the game of baseball to the camp, along with a sense of hope.

This true story, set in a Japanese internment camp during World War II, introduces children to a little-discussed part of American history through Marissa Moss’s rich text and Yuko Shimizu’s beautiful illustrations. The book includes author and illustrator notes, archival photographs, and a bibliography.

Review: World War II is the most infamous war and it is taught to all students at some point in their career. They learn about Pearl Harbor and the Atomic Bomb and the Holocause and Hitler, but way too often what happened here in the US is not discussed. All of the Japanese Americans living on the West Coast of the US (62% were US citizens) were interned because our fear overwhelmed us so much that it was the only solution that seemed plausible. I felt that the fear that was felt after the Pearl Harbor bombings is very similar to what was felt 12 years ago today.

Barbed Wire Baseball does discuss the internment camps, but I think that the theme of this book is not about the camps but about how a love of something can turn a poor situation into something else if you are determined.

The story is just one part of the book. What moves it to a higher level is the author and illustrator. Marissa Moss has someone captured the tone of the story. It begins with hopefulness then to hopelessness and finally back to joyousness. Her ability to manipulate the tone throughout makes the story touch the reader even more. Yuko Shimizu’s illustrations are done with a Japenese calligraphy brush and ink adding to the connection the reader will feel with the story. Just beautiful.

Teacher’s Tools for Navigation: I think this book mostly leads to a discussion about the historical event that is shared in the book. In my classroom, I would share it as a read aloud and then jump into a discussion about Zeni, baseball, the internment camps, and World War II. The bibliography in the back of the book gives great websites to visit to continue the discussion.

Discussion Questions: Zeni doesn’t listen to his parents and went for what he wanted: baseball. He overcame his height and those who didn’t believe in him and was able to work towards his dreams. What is something that you’ve overcome even though others didn’t believe in you?; How can you compare/contrast how US citizens responded to Japanese Americans after Pearl Harbor to how US citizens responded to American Muslims after 9/11?

We Flagged: “Zeni stood staring at the dry earth, which was broken up every now and then by a few scrubby bits of green. In all the brown and gray, with a dull, coppery sky overhead, he felt as if he were shrinking into a tiny hard ball.

There was only one thing that could make the desert camp a home – baseball. Zeni unpacked his favorite photo, the one that showed him in uniform, lined up with baseball legends Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig towering like redwood trees beside him. He had played with the Yankee stars in an exhibition game back home in Fresno, and he hadn’t felt small at all. He pinned the picture up over his bed. He was going to play baseball again. Here, in the desolate middle of nowhere.” (p. 9-10)

Read This If You Loved: Something to Prove by Robert Skead, Silent Star by Bill Wise, Brothers at Bat by Audrey Vernick, Keeping Score by Linda Sue Park, Nonfiction books about World War II or Japanese Internment Camps

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