April 22, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Celebrating Titles that “Mind the Gap” at ‘The Horn Book’ at Simmons Event │ JLG’s Booktalks to Go

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It’s not too late to register for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to celebrate this year’s Boston Globe-Horn Book award recipients at the Mind the Gap event at Simmons College on October 10. Authors and illustrators will speak about the behind-the-scenes drama and inspiration for their work. At the Colloquium, sessions will examine the trends in current publishing in an effort to discuss how to fill the gaps. Attendees will also be able to meet the honorees and have books signed. In the meantime, brush up on the winning titles by reading the following booktalks and checking out the resources for teaching them.

Knock Knock by Daniel BeatyBEATY, Daniel. Knock Knock: My Dad’s Dream for Me. illus. by Bryan Collier. Little, Brown. 2013. ISBN 9780316209175. JLG Level: CE : City Elementary (Grades 2–6).

Every morning, I play a game with my father. He goes KNOCK KNOCK on my door, and I pretend to be asleep till he gets right next to the bed. Then I get up and jump into his arms. “Good morning, Papa.”

One day, the boy’s father stops knocking on his door. Morning after morning the boy waits for the sound. His dad isn’t even home anymore. What will the boy do if there is no one to teach him to how shave or drive a car? Who will teach him to dribble a ball?

Check out the blog of award-winning actor, singer, and writer, Daniel Beaty. Don’t miss his amazing performance in a YouTube video. View examples of illustrator Bryan Collier’s work on his website; Kirkus posted an interview with Collier. From Sesame Street to the Department of Health & Human Resources, resources abound to support children with incarcerated parents. After sharing the title with  students, they may want to help children in need. Read about a community who held a “Pay It Forward Day.” Of course, check out the Angel Tree project is a ministry of the Prison Fellowship, which has been in service since 1976. Check your community for local organizations.

JosephinePOWELL, Patricia Hruby. Josephine. illus. by Christian Robinson. Chronicle. 2014. ISBN 9781452103143. JLG Level: BE : Biography Elementary (Grades 2–6).

Josephine dressed the performers, but she learned all the dances. When she met an opportunity to take their place, she stepped in and danced. Just a kid, Baker ran away from home to join the Dixie Steppers. Once, she even hid in a costume trunk rather than be left behind. Dancing was in her blood and fame was just around the corner. Her biggest obstacle was not, however, her age or her talent. It was her skin color. Yet Baker was not about to let racial prejudice stop her. “I shall dance all my life…I would like to die, breathless, spent, at the end of a dance.”

Powell, a storyteller and dancer herself, introduces readers to the colorful, real-life character of Josephine Baker. The exuberance of the age is vibrantly illustrated by Christian Robinson, who has worked for Pixar Animation Studios. Chronicle Books has produced a charming book trailer with lively music that will set toes to tapping. Kids will want to know more about the girl who refused to take no for an answer. They can find more information at Biography.com. A Civil Rights activist, Baker even wrote to Martin Luther King, Jr., offering her support. She was one of the only women to speak at the March on Washington. And, yes, there is video of Josephine doing her banana dance, but you may just want to watch that yourself.

portchicago50SHEINKIN, Steve. The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights. Roaring Brook. 2013. ISBN 9781596437968. JLG Level: HH : History – High School (Grades 10 & Up).

“From the moment they arrived at Port Chicago, most of the men lived in constant fear of a catastrophic explosion. Seventeen-year-old Spencer Sikes was convinced he’d die at the base.

‘Boy, I’ll never make it back home,’ he thought as he worked. ‘I’ll never see my mom again.’

As it turned out, Sikes was on a date 30 miles from the base when a massive blast destroyed two ships, the pier, and everyone who was anywhere near it. The disaster took the lives of 320 men and wounded hundreds. That date saved Sikes’s life. His job, like every other Negro sailor on base, was to load ammunition into ships. When his division was called back to duty, 50 men refused to handle the ammunition. They were arrested and labeled mutineers. If they were found guilty, they could be shot. The year was 1944. The little-known event sparked the beginning of desegregation in the U.S. military.

Known as The Port Chicago 50, this naval trial, involving only black soldiers, caught the attention of Thurgood Marshall. Even with his involvement, the soldiers were doomed during this time of civil injustice. Told from the point of view of the sailors, Sheinkin recounts the Port Chicago story after doing an enormous amount of research, which he includes in his source notes. An extensive bibliography of books, articles, oral histories, and U.S. Navy records rounds out the back matter.

A view of the author’s website includes historic photographs of the sailors and their work. If students wonder how to say his name, share the pronunciation in his own voice from TeachingBooks.net. At the Naval Historical Center website, students can read the Court of Inquiry to see the facts, opinions, and recommendations from the trial. The National Park Service has information about the Port Chicago National Memorial.

Rules of Summer by Shaun TanTAN, Shaun. Rules of Summer. Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine. 2014.  ISBN: 9780545639125. JLG Level: CE : City Elementary (Grades 2–6).

Little brothers are bound to break the rules―especially when they can’t begin to guess what they are. “Never be late for a parade” or “Never eat the last olive.” Both boys quickly realize that if rules really are meant to be broken, they are definitely not without consequences.

From examples of his art to the answers to frequently asked questions, a visit to Tan’s website reveals more about the writer and artist. The book’s website features extra support material such as videos and a teacher’s guide. Rules of Summer also has an app and a book trailer. Connect the style of Tan’s work to surrealism, using the online collection at MoMA, Ducksters, and the Gallery Museum activities. The Classroom Bookshelf featured the title and includes additional teaching ideas. Check the JLG BTG Spring 2014 LiveBinder for other resources.

Additional Resources

The resources for the above titles have been organized in our award-winning Spring 2014 LiveBinder which organizes resources for spring releases. All websites are posted within each LiveBinder, along with the accompanying booktalk. As I write more columns, more books and their resources are added. Everything you need to teach or share brand new, hot-off-the-press books is now all in one place. Booktalks and resources are also included on JLG’s BTG Pinterest board.

For library resources, tips, and ideas, please visit JLG’s Shelf Life Blog.

Junior Library Guild (JLG) is a collection development service that helps school and public libraries acquire the best new children’s and young adult books. Season after season, year after year, Junior Library Guild book selections go on to win awards, collect starred or favorable reviews, and earn industry honors. Visit us at www.JuniorLibraryGuild.com. (NOTE: JLG is owned by Media Source, Inc., SLJ’s parent company.)


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Deborah B. Ford About Deborah B. Ford

Deborah is the Director of Library Outreach for Junior Library Guild. She is an award-winning teacher librarian with almost 30 years of experience as a classroom teacher and librarian in K–12 schools.