Friday, December 13, 2013

Music from a Place Called Half Moon

Thanks, Markayla Stevens, for a good review and book talk, including information about the author.

Oughton, J. (1995).  Music from a place called Half Moon. New York: Bantam Doubleday Dell Books for Young Readers.

Link to my book talk 
Meet the Author

Author - Jerrie Oughton

Jerrie Oughton was born in Atlanta, Georgia but was raised in North Carolina.  Music from a Place Called Half Moon is her first novel for young adults.  This book won the 1995 Bank Street College Award for exceptional literature.  As an author, she likes to travel to different states visiting schools and sharing her inspirational message of never giving up.  She now resides in Lexington, KY.  Attached is a video from a KET interview with Oughton.   


Jerrie Oughton wrote this Multicultural chapter book about life in North Carolina, 1956.  In the town of Half Moon, which is a heavily populated white community with a sprawl of Indians living at Davis Bottoms.  This story is about thirteen year old Edie Jo Houp, who befriends sixteen year old, Cherokee Fish.  Living in a community of members who are suspicious and unjust to the idea of integration, makes it difficult for Edie and her Father to fight the battle alone.  The town is bitter toward her father’s speech at church on the opportunity to allow Indians to attend Vacation Bible School. When this assumption caused problems in the community and at home the opportunity seemed to remain hidden away in the minds of only Edie Jo and her Father.  Curious Edie Jo likes to venture up to the saw mill above her home.  She goes there to be alone, think, and write in her notebook.  This seemed to be her private sanctuary until one summer day she hears crunching of grass and whistling coming her way.  Through the blades of tall grass she sees Cherokee Fish, a boy from her school, playing a harmonica.  The only problem is this is not a typical boy, it is an Indian boy.  That summer they share music, poems, and thoughts of leaving this town behind. Will they survive this town and escape? Will the town part ways with the anti-Native American tension? Read this heart wrenching tale of a girl who was “born missing” and proves that friendship has no color.  What will the price she and Cherokee have to pay to make things right and find the “missing piece?”

Literary Terms
Jerrie Oughton used an integral setting to capture the life of those living in North Carolina, 1956.  The story would not had the significant truthfulness if it not be framed in this time period.  The vital dialect, beliefs, and harmony developed this story into a mesmerizing tale of fighting for what is right.  The Prose (style) of this book includes the organizational pattern. This is a chapter book. Each chapter is around eight to twelve pages in length with a total of eighteen chapters.  Unlike most chapter books, this one doesn’t name each chapter, instead a simple number is bold on top of the page.  Word choice is heavily influential in this book.  The wording is a direct example of the Southern language of the fifties.  Example:  “go’n” for the words “going to”. 

Curriculum Activity
After reading this book, an activity to incorporate after the reading would be for students to make a compilation of poems.  Examples of Edie Jo’s poems could be posted in the room. The students could share their writings then bind them into a book, just like the one from the story.  Also, the students could create their own instruments.  This would be a great at-home project and the students could get in groups and play their instruments in class.

Curriculum Standard
Grade 5 – English Language Arts Standard (Key Ideas and Details):
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.2 Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text, including how characters in a story or drama respond to challenges or how the speaker in a poem reflects upon a topic; summarize the text.

Big Questions
       1.        How would you feel being an Indian in this time period of anti-integration?
       2.       What are two ways of how you could propose the idea of integration to the town of Half Moon?

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