Tag Archives: Voice

Charlie Joe Jackson’s Guide to Making Money and Charlie Joe Jackson’s Guide to Not Reading by Tommy Greenwald

In Charlie Joe’s new adventure about how to make money, Charlie and his friends will keep you laughing again. If you take Charlie Joe’s advise about choosing books with short chapters, this one will qualify. Lots of short chapters, funny sketches, and embarrassing situations will keep middle level readers turning the pages. This book would also be a great read aloud throughout the year. The chapters are short and funny and will keep your listeners wanting more.

Charlie wants to find ways to make money without having to put himself out too much. Between having to pay some of his profits to mother to clean up the mess his job created to impressing his dad with his computer skills, Charlie makes a little money, but more than that, he learns more about himself and his friends and has a strange feeling about, could it be, a future girlfriend!

Charlie Joe Jackson’s Guide to Not Reading
Schema: procrastination

Summary: Charlie Joe received books as his birthday present when he was only young child and was so disappointed that he developed a very strong distaste for reading. He schemes, plans, connives, bribes, and experiments in every way he can think of to get out of reading. He worries, gets punished by losing his phone, computer, and everything he enjoys for his lack of reading. Charlie Joe is in  middle school.   Between the reading problems, Charlie Joe is shocked by the relationships and cliques that are developing in his school.   His parents are embarrassed by him, and his teachers are disappointed in him, but Charlie Joe likes himself and is optimistic. His final stand at getting out of reading involves him launching a social experiment to get kids from opposite cliques to like and hang out with each other.

Cause and Effect: Because Charlie Joe will not read his own books, the effect is that he suffers many consequences.

Voice: Charlie’s voice permeates the book.

The book is formatted with many short chapters and short lists.

Text-to-Text connection with The Diary of the Wimpy Kid series in storyline as well as art work.

Author’s POV: The book is written in  first person.

Check out the author’s website.

Never Forgotten by Patricia C. McKissack; artwork by Leo & Diane Dillon

Schema: slavery

The author tells the story in third person in a poetic format.

Setting: West Africa, 1725

Author’s Purpose: to show the perspective of a family whose child has been taken by slave traders

Voice: The language the author uses creates a unique voice for Dinga

Personification: The four elements: Earth, Fire, Water, and Air are personified as they seek to mother and then find Musafa.

Summary: Tell the story in sequence from Musafa’s birth to his being found again in the Southern United States in Charleston, South Carolina.

Drawing Conclusions: Do you conclude that Dinga went mad or insane with the disappearance of Musafa or do you think the elements could have communicated Musafa’s whereabouts to him?

Hurricanes: Many hurricanes have hit the South Carolina coast. The author notes at the end of the book that there is a legend in Barbados that says the “hurricane is Mother Africa in search of her lost children.”

Henry’s Freedom Box: A True Story From the Underground Railroad by Ellen Levine

Schema: Underground railroad, escaped slaves

Author’s purpose: to share African American history

Author’s Point of View: 3rd person omniscient as we see the story from more than one character’s point of view

Cause and Effect: Because Henry’s family was sold, the effect was that Henry went to the extreme of mailing himself to escape the sorrow of slavery.

Characterize Henry: hard working, good listener, loving, strong

Mental Images: Henry imagined the carts carrying away his family and all that he loved every night.

Drawing Conclusions: Henry knew that the mail was delivered everywhere. He thought he could stand being in a box for many hours. He drew the conclusion that he could mail himself north to escape slavery.

After Henry’s family is sold, he purposefully pours sulphuric acid on his hand so that he could stay home from work in order to get some help in mailing himself to the northern states to escape slavery in the southern United States.


Under the Quilt of Night by Deborah Hopkinson

Schema: Underground railroad, slaves escaping from the southern U.S.

Metaphor: The quilt as a cover of darkness is compared to the night sky throughout the story as the slaves must hide during the day time and move at night.

Author’s POV: 1st person

Author’s Purpose: to share the history of African American slaves and the people who helped them

Voice: the story is told from an unnamed girls point of view in first person

Mental Images: imagine hiding under a bush in the hot summer and not being able to move much

The story is about a family running to the north for freedom.



Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down by Andrea Davis Pinkney

Schema: Civil Rights Movement, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Text-to-text:  Freedom on the Menu: the Greensboro Sit-Ins by Carole Boston Weatherford

Metaphor: The story uses an extended metaphor to compare the Civil Rights movement to a recipe throughout the story.  Author’sPurpose: to share a story about the civil rights movement and to teach us about African American history

Author’s POV: 3rd person

Cause and Effect: Because the demonstrators were nonviolent, the effect was that the national news only captured the violence of the angry white people which made Dr. King’s message even stronger.

Mental Images: Imagine having salt, ketchup, and coffee poured on your head and pepper thrown in your eyes and still sitting calmly

Organizational Strategies: the story is organized like a poem

This is the story of the four college men who began the Woolworth sit-ins in Greensboro, North Carolina, February 1, 1960. The author shares a story in language and illustrations that tell what happened with a positive point of view and a message of hope for the future. The metaphor of a recipe is used to mix the ingredients needed to end segregation.







Because of Mr. Terupt by Rob Buyea

Schema: teachers, fifth grade

Text-to-Self Connections: many students will identify with one of the seven characters

Text-to-Text Connections: Jessica refers to many great books that she is reading throughout the book. Students will relate to some of the titles. Summer of the Swans by Betsy Byars is about a girl and her mentally handicapped brother, Charlie.  In this book, the students form a bond with a special needs class in their school.

The book is written from the point of view of seven different students in Mr. Terupt’s fifth grade class. Mr. Terupt is a first year teacher.  Use the characterization chart for each character to analyze their traits as you read through the book.  I think it would be fun to purchase seven additional copies of the book and let seven students take on the role of each of the seven characters in a reader’s theater. The seven student types are ones that students will connect with such as:

Peter who begins the story and is one who likes to play around;

Jessica, a new girl who is new to the area, whose parents are divorcing because the father found another woman;

Luke, a very intelligent boy, who consistently tries to achieve;

Alexia, a mean and devious girl;

Jeffrey, a quiet boy with a secret about how he had a younger brother who died, even though his parents had him to use his stem cells, and now deals with the depression of his mother;

Danielle, an over weight girl with parents who are extremely conservative;

Anna, a very shy girl whose mother is very young and had her while still a teenager.

Each chapter is told from the viewpoint of a different student.

The book is sequenced by months beginning with September and going through the school year.

Cause and Effect: One of the kids actions has a serious effect on Mr. Terupt, and the second half of the book is devoted to how each student deals with this effect.

Drawing Conclusions: Many opportunities can be found to discuss what conclusions you draw about each of the kids before you find out why they are the way they are from what you learn about their home lives as you read through the book.  The text makes you think about being negative towards kids because of their behaviors and comments before you understand why they are behaving this way.  Students will relate to these circumstances for many perspectives.

Voice: Include “voice” in the characterization of each character.  Their voice reveals their emotions.  Read some of the text aloud and have students tell you whose voice they hear.  Have them write something that sounds like the voice of each character.

Math: Mr. Terupt designs a math game to help students practice addition that Luke uses throughout the story.

Robot Zot by Jon Scieszka

Schema: Robot Zot is not from planet earth, so the things we have in our schema are not in his.  He fights with a blender, mixer, coffee maker, toaster, television, and thinks that a dog in a warrior to contend with as well.

This book would be a great example of how we have to make connections in our schema to understand and learn new things.

Personification: Robot Zot feels love for the toy phone.

POV: The story is told from Robot Zot’s point of view, but when he leaves we see the man’s POV as he thinks his dog destroyed everything.

Voice: We hear Robot Zot’s voice in the language and POV.

Thunder-Boomer! by Shutta Crum

Schema: thunderstormSetting: outside on a farm

POV: The narrator is the young girl in the story who tells the story in first person.  The day is hot, and everyone on the farm is hot and lazy except for Dad, then a big thunderstorm begins.

Text-to-Self Connections: Being outside when a storm blows in, feeling the air get cooler; hearing the whole house shake when it thunders; having a dog that gets scared when it thunders

Character Analysis: Dad returns to the rain to rescue their chicken showing his caring nature.  Dad also agrees that they can keep the kitten showing his loving nature.

Mom tells the kids to let the clothes on the line go and get in out of the rain showing that she is caring toward her children.

Cause and Effect:  Because of the storm, the effect is that everyone has to run inside.

Drawing Conclusions: Students will conclude that Maizey is worried about something because she pecks Dad when he is bringing her in and fusses about being in the house.  We might conclude that she is worried about her eggs or a baby chick, but a twist in the story reveals that she was worried about a kitten which they name “Thunder-boomer.”

Sequencing: The family is outside and hot, the wind starts to blow, they run to put up the tractor, get the chickens in the coop, get the clothes off the line, something white blows away, Dad gets Maizey in, Maizey acts unusually fussy, Scooter is scared, they see the underwear outside, it hails,  the rain stops, they let Maizey out and she reveals that she was worried about a kitten.

So Far From the Sea by Eve Bunting

Schema: sea, setting

Questions to activate background knowledge:

Can you think of another time in history where a group of people have been treated unfairly because of the color of their skin?

Can you imagine being taken away from your family because of your ethnicity?

Why is the title so far from the sea when it looks like the sea behind them?

Why does the woman have spring flowers in the winter time?

Have you ever heard of World War II?

Who was locked up and killed during that war?

What is a spy?

Point of View: Who is telling the story?

Text-to-Self Connections: going somewhere that makes you feel nervous, making emotional connections

Inference: I am inferring that it is winter because they are putting on their jackets.  The wind is cold from the Sierra.

Setting: 1942, popular song: Don’t Fence Me In

Drawing Conclusions: Look at the location of Manzanar and draw a conclusion about why the author made the title “So Far from the Sea”

Mental Images: the field bigger than a football field, seeing it empty like erasing a blackboard, imagining he could climb on the mountain’s back and it would become a big eagle to fly him away, boat( a real American scout sail)  moving on as a way to say his grandfather had moved on, and so were they

Cause and Effect: Because Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, the United States, the effect is “the U.S. was suddenly at war”

Metaphor: What could the author mean when he says the grandfather began dying the moment he was put on the bus and taken to Manzanar?  The author is comparing dying to being taken so far from the sea and losing his boat and freedom.

Metaphor: What is “moving on” a metaphor for as the family leaves the cemetery? a boat moving on, the family moving on to Boston, the family moving on and letting the hurt of the grandfather’s mistreatment go

Organizational Strategies: What did you notice about the way the illustrator organized the illustrations with the color pages and the sepia no color ones?  What is he trying to show? Can you think of any other text-to-text connections that show a shift in time?

Compare and Contrast: The way the camp looks before and after the war.

Text-to-Text Connection: Tree of Cranes by Alan Say is set in Japan and a mother is telling her son what Christmas was like in America when she was a child.

Synthesis: Can you think of other groups of people who are thought of as suspicious because of their heritage in our present day time or in the past?–Jewish people during WWII, slavery in the U.S., today’s airport security with certain names, appearances, the Muslim religion, the controversy in NYC about the Mosque being built near the 9/11 site?

Synthesis: Can you think of a time when you had to “move on” and let something go that has hurt you?

Home of the Brave by Katherine Applegate

Schema: civil wars, traveling alone, the title which is a phrase from the U. S. National Anthem

Before beginning, read the guide produced by the publisher which provides a background for understanding:

Author’s purpose: The author takes us into the world of a refugee and helps refugee’s to see that they are not alone.

POV: The story is told from Kek’s point of view.

Voice: We hear Kek’s voice throughout the story as we experience his situations from his POV.

Text-to-Text Connections: 14 Cows for America by Carmen Agra Deedy

Drawing Conclusions: We quickly draw the conclusion that Kek is new to the United States.  What text evidence leads you to this conclusion?

Mental Images: The reader is forced to make a mental image of Kek’s description in order to follow his thoughts.

He describes common things in unique ways without using the common name for it such as the flying boat for the airplane.

Characterization: Use the Describing Wheel to list Kek’s traits: Eleven years old, maybe an orphan, afraid, sad, brave

Symbolism: How is the title a symbol for the way Kek thinks of America?

Note about an African custom from Alan Cohen’s “Eyes on Africa” page on Facebook