Thank you Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee & Ricki at Unleashing Readers for hosting It’s Monday! What are you Reading? Readers across the blogging community connect their latest reading experiences, opening new possibilities for sharing the impact of books on our lives. I was introduced to A Handful of Stars by Jen Brittin, a valuable member of my PLN. Jen blogs at At The Corner of Fourth and Excellence and has inspired my work as a literacy specialist in many ways. When Jen created a book vine for A Handful of Stars, I was eager to jump on board- even though I really didn’t have a clear idea of what a book vine was!
I learned that a book vine is a way to connect with others who are reading the same book. We read from the same copy of the book, mailing it to the next reader when we were done with it. Each reader left tracks of her thinking, so we could see the reactions of those who read before us.
In A Handful of Stars, Cynthia Lord shares the story of two unlikely friends- Lily- the granddaughter of a small town shop owner and Salma- a young migrant worker who spends her days harvesting blueberries. Lily works through her feelings as she begins to lose touch with one friend, while gaining another. Lily’s dog Lucky brings Salma and Lily closer as they work to raise money for surgery to keep him from going blind. Lily learns many lessons during the story, and her grandparents offer guidance and words of wisdom.
One of the reasons that readers will appreciate this book is that it fulfills the mission of #weneeddiversebooks. Lily’s mother has passed away, and she never knew her father. She is being raised as an only child by her grandparents. Salma’s family moves back and forth, depending on harvest season, so she is constantly changing schools and homes. Many kids will identify with these situations and the feelings associated with them.
This book has great potential for teachers. In writer’s notebooks, my students would capture lines from text that sparked their thinking or inspire them. Lord has sprinkled many lines worth capturing throughout A Handful of Stars. The Lift a Line strategy (from Notebook Know-How by Aimee Buckner) could be used to help students write notebook entries based on lines that speak to them. Some of my favorites are included in the list below. Any of these would make a great first line for a notebook entry and inspire some generative writing.
- “Sometimes life is like a long road leading from one “if” to another.” page 1
- “It takes all kinds of people to make a world.” page 19
- “Different can be good… It makes you pay attention.” page 46
- “Every little bit helps, and even the ocean is made up of drops.” page 23
- “Sometimes being with someone can make you feel lonelier than if you were by yourself.” page 56
- “I’ve never done anything like this before. I’ve never even wanted to.” page 62
- “Today I felt a little bit braver than I was scared. Just enough to tip the scales.” page 74
- “Some things are magic between two people, but they fizzle when anyone else gets involved.” page 87
- “People want us to come and work, but they want us to be invisible.” page 94
- “Sometimes understanding comes in little drops, and other times it rushes in like the tide, rolling everything over as it comes.” page 120
- “When you love someone, you want what they want.” page 128
- “Maybe when we see things all the time, we stop really looking at them. And it takes an artist, someone who can look past the ordinariness, to remind us how special they really are.” page 152
- “I think almost is one of the hardest kinds of losing. Because you could see all the way to winning before that door shut.” page 167
I encourage you to obtain a copy of A Handful of Stars for your classroom library after it comes out in May! Read more about how book vines work and get Jen Brittin’s take on the book, including exclusive information from the author here.
Can’t wait to hear what you think of A Handful of Stars! The book is in your court…