Grades 3-5: The Report Card, Andrew Clements, Simon & Schuster Children's

Grades 6-8: So B. It, Sarah Weeks, Laura Geringer Books/Harper Collins

Past Winners


The Report Card

The Report Card. Andrew Clements;

Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers, 2004

0-689-84515-4 and $7.74 and up:

Author Information:  

http://andrewclements.com/

http://www.frindle.com/

 

Synopsis:

Nora Rowley, fifth grader at Philbrook Elementary School, was a genius. She describes herself as having the opposite of amnesia she can remember everything. She loves facts and thinks everyone else over-reacts about grades. Nora decides she will come up with a plan to show others that grades are not important. Everything starts off going pretty good; she even gets her best friend Stephen to join in on her plan. When things take a turn for the worst can Nora talk her way through her plan?

General review:  

Andrew Clements’ has written another solid story about a real-life issue, “state testing”. He has highlighted the controversial issue of testing and grades from a students’ perspective while also expressing the pressures put on all involved; students, teachers, administration and parents. The fact that standardized tests cannot really tell you much about a child seems to be Clements’ main point. I enjoy the fact that Clements’ has included a variety of view points in this story and has also pointed out that not all teachers are fans of tests. The large print and bright cover will attract all readers and may be a title to hook a reluctant reader.

Themes: school, friendship, honesty, imagination, education, testing,

Discussion Questions:

1. Nora has kept her intelligence a secret from her family, friends and teachers for a long time. Give several examples of ways Nora keeps her secret.

2. Do you think Nora made a good choice to keep this secret? Why or why not?

3. Nora says that she got her terrible report card for Stephen. Explain this statement.

4. List some of the ways Nora describes her friend Stephen. How do you think Nora really feels about Stephen? Do you think protecting Stephen is truly the only reason Nora decided to get a bad report card? 5. Describe what happens at your school and at home on a report card day.

6. Who opens your report card? How do you feel just before the report card is opened? What happens if you get especially good or bad grades?

7. Would you like to go to a school without tests or grades? Why or why not? List some of the possible positive and negative aspects of such a school.

Activity Suggestions:  

1. Nora describes how she first got to know her friend Stephen. Write a paragraph or short story about how you met one of your best friends. (Standard 3.1)

2. Nora and Stephen had an important message about testing and a desire to share their thoughts. Choose an issue, which you feel strongly and create a plan for sharing your feelings with others. (Standard 2.2)

3. Nora seems uncertain about her goals for life after high school while her sister Ann has clear goals. Write a paragraph describing what you hope to accomplish after high school. Share your paragraph with your class or a group of friends. How might you achieve your goals? (Standard 4.1)

Suggested follow-up Books:

Frindle

The Landry News

The School Story

A Week in The Woods

The Janitor’s Boy

The Last Holiday Concert

Jake Drake books


So B. It

Sarah Weeks; Laura Geringer Book, 2004

ISBN: 0066236223

Cost: $16.89

Synopsis:

Heidi’s mom has a vocabulary of only twenty-three words, but the most unusual one is “soof,” a word that only she knows the meaning of. Heidi’s unconventional home life has her looking after her mentally retarded mother and their “unique” neighbor Bernadette. Bernadette has been Heidi’s teacher in many areas, but Bernadette has a problem – she refuses to go outside her apartment.

Heidi has a lucky streak that always seems to make good things happen just when she needs it. Heidi’s desire to learn the truth behind her mother’s early life and the meaning of her mother’s mysterious word, leads her on a journey across the country in search of the past.

General Review:

Heidi’s desire to learn more about her mother’s background will resonate with many students as they pursue information about their own families. Starred reviews in Booklist and VOYA.

Themes: Family, Identity, Mothers and Daughters, Friendship, Mental Illness, Social Issues

Author web sites: http://www.sarahweeks.com

http://www.harperchildrens.com/authorintro/index.asp?authorid=12867

Discussion Questions: Standard 2: Benchmark 2

  1. The title, So B. It, could have several meanings. What do you think the title means?
  2. One of the themes of the book is “What is truth?” Explain what you think this means in relationship to the book.
  3. Heidi has tremendous responsibilities for someone so young. She shops for her mother, runs errands for Bernie, and baby-sits for a neighbor in order to earn money they need. How do these experiences influence Heidi as she grows up?
  4. Heidi is afraid she will end up like her mother, full of missing pieces, if she does no go to Liberty to discover her past (p. 85). Do you think that taking this journey is worth the pain it causes Bernie?
  5. Heidi seems to be a very lucky person, but after the journey to learn about her personal history ends, her lucky streak seems to disappear. What is the significance of Heidi losing her luck?

Activity Suggestions:

  1. Mama’s mysterious word soof is an important part of the story. If you were writing a similar story, is there a different word that you would make Mama’s mysterious word? Why? What is the significance of the word you would choose to use? (Standard 2: Benchmark 2)
  2. One of the lessons that Heidi learns is that life is not fair. Discuss the people and events in Heidi’s life, and then create a Venn Diagram that shows which people and events were fair and which were unfair. (Standard 2: Benchmark 2)
  3. Bernadette selflessly and patiently takes care of Heidi and her mother, who both need a caretaker. Why do you think she is willing to spend her time and money on people she does not know? What benefits, if any, does Bernadette receive? Consider and discuss these questions, and then write a short paper – 2 or 3 paragraphs – about a person that means so much to you that you would do the kind of things Bernadette did? (Standard 2: Benchmark 4 and Standard 4: Benchmark 2)
  4. Perform the Reader’s Theatre script for So B. It found on Sarah Weeks website, and then hold a class discussion about the performance. (Standard 3: Benchmark 4)