Tuesday, October 20, 2015

One Outstanding Tween Read: This One Summer

This One Summer (First Second, 2014) by Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki rocked the publishing, library, and literary world being the first graphic novel to receive the Caldecott Honor for “Most Distinguished American Picture Book for Children” and the Printz Honor for “Excellence in Literature for Young Adults.”

Unfortunately, it has also been the subject of book challenges since receiving these honors. Below, examine This One Summer’s merits, issues of concern, and teaching elements to empower educators, parents, and librarians to make their own decisions (for ages 12+). For an even more detailed review with suggestions and Common Core lessons suggestions, please visit: Using Graphic Novels in Education: This One Summer at cbldf.org.


page1Told in warm prose and exquisite monochromatic blue images, This One Summer delicately balances the nostalgic power of summer traditions with the often harsh and intruding lessons of life.

It embraces readers of all ages as two tween girls, local townie teens, and one set of parents all tangle in the delicate balances of friendships and relationships, grapple with the pains of growing up, deal with the torments of depression and of wanted and unwanted pregnancies, and cope with the heartbreaks and hopes of life. The breathtaking and powerful art work with the prose delicately weaving the troubles and traumas of Rose’s summer at Awago Beach.

page2Themes embraced and delicately tackled in This One Summer include:
  • The tugs of friendship as Rose and Windy (a year and a half younger than Rose), face adolescence at different paces and stages;
  • The pains and torments of depression felt by individuals and their families;
  • The importance and frailties of communication;
  • The challenges of dealing with unwanted pregnancies and failing at wanted ones;
  • The stresses and responsibilities of teen sexuality and group pressure.

In This One Summer, we meet tweens fantasizing about what their developing breasts will look like. We learn how one family deals with the mother’s growing depression. We watch along with Rose and Windy as we observe, overhear, and deal with older teens. We see how a long, comfortable summer friendship is stressed and strained by a one-and-a-half-year age gap between the girls as they enter adolescence. And finally, we observe (along with Rose and Windy) how older teens and adults deal with their own relationships and sexuality.


Elements of Concern
This One Summer earned a Caldecott Honor, which covers children’s book for readers up to age 14, putting the book at the high end of the age spectrum for the honor. First Second recommends this book for ages 12 and up because it contains mature content. Despite having rightfully received this honor, there may be some confusion by consumers unfamiliar with this book and who believe the Caldecott honor is given exclusively to books for younger readers. To clarify, please note that there is some profanity, especially dealing with the older teen characters (the girls are labeled “sluts”). There is also a teen pregnancy and the burgeoning questions of sex and sexuality that the tweens experience in parallel subplots.

page7That said, these issues are sensitively and realistically developed through a warmly complex and penetrating story that delicately deals with questions young teens have. Furthermore, the characters are true to life, flaws and all. While mature content may cause some concern, this book is wonderfully appropriate for mature tweens and young teens as they explore adolescence, sexuality, and the increasingly complex relationships they find themselves facing.

Plot, Theme, and Character Development
  • Plot and or discuss how Windy and Rose are both growing together and growing apart. Have students compare how they react to the horror movies, to the teens outside of Brewster’s, and even to what they want to do each day and how they play.
  • Create a Venn diagram representing how Windy and Rose’s personalities, likes, and dislikes overlap. Discuss the similarities and differences between the two while discussing what makes theirs such a solid friendship.
  • Plot and chart each of the subplot stories. Evaluate what is told through prose and what is revealed through images in each of the subplots.
  • Analyze how Alice depression is depicted in the novel. Have students brainstorm how Rose might deal with it.
  • Compare and contrast how Rose, Windy, Jenny, and Dunc each deal with issues of teen pregnancy. Discuss real-life options kids have under these circumstances.
  Critical Reading and Making Inferences
  • Discuss the Tamakis’ use of nature as metaphor.
  • Discuss the parents’ roles in this story. Would you consider them good parents? Loving parents? Why or why not? Have students cite evidence from the story for their conclusions.
  • Discuss the role Brewster’s convenience story plays in this story. Discuss the role the lake plays in this story.
  • At the end of the book, Alice discusses her pregnancy and miscarriage with Windy’s mom, not realizing Rose is still awake (and listening) in the other room. Windy’s mom responds, “But Alice. You should tell her. Kids are… they get it.” Alice responds, “I know.” Discuss why Alice hasn’t yet told Rose, and debate whether she will in the near future or not.

Language, Literature and Language Usage
  • Search, find, and discuss the Tamakis’ use of metaphor throughout the book.
  • Discuss and explain Mariko Tamaki’s use of idiom, imagery, and humor. For example:
    • On page 9: While driving towards Awago Beach they pass Estelles’ Turkey hatchery and dad says. “Hyuk hyuk! Lookiee here. I say, it’s tha Turkey Hatchery! Official birthplace of one Rose Abigail Wallace! Brings a tear to my eye.”
    • On page 12: Evan, Rose’s dad says, “Awago is a place where beer grows on trees and everyone can sleep until eleven.”
    • On pages 94-96: Evan holds up an eaten cob of corn and asks “Do you know that they call this here… Awago toilet paper.” Discuss they imagery and why Evan may have said this.
    • On page 169: “When my mom is mad at my dad, because my dad won’t do something, or forgets to do something, she says, ‘You can say what you want, Evan, but I’m not holding my breath.’”
    • On page 300: “Yes. Well. Mother Nature isn’t always the nicest person in the world…”
Cultural Diversity, Civic Responsibilities, and Social Issues
  • This story takes place at Awago Beach, somewhere in Canada that has a Huron Village. Research and discuss the Hurons and their culture. Look at maps and posit what small beach villages were once located in Huron territory.
  • Discuss options and responsibilities associated with teen pregnancies.
Modes of Storytelling and Visual Literacy
  • Compare and contrast the Tamakis’ use of visual and verbal metaphor and foreshadowing.
  • Chart, evaluate, and discuss the use of visual symbolism. For example:
    • the spread with the milkweed pods;
    • repeated images of Rose and her family walking, showing only their feet;
    • repeated images of Rose and Windy in the lake.
  • While the art in this series is in blue monochrome, it has a rich, engaging feel to it. Discuss Jillian Tamaki’s use of texture and detail.
  • Chart and compare the textured images versus the simpler ones. Is there a pattern to their use? Discuss how he changes the textures and details not only to emphasize particular points, but also keep the reader engaged.
  • Throughout the book, there are two-page wordless spreads (for example pages 20-21, 44-45, 46-47, 47-48, 70-71, 82-83,106-107, 138-139,160-161,182-183,198-199, 222-223, 226-230, 244-245, and 292-293). Discuss their purpose. Discuss the meaning and the emotions they convey. Discuss the Tamakis’ choice to use these spreads when and where they do.
  • On page 27, Windy plays with her gummy feet (over six panels). What can you tell about her from these panels?
  • On page 97, Evan comes over to Alice and kisses the side of her cheek as she’s just washing a bowl. The bowl slips from her hand and shatters. What does this sequence of panels convey?
Paired Reading Suggestions
  • I Kill Giants by Joe Kelly and JM Ken Niimura: About an 11-year-old girl who struggles to face and understand an untimely loss, first through escapism and then gradually through acceptance.
  • Chiggers by Hope Larson: About growing up, friendships, funs and foils of summer camp.
  • Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume: About the trials and tribulations of growing up, particularly for adolescent girls.
  • Chinese Born American by Gene Luen Yang: Another Caldecott Honor winner about a teenager’s need to fit in.
  • Before You Go by James Preller: About Jude, who takes a summer job flipping burgers at Jones Beach while dealing with his mother who is kept in a darkened room ever since his little sister drowned several years before.
  • The Color of Earth Trilogy by Kim Dong Hwa: Like This One Summer, the Color of Earth Trilogy is a beautifully balanced blend of prose, poetry, and art that tactfully and sensitively deals with a girl’s growth from adolescence to adulthood.

Links and Resources:

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Meeting Ms. Marvel

Images (c) Marvel Entertainment.

Wilson, Alphona, and the Marvel team have created a modern twist to Ms. Marvel offering fun and diversity for tween readers and beyond. Ms. Marvel is a finalist for the first Dwayne McDuffie Award for Diversity (nominees range from independent to mainstream comic books), and one of YALSA’s Top Ten 2015 Great Graphic Novels for Teens. It is also one of YALSA’s 2015 Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers.


Ms. Mavels: No Normal encompasses the first five issues of Marvel’s new reboot. It features a Muslim Pakistani American (polymorph) super heroine who struggles with identity issues whether she’s in or out of her costume.  Kamala’s polymorph superpowers are a wonderful metaphor reflecting her inner struggles as she stretches, bends, and recoils from the pressures all around her. Throughout this volume, Kamala Khan not only struggles with her identity, but with the different-ways and expectations of her religion, with the pressures and expectations from her strict (but nurturing) parents, and with her power as well. Throughout all these conflicts, Kamala must also be careful as a polymorph to not be all things to all people, which in the long run, might be very dangerous.

Images (c) Marvel Entertainment.
The readers, while passive observers, can’t help but be drawn into this story.  Despite Kamala’s diverse cultural background, or maybe because of it, she’s in many ways, also a wonderfully typical teenager, wrestling with being a Jersey City girl who happens to come from a modern religious family. Like most teens she’s just trying to figure out how to fit in. Throughout this book, the text provides wonderful insights into Kamala’s thoughts and character, while moving quickly along.  The art is equally engaging and inviting. Alphona’s somewhat comic figures balance Kamala’s real-life conflicts with Wilson’s wit, drawing us deeper and deeper into the story.
Note that while this is a reboot, readers do not necessarily need to know the original story.  It may help, though, as there are some gaps in the beginning of the story. That said, Ms. Marvel is engaging for all readers (tweens and up) and is full of wonderful witticisms and humor while subtly introducing diversity in a previously told but equally engaging story.
Images (c) Marvel Entertainment.

Ms. Marvel is about:
·      The typical American girl teenage experience;
·      The struggles and pressures of assimilation and fitting in while retaining family background, family history, and family religion;
·      The stresses of being an individual trying to fit into various cultural “boxes” or communities, which may or may not conflict with each other;
·      The ability to balance gifts and pressures in the world around her;
·      The fact that while a Muslim and a polymorph, what shapes and drives Kamala are her personality, her parents’ teachings, her inner strengths and her values – not her labels.

Images (c) Marvel Entertainment.
In Ms. Marvel: No Normal, Kamala, a sixteen year old Muslim Pakistani-American, has a “sad nerd obsession with the Avengers” and tries to bridge her Muslim world and friends with the Jersey City kids she goes to school with. The book opens with Kamala and her friend Nakia in the Circle Q convenience store talking with Bruno (Kamala’s “second best friend”). Zoe and her boyfriend, Josh walk in and Zoe, all peaches and cream, condescendingly patronizes Kamala and her friends while inviting them to a waterfront party.  While Nakia has no interest in attending (because they’ll be drinking alcohol which is against her religion), Kamala wants to go.  Despite the fact that Kamala’s parents refuse to let her go, she sneaks out and goes anyway.  While she sees and approaches Bruno, Zoe comes over to her, openly insults her, and Kamala runs away after they trick her into drinking alcohol.  As she runs away, a mist envelops Jersey City, and Kamala meets the Avengers.

Not understanding where she is or what she’s seeing, Captain America tells her, "You are seeing

what you need to see. You stand at a crossroads. You thought that if you disobeyed your parents – your culture, your religion – your classmates would accept you. What happened instead?” Kamala explains that they laughed at her and mocked her family and “brown people” but that she was there because she grew up American, from Jersey City and “I don’t know what I’m supposed to do. I don’t know who I’m supposed to be.”  When Captain Marvel - Carol Danvers asks her who she wants to be, Kamala answers, “I want to be you.” And just like that, she becomes a polymorph, although Captain Marvel warns her, “It is not going to turn out the way you think.”

Images (c) Marvel Entertainment.
In Ms. Marvel: No Normal, Kamala learns that becoming blonde and Caucasian doesn't make her happy or glamorous or even popular. She eventually realizes however, that changing shape doesn't mean she can erase who she is. It doesn’t protect her from others insulting her values, her family’s values or her religion. It also doesn’t protect her from the wrath of her parents or from Sheikh Abdullah who runs their mosque and its youth lectures she has to attend. Kamala even admits that,

Being someone else isn't liberating. It's exhausting. I always thought that if I had amazing hair, if I could pull off great boots, if I could fly—that would make me happy.  But the hair gets in my face, the boots pinch … and the leotard is giving me an epic wedgie.

Kamala also finds that her father’s teachings of the Quran give her the vision and strength to use her powers. Just before deciding to rescue Zoe, she remembers a passage from the Quran: "Whoever saves one person, it is as if he has saved all of mankind." She soon learns that while she may look like Captain Marvel on the outside, that's just a costume. What's inside is Kamala, and part of who Kamala is - her family, her religion, her friends, and her ethnicity- are what ultimately guide her and help her realize who she is and how she fits in.

While Wilson and Alphona have created a superhero comic in the classic Marvel mode, they offer a more progressive perspective in the characters, text and artwork. Alphona provides a wonderful balance of gravitas and whimsy in his art, keeping the tone light and fun with his cartoonish-y exaggerated character expressions and flourishes. Balancing this quirkiness is Wilson’s insightful text filled with imagery of its own. Alphona’s cartoonish characters, fashion details, and use of color are engaging and add a delightful depth complementing Wilson’s highly expressive, real-life text. All this enables readers to embrace the diversity of their characters while adding a breath of fresh air to this rebooted story.
Images (c) Marvel Entertainment.
Whether used in classrooms or just read for fun, there is great depth of character and this book provides a wonderful look at the balancing of family, religion, and pop culture that all tweens and teens deal with.

Suggested Prose, Graphic Novel and Poetry Pairings
·      D’Aulaires Book of Greek Myths by Ingri and Edgar D’Aulaire: an introduction to the gods and goddesses of ancient Greece. Note that George O’Connor (First Second Books) is also putting out an exceptional collection of graphic novels accurately and creatively accounting the stories of the Greek gods. When reading these Greek Myths, discuss how Kamala’s story does and does not parallel these myths.
·      The Absolutely True Story of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexie: About a bright motivated young Native American who must decide about commuting to a better all-white school off the reservation and face ridicule (by white kids he must befriend and from his local friends he leaves behind), or remain with his friends who are heading know where fast. Compare and contrast how the characters from different cultures strive to fit in.
·      American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang: about a Chinese boy who struggles to fit in with his American classmates.  Compare and contrast how Jin Wang and Kamala are similar/different and how they struggle to be American.
Images (c) Marvel Entertainment.
·      Captain Marvel; Young Avengers; and Captain Marvel: Earth’s Mightiest Hero – Marvel comic series.  Compare and contrast these Avenger/Captain Marvel series.
Images (c) Marvel Entertainment.
As always, thanks for your visit.
Please leave your reactions in the comments below.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

On Creating Logos

Our world today is driven by digital technologies.  From cell phones to tablets, to electronic readers, and computers, almost all our work and the majority of our entertainment is delivered, shared, and enjoyed digitally.

Information is communicated in verbal and iconic fragments - from texts to tweets to images, and is available via multimedia resources, empowering us to communicate with anyone, at any time, at any location around the globe - with the touch of a finger. In our world of twitter, Instagram, YouTube, avatars, and instant messaging - we need to seriously consider the images we chose to use.  If the image doesn't work, we lose our audience and often our message.  It's all about visual literacy - and below are some tips on creating your own icons, avatars and images

Greek spelling from Wikipedia
According to Wikipedia, LOGOS was "originally a (Greek) word meaning "a ground," "a plea," "an opinion," "an expectation," "word," "speech," '"account," [and] "reason"...it became a technical term in philosophy, beginning with Heraclitus (535-475 B.C.E.), who used the term for a principle of order and knowledge. In English, logos is the root of the "-logy" suffix (e.g., geology)."

Interestingly, we now use the term "logo" to relate visual or graphic representations of a product, enterprise, organization or slogan -as a means of promoting instant public recognition. Logo is also a multi-paradigm computer programming language designed as a tool for learning.  It is used to develop simulations and to create multimedia presentations.

From what I could find, both modern-day usages of the word incorporate its earlier meanings - grounding words or images in a certain meaning or using it to create expectations.

There are basically three types of logos:
  • Font-based logos that present your message or name using a distinct font type. IBM, Coca-Cola, Google, Amazon, and MTv are three such examples. Some simply use font (MTv, YouTube), others use font and color choices (Google, FedEx, Coca-Cola). 
  • Image-based logos present your message/brand/name using distinct images that literally or closely illustrate your message or brand.  For example, Apple, World Wildlife Foundation, The Olympics (five colored rings united at least for a few weeks to compete), and Firefox. 
  • Abstract Symbols logos which present your message using abstract symbols that become linked to your name/brand. For example: Nike's swoosh.

From what I could find, both modern-day usages of the word incorporate its earlier meanings - grounding words or images in a certain meaning or using it to create expectations. 

 When creating your own logo here are some things to consider:
  • Decide what message you want the logo to articulate.
  • Brainstorm ways to relay that message visually.
  • Look at how others successfully relay their messages to your target audience. Incorporate what you think works for that audience into your logo.
  • Make sure your logo is clean and functional - make sure it is one you don't have to explain or one that is cluttered with too much color, information or content.
  • Carefully select you font and color use.

Finally, below is an informative infographic on successful (and not so successful) logos. Integrate and learn: http://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/best-infographics-2014?utm_content=bufferd5627&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer

To learn more please see these additional resources:

As always, thanks for your visit.
Please leave your own logos or avatars --- or leave your favorite and least favorite logo choices in the comments below.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Jewish New Year 5776

I wish you and your families a HAPPY and HEALTHY New Year
May 5776 be a year of peace, prosperity and of tikun olam (the healing of our world) and good will to all.
 As always, thank you for your visit.
Please leave a comment below.


Monday, September 7, 2015

I Kill Giants: Classroom Guide for One GREAT Graphic Novel (Dealing with Legends and Loss)

I-Kill-Giants-Cover-620x981I Kill Giants, by Joe Kelly and JM Ken Niimura, won the IGN Best of 2008, was voted one of the 10 Best Comics of 2009 by New York magazine’s Dan Kois; was a YALSA (Young Adult Library Association) 2010 Top Ten Great Graphic Novel for Teens, and won the Gold Award at the 5th International Manga Award I 2012.

Through the prose and art of I Kill Giants, Joe Kelly and JM Ken Niimura provide a timeless, honest rendering of a child’s reaction to critical illness as eleven-year-old Barbara struggles to face an untimely loss, first through escapism and then gradually through acceptance. With Kelly’s insightful text and Niimura’s powerful images, we feel Barbara’s pains and struggles as she faces life’s challenges.


page1I Kill Giants opens with Barbara Thorson— a clever, glib fifth graders who is a loner in school and seems to talk more with faeries and goblins than with friends — sitting behind a makeshift tent made from blankets and sheets and a tapestry image of a knight fighting vile monsters. We see her sewing. We aren’t sure yet what it is, but she is intently focused. We slowly see she’s embroidering a design on a heart-shaped purse, a purse we will see with her throughout most of the book. We later find out that this purse is the coveted home of her secret weapon — the Coveleski war hammer — the only effective weapon to battle and kill giants.

Barbara is a wealth of information when it comes to giants. She teaches us about the first giant, Ur, and helps us distinguish between titans and giants. And she knows just how to battle them. She tells everyone, including faeries and goblins, about her strategies. They help support her and help warn her.

page2As the story unfolds, we must evaluate whether Barbara is escaping into a world of fantasy, whether her quest to kill giants is just a metaphor for life, or if, in fact, she does kill giants. Kelly’s prose paired with Niimura’s bold black and white manga-style art successfully relays Barbara as a real child, a stubborn pre-teen with few friends. She is ready to fight anyone and everyone. She’s caustic, lonely and determined. And we’re all rooting for her. The story, prose, and art make this book an outstanding read for all ages.

I Kill Giants is an empowering story. Through the text and images, we struggle along with Barbara.  We struggle through her tantrums, her trips to the principal and school counselor, and her conversations with imps and faeries, and in her critical battle with an equally fearless titan.. Throughout the book we feel Barbara's pain as she fights  bullies and her older sister. But most of all,  we struggle with her as the “truths” she’s facing are slowly revealed and her fears are finally confronted and conquered.

page4Are the faeries real? Does Barbara really see them? Are they her only friends? And are there real giants threatening Barbara’s very existence or are they a metaphor for the fears she must face? Or, are they simply part of a made-up world Barbara’s created to help her escape from the fears and horrors around her? These questions are for you to explore as you read and enjoy I Kill Giants.
In short, I Kill Giants is an insightfully honest and empowering story of a girl who struggles with loss, bullying, and friendship. It is about, how, as Joe Kelly writes “we’re all stronger than we think.”
In addition to Kelly’s wonderfully nuanced central character and his sensitive rendering of facing life’s challenges, this powerfully illustrated and told story deals with:
  • the power of friendship, especially when things get tough;
  • finding the courage to deal with loss;
  • the powers and perils of escapism; and
  • the long reaching effects of bullying.

Cultural Diversity, Civic Responsibilities, and Social Issues
  • Barbara is clearly different from the other kids in her school and class. Discuss how the text and art depict her differences and how others treat her as a result. Discuss issues of social tolerance in this story and compare it to social tolerance in your own school.
  • Throughout the story, but particularly in Chapter 5, Barbara deals with the school bully. Have students visually depict Barbara’s strategies while evaluating their effectiveness. Brainstorm other strategies students might use when dealing with bullies.
Language, Literature, and Language Usage
  • Discuss how Barbara’s battle with a titan takes on mythic and epic proportions.
  • Define and discuss metaphor. Evaluate Kelly’s use of metaphor in this story.
  • Compare giants of myth (i.e. Greek Titans, the Celt’s Green Knight, the Bible’s Goliath, etc.). Discuss how Barbara’s giants and her facts on giants do or do not fit with these classic giants.
  • Discuss the hero archetype as described by Joseph Campbell (see resource below). Discuss Barbara does or does not fit the prototype.

Critical Thinking and Inferences
The authors make many inferences in this book both with language use and through imagery. You may want to discuss the following uses of inference:
  • At the end of Chapter 2, we see Barbara wearing a knight’s helmet and breastplate sitting at a bus stop and talking to some faeries. She tells them, “No one’s here. You don’t have to hide,” To which the faerie replies, “Oh really, miss tall and steely? You’re hiding.” Discuss the implications of this dialogue and what Barbara might be hiding from.
  • In Chapter 3, Barbara is talking with the school counselor who asks Barbara if her sister is “dumb.” Barbara is busy drawing a she responds, “No. She’s not dumb like other people. She’s ‘special.’” Then, in the next panel as the counselor continues by asking, “Does she make you angry like other people? What about your brother–?” at which point Barbara’s crayon snaps and breaks. Discuss what this dialogue and the snapped crayon are inferring and trying to tell us. What does Barbara think about her brother and sister?
  • In Chapters 3 and on, often when Barbara talks with the counselor or her sister, there are words that are crossed out. Discuss what those words are and why they’re crossed out. What is Kelly telling us and why is he doing it in this manner?
  • Chapter 6 contains Barbara’s epic battle with a titan. As she’s battling the Titan, Barbara tells him, “She’s going to live because I beat you…” To which the Titan responds, “Little warriorrrr….I diddd nottt come forrrr herrrrr….I came… forrrr you!” Discuss what he means.
Modes of Storytelling and Visual Literacy
In graphic novels, images are used to relay messages with and without accompanying text, adding additional dimension to the story. Compare, contrast, and discuss with students how images can be used to relay complex messages. For example:
  • Discuss how JM Ken Niimura’s art helps tell the story. In particular, discuss how and why the images at school and at home are so different. Discuss how this helps tell the story.
  • In Chapter 3, there is an incredible wordless one-panel image of the school hallway, full of kids talking, walking and interacting as Barbara moves by them. The hallway is also full of imps, faeries, and monsters. Discuss what JM Ken Niimura is trying to relay on this page.
  • In Chapter 3, we see Barbara in school wearing regular clothes (and bear ears) but after getting off the bus, we see she’s wearing her armor. Why?
  • In Chapter 4, in the school counselor’s office, there are several posters. Discuss these posters and their messages. How do they influence/ enhance the story?

Suggested Prose and Graphic Novel Pairings
For greater discussion on literary style and/or content here are some prose novels and poetry you may want to read with I Kill Giants:
  • Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse: An outstanding story told in poetic prose about a girl living in Oklahoma Dust Belt in the 1930s and how she copes with the loss of her mother.
  • Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White: A spider helps a pig evade the slaughter house, and he helps the barn animals deal with her eventual death.
  • Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume: The story of a fourteen-year-old girl whose father is shot during a robbery and how she, her mother, and her younger brother cope with his loss.
  • The Olympian Series by George O’Connor: An outstanding graphic novel series covering Greek Myth. (Note: Zeus: King of the Gods, the first of the series, has a nice section on the Titans.)
  • D’Aulaire’s Book Of Greek Myths by Ingri d’Aulaire and Edgar Parin D’Aulaire: A classic and timeless collection of beautifully illustrated stories of the ancient Greek gods and their myths.
  • The Norse Myths by Kevin Crossley-Holland: Contains thirty-two classic myths from the Viking world.
  • The Secret History of Giants by Ari Berk: A work of fiction that combines giants of new and old legends.
  • Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman, illustrations by Mark Buckingham: About a boy named Odd who runs away from home and finds himself faced with a journey to save Asgard, the city of the Norse Gods, from the Frost Giants who have invaded.
  • The Golem by Isaac Bashevis Singer: A classic Eastern European legend about a monster giant who was created by a Jewish Rabbi to protect his people.
  • Help for the Hard Times: Getting Through Loss by Earl Hipp: A guide for middle and high school students to help them understand how they experience grief and loss.
  • The Fault in Our Stars by John Green: Two teens deal with and battle cancer.
  • Nana, What’s Cancer? by Beverlye Hyman Fead and Tessa Mae Hamermesh, illustrated by Shennen Bersani: An award-wining book offering loving conversations between and grandmother and granddaughter around questions about cancer.
  • What’s Up With Bridget’s Mom?Medikids Explain Breast Cancer by Dr. Kim Chilman-Blair and John Taddeo: A graphic novel explaining breast cancer.
  • What’s Up with Richard? Medikids Explain Leukemia by Dr. Kim Chilman-Blair and John Taddeo: A graphic novel explaining leukemia.
  • What’s Up With Jo? Midikidz Explain Brain Tumors by Dr. Kim Chilman-Blair and John Taddeo: A graphic novel explaining brain tumors.page11

Teaching about Mythic Structure, Monomyth (The Hero’s Journey), and Heroes:
Background on the Golem legends:
Dealing with Death and Loss: