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Marching for Freedom: Walk Together, Children and Don’t You Grow Weary

Marching for Freedom: Walk Together, Children and Don’t You Grow Weary

Marching for Freedom

Marching for Freedom tells the story of hundreds of men, women and children who marched in Selma, Alabama in the 1960s to help win black Americans the right to vote.

In 1963 Joanne Blackmon was ten. She went to the courthouse with her Grandmother so that her Grandmother could register to vote. They waited in line for hours and finally were arrested and put in jail. An old lady and a little girl…arrested…for patiently waiting in line.

That’s how it was in 1963. If a black person wanted to register to vote there were all kinds of outlandish rules they had to follow that made actually registering virtually impossible. A lot of people were afraid to even try to register for fear of being arrested, fired from their job or beaten.

In order to bring attention to the problem, people began to organize peaceful marches. The author interviewed several people who were child marchers – it is really interesting to listen to them tell their stories. What was it really like to be a ten year-old in jail? How did it feel? What was it like to march and have people yell mean things at you and throw things at you? It’s much better than a history book that just tells you what happened. These kids were actually there. You can tell how much they believed in what they were doing because they were able to be brave even though they were very scared. It’s a great story about the power of kids, ordinary kids, who helped changed the course of American history.

There are also great pictures throughout this book. If you like them you can look at more at the Take Stock website links below. By looking at the photos you can be a witness to history too. The author says, “I wondered…would I have been that brave?” After reading this book I asked myself the same thing. Author: Elizabeth Patridge

Freedom Song

While the people were marching, they often sang songs to communicate their purpose and to help them overcome their fear. One of the most famous songs is “We Shall Overcome.” Have you heard of that one? In the book Freedom Song, you can read the words to the songs and learn about them. A CD comes with the book so you can listen also.

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The Nine Pound Hammer

The Nine Pound Hammer

The Nine Pound Hammer

Ray and his sister Sally are on an orphan train in hopes of finding new parents out West. On the train, Ray realizes that Sally would stand a better chance at getting adopted if she didn’t have an older brother – so he jumps off the train to adventure on his own.

Ray has one thing to remind him of the life he used to have, a stone his father gave him. It is a lodestone, a magnetic stone used to make compasses. The stone is acting funny. It seems to be pulling Ray South, so Ray decides to go wherever the lodestone leads.

The stone leads Ray to Cornelius T. Carter’s Mystifying Medicine Show, a sideshow that travels in a steam train from town to town performing tricks and selling medicine oil. The band of performers includes a blind sharpshooter, a snake charmer, a fire-eater, a sword swallower and a strong man. Ray discovers that these performers are more than they first appear. The strong man, Conker, is John Henry’s son. John Henry was a legendary railroad worker who defeated a steam powered hammer, man against machine, in a contest. John Henry won the challenge, but then dropped dead from the effort. His stories are legends like Pecos Bill or Paul Bunyan.

Ray discovers that John Henry’s legend is actually real and that John Henry didn’t just win a competition, he defeated a demonic machine built by a man (the Gog) who was determined to dominate the world with his evil mechanical inventions. Ray finds out his dad helped John Henry beat the evil machine…but that the Gog and his evil machines are back. It is up to Ray and Conker and their friends to do battle again.

This story draws a lot of characters and personality from tales of the American South, African American Folklore and tales from the frontier West. I liked reading about traveling by steam locomotive. It’s hard for us to imagine now, but back in those days there were trains owned by individual people that traveled all over the country – trains decked out like fancy RVs inside.

The story is science fiction meets the frontier meets steampunk. (Steampunk is a story that involves technology before that technology was actually invented. The evil gunius in this story uses robotic creatures that are built with technology not known in the 1800s.) Ray’s adventure is like Harry Potter because there is an ensemble cast of kids that have inherited the fight from a previous generation.

There are no unicorns or dragons or wizards in this magical story, but magic still, a kind of magic that has its roots in African-American history and the American South called hoo doo. People knowledgeable in hoo doo are called conjurers or root doctors. They make potions from herbs, animals, or items owned by a person. Sometimes, the hoo doo knowledge is what we might call a folk remedy. Hoo doo uses a bit of science and a bit of the spiritual unknown to conjure up its magic. Author: Claude Bemis Series: The Clockwork Dark

  • Look Inside The Nine Pound Hammer
  • The Nine Pound Hammer on CD
  • Disney’s John Henry Part One and Two
  • Listen NPR Author Interview with Claude Bemis

There is a really cool book about the song The Ballad of John Henry. The book traces the history of the song and takes a guess at who John Henry really was. This book is called Ain’t Nothing But a Man: My Quest to Find the Real John Henry. Generally, legends are based on at least a tiny bit of truth and this book shows the historical treasure hunt the author went on to track down the bits of truth in the John Henry story.

The video below is the blues artist John Jackson singing the John Henry song. Blues music came out of African-American communites in the South in the 1800s. Songs included spirituals and work songs and chants. A lot of times the songs told a story in a ballad – John Henry is a ballad and work song.

Continue reading Ray and Conker’s story in The Wolf Tree and The White City. Ain’t Nothing But a Man is the story of John Henry – very interesting with outstanding pictures.:
The Wolf Tree The White City Ain't Nuthin But a Man American Tall Tales
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The Doom Machine

The Doom Machine

The Doom Machine

Jack Creedle is minding his own business one morning running his newspaper route when a flying saucer hovers over his town. Finally, something interesting is happening in Vern Hollow. But why did the Skreeps choose to land in tiny Vern Hollow? Skreeps usually invade planets, take everything they want for themselves and enslave the people living there. This time they seem to have something different in mind. They are looking for something all over Vern Hollow and they’ll do just about anything to get it.

Jack’s Uncle Bud, the town auto mechanic, has been acting a little strange, well, more strangely than usual. He’s been busy in his backyard shed tinkering on a special projects he’s built inside an old refrigerator. It turns out crazy Uncle Bud is onto something with this invention. It’s the one thing the Skreeps want. It also might be the very thing needed to save earth from the Skreeps, if Jack and his Uncle Bud and a crew of motley friends (and a couple enemies) can keep them from it. A high flying alien abduction adventure with Jack and his crazy Uncle Bud – two unlikely heroes that run their adventures their own way. Creedles are used to trouble, trouble always find them. This time, the trouble better look out. Author: Mark Teague

  • Read an Interview with Mark Teague
  • Play Online Game: The Doom Machine Skreep Attack

More alien adventures with intrepid, brave and funny kids that are not afraid to take on an alien invasion:
The True Meaning of Smekday Mike Stellar Nerves of Steel Starcross Trash Crisis on Earth
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Mike Stellar: Nerves of Steel

Mike Stellar: Nerves of Steel

Mike Stellar Nerves of Steel

“Michael, there’s something your father and I would like to talk to you about.”

Anything that follows a line like that can never be good. But the next time you get hit with bad news, remember Mike Stellar. NOTHING can compare to what came next for him.

“We’re moving to Mars. Tomorrow.” I heard a thump and looked around. Surprisingly, it had come from me. I had fallen off the sofa.

Moving to Mars was NOT in Mike’s plan and he is not pleased with his Mom and Dad.

“Excuse me if Im not skipping down the hall at the thought of moving to a different planet, Mom.”

Mike can take one box of stuff and the lid has to fit on tight when he’s done. So Mike packs his one box and his bad attitude and boards the shuttle. Well, he also packs a seriously contraband outside communication device so he can keep in contact with his best friend on earth. (Don’t tell.)

On the spaceship Mike does some early morning exploring, like any self respecting kid would do. He stumbles into an area that his parents, and security, act very strangely about. In fact, Mike’s parents act downright guilty. What are they hiding about this space trip? What’s a rebellious, suspicious, smart kid to do? Get to the bottom of it that’s what, and he just might have to break a few more rules while he’s at it. Detention again! Author: K.A. Holt

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