Each week Jen Vincent and I talk books. For the month of June we are chatting about The Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine.
COLBY: One reason that I love The Lions of Little Rock so much is because I feel that it is a piece of high quality historical fiction that I could easily sell to my 4th grade readers.
Jen, if you were book talking The Lions of Little Rock to a middle grade reader what would you say? What about the book would you be sure to tell them about?
JEN: If I was talking to your students from this school year, (who I know have read Hound Dog True by Linda Urban) I would ask them to remember Mattie Breen and how we read about her being brave when it was really hard for her to be brave. Then I would tell them about Marlee and about how she is like Mattie and has to be really brave, except her story is about more than just her.
If I was talking to students who haven’t read Hound Dog True, then I would start by asking them to think about a time in their lives when they were scared to do something – maybe it’s being scared to ride a bike without training wheels, maybe it’s being scared to raise their hand in class, maybe it’s being scared to sleep in a strange place, or maybe it’s being scared to jump off of the high dive just like Marlee in Lions of Little Rock. Then I would ask them to tell me about how they overcame their fears or what would they need to help them overcome their fears.
And then I would introduce Marlee and explain that Lions of Little Rock is about how making a new friend – someone who was very different from Marlee – helped her get over her feelings of being scared. Her friend gave her strength by believing in her.
How would you booktalk Lions of Little Rock?
COLBY: I would sell them on Marlee. She is such an interesting, important, and amazing character, that I think she could sell the book no problem. You are right, she will reminds readers so much of Linda Urban’s Mattie Breen.
I would love to talk about Liz in my booktalk. I would tell my readers that she has a secret that will knock their socks off and send the book into a frenzy. Fourth graders LOVE secrets, and they want desperately to read about them.
JEN: That’s a good one! I think brains like to figure things out, so when we know there is a secret we are desperate to figure it out and have answers. That would be a great way to hook kiddos!
COLBY: Thanks for talking about The Lions of Little Rock with me this month. I’m looking forward to reading and discussing our July book together.