A Novel that Focuses on a Character with Disabilities

1. Bibliography

Bradley, Kimberly Brubaker. 2015. The War that Saved My Life. New York: Dial Books for Young Readers. ISBN 9780803740815

2. Plot Summary

Ada has a clubfoot. According to her mam, that makes Ada practically worthless. Mam won’t have Ada going outside, showing her “shame” to all of London, so even though Ada is a very bright ten-year-old, she isn’t allowed to leave her mother’s flat with her younger brother Jamie. Not ever. Not even to use the restroom. And if Mam is having a bad day, she’ll hit Ava. Sometimes, she’ll even lock Ada under the sink to spend the night surrounded by cockroaches.

When Ava learns that Jamie is being evacuated from London to the countryside along with many of London’s children, she decides to go too, even though Mam forbids it. Ava and Jamie end up in the city of Kent under the care of a woman, Susan Smith, who doesn’t want to take them. Slowly, Ava and Jamie crack Susan’s prickly exterior and they learn to trust her too. They also learn to read, to write, and—Ava’s favorite activity—to ride horses. But battle is brewing and it’s going to take everyone in England to help with the war effort—Ava included. Two questions remain on Ava’s mind: Will England survive World War II? And will Mam come to take her back?

3.  Critical Analysis

It’s normal to see a disabled character navigate life in a contemporary setting. Less commonly seen in disability literature is a character from the past, for example one who lived in England during World War II. Enter Ada, a girl with a clubfoot. Not only does placing a disabled child in history grant abled children the opportunity to see a disabled child in a new context, it tells disabled children today that they also have a place in history and an important story to share with the world.

However, Ada’s clubfoot does not define her story. As Ada learns to say, her “foot’s a long way from [her] brain.” Ada’s foot sure doesn’t prevent her from learning to read, write, make a friend, ride a horse, or spot a spy. And Ada never wallows in self-pity because of her disability or asks readers to feel bad for her because of it. Brubaker’s superb writing has made it easy for readers to see Ada not as a disabled character to be pitied but as a heroine to be admired for her determination and courage to stand up to an abusive mother and always protect her brother.

And in fact, Brubaker places Ada’s emotional challenges front and center, rather than her physical ones. The real war that Ada fights is an internal one, a battle against her own feelings of unworthiness and ineptitude because of the way Mam has treated her. Ada’s journey from a prickly pear who feels hatred and fear to a confident girl who learns to trust and feels joy is a convincing one, and one that doesn’t dissolve into an unbelievable happily ever after. When Ada has a panic attack after being placed in the Anderson shelter because it seems like the cabinet her mam shoved her in, readers can understand Ada’s terror. Ada’s Anderson-induced panic attacks never go away, a writing choice that I greatly admire. Brubaker does not gloss over or downplay the emotional damage that has been done to Ada and she certainly doesn’t imply that Ada is “fixed” of all the abuse she has experienced for the past ten years because she’s been placed in a better situation for a mere few months. This writing choice validates the experiences of so many people who may take many years to heal from emotional damage.

With exceptional character development, realistic depictions of emotional abuse and its consequences, and an original historical story about one endearing girl, this book is gold. It’s no wonder that this was a Newbery honor title. The War that Saved My Life is a story that belongs on every middle grade bookshelf.

4. Rewards and Review Excerpts

Cybils Awards, 2015, Nominee, Middle Grade Fiction

Goodreads Choice Award, 2015, Nominee, Middle Grade

John Newbery Medal, 2016, Honor

Odyssey Award, 2016, Winner

Parents’ Choice Award, 2015, Gold, Fiction

Schneider Family Book Award, 2016, Winner

From Kirkus: “Ada’s voice is brisk and honest; her dawning realizations are made all the more poignant for their simplicity. With Susan’s help and the therapeutic freedom she feels on horseback, Ada begins to work through a minefield of memories but still harbors hope that Mam will accept her. . . Ignorance and abuse are brought to light, as are the healing powers of care, respect and love. Set against a backdrop of war and sacrifice, Ada’s personal fight for freedom and ultimate triumph are cause for celebration.”

From Booklist: “The home-front realities of WWII, as well as Ada s realistic anger and fear, come to life in Bradley s affecting and austerely told story, and readers will cheer for steadfast Ada as she triumphs over despair.” 

5. Connections

Include The War That Saved My Life in a display about World War II which may also include the following books:

  • Albus, Kate. A Place to Hang the Moon. ISBN 9780823447053
  • Takei, George. They Called Us Enemy. ISBN 9781603094504
  • Korman, Gordon. War Stories. ISBN 9781338290202
  • Bustard, Anne. Blue Skies. ISBN 9781534446069

Kimberly Brubaker Bradley has written many books and won many awards. Create a display of some of her books. The following are possible options:

  • Fighting Words. ISBN 9781662254185
  • Jefferson’s Sons. ISBN 9780803734999
  • The War I Finally Won. ISBN 9780698197138
  • Leap of Faith. ISBN 9780803731271
  • For Freedom. ISBN 978038572961

A Picture Book by Tim Tingle

1. Bibliography

Tingle, Tim, and Jeanne Rorex Bridges (illustrator). 2006. Crossing Bok Chitto: A Choctaw Tale of Friendship & Freedom. El Paso: Cinco Puntos Press. ISBN 9780938317777

2. Plot Summary

Bok Chitto is the river boundary between the Choctaw Nation and the Black slaves that work the plantation on the other side. Martha Tom’s mother warns her never to cross the river, but when the young Choctaw girl is tasked with gathering blackberries for a wedding, she sees delicious bushes on the other side and can’t help but cross. When Martha Tom gets lost, members of a forbidden slave church help her, sending one young Black slave, Little Mo, to direct her back across the river. Soon, a friendship blooms between Martha Tom and Little Mo. When Little Mo’s mother learns she’s going to be sold away from her family, Little Mo asks Martha Tom’s family for help. Even though slave owners are searching for Little Mo’s mother, the combined faith of Little Mo’s and Martha Tom’s family helps Mo and his clan to literally disappear from sight. The family crosses Bok Chitto to safety and to freedom. End notes include information on the Mississippi Choctaws and on Choctaw storytelling.

3.  Critical Analysis

Crossing Bok Chitto is an original story like nothing I’ve ever read before, and there’s no doubt that Tim Tingle has written an engaging story that will rivet young audiences. Children will await the turn of the page, wondering about the fates of Martha Tom, Little Mo, and their entire families. The book is also a shining example of one that manages to respect for the religious beliefs of both cultures portrayed. Little Mo and his family attend a church where the preacher preaches and the congregants sing, while Martha Tom’s family participates in the dances and chants of a Native wedding ceremony. It is both the Christian faith of Little Mo’s family and the ceremonial unity of the Choctaw Nation that bring Little Mo’s family safely across the river. Rather than allow their cultural differences to create a rift, the relationships between the Choctaw and the African Americans in Crossing Bok Chitto are positive and uplifting. As Tim Tingle writes, the story is also “documented the Indian way, told and retold and then passed on by uncles and grandmothers.” Crossing Bok Chitto has the read-aloud quality of a Native American oral tale, perfect for performing, and the fact that the entire story has stemmed from a conversation with Archie Mingo, one of Tingle’s trible elders, adds to its authenticity. The Choctaw chant in the story, a real wedding chant, is another valuable addition.

Bridges’s illustrations are also, for the most part, a plus. Her illustrations accurately depict the characters on both sides of the river—Martha Tom and the Choctaw people look much different from Little Mo and the African American slaves, both in physical characteristics and in dress. Unfortunately, while the illustrations are accurate and each character is drawn distinctly rather than stereotyped, the art style, a mix of acrylic and watercolor painting, feels slightly dated.

Still, while the front cover may not immediately draw children in, the storyline will. Parents, teachers, and other caregivers should make the effort to introduce their children to this unique book, crossing cultural divides and telling a story that isn’t often told. Recommended for all picture book shelves.

4. Rewards and Review Excerpts

Booklist Book Review Stars, 2006

Publishers Weekly Book Review Stars, 2006

American Indian Youth Literature Award, 2008, Winner

Jane Addams Children’s Book Award, 2007, Honor

Skipping Stones Honor Award, 2007

ALSC Notable Children’s Book, 2007

From Children’s Literature: “Tom Tingle, a member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, tells a very moving story about friends helping each other and reveals a lesser-known part of American History: Native Americans helped runaway slaves. . . . While this is a picture book, it would make a wonderful read-aloud for middle elementary students.”

From Booklist: “In a picture book that highlights rarely discussed intersections between Native Americans in the South and African Americans in bondage, a noted Choctaw storyteller and Cherokee artist join forces with stirring results.”

5. Connections

Create a display of Crossing Bok Chitto and other books by Tim Tingle, such as the following selections:

  • How I Became a Ghost: A Choctaw Trail of Tears Story. ISBN 9781937054533
  • Saltypie: A Choctaw Journey from Darkness into Light. ISBN 9781933693675
  • Stone River Crossing. ISBN 9781620148235
  • Danny Blackgoat, Navajo Prisoner. ISBN 9781939053039
  • House of Purple Cedar. ISBN 9781935955696

Create a display of Crossing Bok Chitto and other freedom-themed picture book stories, such as the following selections:

  • Shange, Ntozake. Freedom’s a-Callin’ Me. ISBN 9780061337413
  • Weatherford, Carole Boston. Box: Henry Brown Mails Himself to Freedom. ISBN 9780763691561
  • Lendler, Ian. The Fabled Life of Aesop: The Extraordinary Journey and Collected Tales of the World’s Greatest Storyteller. ISBN 9781328585523
  • Cline-Ransom, Lesa. Overground Railroad. ISBN 9780823438730
  • Sís, Peter. Nicky & Vera: A Quiet Hero of the Holocaust and the Children He Rescued. ISBN 9781324015741
  • Văn, Mượn Thị. Wishes. ISBN 9781338305890

*Note—This book review was created as an assignment for a course at Texas Woman’s University.

A Historical Novel (Audiobook)


Vawter, Vince. Paperboy. Read by Lincoln Hoppe. Portland, ME: Listening Library, 2013. Unabridged, 6 hr., 11 min.


When he accidentally “busts” his friend, Rat, playing baseball, Vince agrees to take his friend’s paper route for the summer. There’s just one problem: Vince can hardly get a word out without stuttering up a storm, and he’s terrified of trying to talk to people he that don’t know about his condition. With lots of encouragement from Mam—his best friend and colored caretaker—and from his parents, Vince sets out on his month-long stint as paperboy. Vince’s route takes him to Mrs. Worthington, an attractive woman with sad eyes; Mr. Shapiro, an educated seaman and patient friend; TV Boy, a name that Vince makes up for a boy who always seems to be sitting in front of the television; and Ara T, an unkind junkman that Mam forbids Vince from talking to. Although Vince struggles to accept himself and to navigate the complex questions of life as he makes the transition from childhood to adolescence, his paper route provides Vince with life experiences that make Vince a better human being. By summer’s end, Vince has seen and experienced the effects of hate, sadness, and injustice, but he’s also learned where to go to give and receive kindness, love, and acceptance. The author’s note at the end of the story reveals the autobiographical nature of Paperboy and provides readers with deeper insights about stuttering.


Vince, or “Little Man” as Mam calls him, is a believable 11-year-old boy: He’s big into sports—baseball specifically—like many other boys his age; he has his first crush on his neighbor Mrs. Worthington; and he begins to see past the innocent lens of childhood into the harsh realities of his world. Why, for example, does Mam have to sit in the back of the bus? Why is Mrs. Worthington always drunk? Are Vince’s parents who he thinks they are? Why does Mam distrust the junkman Ara T? And why does Vince have a stutter? Readers will journey with Vince through one eventful summer and into young adulthood as Vince learns more about the world and his place within it.

Listening to the book in audio format was especially powerful. The narrator did an exceptional job of recreating the pausing, hissing stutters of Vince’s speech, giving readers a better understanding of Vince’s frustrations as he tries to get out the words he so desperately wants to say. The other characters—Mam, Mr. Spiro, Mrs. Worthington—were easily distinguishable due to the narrator’s skillful navigation of each character’s unique inflection, accent, and tone. The narration was engaging and easy to listen to, making it a great audiobook for long family car trips. And the final author’s note spoken by the protagonist himself is a special treat for invested listeners.

The story’s plot, however, may not catch many young readers’ attention. Although the story does include a man intent on committing a murder, most of the story is introspective and a little bit humdrum. Vince spends much of the text explaining the limitations he feels due to his stutter, the philosophical discussions he has with an educated neighbor, and the mundane daily happenings of the customers along his paper route. Adults may find this book a hard sell due to the book’s less than exciting plot, and young readers may not find it especially easy to connect with this slice-of-life memoir of the late 1950s.

Still, the themes of the story are timeless. While Vince begins the story trying to “fix” himself, he unashamedly accepts his limitations—stutter and all—by the book’s end. At the beginning of Paperboy, Vince tries to stay in the background, avoiding interaction rather than risk embarrassing himself and others. His experiences bringing paper—and his voice—to the doors of many houses helps him to stand tall and dare to be different. So while this book might require more coaxing than the standard middle-grade fare, its powerful message is one that many kids will take to heart.


Winner of the AudioFile Earphones Award, 2014

John Newbery Medal Honor Book, 2014

Washington Post Best Children’s Books, 2013

From AudioFile: “Lincoln Hoppe’s narration is pure perfection in this story about ‘Little Man,’ an 11-year-old boy with a stutter so severe that he can’t even say his own name. . . . Hoppe brings out Little Man’s endearing vulnerability and portrays the stutter with a tender ease and grace that will make listeners feel empathy and hope for the boy. . . . The afterword is read by author, and stutterer, Vince Vawter, making this an extraordinary listening and learning experience.”

From Kirkus: “Carefully crafted language, authenticity of setting and quirky characters that ring fully true all combine to make this a worthwhile read. Although Little Man’s stutter holds up dialogue, that annoyance also powerfully reflects its stultifying impact on his life. An engaging and heartfelt presentation that never whitewashes the difficult time and situation as Little Man comes of age.”


  • Discuss the significance of “TV Boy” in Vince’s story. How does Vince’s perception of the boy change over time? Invite students to get to know someone they may not know very well like Vince did, and teach middle schoolers the basics of American Sign Language.
  • Read Paperboy and I Talk Like a River together. Discuss how the stutter affects each boy and how each one learns how to overcome his challenges.
    • Scott, Jordan, and Sydney Smith (illustrator). I Talk Like a River. ISBN 9780823445592
  • Vince is a skilled baseball player. Set out a sports display of other middle grade sports books such as the following:
    • Rallison, Janette. Life, Love, and the Pursuit of Free Throws. ISBN 9780802788986
    • Alexander, Lori, and Allan Drummond (illustrator). A Sporting Chance: How Paralympics Founder Ludwig Guttmann Saved Lives with Sports.ISBN 9781328580795
    • Alexander, Kwame. Booked. ISBN 9780544570986
  • Put out a display of all the 2014 Newbery Award finalists including Paperboy. Then allow middle-graders to vote on their favorite title and hold an awards ceremony for the favorite pick.
    • DiCamillo, Kate, and K. G. Campbell (illustrator). Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures. ISBN 9780763660406
    • Black, Holly. Doll Bones. ISBN 9781416963981
    • Henkes, Kevin. The Year of Billy Miller. ISBN 9780062268150
    • Timberlake, Amy. One Came Home. ISBN 9780375869259

*Note—This book review was created as an assignment for a course at Texas Woman’s University.

Historical Novel by Kirby Larson


Larson, Kirby. Hattie Big Sky. New York: Delacorte Press, 2006. ISBN 9780385733737


Hattie has been moving from house to house for almost as long as she can remember. This time, she’s been taken in by her distantly related aunt and uncle, although Aunt Ivy hopes to get rid of the orphan by employing her at the local boardinghouse. But Aunt Ivy’s plans are dashed unexpectedly when Hattie’s late uncle leaves her a homesteading claim in rural Montana. At just sixteen years old, Hattie takes an Iowa train west, hoping for a place to finally call home. But first she’ll have to appease an angry cow, brave the cruel winter weather, learn how to cook, make friends with strangers, cultivate forty acres of land, and set 480 rods of fence, all by herself. Things don’t always go smoothly in Hattie’s neck of the woods. Local prejudice against German immigrants—like her friendly neighbor, Karl—are high due to nationwide anti-German sentiment; the weather makes Hattie wonder if she’ll ever get a crop; and she worries for her childhood friend and pen pal, Charlie, who is off fighting World War I across the sea. Yet, Hattie never loses her grit and positive outlook. Daily conversations with God ease Hattie’s lonely existence along with blossoming friendships with homesteading neighbors, even when tragedy strikes. Although Hattie’s story may not be a perfectly painless one, it is surely one of determination and of hope.


Hattie’s story—the story of a sixteen-year-old orphan turned homesteader—isn’t a sugar-coated one. When Hattie first arrives at her new abode in the middle of nowhere, snowdrifts and mouse droppings greet her from inside the tiny shanty house. Hattie’s first few months are spent freezing, scaring off a hungry wolf, and trying to learn how to bake bread instead of the grain bricks that keep coming out of the oven. Putting down fenceposts in the muddy spring isn’t much easier, nor is the planting stage that comes a little while later. On every step of Hattie’s homesteading journey, she must confront an obstacle, each one seemingly more unsurmountable than the last. But Hattie’s no slouch. Her gumption and can-do attitude made Hattie easy to like and her ability to laugh at herself will have readers guffawing along with her.

While the story of one pioneering orphan girl in 1917 may seem completely different from the world of today, Hattie’s story is also a timeless one. Hattie refers to herself as “Hattie Here-and-There,” never feeling like she has a place in the world where she is truly at home. And while Hattie writes to Charlie, a childhood friend who fights the Germans across the ocean, she also befriends a German immigrant, Karl Mueller, and his wife and children. In an America embroiled in World War I, German immigrants are treated with suspicion and, in some cases, with outright cruelty. Through Hattie, the author addresses prejudice, friendship, belonging, and courage, themes that continue to resonate with tween and teenage readers today.

What makes this book truly special is that it is both resonant with its readers and true to its historical period. The story is thorough in its research and authentic in its voice. Kirby Larson’s end notes shed light on her extensive research process as the book’s author, including reading dozens of homesteaders’ journals and books about the “honyockers” of Montana. Recipes for Perilee’s Wartime Spice Cake recipe and Hattie’s Lighter-than-Lead Biscuits found in the back matter are another fun (and delicious-looking) addition that interested readers will be excited to try. And Larson’s revelation that Hattie’s story is based loosely on the life of the author’s own great grandmother will delight readers and may spark a newfound love of history. Although Hattie Big Sky doesn’t end with a traditional happily ever after, this story is sure to be a popular favorite on any bookshelf.


John Newbery Medal Honor Book, 2007

School Library Journal Best Books List for Grade 6–8, 2006

YALSA Best Books for Young Adults List, 2007

From Kirkus: “This fine offering may well inspire readers to find out more about their own family histories.”

From Booklist: “The authentic first-person narrative, full of hope and anxiety, effectively portrays Hattie’s struggles as a young woman with limited options, a homesteader facing terrible odds, and a loyal citizen confused about the war and the local anti-German bias that endangers her new friends. . . . Writing in figurative language that draws on nature and domestic detail to infuse [Larson’s] story with the sounds, smells, and sights of the prairie, she creates a richly textured novel full of memorable characters.”


  • Share Kirby Larson’s revelation that Hattie’s story is based loosely on the life of the author’s own great grandmother. Ask teens to learn more about their own family histories. Then have a special family history event where teens can share their favorite family stories orally, through pictures and art, or through written storytelling.
  • As part of a library youth book club, read Hattie Big Sky together. Then have a Hattie Big Sky party, complete with a “barn dance” and the recipes found in the back of the book.
  • Set out a teen book display featuring books set during World War I, such as the following:
    • Berry, Julie. Lovely War. ISBN 9780451469939
    • Westerfeld, Scott. Leviathan.ISBN 9781416971733
    • Murphy, Jim. Truce. ISBN 9780545130493
  • Put out a display of all the 2007 Newbery Award finalists including Hattie Big Sky. Then allow middle-graders and teens to vote on their favorite title and hold an awards ceremony for the favorite pick.
    • Patron, Susan, and Matt Phelan (illustrator). The Higher Power of Lucky. ISBN 9781416901945
    • Holm, Jennifer L. Penny from Heaven. ISBN 9780375836879
    • Lord, Cynthia. Rules. ISBN 9780439443821

*Note—This book review was created as an assignment for a course at Texas Woman’s University.

Scott O’Dell Award Winning Book


Williams-Garcia, Rita. One Crazy Summer. New York: Amistad, 2010. ISBN 9780060760885


Delphine knows that her mother is nothing but crazy. So when her Pa decides it’s time to fly Delphine and her two younger sisters to California to meet the mom that abandoned them seven years ago, Delphine isn’t all that excited. At least Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern will be able to go to Disneyland. But when the girls touch down in Oakland, they learn that their summer will be no amusement park. Cecile, their mother, is about as motherly as a cactus and she definitely did not ask to have her three girls shipped over. While Cecile busily prints off posters and poems for the radical Black Panthers in her kitchen, she sends her daughters off to a Black Panthers-sponsored summer camp each morning to get free breakfast and to get out of her hair. In the crazy summer of 1968, the girls learn more about Black power, revolution, and—slowly but surely—more about their outwardly prickly mother.


In this short but powerful novel, eleven-year-old Delphine take center stage. Delphine, the narrator of One Crazy Summer, has a voice that rivets readers from the very beginning. She muses that she’s a “plain” kind of person, steady and straightforward, but Delphine is anything but plain. Her sisterly devotion makes her both extraordinary and lovable. When Cecile only gets Chinese takeout every night, leaving Fern with nasty stomachaches, Delphine determines to shop for ingredients and cook dinner herself. When Cecile takes Delphine’s money, leaving the children without the California trip they’d hoped for, Delphine makes their own vacation, taking her sisters to explore San Francisco through her own eleven-year-old ingenuity. When summer camp classmates tease seven-year-old Fern for carrying around a doll, Delphine is quick to defend her sister. Readers can’t help but root for this no-nonsense main character.

The setting of the story is vivid and alive, firmly entrenched in Oakland, California during the summer of 1968. Delphine begins the story with a nod to Muhammad Ali as the plane’s turbulence is compared to a “Cassius Clay-left-and-a-right-jab.” The book is also peppered with other historical references: Delphine’s sisters talk about then-popular TV shows like Captain Kangaroo and Mighty Mouse, singers like The Monkeesand Brenda and the Tabulations, and the Vietnam War. Most integral to the novel is the Black Panthers, a radical group that recruits the girls’ mother for help making prints and poetry for their cause. While Cecile is printing and writing, she sends her daughters off to a Black Panthers-sponsored summer camp for kids where they’re taught about words like “revolution” and “Black power” and participate in a rally to remember the murdered Black Panther, Bobby Hutton.

Thanks to William-Garcia’s talent, the revolution and its members are written with incredible nuance. Sister Mukumbu, a Black Panther summer camp teacher, is compassionate and kind, while another Black Panther, “Crazy Kelvin,” is—well—crazy.. Delphine notices both the foreboding rifle-bearing leader, Huey Newton, and the hospitable, kind summer camp workers working together with locals, both Black and white. While Cecile never turns into the mom the girls have hoped she would be and Delphine never receives the motherly praise she craves, this bittersweet mother-daughter relationship is offset by Delphine’s loving and unbreakable sisterly bond with Vonetta and Fern. A memorable main character, a vivid setting, and a nuanced perspective of a radical historical group make this book a standout. Libraries need this book on their shelves.


Winner of the Coretta Scott King Book Award, 2011

John Newbery Medal Honor Book, 2011

National Book Award Finalist, 2010

Winner of the Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction, 2011

From Kirkus: “The depiction of the time is well done, and while the girls are caught up in the difficulties of adults, their resilience is celebrated and energetically told with writing that snaps off the page.”

From Booklist: “Regimented, responsible, strong-willed Delphine narrates in an unforgettable voice, but each of the sisters emerges as a distinct, memorable character, whose hard-won, tenuous connections with their mother build to an aching, triumphant conclusion. Set during a pivotal moment in African American history, this vibrant novel shows the subtle ways that political movements affect personal lives; but just as memorable is the finely drawn, universal story of children reclaiming a reluctant parent’s love.”


  • Create a small book display with middle-grade and young adult novels about the Black Panthers. Along with One Crazy Summer, include books such as the following:
    • Magoon, Kekla. The Rock and the River. ISBN 9781416975823
    • Spotswood, Jessica (editor). A Tyranny of Petticoats. ISBN 9780763678487
    • Shih, Bryan, and Yohuru Williams (editors). The Black Panthers: Portraits from an Unfinished Revolution. ISBN 9781568585567
  • In One Crazy Summer, Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern recite poetry in front of a crowd. Host your own poetry recitation/slam night and invite middle-graders and young adults to recite poetry they’ve written or that they enjoy.
  • Read a short bio about Rita Williams-Garcia, the author of One Crazy Summer. Then set out a display of other middle-grade and young adult books by Williams-Garcia.
    • Williams-Garcia, Rita. P.S. Be Eleven. ISBN 9780061938627
    • Zoboi, Ibi (editor). Black Enough: Stories of Being Young & Black in America.ISBN 9780062698742
    • Williams-Garcia, Rita. Like Sisters on the Homefront. ISBN 9780140385618
  • Put out a display of all the 2011 Newbery Award finalists including One Crazy Summer. Then allow middle-graders to vote on their favorite title and hold an awards ceremony for the favorite pick.
    • Vanderpool, Clare. Moon Over Manifest. ISBN 9780385907507
    • Holm, Jennifer L. Turtle in Paradise. ISBN 9780375836886
    • Preus, Margi. Heart of a Samurai. ISBN 9780810989818
    • Sidman, Joyce, and Rick Allen (illustrator). Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night. ISBN 9780547152288

*Note—This book review was created as an assignment for a course at Texas Woman’s University.