7th grade booktalks


March 18, 2019: heroes among us

The Girl From the Tar Paper School: Barbara Rose Johns and the Advent of the Civil Rights Movement by Teri Kanefield

  • 323 KAN. narrative nonfiction.
  • Before the Little Rock Nine, before Rosa Parks, before Brown vs. Board of Education, before Martin Luther King Jr, Barbara Johns experienced unfair conditions in her racially segregated high school and decided to do something about it.
  • In 1951, she led a walkout. It was the first public protest of its kind demanding racial equality in the United States.
  • She was ridiculed by the superintendent, by the district's school board, by local newspapers, and even endured a cross being burned on school grounds. But she and her classmates did not give up.
  • The case eventually went to the Supreme Court, and became a large part of what we know today as Brown vs. Board of Education.

Breakthrough!: How Three People Saved "Blue Babies" and Changed Medicine Forever by Jim Murphy

  • 617 MUR. narrative nonfiction.
  • In 1944, Dr. Alfred Blalock performed a groundbreaking surgery to repair a congenital heart defect in a baby, known as "blue baby syndrome." It was called this because the problem led to babies' skin having a bluish tint because of lack of oxygen in the blood.
  • Many babies died because of this syndrome; in fact, Dr. Helen Taussig, head of the Children's Cardiac Clinic at John Hopkins at the time, asked Dr. Alfred Blalock to figure out how to solve the problem because she was tired of seeing so many babies die.
  • Dr. Blalock had never performed this surgery before on anyone, even an animal. If he was successful, history would be made.
  • The only person who had done the surgery successfully wasn't an official member of the surgical team. Most people knew him as the janitor. His name was Vivien Thomas, and he walked Dr. Blalock through the surgery step by step, and helped Dr. Blalock achieve even more fame and success, leading to the development of open-heart surgery.

Candy Bomber: the story of the Berlin Airlift's "Chocolate Pilot" by Michael O. Tunnell

  • 943 TUN. narrative nonfiction.
  • After WWII, Berlin, the capital of Germany, was divided into sections to be controlled by various groups. West Berlin, part of West Germany (which was allies with the United States and Britain), was completely surrounded by East Berlin and East Germany (which was allies with the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union instituted a blockade against West Berlin. The people there were stuck.
  • In order to help the people of West Berlin, the US and Britain began airlifting food and supplies to them. And US Air Force Lieutenant Gail S. Halvorsen took it one step further.
  • He began dropping candy and gum by parachute to the children in West Berlin because he wanted to lift their spirits. He gave the children their first taste of candy in a long time (for some, the first time ever!) but more importantly, he gave them hope.

Shaking Things Up: 14 Young Women Who Changed the World by Susan Hood

Front Desk by Kelly Yang

Happy reading!

February 10, 2019: newish books you might have missed

Tiny Infinities by J.H. Diehl

  • F DIE. realistic fiction
  • When Alice's dad moves out, Alice moves to her backyard, determined to stay there until her dad comes home.
  • To try to keep at least one part of her summer the same, Alice works on her swimming.
  • Soon Alice meets two different girls who affect Alice's summer in significant ways. Harriet, who is obsessed with the school science fair and Alice's swimming, and Piper, a four year old who is mute--until Alice hears her speak for the first time.
  • A book about finding yourself even when things all around you seem to not make sense.

The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson

The Faithful Spy: Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Plot to Kill Hitler by John Hendrix

  • 230 HEN. graphic novel/narrative nonfiction
  • Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German pastor during WWII who was shocked that the German church embraced Hitler's ideas.
  • He spoke out against the Nazi party and began a church that rebelled against the beliefs of the Third Reich.
  • Ultimately, he decided Hitler and his followers must be stopped, and he would do whatever it took to make that happen.

Bad Girls: Sirens, Jezebels, Murderesses, Thieves, and Other Female Villains by Jane Yolen

  • 920 YOL. collective biography
  • In this book, meet 26 of history's most notorious women, all with a bad reputation. But were they actually "bad?"
  • The authors remind us there are always two sides to a story, and introduces us to women who history has not remembered kindly.

Illegal by Eoin Colfer

  • PB COL. graphic novel/realistic fiction
  • book trailer
  • A book about one boy's journey from Africa to Europe, hoping for a better life and to see his family again.

Happy reading!

January 18, 2019: stories of civil rights

The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights by Steve Sheinkin

  • 940.54 SHE: Narrative nonfiction.
  • A World War II story, and a civil rights story.
  • book trailer

The Freedom Summer Murders by Don Mitchell

  • 323 MIT: Narrative nonfiction.
  • June 1964: three men (one black, two white) were lynched by the Ku Klux Klan in Mississippi.
  • They were there to try to register African Americans to vote in an effort to bring actual democracy to the south.
  • This book tells the story of how these murders drew the attention of the country and how they were influential in the civil rights movement of the 1960s.

The Journal of Biddy Owens by Walter Dean Myers

  • F MYE: historical fiction, written in the form of a journal. (Found on the turning carts with the Dear America books.)
  • Biddy Owens is a batboy for the Birmingham Black Barons, one of the best teams of the Negro Leagues.
  • This book describes the games, road trips, racial segregation, and day-to-day life in Birmingham along with LOTS of baseball info!

The Journey of Little Charlie by Christopher Paul Curtis

  • F CUR: historical fiction.
  • Little Charlie is the son of sharecroppers in South Carolina. When tragedy strikes, Little Charlie agrees to go with the worst man in town to find the people who stole from him.
  • The trip is much more than Little Charlie bargained for, and he has to figure out what to do while fearing for his life.
  • interview with Christopher Paul Curtis

Let the Circle Be Unbroken by Mildred D. Taylor

  • F TAY: historical fiction.
  • Sequel to Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry
  • This book continues the story of the Logan family. You'll learn more about TJ and other friends and family of the Logans.
  • If you enjoy Roll of Thunder don't miss this one!

Happy reading!

October 8, 2018: telling people's stories

Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom: my story of the Selma Voting Rights March by Lynda Blackmon Lowery

  • Narrative nonfiction (autobiography). 323.119 LOW
  • Lynda Blackmon Lowery was the youngest marcher on the 1965 voting rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama.
  • She was sent to jail nine times before her 15th birthday and worked alongside Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. for the rights of African Americans.
  • Written from her perspective, she shares what it meant to fight nonviolently and be a part of making history.

Ten Days a Madwoman by Deborah Noyes

  • Narrative nonfiction (biography). 921 BLY
  • This is the story of Nellie Bly, one of the first women journalists who was not willing to settle for writing stories about cleaning or fashion.
  • Instead, she pretended she had "insanity," and spent ten days on Blackwell Island, a "hospital" of sorts for patients with mental and psychological issues. She rose to fame by bringing to light that hospital's treatment of its patients.
  • She continued to become a household name for addressing issues such as political corruption, poverty and human rights.
  • Read this to be challenged by a woman ahead of her time, and to live life as boldly as she did!

Escape!: the story of the Great Houdini by Sid Fleischman

  • Narrative nonfiction (biography). 921 HOU
  • In this book, meet a man who could (supposedly) walk through brick walls, and with a snap of his fingers, make elephants vanish.
  • Born Ehrich Wiess, meet the man who turned himself into Harry Houdini, the world famous magician, ghost chaser, daredevil, pioneer aviator, and king of escape artists.

Guts: the true stories behind Hatchet and the Brian books by Gary Paulsen

  • Narrative nonfiction (autobiography). 921 PAU
  • Have you read Hatchet? Brian had it easy compared to this!
  • This book tells the stories behind the Brian books, and the adventures Gary Paulsen had that inspired him to write: working as an emergency volunteer, hunting trips, and plane crashes has has seen and near misses of his own.
  • Includes moments of wilderness survival, humor, and not-for-the-faint-of-heart details that will keep you reading!

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

  • Narrative nonfiction (autobiography). 921 WOO
  • book trailer
  • Jacqueline reading from her book
  • Growing up in South Carolina and New York in the 1960s and 1970s, Jacqueline Woodson never really felt at home in either place. This book shares her stories of growing up in the midst of the Civil Rights movement, finding her place within writing, no matter where she was.

Happy reading!

September 10, 2018: novels in verse

Caminar by Skila Brown

  • F BRO: historical fiction
  • Set in Guatemala in 1981 during their 36 year long civil war, this is about Carlos and his village--a village that was thrown into the middle of the conflict.
  • When Carlos loses nearly everything that is important to him, he has to decide how he is going to face that and how he is going to keep going.

Diamond Willow by Helen Frost

  • F FRO: animal fiction, realistic fiction
  • author's note:
  • Willow is 12 years old and would rather blend in than stick out. But she still wants to be seen for who she is.
  • More than anything, she wants to mush the dogs to her grandparents' house, by herself, with Roxy, one of the dogs, in the lead.
  • But taking things on yourself can sometimes have consequences you didn't intend, and Willow has to rely on others to make things right again.

Shakespeare Bats Cleanup by Ron Koertge

  • F KOE: sports fiction
  • Kevin Boland is the MVP of his baseball team, but then he is diagnosed with mono.
  • With looking at months of recuperating, Kevin "borrows" his dad's poetry book and begins writing, just to pass the time, even though that's not his thing.
  • And once he gets well? He realizes maybe writing isn't so bad after all.

May B: a novel by Caroline Starr Rose

  • F ROS: historical fiction, action/adventure
  • It's the Kansas prairie, where life is not easy. May is helping at a neighbor's house ("just until Christmas," Pa says) that's 15 miles from home.
  • When the unthinkable happens and the family abandons her, May must figure out how to survive as winter approaches.
  • book trailer

Locomotion by Jacqueline Woodson

  • F WOO: realistic fiction
  • Lonnie Collins Motion (nicknamed Lo Co Motion by his mother) has had a lot to deal with in his 11 years of life. He doesn't have his parents anymore or even his little sister.
  • When Lonnie meets Ms. Marcus, he also finds a way to channel his thoughts, and cope with all he has gone through in life.

Happy reading!