THE BRIDGES OF SUMMER
NCSS-CBC Notable Childrens Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies
Fine character development lends credibility to this rich and compelling story of clashing cultures and human understanding. ---School Library Journal
Difficult as it is for Zarah to understand this world that is caught between the past and present, eventually the intensity of Quanaminas love for her island home her dignity, and stoicism, and her stories about Zarahs proud heritage take their hold on her granddaughter. ---Horn Book Magazine
The writing intensifies as the focus on the main characters sharpens toward a concentrated and memorable ending. ---Bulletin of the Center for Childrens Books
Grades 5 up $3.99, Puffin
Cover illustration copyright by Ted Lewin, 1992
THE ORIGIN OF THE BOOK
As I was trying to write Benicias story, the character of Zarah came to me one day in my backyard and insisted that I tell her story. I think she is based on several of my daughters friends but Zarah would hate that. She thinks she is her own unique creation, one of a kind! That April morning Quanamina said, Who that ouchander? Speak up. I got this gun point at you gullet. One does not ignore such a voice.I grabbed a pen and paper and wrote down their conversation. It became chapter two in the book.Then I wrote chapter one to get Zarah to the island and kept going.
Themes and discussion topics:
- Discovering roots - how you may be alike and different from your ancestors at the same time.
- Learning that your fears may be groundless.
- Having to make decisions in a hurry even though they may be unpopular.
- Finding your own identity.
- Make a chart of census figures for islands such as Daufauskie or Johns, SC to show the changes in population from slavery to the present.
- Send for real estate brochures for coastal islands. Ask for brochures (when available) from previous years to compare prices. Will these prices continue to rise? Remain stable? Should Zarah have sold Domingo?
- List the references to folklore and superstition in the book. Compile a list of beliefs (such as not walking under ladders, etc.) from class members and compare them.
- The last shipload of slaves in the United States landed on Jekyll Island, GA in 1858 on the Wanderer. When were the last slaves brought to SC? When were the first slaves brought to the United States?To South Carolina? Discuss the Triangle Trade.
- If you were to draw the shape of this books structure, what form would it take, circle, spiral, or other and why?
- Why are the first and last sentences the same? Do they mean the same thing and why?
- Make a list of the places where snakes are mentioned. What does the snake represent in the story? How does this change?
- Compare and contrast scenes which are thematically connected, for example the scenes in which Zarah embarrasses her grandmother.
QUOTES TO QUESTION
- She could make the truth do aerobics when she wanted to...(p.5)
- Where you been, child, you dont know greens and sweet potatoes and cornbread? (p.15)
- Some mules is mighty stubborn. (p.35)
- What kind of horse is that? (p.40)
- She smiled to herself when she saw the seashells carved over the door. (p.55)
- Shell put up with the racket if thats whats done. (p.59)
- Mo biscuits, miss? she said in a Butterfly McQueen voice. (p.72)
- You dont have to explain why I couldnt come to your white-bread party. (p.84)
- It was like rabbits feet for the dead. (p.95)
- It has to go, Loomis. Its time for it to go. Thats its job, to go when its time to. (p.142)
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