February 4, 2010


In The Breadwinner, Deborah Ellis  creates a story to drawing in the reader, connecting us to the character while teaching about the culture of    Afghanistan.  Maps are provided to help  visualize where the story is happening.  Literature Circle questions,  activities and a glossary at the back of the book are helpful when using this text in the classroom.

The story follows sixth grade Parvana and her family as they struggle to survive in war torn Afghanistan.  After Father is taken away, how will the family survive?  Parvana is forced to find ways to support her family, while hiding her identity as a young Afghan girl.    

Reading Ability: Intermediate

Genre: Historical fiction, War
Themes: war, courage, determination

Who would love this book?

history buffs

-girls looking for strong female characters

-those interested in current events

-fans of Deborah Ellis

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The Green Book

February 4, 2010

Faced with a dying planet Earth, families frantically flee to a new planet far away.  Supplies are limited but each family member is allowed to bring with them one personal item.  Pattie chooses to bring a book with her on the four year journey to the new planet.

Life on the new planet, Shine, is strange and dangerous.  Pattie and her family struggle to make a new life facing obstacles and challenges. 

Reading Ability: mid grade 5
Interest level:   Grade 5-7
Genre: Fantasy
Theme: Pioneer life, Perserverence, Determination, Overcoming Obstacles, strong female characters, Adventure

Who would love this book?

-adventure lovers

-those looking for strong female characters


-space pioneers
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Sarah, Plain and Tall

February 3, 2010


In this award winning novel, a family tries to come to grips with the death of the wife and mother.  The two young children, Caleb and Anna desperately long for their father to be happy again.  Father advertises for a mother for his two children and accepts a response from Sarah who has written from Maine.  Sarah arrives full of dreams of the sea and imagination and finds it difficult to fit into the lives of her new prairie charges.  Caleb loves Sarah instantly and is afraid that she will leave, taking any happiness he has found with her.  Anna is afraid of losing the memories she has of her mother but is drawn to the kind and gentle Sarah.  This story relates the hardships of living in the prairies, the loss of a parent and the uniting of a family.

Reading Ability: Grade Three

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Themes:  Prairie Life, Family Life, Survival, Pioneers

Who would love this book? This has been a hit whenever I used it in a grade three and four classroom.

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Island of the Blue Dolphins

February 3, 2010

A young girl, Karana,  is left alone for years on the Island of the Blue Dolphins.  After her people leave the island she waits anxiously for them to return for her but gradually comes to realize that this may not happen for a long time.  During her years on the island she must fight to keep herself alive; fighting her enemies, finding food, and building shelter. 

The courage of this young girl is inspiring as she grows into a young woman depending on only herself for survival.

This book is based on the true story of a woman who lived alone on an island, known as The Lost Woman of San Nicolas, from 1835-1853.
Reading Ability: High Junior (mid grade five)/Intermediate
Genre: Historical Fiction, Adventure
Theme:  Survival, Courage
Who would love this book?  Those looking for strong female characters, indepent girls, those who enjoy books about survival.

You Tube Link:
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Two Old Women

February 3, 2010

Two Old Women, by Velma Wallis, is an Alaska legend of betrayal, courage and survival. 

This book is based on an Athabascan legend that has been passed from generation to generation by mothers and daughters.  It is the story of two old women who are left behind to meet their fate in the face of a brutal winter.    It is a story of determination, betrayal and friendship. 

Reading Ability: Junior /Intermediate
Genre:  Historical / Realistic Fiction
Theme: Courage, Survival, Native Culture, Friendship

Who would love this book?
-those interested in Native culture
-friendship and survival in difficult circumstances

Link to Discussion/Comprehension Questions: