Tag Archives: Non-Fiction

January’s Sparrow

January’s Sparrow

January's Sparrow

Eight-year-old Sadie is a slave on the plantation of Master Francis Giltner. When Master Giltner whips January, a young man dear to Sadie and her family for trying to run away, Sadie wishes she would have tried to stop him. Just the other day January had handed her a little bird, a sparrow, carved from wood. He’d handed it to her and said, “It’s fixin’ to fly And so is I.” Maybe Sadie should have told her mom and dad what January was planning to do.

That same night Sadie is shaken awake. Her dad says, “We is gonna cross water tonight!” Her mom says “They was comin’ to fetch the boys in the mornin’. We heard it ourselves. They was gonna be auctioned off.” To keep their family together, Sadie’s mom and dad have made the decision to make a run for it, even though they have seen what their punishment will be if they get caught. This night begins their harrowing journey to Indiana and then on to Michigan and finally to Canada on the Underground Railroad.  Pursued by slave catchers and dogs the family relies on the help of others to survive. And even when they finally get to a free state, slave catchers still chase them, hoping to drag them back to the planation. Author: Patricia Polacco

 This video is a dramatization of people escaping with the help of Abolitionists. It really shows you the emotional toll fleeing took on people and the importance of having help along the way. Fugitive slaves running through Indiana may have passed through the homes of Alexander Rankin in Fort Wayne or Levi Coffin in Fountain City.

rankin-house1Alexander Rankin was a well-known abolitonist. Rankin came to Fort Wayne in 1838 to become a minister. He built a house at 818 Lafayette Street in Fort Wayne and lived there for two years. The Rankin house is the only surviving structure in Fort Wayne that is known to be connected to the Abolition movement or the Underground Railroad.

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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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Truce: the Day the Soldiers Stopped Fighting

Truce: the Day the Soldiers Stopped Fighting

Truce

This book is the story of what took place in December, 1914 during World War I. At that time there were two sides fighting. On one side was the German army, and on the other side was Britain and France. They had been foughting for a long time, and a lot of men on both sides died, but neither side could gain any ground.  Each side had dug a trench, an actual ditch, that stretched for miles and miles and miles. The two trenches ran parallel to each other.

The soldiers on both sides lived in the trenches. The land in between the trenches was called “No Man’s Land.” Kind of like kids playing, “you don’t you cross this line!” The two sides would clash in No Man’s Land, kill each other, and then retreat into their trenches. This went  on and on and on for months.

The men on both sides were cold and hungry and sick. The trenches were so close to each other, the two sides could sometimes hear each other talking. Isn’t that weird? It sounds like a game, only this wasn’t a game and the guns were real.

On Christmas Day in 1914 several groups of troops, from both sides, arranged a truce. They actually came out of their trenches into No Man’s Land and shook hands, exchanged presents and sang songs together. This was highly forbidden by the commanders, but the soldiers did it anyway. Even if the political leaders and the commanders weren’t done with the war, the soldiers fighting it were.

The Chrismas Day Truce didn’t last, and the war went on for four more years after that, but it did make a statement. It’s a great book to read in honor of Christmas Day - peace on earth, good will toward men.

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Nic Bishop Marsupials

Nic Bishop Marsupials

Nic Bishop Marsupials

Nic Bishop is on a roll cranking out animal books with stunning pictures and interesting information. Spiders, Frogs, Butterflies and now, Marsupials. Nic’s motto seems to be, “have camera, will travel.” This time he heads to Australia where the world’s largest concentration of marsupials live.

Mammals are warm-blooded animals that have fur and raise their babies on milk. Mammals are dogs, cats, cows, bears, etc. Marsupials are a special kind of mammal whose mothers raise their babies inside a furry pouch. The most well-known marsupials are probably kangaroos. But there are lots of marsupials – opossums, koalas, wombats…and bettons, bilbies, potoroos & dibblers. I’ve never even heard of those, have you? This book will give you an up close look at these furry little pouched creatures. Some of them look made up – like someone took parts of different animals and stuck them together.

One of the marsupials is a tasmanian devil – like Taz on Looney Toons. The real tasmanian devils don’t really look like Taz, they look like cute mini black bears. Their behavior, though, is more like Taz. They get really excited when they eat and like to fight over food, their favorite being animals that have been dead for so long they smell bad. Yuck! They also have really, really strong jaws that can crunch through bones. When I think about those habits, then I can picture crazy, slobbery Taz and see where he got his name.

Nic Bishop’s Official Website

More Nic Bishop animal books you might like:
Spiders Frogs Butterflies & Moths The Tarantula Scientist
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The Frog Scientist

The Frog Scientist

The Frog Scientist

I wish all science books were written like this one! This is the story of Dr. Tyrone Hayes who started out as a boy collecting frogs, turtles and snakes in the swamp near his home in Columbia, South Carolina. Fast forward 20 years and Tyrone is a Harvard graduate studying frogs. He’s a frog scientist, just like he always wanted to be.

As you read the book you learn about how Tyrone became a scientist, but you also learn about how he does his research. You see pictures of Tyrone out in the wild collecting samples and inside his lab studying frogs under a microscope. Tyrone’s research is about the affects of pesticides on frogs. Pesticides are chemicals that farmers spray on crops to kill pests like insects or weeds. In particular, he studies atrazine, a chemical used to kill weeds. Atrazine is used in Indiana on corn crops. Reading this book just might make you want to follow the debate about whether or not atrazine should be used. According to Tyrone’s research, the chemical causes all kinds of problems in frogs…they can  grow extra legs… and the chemical can even make a boy frog turn into a girl frog.

This book has fabulous pictures of frogs, frog parts & frog insides. There are also great pictures of Tyrone and his students in his lab or out in the wild collecting specimans. The pictures are all crisp and clear and full of color. I really liked the pictures inside the lab. I also liked hearing about being a scientst right from Tyrone. The author used Tyrone’s real words throughout the book. It was cool to read about a little boy who grew up to do exactly what he dreamed of doing. It’s also cool to read about someone that is really passionate about what they do. Watch the video below – Tyrone raps about what atrazine does to frogs. Author: Pamela Turner

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