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More Wonderful Words

11 Mar

Looking for a great book to entice even the most reluctant intermediate reader? Try Storm in the Barn by Matt Phelan. Storm in the Barn is a historical fiction, graphic novel. It tells the story of a young boy and his struggles to weather the Kansas Dust-bowl and discover his own worth, strength, and courage. The story, which is told through a series of  gritty, dusty picture sequences, relates an often- shared, Dust-bowl myth about what happened to the rain.

Anyone who is attracted first by illustrations, next by the story, will be captured with this book. Moreover, the subject matter, the male protagonist, and the gritty sequences will particularly appeal to intermediate age boys.(For other great ideas on literature that will appeal to boys check out Ralph Fletcher’s Boy Readers).  Due to one somewhat violent scene (baaed on actual events) I wouldn’t recommend this book to boys younger than 4th grade, but older boys will be intrigued.

Last, but not least, this book would be a fantastic vehicle for anyone who wanted to teach about the Great Depression and the Kansas Dust-bowl (and would make a great companion read to Into the Dust by Karen Hesse.). Extensively researched, and carefully illustrated this book is definitely award-worthy and deserves a place in every intermediate elementary classroom.


Wonderful Words

9 Mar

Looking for a great read-aloud for your intermediate grade students? I have a super suggestion for you. The chapter book, Hidden by Helen Frost is an action packed adventure that would offer a perfect opportunity to teach perspective, writing style, and voice. At the beginning of the story, you listen and watch from the perspective of a young girl. Her day is moving along like every other day, until tragedy strikes. What happens next (told in free verse) will keep you hanging on the edge of your seat. The next section is told from the perspective of another girl whose life has intersected the life of the first girl in an unexpected and unusual way. 
The second section is told in prose format and will take students straight into the heart and feelings of a thirteen year old girl as she grapples with difficult emotions and thoughts about an abusive parent and loss.

The last section brings both characters together for a reunion of sorts that will stretch and mature each character. At the end of the story, the reader is given one extra glimpse into still another perspective. By reading the last word of the longest line in each paragraph in the second section, the reader gets a glimpse into the thoughts of the first girl when she, too, first encounters the life-altering event.

Readers will be blown away by the depth that Helen Frost brings to each character, the realistic voice that she manages to capture and the unique and creative perspective that she brings to this story. I promise you won’t be disappointed!
Don’t miss this one!