Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Hanging on Jefferson's Nose

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday
Here at Teach Mentor Texts we are always looking for more ways to support teachers! We've found that teachers seem to be constantly on the lookout for great nonfiction. We know we are! To help with this undying quest for outstanding non-fiction, we are excited to participate in Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy and The Nonfiction Detectives. Every Wednesday, you'll find a non-fiction review here - although it may not always be a picture book review. Please visit Kid Lit Frenzy and The Nonfiction Detectives to see what non-fiction others have to share, too. 

Title: Hanging Off Jefferson's Nose: Growing Up on Moutnt Rushmore 
Author: Tina Nichols Coury
Illustrator: Sally Wern Comport  
Publisher: Dial 
Publication Date: May, 2012  
Genre/Format: Non-Fiction/Picture Book 
GoodReads Summary: Growing up in the shadow of Mount Rushmore

Lincoln Borglum was a young boy when his father, the great sculptor Gutzon Borglum, suggested to a group of South Dakota businessmen that he should carve the faces of four presidents into a side of a mountain as an attraction for tourists. But Mount Rushmore would never be finished by Gutzon. It would be his son who would complete the fourteen-year task and present America with one of its most iconic symbols. 
What I Think: I am completely in love with non-fiction picture books! I seriously learn so much! Or I at least learn more and maybe have different insight after I read them. The picture book format is great for non-fiction that tells about a historical event, a famous - or maybe important but mildly famous or often over looked - person, or a current issue. When I saw Hanging off Jefferson's Nose in the library, I wanted immediately. I will never forget seeing Mount Rushmore when I was a child. I'm not sure exactly, but I'm guessing I was eight or nine when my family took a roadtrip and one of our stops was Mount Rushmore. I'm not sure if it would seem as big to me today, but as a child, it was so amazing to see all the four presidents carved on the mountainside. Statues in general can be amazing, but I remember Mount Rushmore as being completely regal. The faces were cleanly cut and so smooth. All around me were trees and trees and trees....and then these gorgeous rock-white faces. Since then, seeing the statue of David in Italy is probably the only statue that has had such an impact on me. (It might be the statues as much as the presentation. Both instances it just seems like these statues stand apart from everything around them and that seems to add to the awe I felt when I saw them.)
     Apart from my fond families memories of seeing Mount Rushmore, I thoroughly enjoyed this story. This story wasn't really about the man who set out to carve the faces of three (and then four) presidents into a mountainside. It's really about his relationship with his son and how this encouraged his son. His son, who respected his father so much as a child, that he grew up to follow in his footsteps. I felt such an overwhelming feeling of perseverance and will in this story. (I tend to get sentimental...but I do think the author shares a lot about their relationship that helps the reader realize how the bond between father and son guided his life. *tear*) Our focus in education today seems to prepare students for college - well, the boy in this book chooses not to go to college - but I can see discussions that might happen around that moment. Students will have to take into account the time period (not so long ago in the grand scheme of the world) and then what the decision to stay meant. What did the boy give up by not going to college? Was it worth it for him? What can character traits can we infer? How might that have felt? Is this the true definition of bittersweet? Have students ever had to make a decision between doing something worthwhile and also doing something worthwhile?
     I wonder sometimes how many kids today know about the treasures we have in our country. I definitely consider Mount Rushmore to be a treasure. When I read Dan Gutman's The Genius Files, I was so excited because the kids make fun stops as they travel across the country. I love to take roadtrips and to stop to see things along the way. I always end up learning something and it's sometimes cooler if it's something so random and unique. Hanging Off Jefferson's Nose is a book that I hope will remind or introduce kids to Mount Rushmore. Maybe they'll visit it after reading and appreciate all the work that went into the monument if they do thanks to this book.
Read Together: Grades 4 - 12 
Read Alone: Grades 4 - 12 
Read With: Sky Boys by Deborah Hopkinson, The Man Who Walked Between the Towers by Mordicai Gerstein, Balloons Over Broadway by Melissa Sweet, The Boy on Fairfield Street, Jim Henson, Wilma Rudolph (and others) by Kathleen Krull, The Day-Glo Brothers by Chris Barton,
Snatch of Text: "Back in 1920, when Lincoln was eight, the Borglum family moved often. Lincoln's dad was a famous sculptor and the only mountain carver in the world. His work took him all over the country, followed soon after by Lincoln, his mom, and his little sister, Mary Ellis. Whether Gutzon was sculpting a fountain in Connecticut or carving a mountain in Georgie, the Borglum family stayed together."
Reading Strategies to Practice: Activating Background Knowledge, Asking Questions, Making Connections, Making Inferences 
Writing Strategies to Practice: Expository, Personal Narrative  
Writing Prompts: Write a response to this book that explains what you think of Lincoln Borglum and what character traits you inferred he possesses. What connection to your own life or another book can you make? Write about a time in your life when you had to choose between two honorable things. How did you decide? How did you feel after you made the decision? Write about a time in your life when you were determined to get something done.
Topics Covered: Family, Decision-Making, Determination, Perseverance, Responsibility, Hardworking, Dedication, Success, Integration - Art, Integration - History/Geography
I *heart* It:

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