24 February 2010

Book Club - FEB - Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson

Summary from the publisher: As the Revolutionary War begins, 13-year-old Isabel wages her own fight... for freedom. Promised freedom upon the death of their owner, she and her sister, Ruth, in a cruel twist of fate become the property of a malicious New York City couple, the Locktons, who have no sympathy for the American Revolution and even less for Ruth and Isabel. When Isabel meets Curzon, a slave with ties to the Patriots, he encourages her to spy on her owners, who know details of British plans for invasion. She is reluctant at first, but when the unthinkable happens to Ruth, Isabel realizes her loyalty is available to the bidder who can provide her with freedom.

1 -- What was New York City like in 1776?
2 -- What did you know about slavery during the time of the Revolutionary War? What did you learn from this story?
3 -- How does the title Chains connect to this book? Can you think of any alternative titles that could have been used?
4 -- Have you ever dealt with an older sibling leaving for college or moving out of the house? How do you think this compares to how Ruth and Isabel felt when they were separated?
5 -- Many children have chores to do around the house, but could you imagine doing the things Isabel did!What are your responsibilities around the house? Are they close to the same things Isabel was forced to do?
6 -- What do you think the adults did all day in 1776? Did they work, fight or sit around the house? Is this what your parents do?
7 -- It can be hard to watch your younger (or older!) siblings have it easier than you. What does this feel like to you, and to Isabel?
8 -- Do you think it is fair to ask a twelve-year-old to work as hard as Isabel?
9 -- Living in New York City right at the birth of our country must have been wonderful! How do you think other children reacted when they heard news of the Declaration of Independence? Were they happy to be free, nervous for their family to have to fight or something else? How do you think the slaves felt hearing this news?
10 -- Mattie, from Fever 1793, felt many of the same things as Isabel but almost 20 years later. How do you think these girls were similar? Could they have been friends?
11 -- Did you know that the northern states had slaves? What did it feel like to learn that Isabel was a slave from Rhode Island?

12 -- How did it feel to hear the Locktons lie and pretend to be a Patriots so that they could get past the docks?
13 -- What would you have done when you learned that Elihu Lockton was working for the Loyalists? Do you think Isabel did the right thing?
14 -- Isabel frequently goes to the water pump to get water for cooking and bathing. On one trip, a group of enslaved African Americans are discussing their options for freedom (page 161). Which option would you have taken?
15 -- What did the Grandfather mean at the water pump when he told Isabel to find her River Jordan? Have you heard that phrase anywhere else before?

These questions and further thoughts for discussion are available from the author's website as well as http://www.adlit.org/.

1 comment:

  1. Love this book. This was a historical fiction story of The Revolutionary War. One thing that was a bit confusing at first for my students was that there was a great deal of focus on slavery, which would typically be covered when studying the Civil War. I found they had more questions about slavery than the Revolution. Wonderfully done book, I had to get Forge to see what happened. Can't wait to read the next one. Great book for about high third grade reader-sixth grade.


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