Monday, December 13, 2010

The Terracotta Girl

Michael, Dexter, Laura, Cathy and Jared were avid readers and enthusiastic participants in discussion as we finished reading The Terracotta Girl A Story of Ancient China. Yung Lu is a young girl, living in the time of the Qin dynasty, who is determined to become a warrior in Chang'an when her father dies from mercury poisoning. She is brave and fearless as she journeys alone to reach her goal. When she encounters Qin Shi Huangdi, First Emperor of China, she tries to convince him not the take the mercury pills that he thinks will extend his life. Our book group members correctly predicted Qin Shi Huangdi's reaction to Yung Lu.
Ran Jie-shu is the artist creating the terracotta warriors who had summoned Yung Lu's father to join his project, and when Yung Lu finds him and asks if she can take her father's place as a warrior, she finds that Ran Jie-shu had a different kind of warrior in mind.
Third grade has spent the Fall studying Ancient China. This created a firm foundation of background knowledge for those reading historical fiction books. Members of this book group made many connections to this knowledge and to other books and film as they read and discussed this book.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Ruby and the Booker Boys

Merrie, Ivy, Marvin, Samantha, Adam and Andrew are engrossed in reading Ruby and the Booker Boys by Derrick Barnes. Discussions are animated as they make text to self connections. Ruby starts a new school and has the reputation of her three popular older brothers to live up to. She is scared but puts on a brave front. Halfway through the book, she needs to make a decision as she learns that one of her brothers Roosevelt has made a bad choice in school, he has drawn on posters hanging up around the school, and rather than face the consequences he wants Ruby to help him. Ruby is resourceful, and caring and does think of a way to be of help in a positive manner. Friendship issues are ones that Ruby encounters and one that all of the students in our book group can share connections from their own lives and offer strategies to help Ruby.

Keep the Lights Burning, Abbie

Abbie is faced with quite a challenge in Keep the Lights Burning, Abbie. Book talk from Drew, Persey, Ava, Callie, Ari and Sarah has been lively as they envision the challenges Abbie faced when she was left with the responsibility to ensure that the lights kept burning in the lighthouse on Mattinicus Rock. On January 19, 1856, Abbie's father left the island and asked Abbie to care for her sisters and ailing mother while he went to gather oil, food and medicine. for her sick mother. A storm prevented him from returning that night and in fact it took four weeks for him to return. Students wrote in journal entries as if they were Abbie.
Ari wrote, " I am very nervous about the lighthouse. I miss Papa. I will do whatever it takes."
A selection from Sarah's journal entry is the following, " I really miss my Papa. He went away to get medicine for Mama, oil and corn. He was not supposed to be gone for long."
Drew included in his journal, " I wish I had help. It was easy to keep the lights burning. I want Papa back. If I didn't keep the lights burning, I wonder what it would be like for Mama and my sisters."
Callie included her responsibility of also taking care of the chickens. " I am worried about my chickens..."
A selection from Persey includes, "Papa has been away and I am sick of eating eggs and our house is wet and my chickens almost got washed away."
Ava wrote, "What has been hard for me is, father is away. I miss him so much. I can't wait until he gets back home. I kept the lights lit. It was really hard to do this job, but I did it anyway."
Everyone agreed that Abbie revealed courage, bravery, and a caring and helpful personality as she took care of her family, the chickens and the lights in the lighthouse during a raging storm while her father was away.