Nancy Keane's Booktalks -- Quick and Simple

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Couloumbis, Audrey.
New York : G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1999.
IL 5-8
ISBN 039923389X

5 Booktalks

Booktalk #1

My life has changed so much and I don't really like it.  I want to be back in my own room with my mother and my sisters.  It's been awhile since Little Sister and I came to live with Aunt Patty and Uncle Hob.  They mean well but they've never had any kids of their own.  They just can't understand what we are doing.  Aunt Patty just wants to dress us up like dolls and parade us around town.  She invites the most obnoxious girl over to play with us just because Aunt Patty wants to get into some social circle.  And worse yet, she wants to do something drastic to Little Sister just to get her to start talking again.  Can't she just understand that Little Sister will talk when she has something to say.  And Mom.  She just needs her time too.  We all do.  So, Little Sister and I will sit out here on the roof of Aunt Patty's house until we feel we have had enough time.  Join me and Little Sister as we are GETTING NEAR TO BABY.

Booktalk #2

Have you ever lost someone dear to you? Do you know someone who won't speak because they are very sad? Do you have relatives who drive you crazy and do things different from the way you like them done? Do you have a secret getaway place to go to? Well 12-year-old Willa Jo does and you'll never guess where it is.  She goes up to the rooftop with Little Sister because they are very sad about the death of their Baby sister. They have to stay with their Aunt Patty while their mom recovers from her depression. Because of their Aunt's bossy ways they end up on the rooftop trying to figure out what has happened to their family.  Little sister won't speak to anyone and their mom has sent them away to stay with their aunt and uncle.  The story takes place over an entire day on the rooftop and Willa Jo recalls the facts leading up to Baby's death.  To find out what happened you will have to read "Getting Near to Baby" by Audrey Couloumbis. (Karen Womack, graduate student,  <> )

Booktalk #3

When uprooted from their normal family life, Willa Jo and Little Sister must spend some time with an aunt who doesn't  understand children, and adjusting to a different life with preset choices leave Willa Jo angry and confused.  Throughout her difficulties with Aunt Patty, she learns to deal with life, which culminates by looking at the sunrise on the rooftop.  This bittersweet novel combines humor, regional culture, and the pain of a loved one into a heart-warming story.  Finding out about how the loss of Baby happening in the middle of the book is an ingenious way of keeping the reader turning the pages. ("Naomi Bates" <>)

Booktalk #4

I would ask students to name a specific situation in which people have lost their children  (Oklahoma bombing, school shootings, or any real life experiences if chosen).  Then I would ask how people respond to losing their loved ones.  Which would hurt most, to lose a young child or an older one?  After discussing this, I would present this book to students and tell them about how two sisters and a mother deal with the loss of a loved one.  ("Naomi Bates" <>)

Booktalk #5

Itís a girl. After drinking poisonous water, baby dies and all excitement is lost. Now all thatís left of baby are memories and paintings of her on the walls. Willa Jo and Little Sister are now forced to move in with their Aunt Patty, until their mother gets over her illness. Their Aunt Patty is married, but has no kids of her own. Aunt Patty has so many rules, and the girls canít even play jacks with their neighbors. Now after losing their baby sister all Willa Jo and Little Sister do is sit on the roof with their picnic basket. Will they ever get to see their mother again, or will she die too?  (Kelsey Elizabeth Jones, student, Mansfield High School)

SUBJECTS:     Sisters -- Fiction
                        Grief -- Fiction
                        Death -- Fiction
                        Aunts  -- Fiction.


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