I have another chapter book that will set you soaring into unlimited possibilities. Gary D. Schmidt, author of Newbery winners such as Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy and The Wednesday Wars has recently came out with another touching story titled, Okay for Now.
I laughed out loud only to get angry on the next page. I dared to hope and cried as the story began to wrap. Most of all, I was touched with the message of how "the power of art and story (has) over despair and loss."
Doug Swicteck, referred to as a "thug in training" finds a sense of freedom from his troubled life when he begins to sketch John James Audubon's bird of America and when Mr. Powell, from the library, begins to teach him the concepts of sketching and composition. Doug takes on the challenge of reclaiming the missing pages of the Original John Audubon book the library has sold off to keep itself and the town afloat.
Here is a story about rising above your circumstances and reaching for the stars. In the time of our first moon flight and the turmoil of Vietnam war, Doug manages to fight his way out of the miry clay until even his worst skeptics admit that he is someone who will go wherever he wants to go.
I loved this book and I'm confident, you will too. Educators, here is a great story for teaching courage, steadfastness and having the guts to keep trying even when the stats are not in your favor.
Book Information:Publisher and date: Clarion Books; None edition (April 5, 2011)
Reading level: Ages 10 and up
Book Info: Hardcover: 368 pages
Genre: Chapter book fiction
As a fourteen-year-old who just moved to a new town, with no friends and a louse for an older brother, Doug Swieteck has all the stats stacked against him. So begins a coming-of-age masterwork full of equal parts comedy and tragedy from Newbery Honor winner Gary D. Schmidt. As Doug struggles to be more than the “skinny thug” that his teachers and the police think him to be, he finds an unlikely ally in Lil Spicer—a fiery young lady who “smelled like daisies would smell if they were growing in a big field under a clearing sky after a rain.” In Lil, Doug finds the strength to endure an abusive father, the suspicions of a whole town, and the return of his oldest brother, forever scarred, from Vietnam. Together, they find a safe haven in the local library, inspiration in learning about the plates of John James Audubon’s birds, and a hilarious adventure on a Broadway stage. In this stunning novel, Schmidt expertly weaves multiple themes of loss and recovery in a story teeming with distinctive, unusual characters and invaluable lessons about love, creativity, and survival.
Look up John James Audubon's Birds of America. Study the life of Audubon and what he did for wildlife preservation.
Check out the National Audubon Society.
There's an article about him over at PBS.
Make bird feeders to help birds get through a cold winter. The Audubon Magazine has 11 tips for making bird feeders.
Gather some sketch paper, pencils and even some water colors and have a go at creating your own wildlife pictures.
Do you love space? The story takes place during two important historical times. The Vietnam war and the first landing on the moon. Pick a topic and research it. Create a "What I Learned About ______" book.
Learning information just for the fun of it helps deepen your understanding about the world around you.
Be A Nature Scientist:
Be A Nature Scientist:
Create your own nature book. Either draw pictures, or collect nature pictures you've photographed or clipped from a magazine. Provide a bit of information about the animal you captured.
Additional Resources: Check out the Educators Guide for Okay for Now
Gary D. Schmidt is the author of Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy (2005), which won both Newbery and Printz Honors, and The Wednesday Wars (2008), winner of a Newbery Honor. He teaches writing in the English Department at Calvin College, in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
2011 National Book Award Finalist for Young People's Literature
Gary's read from one of the most powerful chapters in his book.
Gary Schmidt reading from his YPL book Okay for Now at the 2011 NBA Finalists Reading from National Book Foundation on Vimeo.