Stephanie J. Blake
There are several ways to use my middle grade historical, THE MARBLE QUEEN, in the classroom. It would probably work best for 4th, 5th and 6th grade. Some of the central themes in THE MARBLE QUEEN involve gender roles in the 1950's, alcoholism in a parent, and Anti-Communism--specifically mistrust of foreign neighbors. You could also shoot marbles together!
The book is set in the middle of 1959. Freedom Jane McKenzie has just turned 10 years old. Her mother has very specific ideas about what young ladies can do and what they cannot. Freedom wants to enter (and win) a marble-shooting competition. There is not a lot of money in the household and Freedom's father is an alcoholic who tends to get into trouble with Mama. In fact, the whole family gets in trouble, as Mama is a strong woman with strong opinions. The neighbor lady, Ms. Zierk is Polish. She is cranky and wars with the McKenzie family over the burning bush, beer cans in the yard, and balls flying over the shared fence. Mama thinks Mrs. Zierk is a Communist. Little brother Higgie adds to the frustrations Freedom feels. There's a baby on the way and Freedom is at odds with her formerly best friend, Daniel.
You can view the book trailer here: