I’m the middle child in a series of three sisters, and while I don’t know what it’s like to be a twin, I can certainly relate to the sibling relationships that Katherine Paterson and Sundee T. Frazier have depicted in their middle grade books. Sometimes it’s hard to figure out who you are when you feel like you’ve been defined by your siblings for so long. Paterson won the Newberry Award in 1981 with Jacob Have I Loved, and Frazier’s 2010 novel, The Other Half of My Heart, offers diversity to the familiar tale of two sisters. Below is background information, contextual information, reading strategies, discussion questions, activities, and resources to be used for a unit on these two novels. I hope students and teachers alike can find fruitful conversation (and maybe even themselves) in these novels.
When PBS announced the Great American Read, I was excited to see PBS uncover literature in American and let the country decide what the nation’s favorite book is. Based upon a survey, they broke down America’s top 100 books and are narrowing it down to one. The show, as hosted by Meredith Vieira, started on May 22, with a two-hour kickoff episode introducing the books. This will be followed with five themed episodes and a finale in the fall to announce the results of the voting. I streamed the episode the day after it aired, and decide to live tweet the process. Anyways, because of my live-tweeting and the general position I hold as I walk through life as a bookish person, I have thoughts on this list and what PBS is trying to accomplish. So, I’m going to hit it with some list analysis.
My first thought when I saw Jacqueline Woodson in person was that she was tall—to be fair though, I’m five feet tall, so everyone is tall to me. My second thought was brief panic. There I was, about to introduce myself to a literary rockstar. I don’t know why I was worried; she told me she liked my skirt, and we set off. Jacqueline Woodson was the keynote speaker at Kansas State University on April 21, 2018 for the Sixth Biennial Conference of Children's Literature in English, Education, and Library Science hosted by the Children’s and Adolescent Literature Community, of which I am a member. The conference theme, “Boundary Crossings in Children's and Young Adult Literature,” was inspired by Woodson’s work. Before she spoke, I had the opportunity to accompany Dr. Anne Phillips, my adolescent literature professor, to pick Woodson up from her hotel and accompany her to the location of the conference. I was delighted to have this opportunity, and am so grateful that Anne helped arrange it. On our car ride (through the rare Kansas rain) and short walk, I had the opportunity to ask Woodson a few questions.