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Safe At Home

Last updated Friday, July 27, 2007

Author: Sharon Robinson
Date of Publication: 2006
ISBN: 0439671973
Grade Level: 4th    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Aug. 2007

Synopsis: From School Library Journal:

Soon after the sudden death of his beloved father, 10-year-old Elijah Breeze, nicknamed Jumper, moves with his bereaved mother from suburban Connecticut to Harlem, where she grew up, to live with his grandmother. He experiences culture shock from this abrupt change and still struggles with his grief. To make things worse, his mother has signed him up for a coed summer baseball camp where he has to cope with his undeveloped hitting and catching skills as well as a bully named Marcus. As the summer progresses, Jumper makes new friends and establishes a close relationship with his empathetic, knowledgeable coach. And, he eventually gains Marcus's respect after a series of near fights. Although the baseball action permeating this message-laden, quick-reading novel often lacks the excitement of other sports stories, Robinson (who is Jackie Robinson's daughter) has created two intriguing protagonists and a group of equally colorful secondary characters (girls and boys). Regardless of their interest in baseball, readers will identify with these youngsters and appreciate the simple story.

Note to readers:
•  This was written by the daughter of Jackie Robinson, the first African American to play in the major leagues. Try reading to page 75 (Chapter 5).

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  Do you play baseball? What sport do you like to play? Can girls and boys play baseball together?
•  Is it hard to learn a new game/sport?
•  What are the different definitions of the word “home”?

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  Try a learning technique called LISTEN, SKETCH & DRAW. Give each child a pencil and paper. Fold the paper in half and then in half again to create 4 squares. Tell them to LISTEN while you read the book and begin SKETCHING a scene or person in the book that interests them. Fill each square with a different scene or character or combination. During craft time, they can finish DRAWING in their sketches.
•  Have you ever been the new kid on the block or in school or on the team? How does that feel? How did you make friends?
•  Do you try to make new friends? How do you make new friends? Is it hard to make new friends in a new place?
•  Have your parents made you try something new (a sport, class, food….) that you didn’t want to try? Did you end up liking it? Is it good to try new things?
•  What makes a place your home? (the people, friends, family, your stuff…)
•  Will Jumper ever feel at home in Harlem?

Craft ideas:
•  Have them draw and color their sketches from the LISTEN, SKETCH & DRAW technique. They will have a story board of the book.
•  Make a baseball glove out of construction paper. Fold the construction paper in half. Trace your hand placing your palm/wrist on the open side of the paper. Trace with a 1 inch margin around your thumb and pinkie. Cut around the outline but not the top. Glue the sides and color in the stitches and details.

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don’t have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!