1998 Fall Junior Novels

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Nancy's picks for the best junior novels of fall 1998 and ideas for using them in the classroom. Compiled by Nancy Polette 1998.
Last updated: Tuesday, October 07, 2008
Beard, Darleen. THE FLIMFLAM MAN Farrar, 1998 (Gr 3-5)
An advance man for a circus drives in to Wetumka, OK. on a hot summer day in 1950.
Bobbie Jo is taken with the man, especially when he gives her free tickets and helps her with her stuttering. So she and Clara Jean unwittingly join the filmflam man in the effort to bamboozle the town.
ACTIVITY: Check out a book on magic tricks and try one of the tricks on your friends. Can you "bamboozle" them? What does bamboozle mean?
Blackwood, Gary. THE SHAKESPEARE STEALER. Dutton, 1998 Gr 5-8
Widge is ordered by his master to steal Shakespeare's HAMLET, or else! The boy works his way into the Globe Theatre where the company is kind to him. If he steals the play he will betray his new friends. If he does not steal it he faces the wrath of his master, a cruel, unfeeling cutthroat.
ACTIVITY: Debate whether or not Widge should steal the play. Give equal reasons for yes and no.
Durrant, Lynda. THE BEADED MOCCASINS: The Story of Mary Campbell. Clarion Books, 1998. Gr 4-6.
Kidnapped at age twelve and raised in a culture very different from her own, Mary gradually adapts to the culture and escape grows harder to imagine.
ACTIVITY: Write about the Indian village using this pattern:Let's go to long ago places and see the Earth's changing faces. We will see (list 6-8 sights) But that's not all. (List 6-8 additional sights.) Where am I?
Graeber, Charlotte. NOBODY'S DOG. Illus. by Barry Root. Hyperion, 1998. Gr 2-4
Nobody wants a stray pup including Miss Pepper who lives alone and takes pride in caring for her garden. But sometimes a dog can become a best friend to a lonely person.
ACTIVITY: Proverbs: A proverb is a wise saying. Here are the beginnings of some well-known proverbs. Complete each one as you think Miss Penny (at the end of the book) might have finished it 1. Actions speak louder than.....2. Beggars can't be.....3. He who hesitates is.....4. Two heads are better than.....5. Let sleeping dogs.......6. If the shoe fits......
Gutman, Dan. VIRTUALLY PERFECT Hyperion, 1998.
Yip uses new software to create a virtual kid on his computer complete with artificial intelligence, good looks and a sense of humor. But when the virtual kid becomes smarter than the human who created him, trouble ensues. A wild premise that leaves the reader thinking!Activity: What knowledge found in what books would be essential to download if you were to create a virtual person? List and rank order six important books.
Lawrence, Iain. THE WRECKERS. Delacorte Press, 1998. Gr 4-8
The village lured storm-tossed ships to crash upon the rocks; made sure there were no survivors and fed and clothed themselves on the loot salvaged from the wreckage. But this time there was a survivor, fourteen-year-old John. Will he escape the wreckers? This is his story.
ACTIVITY: Describe John using a simile; using alliteration; using a metaphor; using hyperbole.
Paulsen, Gary. THE TRANSALL SAGA. Delacorte Press, 1998. Gr 5-8
A beam of light in the desert transports Mark to another time and planet. As he tries to find a way back to Earth he must adapt to a new life in a new world.
ACTIVITY: Complete this pattern showing what Mark learned through his adventure.You should never___________________ because you might _________________________. And you should definitely never, ever _____________________________ because_________________________.But you can ________________________________ because_____________________________________
Springer, Nancy. I AM MORDRED: A Tale from Camelot. Philomel, 1998. Gr 5-9
Mordred knows the prophecy. He will kill his father, King Arthur. Everyone in Camelot knows the prophecy yet Mordred longs for his father's love and approval and a way to fight his fate.
ACTIVITY: Write a letter of advice to Mordred telling him what you would do in his situation.