Children's Literature Reviews for Teaching History

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Friday, April 15, 2011

The Well of Sacrifice

Title: The Well of Sacrifice    
Author: Chris Eboch    
Topic: The Mayan Civilization    
Grade Level: 4 - 8
Students: Mostly strong readers with just a few struggling or reluctant readers
Rating by: Suzanne Borchers from New Mexico

***An interview with Chris Eboch can be found here.***

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

Prompts Discussion?
(4) Students will still be talking about it in the hallway
(3) Will prompt discussion about major issues in the past as well as today
(2) Will prompt discussion about the characters and the events in the book
(1) Will not prompt discussion

(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 Suzanne Borcher: 
I used this book with my Grades 4/5 gifted students for language arts. We delved into the Mayan civilization, and both read the book in class and for homework. The students became immersed in the story, and answered higher level questions about character development, plot, and background. The students asked to dramatize their favorite scenes, which they wrote and worked on in small groups. The dramas were totally enjoyable. They also asked to write an Epilogue to the book. We culminated our reading the book by inviting the author, Chris Eboch, to a celebration of chocolate, oral reports, and discussion. I highly recommend this book for its depth and its readability. I definitely will use it again!

Amazon's Product Description: 
Eveningstar Macaw lives in a glorious Mayan city in the ninth century. When the king falls ill and dies, the city begins to crumble. An evil high priest, Great Skull Zero, orders the sacrifice of those who might become king, including Eveningstar's beloved brother. Suspicious of the High Priest's motives, Eveningstar attempts to save her brother, thus becoming an acknowledged enemy of the High Priest. Condemned to be thrown into the Well of Sacrifice, Eveningstar must find a way not only to save her own life but to rescue her family and her city from the tyrannical grasp of Great Skull Zero. Set against the vivid background of everyday life at the height of the Mayan golden age and illustrated with striking black-and-white paintings, Eveningstar's candid, gripping, and not-for-the-faint-of-heart account of the last days of a great city will have readers at the edge of their seats.

Link to reviews on Amazon
Link to the website of the author: Chris Eboch (which links to lesson plans designed to accompany The Well of Sacrifice)
Preview The Well of Sacrifice at Google Books
Buy this book from your local bookstore via Indie Bound

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