Uncle Jed

March 9, 2011

The first time I read this book, I was awed by the love Jed had for his great-niece, Sarah Jean.  Jed’s character is blessed.  Margaree King Mitchell brings out the bucket filling attitude Uncle Jed shared.  In the end, I was cheering for Uncle Jed’s accomplishments.  The scene at the hospital is a great discussion starter about segregation.  James Ransome pictures evoked my emotions as much as the words in Uncle Jed’s Barbershop.Uncle Jed's Barbershop   [UNCLE JEDS BARBERSHOP] [Paperback]

“Even though I was unconscious, the doctors wouldn’t look at me until they had finished with all the white patients.”

Uncle Jed had a dream.  He believed in his dream so much he shared it.  Uncle Jed believed in and planned for the dream barbershop he wanted.  It seems that by sharing his thoughts, his dream was true.

Set backs hit him hard.  My heart sank when I read the Great Depression hit and Uncle Jed lost all his money, over $3000.  But Jed continued his optimism and determination.  I would like to meet Uncle Jed.  he was kind, a servant with a giving attitude.  People were more important than his financial ambition.

Narrated through a young girl’s heart, Sarah Jean shares the stories of her favorite relative, Uncle Jedediah.  This book will connect all children to the past and inspire them to dream.

Savorings for reading and in writing for Uncle Jed’s Barbershop:

  • Invoking emotion
  • Scene connection – one page had “Nobody had much money.”  Turn the page, next scene:  “But Uncle Jed kept going around to his customers cutting their hair.”
  • Character sketch –
  • Goal Setting
  • Vignettes
  • (P.S.  I love the dog that is painted in many of the scenes.  He seems so real.)

Someplace Special

March 4, 2011

I love author’s notes!  I fell like having a personal interview with each author.  Patricia McKissack explains that Goin’ Someplace Special is her story, based upon the segregation she grew up with.

‘Tricia Ann wanted to go to her favorite place.  She had gone there many times with her grandmother, but today she was going on her own.  ‘Tricia rides the bus, sitting in the ‘colored section’.  As she walks to her destination, ‘Tricia gets caught in a crowd and is swept into a hotel where she faces hostility.

Through the encouragement of a kind woman, ‘Tricia is reminded of her grandmother’s words:

“And no matter what,” Mama Frances called after her, “hold yo’ head up and act like you b’long to somebody.”

Arriving at her destination ‘Tricia An was thrilled.  It was a place of freedom.  It was the Nashville Library.  The fron facing declared, “Public Library:  All are Welcome”.

Savorings for reading and in writing for Goin’ Someplace Special:

  • Love of Reading
  • Determination
  • Show don’t Tell – “What’s got yo’ face all clouded up like a stormy day?”
  • Visualizing
  • Grabber Lead – “Tricia Ann was about to burst with excitement.”


February 28, 2011

The author’s and illustrator’s notes add a deeper meaning to the beautifully crafted text.  Nikki Giovanni and Bryan Collier share their passions for Rosa Parks.  I can hear their voices.  Bryan Collier stated that the heat was his first noticing when visiting Alabama.  Thus, in his paintings, you will observe “a yellow, sometimes dark, hue.  I wanted the reader to feel in that heat a foreshadowing….

When I was younger, I just knew that Rosa Parks was famous for not moving from her seat in the bus.  But there is much more to the story.  Rosa had been part of the civil rights movement.  She had been at work and heading home, thinking about supper like most wives.  She had trouble on the bus before and this one time, she decided she would take a stand.  Although life was hard, the unity that her one act created was amazing.

The narrative brings Rosa Parks alive.  When I read it to a class, they had more questions and felt an emotional tug.  The kids connected to the message being shared by Nikki Giovanni.

Savorings for reading and in writing for Rosa:

  • Voice – sense of passion and belief
  • Biography – summarizing crucial points
  • Internal Thinking – “She sighed as she realized she was tired…. Tired of ‘separate’ and definitely tired of ‘not equal‘.
  • Repetition of a word – major emphasis
  • One sentence paragraphs – “Mrs. Parks sat.”

Granddaddy’s Gift

February 26, 2011

I have much admiration for people who have courage under fire.  Too many times, I notice children giving up easily when a task is too hard.  Perseverance and determination are two qualities I want to instill into my own three children and the students I come in contact with.

Margaree King Mitchell and Larry Johnson (illustrator)do just that.  She wrote Granddaddy’s Gift as a model of courage and persistence during the civil rights movement.  In the story, Little Joe, the young female narrator, speaks to the reader.  She shares how her Granddaddy acted with courage.  As she shadow her Granddaddy, Little Joe learns the value of working hard and being persistent.  Granddaddy volunteered to register to vote, a right that was met with great resistance.

“You’re doing all right, Joe.  Just be satisfied with what you have.”

Little Joe met her own resistance.  People didn’t want trouble so her friends couldn’t play with her anymore.

The story Margaree shares provides numerous opportunities for discussion on civil rights.  What a great read for background knowledge.  It lends itself to discuss goals and ambitions, effort and determination for each of us.

“Grandaddy had taught me to stand up for things, even if I was scared, and always to be proud.  His gift never left me.”

Savorings for reading and in writing for Granddaddy’s Gift:

  • Love of Reading –
  • Magic of 3
  • Character introduction – leads to a ‘One day’ story
  • Taking a stand
  • Passage of time

More Than Anything Else

February 11, 2011

Marie Bradby created a rich text in More Than Anything Else.  A young boy shares his thoughts through the book, giving you a glimpse into history and a boys dream.  The book takes place post slavery.  The work is hard for little pay.  The boy is young – nine years old and working in a salt mine.  He has a strong desire to learn to read.Product Details

I think about the hunger still in my head – reading.”

One evening, the boy hears an African-American reading the newspaper.  The boy is delighted.  He can see his dream of reading changing from a hope to a reality.  He shares his desire with his mother, who somehow brings home a book of the alphabet.  She calls it a song.  He practices writing the letter shapes in doesn’t know the sounds.  He longs to know the sounds.

One night the boy searches for the man.  The man explains the letters and sounds.  The illustrator, Chris K. Soentpiet, creates the excitement through the bright yellows contrasting in the dark setting. The boy wants to know more, so the man writes the boy’s name – BOOKER. 

This is Booker T. Washington’s story.  Notice the dedication part; it gives the clue. 

Savorings for reading and in writing for More Than Anything Else:

  • Sensory Description – chill of the evening, arms ache, stomach rumbles
  • Figurative language – it’s used throughout the story
  • Love of Reading –
  • Character thinking – “More than anything else, I want to learn to read.”
  • Background Knowledge – hardship after slavery, dreams

Ron’s Big Mission

February 9, 2011

Ron's Big MissionRon McNair had a dream.  He dreamed of flying a plane.  The book Ron’s Big Mission shares another dream he had – checking out his own library books.  The authors, Rose Blue and Corinne J. Naden, share Ron’s determination on our summer day in 1959.

I love the fact that Ron had a thirst for knowledge.  He visited the Lake City Library frequently, being the “best customer.”  At that time, laws prohibited African-Americans from checking books out.  No today.  Today, Ron wanted to check the books out and displays his determination.

At the end of the story, an author’s note shares that Ron McNair did fulfill his dream of flying and also became an astronaut.  On January 28, 1986, Ron lost his life when the Challenger space shuttle blew up.  Ron’s memory lives on at Lake City Library.

Savorings for reading and in writing for Ron’s Big Mission:

  • Predicting – He had “something important to do.”
  • Character Traits – determined, boy with a plan
  • Show and Tell Feelings – “Ron felt nervous and his hands felt a little sweaty.”
  • One Day happening – going to the library
  • Tension – 3 trial solutions prior to getting his library card
  • Magic of 3 – “He took a deep breath, lifted his head high, and went inside.”
  • Ellipse – end of story

New PES Library book

This is the Dream

February 12, 2009

In celebration of Black History Month, take time to read some books in regards to the positive change our nation has made.  I’m rather humbled that several of these historical events have happened during my lifetime.

This is the Dream by Diane Z. Shore and Jessica Alexander is a poetic rhythmic prose that leads the reader from the segregation laws to the present where all people are united.  My favorite line is “and the unwritten rule is to take turns and share.”  Isn’t that what we teach our children everyday?

The authors connect highlighted scenes in history that represent the discrimination and segregation differences.  Each of the five examples – drinking fountains, buses, restaurants, libraries, schools – are focused snapshots.  The text peaks at the “separate but equal” ruling.  The authors’ note states, “[the text] celebrates the power of nonviolent change.”

James Ransome’s illustrations are powerful, adding key visual scenes that intensify the text.  In his illustrator’s note, he used a combination of painting and collage “to help the reader understand the emotional impact of the era….”   My son’s fourth grade teacher read This is the Dream to the class and were impacted.  “Why are those people pouring sugar on the lady’s head?”  someone asked.  They couldn’t believe people could be so unkind.  The illustrations plus text helped lead to a great discussion.

Savorings for reading and in writing for This is the Dream:

  • Repeating structure – “These are the _____”
  • Poetic, rhythmic
  • Time line through text and photos of then versus now.
  • Hyphen/dash – fair paying jobs
  • Contrast of change – beginning states:  “the black-and-white signs says who will drink where“; end:  “the black-and-white sign says ‘OPEN FOR LUNCH'”

Text to text connection:

  • Library – Goin’ Someplace  Special by Patricia McKissack and Jerry Pinkney
  • Hospital – Uncle Jed’s Barbershop by Margaree King Mitchell and James E. Ransome

(PES Library book)

Rosa Parks

February 4, 2009

What a remarkable woman Rosa Parks was.  Her name is famous with children as the lady who refused to move on the bus.  But, Rosa Parks was so much more.  She believed in respect of equal rights.

I have a book called I am Rosa Parks by Rosa Parks with Jim Haskins.  Rosa shared her thoughts that day she stayed in her seat.  She said, “Some people think I kept my seat because I’d had a hard day, but that is not true.  I was just tired of giving in.”  Rosa didn’t plan on the events of that day; she just wanted to be treated as an equal.

During Black History Month, I hope that you take the time to talk with your students about being kind, accepting, and respectful of each other.

I hope that children today will grow up without hate.  I hope they wil learn to respect one another, no matter what color they are.  Rosa Parks”

Savorings for reading and in writing for I am Rosa Parks:

  • First person narrative
  • Narrative scenes as supportive examples
  • Timeline
  • Character thinking