Listening for Lions: Gloria Whelan

Listening for Lions

Author: Gloria Whelan

Publisher: HarperCollins

Publication Year: 2005

Brief Summary: This historical novel tells the story of 13-year-old Rachel, whose missionary parents died in the 1919 influenza epidemic of East Africa.  Orphaned and alone, she is tricked into living a lie by the Pritchards, who forced Rachel to assume the identity of their dead daughter in order to receive a handsome inheritance.  Rachel has dreams of her own — including returning to Africa as a woman doctor.  Will she outsmart the Pritchards and their wicked scheme, or is she doomed to become prey to others’ traps?

Awards, Honors and Prizes:

Great Lakes Great Books Award, 2007 Honor Book Grades 4-5 Michigan
Best Children’s Books of the Year, 2005 ; Bank Street College of Education
Booklist Book Review Stars , May 15, 2005 ; American Library Association
Children’s Books 2005: One Hundred Titles for Reading and Sharing, 2005 ; New York Public Library
Children’s Catalog, Nineteenth Edition, 2006 ; H.W. Wilson
Middle and Junior High School Library Catalog, Supplement to the Ninth Edition, 2006 ; H.W. Wilson Company

Ideas for using this book in classroom or library; brief notes on curriculum connections/content learning standards/Common Core/etc.

  • Discussion of British colonialism in Africa.  What does this mean for the Brits?  For the natives?  What are some of its implications?  Older students can do further research about the history of colonialism in Africa and discuss this part of history from different perspectives.
  • Discuss the theme of “freedom” and what it may mean to various characters in the book.  What kind of metaphors for freedom can you find in the book?
  • Discuss the history of women in medicine…why do you think women were not allowed to practice medicine earlier in history?  The book discusses some of the reasons…do you agree with these or not?  Hold a mock debate with students researching and arguing from both sides.
  • What are some ways Rachel is able to overcome the adversity in her life?  Discuss goal-setting and practical ways to achieve your goals.
  • What lessons does Rachel learn about truth vs. dishonesty?  How did she feel when she pretended to be Valerie?  How did she feel when she finally revealed the truth?
  • Students may be encouraged to do further research on one of the animals/plants mentioned in this book.  The class could read the novel together and go onto do individual research projects on animals/plants in Africa/Britain…perhaps discussing how animals/plants are same/different in Africa and Britain (due to climate, habitat, people’s philosophies, etc.).  For example, animals roam free in Africa but are held captive in Britain; flowers grow wild in Africa vs. formal English gardens; flowers that grow in Britain cannot survive in Africa, etc.  How does Whelan use these differences to support the themes in this book?
  • Students can be encouraged to read other orphan stories or other stories about Africa.
  • Author’s note and glossary are included in the back of the book.
  • Link to HarperCollins teaching guide.  
  • Recommended for readers 10 and up.  Will primarily appeal to girls, students interested in Africa, students who like mysteries/suspense, and reluctant/struggling readers.  Would work well as a class read-aloud.

Gentle, nostalgic, and fueled with old-fashioned girl power, this involving orphan story will please fans of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s classic The Secret Garden (1912) and Eva Ibbotson’s The Star of Kazan (2004). (Booklist)

Listening for Lions is a quiet story that roars in its ability to help readers make sense of hardships that befall humankind. It speaks softly but leaves a lasting impression of strength of character and the wisdom of following one’s dreams. It will have lasting appeal and a ready audience. (VOYA)

Whelan’s formidable and appealing heroine will keep readers rooting for her dream of a home with the lions of Africa. (Publishers Weekly)

Accessed at: Personal Library

Never Forgotten: Patricia C. McKissack

Never Forgotten

Author: Patricia C. McKissack
Illustrator: Leo & Diane Dillon
Publisher: Schwartz & Wade Books
Publication Year: 2011
Brief Summary: Using lyrical, free verse, this book tells the story of a young boy who is kidnapped in West African and sold into slavery.

Awards, Honors and Prizes:

Ideas for using this book in classroom or library and/or brief notes on curriculum connections/content learning standards/Common Core, etc.:

  • Language arts: discuss poetry and different kinds of poems.  This book is made up of a compilation of lyrical, free-verse poems.  What are some characteristics of these types of poems?
  • Social studies: discuss slavery and how it affected the people in Africa and the families.  How did the father and mother in the story feel when their son was taken away?  How did they try to get their son back?
  • Art: study the artistic style used in the book.  What do the illustrations tell you about how people felt?
  • Discuss blacksmithing and why this trade is honored and respected?

Special features included (if applicable) — index; timeline; author’s notes; further reading; etc.  Author’s notes about slavery and blacksmithing, legends about hurricanes, etc.

Accessed at: Capilano Library

Ashanti to Zulu: Margaret Musgrove

 

Ashanti to Zulu: African Traditions

Author: Margaret Musgrove
Illustrators: Leo & Diane Dillon
Publisher: Dial Books
Publication Year: 1976
Brief Summary: In this alphabet book, children learn about customs and traditions of 26 African tribes.
Awards, Honors and Prizes: 

Ideas for using this book in classroom or library and/or brief notes on curriculum connections/content learning standards/Common Core, etc.:

  • Social Studies: Africa — show students (or have them show) on the map where Africa is.  Can they find tribes on the map?  Discuss different aspects of African customs/traditions/daily life as discussed in the book.
  • Language Arts: Students make their own ABC book — work individually?  pairs?  groups? — about their city/town/state/country.
  • Read a state ABC book if available (for example, T is for Tennessee by E. J. Sullivan).  Talk about the culture/daily life discussed in the book.  How is it different from Ashanti to Zulu?
  • Study pictures in detail…what kind of animals are shown?  What kind of clothing is featured?  etc.

Special features included (if applicable) — index; timeline; author’s notes; further reading; etc.  Artwork is beautiful!

Accessed at: Thrasher Elementary Library

Jambo Means Hello: Muriel Feelings

 

Jambo Means Hello: Swahili Alphabet Book

Author: Muriel Feelings
Illustrator: Tom Feelings
Publisher: Puffin Pied Piper
Publication Year: 1974
Brief Summary: In this alphabet book, children learn about African culture and daily life through Swahili words.
Awards, Honors and Prizes: 

Ideas for using this book in classroom or library and/or brief notes on curriculum connections/content learning standards/Common Core, etc.:

  • Social Studies: Africa — show students (or have them show) on the map where Africa is.  Find countries where Swahili is spoken.  Discuss different aspects of African culture/daily life as discussed in the book.
  • Language Arts: Students make their own ABC book — work individually?  pairs?  groups? — about their city/town/state/country.
  • Read a state ABC book if available (for example, T is for Tennessee by E. J. Sullivan).  Talk about the culture/daily life discussed in the book.  How is it different from Jambo Means Hello?

Special features included (if applicable) — index; timeline; author’s notes; further reading; etc. Editor’s note about how art was made for the book.

Accessed at: Thrasher Elementary Library

Anansi the Spider: Gerald McDermott

Anansi the Spider: a tale from the Ashanti  

  • Author/Illustrator: Gerald McDermott

  • Publisher: Puffin Books

  • Publication Year: 1972

  • Brief Summary: In this traditional African folktale, Anansi the Spider is rescued from his troubles with the help of his six sons. However, when they couldn’t agree on who should get the reward — a mysterious “great globe of light” Anansi finds in the forest — Nyame, the God of All Things, puts the prize into the sky for all to see.

  • Awards (if any): Randolph Caldecott Medal, 1973 Honor Book United States

  • Ideas for using this book in classroom or library:

    •  Introduction to folktales…what is this genre? what makes this a folktale?
    • Themes: cooperation, selfishness, teamwork, individual strengths (each son has a unique strength that helps Anansi in a particular situation)
    • Illustrations can be used to teach geometric shapes
    • Art notes: how do the illustrations for this book differ from those in other picture books and/or other folktales — folktales from other cultures usually have illustrations that reflect the culture and its traditions (e.g. compare art for African folktales to those for Asian, European, Native American ones)
  • Brief notes on curriculum connections/content learning standards/Common Core/etc.

  • Special features included (if applicable) — index; timeline; author’s notes; further reading; etc.: Illustrations reflect African traditions/motifs

  • Accessed at: Personal Library