Wednesday, May 15, 2019

May Grades 5-6 Book Club: Between Shades of Gray

For May's Book Club, we read Between Shades  of Gray by Ruta Sepetys. Anthony, Claire, JT, Madison, Maida, and Reagan were present. Here's some of what we talked about, with guidance from the author's book website.

As the novel opens, Lina explains that though the signs were in place, she has little understanding that her parents had planned to attempt to escape Lithuania. What can be inferred about her understanding of the political climate in her country?

Lina’s mother remains calm throughout the roundup of her family; how does her family benefit from this?

When Jonas observes his mother smashing her beloved china and crystal before they depart their home, he asks her why she is destroying these items. She replies, “Because I love them so much.” (p. 18) Do you consider this an act of rebellion? In your opinion, is her reaction appropriate? In what ways is she trying to control the situation?

As Lina’s family is first placed in the truck to take them to the trains, they meet the bald man who proclaims loudly, “We’re all going to die. We will surely die.” (p. 22) How does his presence affect the other prisoners? Consider and explain how Lina and her mother react to his rants. In what ways is Elena (Lina’s mother) sympathetic to his condition?

Using examples, what are some of the specific ways Lina’s mother chooses to fight back against the NKVD?

Being held prisoner on the train brings out the best and worst in some of the inhabitants. Consider and discuss some of the ways that individuals extend their assistance and support. How do their choices differ from those who are most unkind to others?

How does the author use the embedded flashbacks to help readers understand why Lina’s family has been rounded up for punishment? Do you agree with the family’s choices? Why or why not?

Though readers mostly learn about Kostas, Lina’s father, through her shared memories, a great deal can be understood about his character. In your opinion, what kind of man is he? Is he a good father? Use textual evidence to make your case.

Upon arriving at the country train depot, the NKVD officers begin sorting the prisoners, and Lina asks, “Have you ever wondered what a human life is worth? That morning, my brother’s was worth a pocket watch.” (p. 35). How does this realization change Lina? In what ways does Lina better understand her mother’s actions and motivations?

After Jonas is selected to be separated from his mother and sister, their mother is able to save his life by using her language skills and quick wit. What are some of the specific things she does to secure his safety?

Discuss the character traits that allow Lina, Jonas, and Andrius to ultimately persevere. How are these characters similar to each other? In what ways are they different? Which character are you most like?

Throughout the novel, Lina uses her passion for her art to remain connected to her family and the outside world. What are some of the specific ways she does this?

What role does Andrius play in the story? In what ways is he a catalyst for the choices made by Lina and Jonas?

Consider the consequences of not signing the documents which charge the prisoners of counterrevolutionary activities against the Soviet Union. Does Lina’s family make the right decision by refusing to “confess” these transgressions? Why or why not?

Though Lina believes that Andrius and his mother are supplying information to the NKVD officers in exchange for food and shelter, she eventually learns that the arrangement comes at a great cost to his family. How does this knowledge of the lengths his mother goes to in order to keep him safe ultimately affect him? How does Lina’s understanding of these sacrifices reshape her perception of him? His mother?

Throughout the novel, the bald man is cast as an unsympathetic character. How do his random acts of kindness help portray him as more than one dimensional? Cite specific instances from the story where you find evidence of this. Why might the author choose to include these examples?

Using the phrase, “This is a story about…”supply five words to describe Between Shades of Gray. Explain your choices.

Four 5s for this book! They "loved it"!

Thursday, April 25, 2019

April Grades 5-6 Book Club: Six of Crows

For April's Book Club, we read Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo.  Anthony, Claire, JT, Madison, Maida, Reagan and Ryan were present. Here is a little of what we discussed, guided by the discussion questions. 

How do the characters—Kaz and his crew of five—differ from one another? Start, perhaps, with each one's defining characteristics; then consider...
  ♦ their individual motivations
  ♦ their skills (what talent each brings to the heist)
  ♦ their past histories
  ♦ how each views the society they live in, the job at hand, and one another.

Do you have any favorites within the Dregs? Is there one you relate to or sympathize with more than any of the others?

Six of Crows is set in the same world as Bardugo's Grisha Trilogy. If you've read any of the books in that trilogy, how does this one compare? If you haven't, was it hard to find your footing at first?

Did you enjoy the book's structure—a story told through five different characters? Do the differing voices progress seamlessly through the book, or does the storyline feel disjointed? Why might Bardugo have chosen to tell her story using different points of view?

Talk about the various loyalties and friendships that exist among and between crew members—there's Nina and Inej, as well as Jesper, Wylan, and Matthias.

Fantasy/dystopian literature is frequently a veiled allusion to the ills of contemporary society, perhaps serving as a warning. What aspects of Ketterdam, though exaggerated, might be a reflection of our own 21st-century society?

Were you surprised by the twists and turns of the plot? Or did you "see it coming." 

If Six of Crows is the first installment of a series, will you be reading the next volume?

Rate this book between 1 and 5, with 5 being the best.

-One 1
-One 2
-Three 4s
-One 4.5
-One 5

In May, we will be reading Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys. 

In 1941, fifteen-year-old Lina, her mother, and brother are pulled from their Lithuanian home by Soviet guards and sent to Siberia, where her father is sentenced to death in a prison camp while she fights for her life, vowing to honor her family and the thousands like hers by burying her story in a jar on Lithuanian soil. Based on the author's family.

We will meet on Wednesday, May 15 at 3:00 p.m. Please pick up your copy of the book at the Circulation Desk and be sure to register for Book Club.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

May Grades 5-6 Book Suggestions

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Fifteen-year-old Lina is a Lithuanian girl living an ordinary life -- until Soviet officers invade her home and tear her family apart. Separated from her father and forced onto a crowded train, Lina, her mother, and her young brother make their way to a Siberian work camp, where they are forced to fight for their lives. Lina finds solace in her art, documenting these events by drawing. Risking everything, she imbeds clues in her drawings of their location and secretly passes them along, hoping her drawings will make their way to her father's prison camp. But will strength, love, and hope be enough for Lina and her family to survive?

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn't think they'd survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they're right back to fighting for their lives. Double-crossed and badly weakened, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz's cunning and test the team's fragile loyalties. A war will be waged on the city's dark and twisting streets--a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of the Grisha world.

The Inquisitor's Tale by Adam Gidwitz

1242. On a dark night, travelers from across France cross paths at an inn and begin to tell stories of three children. Their adventures take them on a chase through France: they are taken captive by knights, sit alongside a king, and save the land from a farting dragon. On the run to escape prejudice and persecution and save precious and holy texts from being burned, their quest drives them forward to a final showdown at Mont Saint-Michel, where all will come to question if these children can perform the miracles of saints.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

March Grades 5-6 Book Club: Grenade

For March's Book Club, we read Grenade by Alan Gratz. Anthony, Claire, Lillian, Maida, and Reagan were present. This is some of what we talked about, based on questions from

1. Did you like the beginning of the book, with action-packed, dramatic introductions to Hideki and Ray?

-I liked the part where the Japanese soldier threw a grenade and it bounced back on him.
-And it exploded him.
-I liked it because it didn't take a long time to get to the action
-I liked it because there were two characters who were on different sides

2. Did you like Hideki and Ray when you were first introduced to them? What's the first word that comes to mind to describe your first impression of each young man? 

-Hideki=wimp. Ray=wimp
-I liked Ray better.
-Hideki=young. Ray=wimp

3. Have you read other WWII books? If so, did they take place in the "Pacific theater" of the war? 

No one could remember a Pacific-area WWII book that they had read.

4. Did you like Ray's fellow soldiers? If so, who was your favorite and why?

-Sgt. Meredith
-Big John
-Big John
-Big John: he understood Ray

5. What about Hideki? Did you have a favorite character that he crossed paths with?

-His sister
-His sister
-Big John (the Bear Man)

6. Did you think that this book was overly violent or that it accurately depicted what war is like?

-accurately depicted
-there was the perfect amount of death
-I felt like I was there

7. Were you surprised by Ray's death? Was it strange to you that one of the main characters/one of the narrators was killed halfway through the book?

-no, I saw it coming
-I was surprised
-seeing Sgt. Meredith die set it up

8. Who did you think was worse: the Americans or the Japanese? Do you think that Hideki made the right decision in the end?

-the Japanese
-they were equally bad
-why can't they just be friends and have peace

9. What do you think of war after reading this book? Are there right or wrong answers?

-sad. Very very sad
-they are both people just trying to live

10. At the end of the book, the war is still raging. Do you know what happened to end WWII? Do you think that Hideki and his sister make it through alive?

-they were taken to America
-they're dead

Rate this book from 1-5, with 1 being the worst and 5 being the best:

-One 3
-Three 4s
-Two 5

For April's Book Club, we will be reading Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo.

Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz's crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction--if they don't kill each other first.

We will be meeting on Wednesday, April 17 at 3:00 p.m. Please be sure to pick up your copy and register for book club (each month) at the Circulation Desk!

We will be meeting at 3:00 p.m. on Wednesday, April 17. Don't forget: this is vacation week! Please be sure to pick up a copy of the book and to register for Book Club at the Circulation Desk.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

April Grades 5-6 Book Club Suggestions

Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson

As the Revolutionary War begins, thirteen-year-old Isabel wages her own fight...for freedom. Promised freedom upon the death of their owner, she and her sister, Ruth, in a cruel twist of fate become the property of a malicious New York City couple, the Locktons, who have no sympathy for the American Revolution and even less for Ruth and Isabel. When Isabel meets Curzon, a slave with ties to the Patriots, he encourages her to spy on her owners, who know details of British plans for invasion. She is reluctant at first, but when the unthinkable happens to Ruth, Isabel realizes her loyalty is available to the bidder who can provide her with freedom. 

Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding by Alexandra Bracken

Prosper is the only unexceptional Redding in his old and storied family history-that is, until he discovers the demon living inside him. Turns out Prosper's great-great-great-great-great-something grandfather made-and then broke-a contract with a malefactor, a demon who exchanges fortune for eternal servitude. And, weirdly enough, eight-hundred-year-old Alastor isn't exactly the forgiving type.
The fiend has reawakened with one purpose--to destroy the family whose success he ensured and who then betrayed him. 

Mockingbird by Katherine Erskine

Caitlin has Asperger's. The world according to her is black and white; anything in between is confusing. Before, when things got confusing, Caitlin went to her older brother, Devon, for help. But Devon was killed in a school shooting, and Caitlin's dad is so distraught that he is just not helpful. Caitlin wants everything to go back to the way things were, but she doesn't know how to do that. Then she comes across the word closure--and she realizes this is what she needs. And in her search for it, Caitlin discovers that the world may not be so black and white after all.

Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty

A brave and unusual girl named Serafina lives secretly in the basement of the grand Biltmore Estate amidst the splendor of the Gilded Age. Serafina's pa, the estate's maintenance man, has warned her to keep herself hidden from the fancy folk who live on the floors above, but when children at the estate start disappearing, Serafina and her friend Braeden Vanderbilt must work together to solve a dark and dangerous mystery.

March Grades 5-6 Book Club Suggestions

Rise of the Wolf by Jennifer A. Nielsen

Nic may have escaped enslavement in the mines outside of Rome, but his troubles are far from over. The Praetor War -- the battle to destroy Rome from within -- is in full force, and Nic is caught in the crossfire. The secretive Praetors are determined to unlock a powerful amulet -- one sure to bring the empire to its knees. Worse, the Praetors believe Nic holds the key to finding this amulet, and they will stop at nothing to steal it, even if that means harming the people Nic holds most dear.

When the Praetors capture Nic's mother, Nic knows he must do anything to save her. He challenges the Praetors to a chariot race. If he wins, they will release his mother. But if he loses, he must hand over a magic that will certainly bring about the end of Rome -- as well as his own life. Can Nic once again harness his magic and gather the strength to defeat his enemies? Or will he lose his mother and bear witness to Rome's destruction?

Refugee by Alan Gratz

Although separated by continents and decades, Josef, a Jewish boy living in 1930s Nazi Germany; Isabel, a Cuban girl trying to escape the riots and unrest plaguing her country in 1994; and Mahmoud, a Syrian boy in 2015 whose homeland is torn apart by violence and destruction, embark on harrowing journeys in search of refuge, discovering shocking connections that tie their stories together.

Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk

Growing up in the shadows cast by two world wars, Annabelle has lived a mostly quiet, steady life in her small Pennsylvania town. Until the day new student Betty Glengarry walks into her class. Betty quickly reveals herself to be cruel and manipulative, and while her bullying seems isolated at first, things quickly escalate, and reclusive World War I veteran Toby becomes a target of her attacks. While others have always seen Toby’s strangeness, Annabelle knows only kindness. She will soon need to find the courage to stand as a lone voice of justice as tensions mount.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

February Grades 5-6 Book Club: Mark of the Thief

For February's Book Club, we read Mark of the Thief by Jennifer A. Nielsen. Anthony, JT, Madison, Maida, and Reagan were present. This is some of what we talked about, based on questions from

1. How would the story have been different if Nic had given the bulla to Radulf? Do you think Radulf would have kept his promise to bring Nic with him to Rome? 

-He brought Livia to Rome so maybe he would have Nic
-Nic wouldn't have any troubles
-It would be a less interesting story

2. After Nic escapes Caesar’s cave, he has the chance to run away, but he doesn’t. Why not? Considering everything that happens to him once he’s recaptured, did he make the right decision? 

-He wanted to go back so that he wouldn't leave his sister behind
-He really wanted to eat strawberries
-I guess so because he cares about Livia

3. The power structure in Rome plays an important part in the story. Consider how much power the Senators and General Radulf have when compared to Aurelia and Nic. Even Crispus, as the son of a Senator, can do things Nic and Aurelia would never dare do. Do we have similar power structures in our world today – are there some people with more privileges than others? 

-The dictator of North Korea has ultimate power
-The slaves have a lot less freedoms than the Romans

4. When Felix ties Nic to the horse then sends him into the arena, he says he is only following orders from the emperor. Is it okay to disobey if someone in authority tells you to do something you know is wrong? Or should we always obey? 

-It depends on what the consequences are. It depends on the circumstances. If Felix had disobeyed the emperor, he would have been killed. So it would have been bad for him.
-If you know something is wrong, you should disobey and rebel

5. Why does Aurelia want to bring Nic to Senator Horatio? Should she have told Nic the truth, even if it meant she wouldn’t get her father back? 

-She didn't get her father back anyway
-She was wrong for not telling Nic. She was pretty much bringing Nic to his death without him knowing her ulterior motive.
-I feel like the story would have gone differently if Radulf teamed up with Nic to help take over the empire. 

6. Why does the emperor believe Nic is a threat to him? 

-Because Nic has magic. The emperor does not. Nic's power is a threat.
-Nic's power is destructive. He almost knocked down the ampitheater.

7. A lot of characters are either good people who make some bad choices, or bad characters who make some good choices. Can you give any examples of this? 

-Aurelia is a good character who made some bad choices. In the sewers, she tried to kill Nic but other times she made good choices
-Sal was a bad character who made some good choices. He let Nic live even when he was so much trouble in the mines.
-Radulf made some bad choices trying to take down the Empire in vengeance but really he's just sad

8. Nic is really excited to get his first pair of sandals. Why do you think this matters so much to him? 

-Because he was a slave and never got the chance to own shoes before
-Clothing can signify who you are in the world

9. Which character do you consider the “worst” villain — Radulf, Horatio, Valerius, or Sal (or someone else)? Why? 

-Radulf because he is trying to destroy Rome and he's against the Empire
-The crowd in the ampitheater because they are supporting the people being killed
-Radulf because Horatio is close to joining him but he dies
-Nic is his own worst enemy. If he hadn't run away, nothing would have happened.

10. At the end of the book, Nic no longer has the bulla, and is trapped at General Radulf’s home. What do you think he’ll do next?

-He's going to burn down the house.
-He's going to try to escape.

Rate this book from 1-5
-One 2
-One 3
-Four 4s
-One 5

For March's Book Club, we will be reading Grenade by Alan Gratz.

On April 1, 1945 with the battle of Okinawa beginning, fourteen-year-old native Okinawan Hideki, drafted into the Blood and Iron Student Corps, is handed two grenades and told to go kill American soldiers; small for his age Hideki does not really want to kill anyone, he just wants to find his family, and his struggle across the island will finally bring him face-to-face with Ray, a marine in his very first battle--and the choice he makes then will change his life forever.

We will be meeting at 3:00 p.m. on Wednesday, March 20. Please be sure to pick up a copy of the book and to register for Book Club at the Circulation Desk.

May Grades 5-6 Book Club: Between Shades of Gray

For May's Book Club, we read Between Shades  of Gray by Ruta Sepetys. Anthony, Claire, JT, Madison, Maida, and Reagan were pr...