More Information.
More details.Hide details.

Curriculum Materials Center

  • Print
  • 2006 Comstock Read Aloud Honor Books

    The Patchwork Path: A Quilt Map to Freedom written by Bettye Stroud, illustrated by Erin Susanne Bennett, and published by Candlewick Press.

    Patchwork PathTen-year-old Hannah, a slave on a Georgia plantation, tells her own story about her mother teaching her to make a special quilt encoded with secret patterns that will help her run to freedom. After her mother dies and her sister is sold to another plantation, Hannah and her father run away. The quilt patterns guide them on their long and dangerous journey to Canada. In an “Afterword,” the author explains that the picture book is based on an oral story from the Ozella family that had been passed down orally from grandmother to mother to daughter.

    Expressionistic oil paintings in an earth-tone palette trace the journey. The faces of Hannah and her father are especially expressive with the use of angular lines and geometric shapes. The quilt patterns are carefully integrated into the artwork to explain the stages of the journey.

    Fourth through six graders listened to this story and responded reflectively. They liked the illustrations and asked questions about slavery and the Underground Railroad. The story inspired one group of fourth graders to create their own paper quilt to hang in the library media center.

    Author Bettye Stroud lives in Athens, GA. Illustrator Erin Susanne Bennett is from Atlanta.

    Precious and the Boo Hag written by Patricia C. McKissack and Onawumi Jean Moss, illustrated by Kyrsten Brooker, and published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers.

    Precious and the Boo HagIn this literary tale, Mama leaves young Precious at home while the family is out planting corn. Precious, who’s been sick with a stomachache, gets a firm warning from Mama: “Now remember, don’t let nothing and nobodyin this ho use.” Her older brother explains that if she lets somebody in, it might be Pruella the Boo Hag, who tries to trick and scare youngsters into disobeying their mamas. In fact, Pruella shows up in numerous transformations trying to fool Precious into letting her inside. Precious, triumphant and smart, is perfectly safe when Mama and Brother come home.

    Brooker’s expressionistic illustrations in collage and oil add to the scary and humorous quality of the text. The realistic wooden frames used on some pages emphasize the need for Precious to stay inside the house in order to outwit the tricky Pruella.

    Kindergartners through fourth graders were afraid for Precious and gasped each time they thought she might be tricked by the Boo Hag. They liked the bright colors and the expressive faces of the characters.

    Co-author Patricia C. McKissack lives in St. Louis, MO and Onawumi Jean Moss resides in Amherst, MA. Illustrator Krysten Brooker lives in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

    Sixteen Years in Sixteen Seconds: The Sammy Lee Story by Paula Yoo, illustrated by Dom Lee, and published by Lee & Low Books.

    Sixteen Years in Sixteen SecondsIn 1932, Sammy Lee, like other people of color, could only use the public pool on Wednesdays. When Sammy was twelve-years-old, he discovered that he had a natural talent for diving. He not only faced discrimination at the public pool, but also faced pressure from his father who was only interested in his son getting accepted into medical school. Finally, while in college, Sammy struck a deal with his father that as long as his grades were good he could continue his diving.

    Sammy Lee became a doctor in 1946, but continued competing in diving competitions. In 1948 at the age of twenty-eight, he qualified to be a member of the U.S. Olympic diving team. He won a bronze medal for his three-meter springboard dive and a gold medal for his ten-meter platform dive. He spent sixteen years of work for this sixteen second dive and became the first Asian American to win an Olympic gold medal.

    The scratchboard-style, sepia-toned paintings create a textured effect and help readers understand that this slice-of-life biography is set in the past. The three panels that illustrate Lee’s Olympic dive are particularly dramatic.

    Students in grades four through six were thoroughly captivated by Sammy Lee’s story and were indignant about the prejudice he faced. They appreciated the author’s choice of words and the illustrator’s brown-toned paintings. Students “liked how the author described the dive slowly, like you were there.” One fifth grader reported that this was one of the best books he’d ever read. The author’s note explaining that Mr. Lee is still alive and continues to be an active athlete interested the students as well. This is a book that truly helps students understand the impact of discrimination through a very personal story.

    This is the first picture book authored by Paula Yoo, who lives in Los Angeles, CA. Illustrator Dom Lee was born in Seoul, Korea and now lives in Demarest, NJ.