Wednesday, January 02, 2019

The Unsung Hero of Birdsong, USA

Here's a fun fact: Our sixth graders, in the absence of Accelerated Reader this year, are doing book projects to reinforce their RACES writing skills. Since I don't like to ask students to do things I am not willing to do (E.G. One nine weeks, I managed to accumulate 500 AR points. I've also been Philo T. Farnsworth and Ruth Wakefield for biography wax museums and completed countless other projects for a variety of subjects), I asked one teacher for the assignment. Having read the following book the night before, I used my lunch time to answer eight questions on this book according to the rubric. I need to see if it's been graded yet!

The point being: if you read enough and WRITE enough, it is very easy to complete assignments. And if you have no idea what RACES writing is, it's okay to ask 8th graders to give you some hints.

Are you finding school tough, O Middle School Students? It's okay to practice writing on your own even if you have no assignments! When I was in 8th grade, I wrote an entire, horrible 320 page novel! On a 1958 Smith-Corona electric typewriter, no less.

My favorite example of training kicking in is when I wrote a perfect five paragraph essay on Sci Fi Junior High.

And yes, I did indeed read six books yesterday. And I ran two miles towards a 100 mile challenge. Well begun is half done!

40004363 Woods, Brenda. The Unsung Hero of Birdsong, USA
January 8th 2019 by Nancy Paulsen Books
E ARC from Edelweiss Plus

For his twelfth birthday, Gabriel gets a brand new Schwinn bicycle, but almost comes to grief after running a red light. Luckily, a man pushes him out of the way of the oncoming car and saves him. Meriwether Hunter also helps fix the bike, and since he does such a good job and Gabriel's father is in need of a mechanic at his auto repair shop, Gabriel offers to talk to his father. The one snag? It's 1946 in South Carolina, and Mr. Hunter is black. Both of Gabriel's parents went to Oberlin college and are considered progressive in their beliefs about race, but the other mechanic, Lucas, is very mean and rumored to be a member of the KKK. It is arranged that Mr. Hunter will work at the garage, but his shift will start after Lucas' ends. Since Gabriel is grounded from riding his bike for two weeks, he offers to help out at his father's garage. His father agrees, knowing that Gabriel wants to watch out for Mr. Hunter. In their talks, Gabriel finds out about the man's past. During World War II, Mr. Hunter was in the army, but returning black soldiers have been warned that letting whites know about their service and medals could put them in danger. When a poisonous snake is left on the Hunter's porch and nearly kills his daughter, other members of the community help him arrange to go to Detroit to work in the auto industry there.
Strengths: This has a lot of good details about what daily life was like in the South at this time. I especially enjoyed Gabriel's cousin, Tink, who uses lots of amusing slang. Gabriel's family are good people trying to make the best of an unpleasant social construct, and make change when they can. The mentions of the Green Book, the guide blacks used to navigate restaurants, service stations and motels in the South, was especially interesting. This was a good balance for middle school readers who don't know much about race relations in the South at this time-- it doesn't hide the bad things, but it isn't as dire as it could be.
Weaknesses: There are a large number of books about this time period that are told from the point of view of white children, and I would like to see more from the point of view of black ones.
What I really think: Definitely purchasing, although the cover looks a bit too cheery for the content.
Ms. Yingling

1 comment:

  1. You read six books AND ran two miles in one day?? Not even the Iron Guy could accomplish such a MANLY task! You continue, as always, to demonstrate what it means to be an Honorary Guy!