Tag Archives: grief

The Wanderer

Bibliographic Information: Creech, Sharon. (2000). The Wanderer. New York: Joanna Cotler Books.

Plot Description: This story is told in alternating viewpoints through journal entries written by thirteen year old Sophie and her cousin Cody as they sail across the Atlantic to England, the home of their Grandfather. Sophie is the only girl in a crew of five men (her three uncles and two cousins). There is another reason Sophie is different from the rest of the crew. They have always been family and Sophie only became a part of their ranks three years ago when she was adopted by the uncles’ sister. Sophie is excited to find adventure on the high seas, but she also takes a journey of profound personal discovery. The second narrator, Cody also takes a personal journey as he proves to himself and his family that he has a deep inner strength behind his clowning exterior.

Quantitative Reading Level: Lexile Measure: 830L Interest Level: Middle Grades ATOS Book Level: 5.2

Qualitative Reading Analysis: The author uses figurative language, such as personification and similes to make connections within the text. For example, ‘Sophie is like the sea,’ she has different personalities like the sea: calm, still, rough, etc. The author uses alternating points of view in limited first person narration, to show the reader different views of the same story. There is significant complexity and multiple levels of meaning. Some meaning is stated, while others are left to the reader to interpret. Vocabulary is mostly conventional, conversational and familiar. Unfamiliar nautical and boat related terms are explained and easily inferred from context. Sentences are primarily simple and compound, with occasion for more complex phrases and transition words. Experiences portrayed are uncommon to most readers. Not many will have sailed (especially on a long journey) or been adopted (particularly in later childhood). Students may connect with themes of belonging, searching for yourself and grief.

Content Area: Reading, Literature, Geography

Content Area Standard:

English Language Arts Standards for Reading: Literature: Key Ideas and Details: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.1 Quote accurately from a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.

Curriculum Suggestions: Have students create a map of the Wanderer’s journey across the Atlantic. Label the important places it sails and crucial events that happen there. Chart the changes that occur for key characters over the course of the journey. Support your answers with details from the text. Sophie is like the sea. Have students pick an element of nature that they are like and explain why.

Supporting Digital Content:

http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/lesson-plan/wanderer-extension-activity

http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/lesson-plan/wanderer-discussion-guide

Awards: SLJ Best Book; State Award; Parent’s Choice Award; ALA Notable/Best Books; Christopher Award; Publishers Weekly Best Book; BCCB Blue Ribbon Book; Newbery Honor; Young Reader’s Choice Award/Nominee; Carnegie Medal/Honors; Book Sense Book of the Year Award/Honorees; Booklist Editors’ Choice

Character names/descriptions: Sophie a young girl whose parents died and was adopted three years ago, Cody is her new cousin, who is interested and intrigued by her.

Personal Thoughts: Sophie is a brave and tenacious young girl who makes a wonderful narrator. I also enjoyed the view of Sophie from both her words and those of someone getting to know her.

High interest annotation: Come along on an exciting and perilous journey sailing across the Atlantic, which is also a journey of self discovery for the six wanderers on board

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Filed under Reading For Pleasure (Chapter Books)

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

Bibliographic Information:

Alexie, Sherman (2007). The absolutely true diary of a part-time Indian. New York: Little, Brown and Company.

Plot Description: Arnold (known as Junior), is a Spokane Indian boy who lives on the reservation with his parents, older sister and grandmother. He has health issues and is constantly picked on by the other Indians. His only friend is Rowdy, a tough kid. After an incident at school, Arnold is persuaded by his teacher that the only chance he has of really learning and making something of himself, is if he leaves the reservation. So he transfers to the closest school off the reservation (more than 20 miles away). The Indians on the reservation resent him for leaving and life becomes even more miserable when he is no longer just an outsider, but a traitor. He hopes his new school will make up for the ridicule he receives. Arnold gets to school any way he can: getting rides from his family (when they have gas money), hitchhiking and even walking. How will he be perceived by the white students and teachers? Will he be able to alter their perceptions? Is he destined to always be an outsider or will he find a way to connect with his new classmates and most importantly, his new crush Penelope?

Quantitative Reading Level : Lexile Measure: 600L, ATOS Book Level: 4 , Interest Level: Upper Grades (9-12), AR Points: 6

Qualitative Reading Analysis: The text organization adheres to conventions and its structure is clear and chronological, with some temporary shifts in time. There are illustrations which are suppose to be drawings and comics made by the narrator, which augment the story and help explain or depict events, often in a humorous way. Different fonts, text sizes and bolding also draw the readers attention to the drawings. The language is straightforward and easy to understand. The register is familiar and casual, with a small bit of academic language during one scene with a ‘genius’ student. Some experiences may be uncommon to the reader like living in a community like a reservation, but most students will relate to feelings of grief, loneliness, wanting to fit in, etc. References to texts or cultural events are explained. Theme is clear, but also contains some subtlety. First person narration provides accurate depiction of events, but only from one point of view.

Content Area: English, Literature, History

Content Area Standard: CA CCSS Writing Standards for Literacy in History, Social Studies, Science and Technical Subjects

Research to Build and Present Knowledge 8. Gather relevant information from multiple authoritative print and digital sources, using advanced searches effectively; assess the strengths and limitations of each source in terms of the specific task, purpose, and audience; integrate information into the text selectively to maintain the flow of ideas, avoiding plagiarism and overreliance on any one source and following a standard format for citation.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.3
Analyze how complex characters (e.g., those with multiple or conflicting motivations) develop over the course of a text, interact with other characters, and advance the plot or develop the theme.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.2 Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze in detail its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.

Curriculum Suggestions: Students research the history of the Spokane Indian Tribe. Look at maps of the Tribe’s past and current boarders. Have students create a list of their tribes, like the one made by Arnold in the book. Have students create their own illustrations or comics in one of the styles Arnold uses. Students can write an essay on what Arnold learns through the course of the book. How does Arnold cope with adversity and grief? Have students write about how they would cope with the situations Arnold faces.

Supporting Digital Content: 

http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/lesson-plan/absolutely-true-diary-part-time-indian-storia-teaching-guide

http://libwww.freelibrary.org/onebook/obop11/0_Absolutely_True_Diary_Curriculum_full.pdf

http://www.randomhouse.com.au/content/teachers/tsk%20absolutely%20true%20diary.pdf

Awards: Book Sense Book of the Year Award, Kirkus Editors Choice/Best Book, YALSA Top Ten, New York Times Best Books, BCCB Blue Ribbon Book, National Book Award, Horn Book Fanfare, Publishers Weekly Best Book, American Indian Youth Literature Award, SLJ Best Book, Boston Globe/Horn Book Award/Honors

Character names/descriptions: Arnold Spirit (Junior) a smart high school freshman who faces ridicule when he transfers from the school on the reservation where he lives in order to further his education, Arnold’s Father is an alcoholic who disappears on drinking binges, but is always there to support Arnold for his games and performances. Arnold’s Mother, Arnold’s Grandmother who loves to travel to Powwows and is very tolerant. Mary is Arthur’s older sister who hasn’t left the basement in years, Rowdy is a tough kid with an abusive father and Arnold’s best friend on the Rez, Eugene is Arnold’s Father’s best friend and an important person in Arnold’s life, Penelope the white girl Arnold loves, Roger a popular basketball player at Reardan High

Personal Thoughts: This is a coming of age story, further complicated by issues of ethnic identity. I have discussed the book with several second generation American students who easily identify with Arnold as they search for a balance between trying to belong in their family’s culture and fitting in with American culture. I think it will be a hit with students, especially at my mostly minority school.

High interest annotation: Can a nerdy, sickly Indian boy make it in the ‘white world’? Arnold plans to find out when he transfers to a school off the reservation after he figures out that he has to leave in order to follow his dreams.

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Filed under Diverse Characters