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2012 VRC for Middle School. Sabrina Carnesi Crittenden Middle School Newport News, VA. Bulu: African Wonder Dog by Dick Houston. Genre: Juvenile NF 636 Setting: Zambia Meaning of Bulu (Bantu)= wild dog (Northwest Africa) = Serious-minded, responsible, and stable Main Characters:

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2012 vrc for middle school

2012 VRC for Middle School

Sabrina Carnesi

Crittenden Middle School

Newport News, VA

Bulu african wonder dog by dick houston
Bulu: African Wonder Dogby Dick Houston

  • Genre: Juvenile NF 636

  • Setting: Zambia

  • Meaning of Bulu

    • (Bantu)= wild dog

    • (Northwest Africa) = Serious-minded, responsible, and stable

  • Main Characters:

    • Steve & Anna Tolan

    • Bulu

2012 vrc for middle school

  • Problem:

    • Steve was in an accident

    • He and Anna sold everything and moved from England to Zambia to live and work in wildlife conservation.

    • Warned not to get a dog if they were living in the bush / adopted Bulu / Runt of the litter

      • break their hearts

      • dogs were eaten by predators

      • died from diseases

2012 vrc for middle school

  • Themes:

    • Jack Russell

      • Known as Big Dog in Tiny Body

      • Bulu cared for the orphaned animals

        • Monkeys, warthogs, baboons, and elephants

        • Protected them from lions, cheetahs, floods, etc..

    • Dog / Pet Care / Regional & Ethnic Views on household pets


      • Human deaths by AIDS in Zambia and orphaned children

      • Anna insisting Bulu be seen immediately by vet

Author s book site http buluafricanwonderdog com
Author’s Book Site http://buluafricanwonderdog.com/

Study Guide available for download:


2012 vrc for middle school

Animal Rights Blog


2012 vrc for middle school

Animal Rights Website


All the broken pieces a novel in verse by ann e burg
All the Broken Pieces a novel in verse by Ann E. Burg

"There is darkness on the water. There is darkness on the land. There is darkness all around us, but I will hold your hand. You are safe, my precious child. You are safe now, you are home. We have found you and we love you. You will never be alone." —All the Broken Pieces, PP. 11-12

2012 vrc for middle school

2012 vrc for middle school

  • Problem: Hesse’s Out of the Dust

    • Vietnamese birth / abandoned by Am. Soldier dad

    • Brought to USA for a better chance at age 10 (story starts 2 years later)

    • Although he learns piano and plays baseball…the past haunts him and

    • Nightmares

    • School kids bully him

      • Rob blames Matt for his brother’s death

      • Matt fears that if his adoptive parents really knew what he did, they will not want him anymore

  • Theme

    • PTS Post Traumatic Stress

    • Conflict / Peer mediation

    • Points of View (POV) of Vietnam War from Vietnamese perspective

    • Immigration

    • Suicide Bombing

Powerless by matthew cody
Powerless Hesse’s Out of the Dustby Matthew Cody

  • Genre: Fantasy Fiction – Quick Read

  • Setting:

    • Modern day Noble Green, PA

    • “The Safest Town on Earth”

  • Main Character:

    • Daniel Corrigan

      • 12 years old

      • tween sleuth (Sherlock Holmes is his idol

Powerless by matthew cody1
Powerless Hesse’s Out of the Dustby Matthew Cody

  • Problem:

    • Daniel moves to PA to care for his ailing grandmother.

    • the superheroes in Daniels town are plagued with loosing their powers once they turn 13.

      • No memory of super life or super friends

    • Daniel is asked to solve the puzzle

    • Super power REPRESENTED


2012 vrc for middle school

  • Author’s Website Hesse’s Out of the Dusthttp://matthewcody.com/

  • The ultimate list of superheroes and villains in the comic book universe www.comicvine.com/characters/

  • Superhero Database: superheroes, villains, teams, and powers www.superherodb.com/

  • The Superheroes Quiz…Which Superhero are you http://www.thesuperheroquiz.com/

  • Chapter 1 is online


Cosmic by frank cottrell boyce
Cosmic Hesse’s Out of the Dustby Frank Cottrell Boyce

  • Genre: SyFy

    • Quick Read

    • 1st Person

    • Humor that appeals to children and adults

  • Setting: mostly on the 1st civilian ship to space as it journeys around the moon

  • Main Character:

    • Liam

      • 12 years old

      • Extra Tall

      • Facial Hair

      • Looks thirty / Often mistaken for a grown-up

    • Florida Kirby

      • Liam’s friend (daughter)

  • Problem

    • He enters a contest as a "dad" and wins a trip with his "daughter" (friend, Florida) to a new theme park/thrill ride. When he and Florida arrive, they find out they're in China with three other dads and their sons; the object is to test drive a new top secret rocket

Cosmic by frank cottrell boyce1
Cosmic Hesse’s Out of the Dustby Frank Cottrell Boyce

  • Theme

    • Walking in someone else’s shoes

    • The game “War craft”

    • Manned Space flights / NASA /

    • Father / son relationships / Parenting

    • Gravity

    • Technology today and in the future

  • Critique

    • Technology mentioned in book could possibly date it

    • Comparative language is used to allow his readers to immerse themselves in Liam’s adventure since they will never have the same opportunity to experience such an exotic journey. “She shouted so loud that you could hear her words moving away from us over the dunes. Then we heard something that sounded like God hovering the world. It was the wind. A wind that threw sand at our legs and arms so hard it felt like we were being stabbed with a billion nano-knives” (p. 132).

2012 vrc for middle school

  • Private Craft Soars into Space July 14, 2004 Hesse’s Out of the Dusthttp://articles.cnn.com/2004-06-21/tech/suborbital.test_1_test-pilot-mike-melvill-spaceshipone-burt-rutan?_s=PM:TECH

  • Virgin Galactic: Civilian Spaceship December 7, 2009 http://articles.cnn.com/2004-06-21/tech/suborbital.test_1_test-pilot-mike-melvill-spaceshipone-burt-rutan?_s=PM:TECH

  • YouTube Video of SpaceShipOne (1st Civilian Spaceship) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=29uQ6fjEozI

  • Update on Civilian Space Travel


Camo girl by kekla magoon
Camo Girl Hesse’s Out of the Dustby Kekla Magoon

  • Genre: Fiction – Quick Read – emotional realism

  • Setting:

    • Modern day suburbs of Las Vegas

  • Main Character:

    • Ella Cartwright – Bullied because she’s of mixed race and discoloration of skin

    • Zachery – suffers from a mental illness that causes escapism into a fantasy world

    • Bailey James – likes to be the center of attention – spins situations to make it look like he’s on top – only other black in Ella’s school

Author s website http keklamagoon com
Author’s website: Hesse’s Out of the Dusthttp://keklamagoon.com/

  • Problem:

    • a main character with self-esteem issues due to her mottled coloration of her face

    • another character who at first comes across as funny/quirky & later is discovered to have a mental illness and need of professional help

  • Theme:

    • Mental Illness

    • Bullying

    • Camouflaged reality

    • vitiligo

2012 vrc for middle school

  • Mental Health Issues in Youth Video Hesse’s Out of the Dusthttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mLMhBrcxwWU

  • Identifying mental health issues in teens http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/711264_3

  • The National Vitiligo Foundation, Inc.http://nvfi.org/index.php

  • Vitiligo Support International http://www.vitiligosupport.org/

  • Here’s what vitiligo looks like:

Flygirl by sherri l smith
Flygirl Hesse’s Out of the Dustby Sherri L. Smith

  • Genre: Historical Fiction

  • Setting:

    • 1941

    • WWII, Women’s Airforce Service Pilots (WASP)

  • Main Character:

    Ida Mae Jones (Jonesey)

  • Problem:

    • Jonesey is a light skinned white that passes for black in order to be a pilot in the Air Force. This forces her to live a lie concerning her family and friends.

Flygirl by sherri l smith1
Flygirl Hesse’s Out of the Dustby Sherri L. Smith

Theme: At what risk do you take to fulfill your dreams?

  • Stay true to yourself

  • Preferential treatment outside and within a race

    • her best friend observes that she is “Little Miss Pretty Hair [with:] Creamy White Skin” (p. 9)

  • Female pilots

  • WWII

  • How the home front helped

    • Ration cards / saving bacon fat for ammo and medicine

  • Jim Crow Laws / segregation

  • Career choices for women in the 40s

  • 2010 Congressional Medal of Honor to WASP program members

2012 vrc for middle school

  • Will Latinos become the next Hesse’s Out of the Dust group to pass for white? http://www.newstaco.com/2012/03/07/are-latinos-going-to-start-passing-as-white/

  • Women’s Airforce Service Project http://wingsacrossamerica.us/wasp/

  • Anita Florence Hemmings passed for white to get acceptance into Vassar in 1893. http://panachereport.com/channels/hip%20hop%20gallery/PassingForWhite.htm

Operation yes by sara lewis holmes
Operation YES Hesse’s Out of the Dustby Sara Lewis Holmes

  • Genre: Fiction

  • Setting:

    • Young Oaks AFB, North Carolina

  • Main Character:

    • Bo – son of base commander

    • Gari – Bo’s cousin from Seattle

    • Ms. Loupe DOD teacher who uses improv techniques with 6th graders to work through skills development and remediation

2012 vrc for middle school

  • Problem: Hesse’s Out of the Dust

    • Sibling rivalry among cousins

    • Miss Loupe becomes distant and loses enthusiasm after her brother is MIA in Afghanistan

    • In an effort to bring Ms. Loupe back to normal, the students stage a production for their base community to help them to cope with the unexpectedness of war tragedies

    • Theme

      • Department of Defense Schools(DOD)

      • Modern Day Military Base Living and employment

      • Sibling rivalry

      • Behavior expectations at school

      • The war in Iraq and Afghanistan

      • Working with others

      • Stepping out of your comfort zone

    • Personal Critique

      • Slightly construed characteristics of teaching methods and situations

2012 vrc for middle school

  • Department of Defense Schools in Europe Hesse’s Out of the Dusthttp://www.eu.dodea.edu/

  • The Use of improv theatrical technique for urban classrooms http://www.eastsideinstitute.org/Education_assets/The%20Developing%20Teachers%20Fellowship%20Program-%20Use%20of%20Improv%20Theatre.pdf

  • There actual is a technique for using improv to teach skills in K8 classrooms!

    The Second City Guide to Improv in the Classroom: Using Improvisation to Teach Skills and Boost Learning.

    ISBN 9780787996505. Wiley, 2008.

Heart of a samurai by margi preus
Heart of a Samurai Hesse’s Out of the Dustby Margi Preus

  • Genre: Historical Fiction

    • Based on the story of the 1st Japanese to come to the USA

  • Setting: 1843 Japan and New England

  • Main Character: Nakahama Manjiro

    • Age 14

    • poor

Heart of a samurai by margi preus1
Heart of a Samurai Hesse’s Out of the Dustby Margi Preus


  • Nakahama wants to be a samurai, but due to rank this will never happen…

  • Works as a fisherman

  • Is shipwrecked w/4 others and saved by an American whaling ship in 1841

  • Japan tainted all citizens that mixed w/outsiders (barbarians)

    • Nakahama was the only fisherman that mingled with the Americans…because he was sooo fascinated by the art of whaling and the English language & comes to America w/the captain

    • Lives in usa for about 10 years and attends school

    • Earns money in the Gold Rush / returns to Japan / and is then arrested as a spy until policies shift & Japan makes efforts to communicate with the outside world

    • Earns rank of samurai for credit of helping Japan to overcome 250 years of isolation to enter into a relationship with the USA


  • Elements of natural history,

  • whaling, sailing,

  • prejudice, politics,

  • courage and determination

  • America and Japan pre Civil War years

2012 vrc for middle school

  • The 4-Tiered Class System of Feudal Japan: farmers / peasants, artisans, merchants, Samurai class http://asianhistory.about.com/od/japan/p/ShogJapanClass.htm

  • Heart of a Samurai Cliff Notes available for a fee on line - http://www.enotes.com/heart-of-a-samurai

  • Background Information on storyline is available on author’s website

Peak by roland smith
Peak peasants, artisans, merchants, Samurai class by Roland Smith

  • Genre: Fiction – Raw Adventure

    “…I had four fingernails split all the way down the middle. It felt like some had set them on fire.“

  • Setting: New York City & Tibet

  • Main Character:

    • Peak Marcello

      • Age 14

      • Addicted to extreme climbing

    • Joshua Woods

      • Peaks famous mountain climbing dad

2012 vrc for middle school
Study Guide for Roland Smith books available to the public! peasants, artisans, merchants, Samurai class http://rolandsmith.com/curriculum/index.htm

  • Problem:

    • Peak is arrested for climbing a sky scraper in New York, where he lives.

    • Given the option to go to juvie hall or live with biological dad in Thailand.

    • Dad encourages Peak to be the youngest person to climb Mt. Everest…but it has to be done before his 15th birthday

  • Critique: I learned three main things from this book...

    • 1) "...what makes a story unique is not necessarily the information in the story but what the writer chooses to put in or leave out. (pg. 146-147)"

    • 2)"You don't have to be alone to feel alone. (pg. 154)"

    • 3) Sacrifice. Think of others before yourself.

  • Theme

    • Mountaineering Climbing Safety Techniques

    • Dangers & thrills from extreme sports…”frozen dead bodies litter the paths to the summit”

    • Father / son relationships

    • Geography of Tibet and Mt. Everest

    • Selfishness (a trait of those that are intensely single-minded

2012 vrc for middle school

  • This is a site that has info on mountain climbing schools that teaches you how to tie ropes, etc. http://santiamalpineclub.org/mountain/climbing/schools/instruction/

  • Real life 13 year old American, Jordan Romero, reaches the summit of Mt. Everest in May of 2010 (CBS News World) http://www.cbsnews.com/2100-202_162-6508878.html

  • Climb Mt. Everest (National Geographic) http://www.nationalgeographicexpeditions.com/expeditions/nepal-everest-basecamp-trek/detail?utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=NGExpeditions&utm_content=General

  • Price needed to climb Mt. Everest in the tens of thousands –Equipment alone is between $8,000 to $15, 000 – Airfare between $2,500 to $8,000.

  • http://outdoors.whatitcosts.com/mt-everest.htm

  • Mount Everest Fact Sheet http://www.mnteverest.net/history.htm l

When you reach me by rebecca stead
When You Reach Me that teaches you how to tie ropes, etc. by Rebecca Stead

  • Genre: Space and Time (Science?) Fiction

  • Elements of “A Wrinkle in Time”

  • Setting: 1970s New York City

  • Main Character: Miranda

    • 6th grader – age 12 – introvert and single child syndrome

  • Sal

    • Miranda’s best friend

2012 vrc for middle school

Author’s that teaches you how to tie ropes, etc. Website: http://www.rebeccasteadbooks.com/Discussions Questions at LitLovers: http://www.litlovers.com/reading-guides/15-young-adult-fiction/1136-when-you-reach-me-stead?start=3Study Guide available for purchase: http://www.novel-ties.com/estore/product/LGLS3813I/

  • Problem:

    • Miranda starts getting notes that tells her about things that are going to happen in the future

    • As she tries to solve the clues, she is drawn out of herself and becomes more aware of the needs of others around her

    • The puzzle gradually comes together on the last day

  • Theme:

    • Rehabilitation in prisons

    • $20,000 Pyramid

    • Homelessness

    • Racism

    • Single mothers

    • Dead-end jobs

    • Self esteem \ self awareness

    • Friendship

    • NYC neighborhoods