Tag Archives: Marissa Moss

Journeys On the Oregon Trail

15 Apr

This week, my class set off on a book club adventure along the Oregon Trail. I started by introducing the five books they could choose. I gave a short book talk about each, then set a set of he five books on each table, giving theme ample time to look through to find a good fit book. Their choices were:

Ranger in Time:Rescue on the Oregon Trail by Kate Messner (by far the most desired book)

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Thunder Rolling in the Mountains by Scott O’Dell and Elizabeth Hall (not exactly an Oregon Trail book, but there is a connection)

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Dear Levi: Letters from the Overland Trail  by Elvira Woodruff

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Rachel’s Journal  by Marissa Moss

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The Stout Hearted Seven: Orphaned on the Oregon Trail  by Neta Lohnes Frazier

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Then they had to fill out a form naming their first and second choices and why each would be a good book for them. Some of their reasons were excellent. Here are some samples.

“When we talked about Native Americans, I had questions that went farther. I would like to know how they were pushed out of their own land .”

” I like books with a map and journal books.”

“I enjoy books where people have to go on a hard life-or-death mission.”

“I want to know the feeling and how hard it can be to have to survive alone.”

“Time travel is right next to impossible.”

“It is teaching you about the Oregon Trail and it is also doing fantasy at the same time.”

“I could see how other people come together and help each other live.”

 

They didn’t all get their first choice, but everyone got their first or second choice, and so far, everyone seems happy with their book.

 

 

 

 

Play ball!

25 Oct

Normally, I don’t follow baseball, although I am aware of important baseball events happening around me. I am especially attuned to this year’s World Series because my teaching partner is  a Red Sox fan.  Ironically, one of my best baseball memories was attending a Cardinals game when I was at a conference in St. Louis.  We decided to go because we saw so many fans in Cardinals shirts that we wanted to know why they were so enthusiastic. I saw Albert Pujols hit a home run, ate a really wonderful hot dog and was amazed at the home town fervor for their team. I’d never really experienced that before.

Two new non-fiction picture books about baseball are worth looking at. Both have alliterative titles. So, in alphabetical order, let me present

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Barbed Wire Baseball by Marissa Moss and illustrated by Yuko Shimizu, tells the story of Kenochi “Zeni” Zenimura, who learned to play baseball in Hawaii as a young boy. Although too small to play professionally, he managed to find his place as a manager. He met Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth. And after Pearl Harbor, he was interned along with all the other people of Japanese ancestry. But Zeni had heart and determination. He  built a baseball field and organized a baseball league of 32 teams and three divisions.

This is a great story and the artwork is excellent. Shimizu used a Japanese calligraphy brush and ink, than scanned and colored the illustrations with Photoshop, so that the colors give a real sense of the time.

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At the end of Barbed Wire Baseball, there is an afterword about Kenichi Zenimura life, as well as an author’s note,  an artist’s note and a bibliography for further exploration of Japanese American baseball.

Next up, we have Miracle Mud: Lena Blackburne and the Secret Mud that Changed Baseball by David A. Kelly and Oliver Dominguez.

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Here we have the tale of another person who loved baseball, but didn’t make it as a player. After a chance conversation with an umpire about soggy baseballs and a fishing trip, Blackburne created a new way for players to break in new balls. He dug it out of the bottom of the river.  From this simple beginning Blackburne’s mud has gone from a fishing hole to Major League Baseball. The author’s note in the back tells us that the location of the source of the mud remains a secret.

Dominguez’ nostalgic, double-spread, painted illustrations are the perfect complement to this short and engaging biography.The front and rear end papers are especially fun – clean baseballs up front, muddy ones in the back! You can  see some  of the book’s paintings at the artist’s website: here.

So, even if you don’t really follow baseball, like me, you know a little more so you can converse about it with people who are far bigger fans.

Randy Ribay

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