Children's Literature Reviews for Teaching History

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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Leaving Gee's Bend

Title: Leaving Gee's Bend   
Author: Irene Latham  

***An interview with Irene Latham is posted here.***

Topics: The Great Depression, 
The Jim Crow Era  
Grade Level: 6
Students: Used with a group of gifted students
Rating by: Karen Narro from Alabama

Historically Accurate?
(4) Yes and also includes historical notes, primary sources, etc.
(3) Yes
(2) A few inaccurate or misleading portrayals
(1) Not a bit
An Engaging Story?
(4) Almost all students will beg to keep reading
(3) Most students will get caught up in the story
(2) Some students will read ahead by mistake
(1) Students will groan when the book is mentioned

(4) Everyone - even the most reluctant readers – can get on board
(3) Can be used for a whole class read
(2) Can only be used with a small high-powered reading group
(1) Recommend only to students that love reading

Age Appropriate Content?
____Too mature
_X__Just right
____Too simplistic

A Comment from Karen Narro:
We studied the history and visited the town of Gees Bend since we are a school in Birmingham, AL.  We are just about 120 miles from Gee's Bend and we had a wonderful experience.  We met with the ladies who made the quilts famous and inspired Irene Latham to write the novel.  I enjoyed so much the language and the voice that she found for her main character, Ludelphia.  In our classroom we ate pound cake when Ludelphia did, had a coke with she had her first one, brought dirt home from the roads in Gee's Bend and gathered acorns and cattails to welcome the beautiful images into our classroom.  I can't remember when I've enjoyed teaching a book so much.

Amazon's Product Review:
"Ludelphia Bennett may be blind in one eye, but she can still put in a good stitch. Ludelphia sews all the time, especially when things go wrong.

But when Mama goes into labor early and gets deathly ill, it seems like even quilting won’t help. That’s when Ludelphia decides to do something drastic—leave Gee’s Bend for the very first time. Mama needs medicine that can only be found miles away in Camden. But that doesn’t stop Ludelphia. She just puts one foot in front of the other.

What ensues is a wonderful, riveting and sometimes dangerous adventure. Ludelphia weathers each challenge in a way that would make her mother proud, and ends up saving the day for her entire town.

Set in 1932 and inspired by the rich quilting history of Gee’s Bend, Alabama, Leaving Gee’s Bend is a delightful, satisfying story of a young girl facing a brave new world."

Link to Reviews on Amazon
Link to the website for the book: Leaving Gee's Bend 
Link to Irene Latham's Website (includes discussion guides, teaching activities, etc.)
Preview the book at: Google Books
Buy this book from your local bookstore via Indie Bound

Link to Ms. Latham's most recent book of poetry:
The Color of Lost Rooms (just released in January 2011)

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