I had a long list of reading for this week and I was able to get through two of the titles before I got side tracked into reading Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818).
( That is another story – working on a project for the Bakken Electrical Museum here in town.)
Stella by Starlight by Sharon Draper ( Jan. 2015) is a wonderful book. She takes us into the life of Stella in Bubblebee, North Carolina during the depression. Stella is a young 12 year old girl growing up with Jim Crow laws. Some people are great, others not so much. It is all so hard to understand. Draper makes this story come alive with all the sights, sounds and smells of family cooking, walking in the woods, registering to vote, time with friends and fear when the KKK starts stirring things up.
This book brings forth the fear yet determination of folks to fight for what is right and to show their children the importance of standing strong together. The right to vote, to have health care and a safe place to live come through love, education, hard work and perseverance.
This book would be a great read aloud to help students develop a clear picture of life during the depression for many families in the south. It is also important as a spring board for the discussion of what has changed and what has not changed since the 1932 and do we have the determination, education and perseverance to continue to fight for the changes that still need to be made. (Sharon Draper was awarded the Margaret A. Edwards award this morning. This award honors an author, as well as a specific body of his or her work, for significant and lasting contribution to young adult literature. Congrats Sharon!)
My other read was very different. A fun light read set even further back in time, 1862. The Case of the Missing Moonstone (The Wollstonecraft Detective Agency, Book 1) by Jordan Stratford is the start of a new series featuring Ana Lovelace, who is considered to have written instructions for the first computer program in the mid-1800s, and Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein published in 1818. In reality these two were about 18 years apart in age so Stratford had messed with history for a bit of fun. He has played the game of What if? – What if Ada and Mary had met? He has used their personalities, skills and others characters, like Charles Dickens, of the time period to create a enjoyable mystery story.
Stratford was seeking a way to interest girls in science and in the use of ones imagination. He wanted to provide strong role models in an engaging way. This book is prefect for 4 or 5th graders. It moves fast, has lots of action and leaves us wanting to know a bit more about these young ladies.
As a mentor text he does just that. We want to know more and so he adds a short real biography on each of his characters at the end of the book. It is a great way to show the amount of research he needed to do make his story seem authentic to the time period and the people he is using.
Stratford’s second book in this series is due out some time this summer. If you are interested in the business side of books he is worth looking at. He got this book started with a kickstarter campaign that raised over $91,00o and got the attention of all 6 major publishers. An amazing story of stepping into children’s book publishing.
I am now off to spend the evening with Victor Frankenstein and his monster.