Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday - Watch Out for Flying Kids 10.12.16

Every Wednesday I join Alyson Beecher from kidlitfrenzy and other
kidlit bloggers to share wonderful nonfiction picture books.
The intention of today's blog is to give educational professionals
new nonfiction reading material and ideas to use 
with students to promote a love of reading nonfiction materials.

The nonfiction material that is being published is absolutely amazing.  Authors are covering fascinating topics and writing with such voice that even readers who formerly despise nonfiction are coming over to the "enlightened" side!  From picture books to longer chapter books.  From graphic novels to interactive books.  Such wonderful material!  

During the month of October, I'm going to spotlight some longer nonfiction.  Just like their picture book counterparts, authors of longer nonfiction books are putting an amazing amount of detail and engaging stories into their texts.  Each week I'll share a quick summary, along with tips on how to use it if you're not reading the text cover to cover.

Watch Out for Flying Kids!
Watch Out for Flying Kids!
by Cynthia Levinson
Published by Peachtree Publishers

Quite honestly, this book begs to be read cover to cover.  It's a fascinating story - two youth circus groups from two very different countries work together to perform, problem solve, and show how people - not ethnicities, backgrounds, languages - can work together.

Levinson clearly has done an insane amount of research to build this book, yet it is crafted like a story.  I think mature 5th graders and up could read this book like a story, the hardest parts being some of the political background and Arabic and Hebrew words.   Levinson does a fantastic job trying to help readers with those road blocks to ensure for a successful read.

But how to read this book if you aren't reading it cover to cover?  Ideas:
  • So much of the background in longer nonfiction can be found in the beginning.  In this case, help students explore the table of contents and the prologue to get an understanding of what the book is about.
  • The next three chapters fill in a lot of needed information.  The first two chapters are about the two different groups.  The reader gets background information and basic understanding of the groups.  The third chapter helps the reader understand the political background and/or racial tensions where the youth circus groups lived/performed.
  • If a reader wants to just read about certain years, they could pop in and out of chapters without too much disruption.  There are kids who remain constant throughout the book and other kids come in and out.
  • The photographs are fascinating.  Many show the kids in various positions for part of their circus acts.  It seems impossible for the human body to be able to do some of the movements!  Flipping through the book just to look at the illustrations would give a reader lots of visual information!
  • Levinson made a lot of the headings quotes from the performers.  I found myself paying close attention to them - some I knew I would want to read more about, others I could skim through.  Teach readers to pay attention to this small detail, especially if they aren't planning to read the entire text.  
  • My favorite part of the book was at the end where they caught up with the nine performers and where they are hoping to go next.  If a reader wanted to stay caught up with just one performer, there is an extensive index with page numbers for the performers.
I'm guessing there are middle school readers that would pick this book up, not intending on reading it cover to cover, and end up getting caught up in the story!  But, if not, I hope some of these ideas help get this book into hands of readers and they interact with the story in a way that is meaningful to them.

Goodreads summary:
The author of We’ve Got a Job explores the world of youth social circus—a movement that brings kids from different worlds together to perform remarkable acts on a professional level. Levinson follows the participants of two specific circuses that also work together periodically: Circus Harmony, in St. Louis, whose participants are inner-city and suburban kids, and Circus Galilee in Israel, whose participants and Jews and Arabs. As the kids’ relationships evolve over time, the members learn how to overcome assumptions, animosity, and obstacles both physical and personal.


  1. You took a lot of time writing this, Michele, with good advice for the book, and what a story! We have a group here that brings different groups together for a kind of camp, but nothing like circus performing! It looks like a fascinating story. Thanks!

    1. Michele did take a lot of time and thought with this review. And I'm so grateful! Linda, please let me know if you have any questions about the book.

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  4. Oh my gosh! Michele and Alyson. Honestly, I'm weepy. This is the most thoughtful, probing, helpful, and inspiring review ever. I can't thank you enough. Thank you! Thank you!!

  5. This looks like so much fun, as well as a fascinating account of two fantastic organizations working to improve the lives of young people. Thank you for sharing it!

  6. Love the break ups to show the way longer nonfiction can fit into a classroom also. Thank you!