Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Phineas Gage: A Gruesome but True Story About Brain Science

Phineas Gage: A Gruesome but True Story About Brain ScienceTitle: Phineas Gage: A Gruesome but True Story About Brain Science
Author: John Fleischman
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Company
Publication Date: 2002
Genre/Format: Nonfiction - Expository/Chapter Book
Summary: The harrowing true story of a man who suffered and survived an unimaginable brain injury and what we learned from his story.
What I Think: I heard Steven Layne talk about this book at a workshop a few months ago and I frantically wrote it down because I was so mesmerized by the story. He did a booktalk for it by simply reading the first chapter. I still have a minor love-hate relationship with non-fiction, but books like these really draw me in because they read so much like a story. Kids seem to like the gory-ness of a story and I think they would be drawn to Phineas' story. There is a lot of technical discussion of how the brain works and how scientists and doctors have learned about how the brain works. This book has a great balance between story and facts that I think middle grade to YA students would devour.
Read Together: 5 - 12
Read Alone: 5 - 12
Read With: Sir Charlie: Chaplin, the Funniest Man in the World by Sid Fleischman
Snatch of Text: "The most unlucky/lucky moment in the life of Phineas Gage is only a minute or two away. It's almost four-thirty in the afternoon on September 13, 1848. Phineas is the foreman of a track construction gang that is in the process of blasting a railroad right-of-way through granite bedrock near the small town of Cavendish, Vermont. Phineas is twenty-six years old, unmarried, and five feet, six inches tall, short for our time but average for his. He is good with his hands and good with his men, 'possessing an iron will as well as an iron frame,' according to his doctor. In a moment, Phineas will have a horrible accident.
It will kill him, but it will take another eleven years, six months, and nineteen days to do so. In the short run, Phineas will make a full recovery, or so it will seem to those who didn't know him before. Old friends and family will know the truth. Phineas will never be his old self again. His 'character' will change. The ways in which he deals with others, conducts himself, and makes plans will change. Long after the accident, his doctor will sum up his case for a medical journal. 'Gage,' his doctor will write, 'was no longer Gage.' Phineas Gage's accident will make him world famous, but fame will do him little good. Yet for many others - psychologists, medical researchers, doctors, and especially those who suffer brain injuries - Phineas Gage will become someone worth knowing." (p. 1-2)
Reading Strategies to Practice: Activating Background Knowledge, Making Connections, Asking Questions, Visualizing, Author's Purpose, Using Non-Fiction Text Features
Writing Strategies to Practice: Expository
Writing Prompts: Choose a part of the body to research, then create an expository text to present your information to your peers.
Topics Covered: Integration - Science - Brain, Personality, Characteristics, Doctors, History
Translated to Spanish: No

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