Slice of Life #1

I was so excited by the warm weather after school today that I rushed home, put Dublin into the car, and drove to the dog park with the windows down and Jack’s Mannequin blaring on my radio.  When we pulled into the parking lot Dublin started whining excitedly, knowing exactly where we were.

As I got him out of the car I waved to another dog owner who was just leaving the park.

“Don’t even bother!” she yelled across the parking lot.  “The whole park is just a big mud pit.  It’s not worth it!”

“Thanks!” I yelled back.  I decided to take Dublin into the small-dog park, hoping it would be drier.  I tugged the leash in the direction of the small park and Dublin ran in front of me to lead the way.  Opening the double-gated entryway, I unclipped the leash and set him free.  As he raced into the park, I saw the mud flying behind Dublin’s legs.  He just got groomed on Wednesday!  I let let him run around like a maniac for a few minutes before deciding it wasn’t worth me having to give him a bath after we got home.

“Dublin!  Come!  Want to go for a walk?”

Dublin looked towards me, ears cocked forward as if he were actually listening.  Once he heard the magic word, “walk”, he raced back to the front gate, leaving me in the dust.  We spent the next hour walking on the trails in the park and he had a great time.  He explored, dug in the snow, and even got to see a creek for the first time.  (The gurgling water baffled him!)

Peaceful Heroes by Jonah Winter

It seems to be a standard middle school project- choose a hero and write a report about them.  Sure, the product may vary- report, triboard, slideshow, website, multigenre project- but the assignment rarely varies.  And what always happens?  Teachers end up with 32 projects on the same 3 people.  Every. single. year.  For that reason, I can’t wait to add Peaceful Heroes to my classroom library.

This slim volume simplifies the biographies of 14 peaceful heroes throughout history. While a few are well-known, like Martin Luther King, Jr., most even I was not familiar with. The stories are brief, about 2-3 pages, but they give just enough information to intrigue the reader. Each heroes chapter focuses on what made them a hero, with some brief background information. I think this is the perfect book for students who don’t want to choose the same old person to research but also have no idea how to find anyone else to research. Peaceful Heroes is the ideal introduction to people like Oscar Romero, Meena Keshwar Kamal, and William Feehan, all of whom risked their lives to make our world a more peaceful place. I myself was inspired to look up more in-depth information on a few of the men and women featured.

A great addition to any middle school library, and especially valuable to social studies/history teachers.

*Review copy courtesy of publisher