Archive for the ‘Arrow’ Category

Mechanics & Literature: March 2022

Brave Writer

In this month’s Dart, Arrow, Boomerang, and Slingshot, our protagonists face daunting challenges. These characters are giving everything they’ve got! Whether it’s:

  • solving a crime,
  • helping heal a friend,
  • playing the game of their lives,
  • or foiling an evil plan,

You’ll feel like you’re right there beside them as you explore writing, mechanics, and literary devices with your family.


[This post contains Amazon affiliate links. When you click on those links to make purchases, Brave Writer receives compensation at no extra cost to you. Thank you!]


Brave Writer Dart
Dart (ages 8-10)

Julieta and the Diamond Enigma (Luisana Duarte Armendáriz)

Nine-year-old Julieta is finally about to put a purple pin in her family’s world traveling map! She’s off to Paris to help her art-handler dad collect pieces for a new exhibit at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. Sadly, they must leave Julieta’s very pregnant mother behind, but they’re sure they’ll be back before the baby is born. Julieta sees the best of Paris: the Eiffel Tower, the Sacré-Coeur, and plenty of great art. But things go awry when she and Dad walk in on a thief stealing the Louvre’s most prized piece–a priceless cursed diamond with a shady history. When Julieta runs for help, she accidentally frees the thief instead! Now Dad’s job is in danger and he’s become a suspect. Can Julieta determine who the thief really is before it’s too late?

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Brave Writer Arrow
Arrow (ages 11-12)

The Vanderbeekers and the Hidden Garden (Karina Yan Glaser)

While Isa is off at sleepaway orchestra camp, Jessie, Oliver, Hyacinth, and Laney are stuck at home in the brownstone with nothing to do but get on one another’s nerves. But when catastrophe strikes their beloved upstairs neighbor, their sleepy summer transforms in an instant as the Vanderbeeker children band together to do what they do best: make a plan. They will create the most magical healing garden in all of Harlem. In this companion to The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street, experience the warmth of a family and their community as they work together to bring a little more beauty and kindness to the world, one thwarted plan at a time.

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Brave Writer Boomerang
Boomerang (ages 13-14)

Dragon Hoops (Gene Luen Yang)

Gene understands stories―comic book stories, in particular. Big action. Bigger thrills. And the hero always wins.

But Gene doesn’t get sports. As a kid, his friends called him “Stick” and every basketball game he played ended in pain. He lost interest in basketball long ago, but at the high school where he now teaches, it’s all anyone can talk about. The men’s varsity team, the Dragons, is having a phenomenal season that’s been decades in the making. Each victory brings them closer to their ultimate goal: the California State Championships.

Once Gene gets to know these young all-stars, he realizes that their story is just as thrilling as anything he’s seen on a comic book page. He knows he has to follow this epic to its end. What he doesn’t know yet is that this season is not only going to change the Dragons’ lives but his own life as well.

Purchase the book.

Get the Boomerang.


Brave Writer Slingshot
Slingshot (ages 15-18)

The Fellowship of the Ring: Being the First Part of the Lord of the Rings (J.R.R. Tolkien)

In ancient times the Rings of Power were crafted by the Elven-smiths, and Sauron, the Dark Lord, forged the One Ring, filling it with his own power so that he could rule all others. But the One Ring was taken from him, and though he sought it throughout Middle-earth, it remained lost to him. After many ages, it fell into the hands of Bilbo Baggins, as told in The Hobbit.

In a sleepy village in the Shire, young Frodo Baggins finds himself faced with an immense task, as his elderly cousin Bilbo entrusts the ring to his care. Frodo must leave his home and make a perilous journey across Middle-earth to the Cracks of Doom, there to destroy the Ring and foil the Dark Lord in his evil purpose.

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Brave Writer

Mechanics & Literature: February 2022

Brave Writer

This month’s Dart, Arrow, and Boomerang shine light on the power of perseverance and self-determination.

While exploring writing, mechanics, and literary devices, you can glean inspiration from amazing individuals—some real, some imagined—as they knock down obstacles with a mix of intelligence, humor, charisma, and confidence.


[This post contains Amazon affiliate links. When you click on those links to make purchases, Brave Writer receives compensation at no extra cost to you. Thank you!]


Brave Writer Dart
Dart (ages 8-10)

Ways to Make Sunshine by Renee Watson

Ryan Hart has a lot on her mind–school, self-image, and especially family. Her dad finally has a new job, but money is tight. That means some changes, like selling their second car and moving into a new (old) house. But Ryan is a girl who knows how to make sunshine out of setbacks. As her brother says when he raps about her, she’s got the talent that matters most: it’s a talent that can’t be seen, she’s nice, not mean!

Ryan is all about trying to see the best in people, to be a good daughter, a good sister, a good friend. But even if her life isn’t everything she would wish for, when her big brother is infuriating, her parents don’t quite understand, and the unexpected happens, she always finds a way forward, with grace and wit. And plenty of sunshine.

Acclaimed author Renée Watson writes her own version of Ramona Quimby, one starring a Black girl and her family, in this start to a charming new series.

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Brave Writer Arrow
Arrow (ages 11-12)

Becoming Muhammad Ali by James Patterson and Kwame Alexander

Before he was a household name, Cassius Clay was a kid with struggles like any other. Kwame Alexander and James Patterson join forces to vividly depict his life up to age seventeen in both prose and verse, including his childhood friends, struggles in school, the racism he faced, and his discovery of boxing.

Purchase the book.

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Brave Writer Boomerang
Boomerang (ages 13-14)

Hidden Figures (Young Readers Edition) by Margot Lee Shetterly

This edition of Margot Lee Shetterly’s acclaimed book is perfect for young readers. It’s the powerful story of four African-American female mathematicians at NASA who helped achieve some of the greatest moments in our space program.

Before John Glenn orbited the earth, or Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, a group of dedicated female mathematicians known as “human computers” used pencils, slide rules, and adding machines to calculate the numbers that would launch rockets, and astronauts, into space.

This book brings to life the stories of Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden, who lived through the Civil Rights era, the Space Race, the Cold War, and the movement for gender equality, and whose work forever changed the face of NASA and the country.

Purchase the book.

Get the Boomerang.

Brave Writer

Mechanics & Literature: January 2022

Brave Writer

In January’s Dart, Arrow, Boomerang, and Slingshot, circumstances have upended the lives of our protagonists. Now they’re looking for love and belonging as they rise to meet big challenges.

Get inspired by these characters’ savvy and spirit while exploring, in meaningful ways with your family:

  • writing,
  • mechanics,
  • and literary devices.

[This post contains Amazon affiliate links. When you click on those links to make purchases, Brave Writer receives compensation at no extra cost to you. Thank you!]


 Wishtree
Dart (ages 8-10)

Wishtree by Katherine Applegate

Trees can’t tell jokes, but they can certainly tell stories. . . .

Red is an oak tree who is many rings old. Red is the neighborhood “wishtree”―people write their wishes on pieces of cloth and tie them to Red’s branches. Along with a crow named Bongo and other animals who seek refuge in Red’s hollows, this wishtree watches over the neighborhood.

You might say Red has seen it all.

Until a new family moves in. Not everyone is welcoming, and Red’s experience as a wishtree is more important than ever.

Funny, deep, warm, and nuanced, this is Katherine Applegate at her very best―writing from the heart, and from a completely unexpected point of view. ~Amazon

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Front Desk
Arrow (ages 11-12)

Front Desk by Kelly Yang

Mia Tang has a lot of secrets. Number 1: She lives in a motel, not a big house. Every day, while her immigrant parents clean the rooms, ten-year-old Mia manages the front desk of the Calivista Motel and tends to its guests. Number 2: Her parents hide immigrants. And if the mean motel owner, Mr. Yao, finds out they’ve been letting them stay in the empty rooms for free, the Tangs will be doomed. Number 3: She wants to be a writer. But how can she when her mom thinks she should stick to math because English is not her first language? It will take all of Mia’s courage, kindness, and hard work to get through this year. Will she be able to hold on to her job, help the immigrants and guests, escape Mr. Yao, and go for her dreams?

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The Barren Grounds
Boomerang (ages 13-14)

The Barren Grounds by David A. Robertson

Morgan and Eli, two Indigenous children forced away from their families and communities, are brought together in a foster home in Winnipeg, Manitoba. They each feel disconnected, from their culture and each other, and struggle to fit in at school and at their new home — until they find a secret place, walled off in an unfinished attic bedroom. A portal opens to another reality, Askí, bringing them onto frozen, barren grounds, where they meet Ochek (Fisher). The only hunter supporting his starving community, Misewa, Ochek welcomes the human children, teaching them traditional ways to survive. But as the need for food becomes desperate, they embark on a dangerous mission. Accompanied by Arik, a sassy Squirrel they catch stealing from the trapline, they try to save Misewa before the icy grip of winter freezes everything — including them.

Purchase the book.

Get the Boomerang.


The Secret Life of Bees

The Secret Lives of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

Set in South Carolina in 1964, The Secret Life of Bees tells the story of Lily Owens, whose life has been shaped around the blurred memory of the afternoon her mother was killed. When Lily’s fierce-hearted black “stand-in mother,” Rosaleen, insults three of the deepest racists in town, Lily decides to spring them both free. They escape to Tiburon, South Carolina–a town that holds the secret to her mother’s past. Taken in by an eccentric trio of black beekeeping sister, Lily is introduced to their mesmerizing world of bees and honey, and the Black Madonna. This is a remarkable novel about divine female power, a story that women will share and pass on to their daughters for years to come. ~Amazon

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Brave Writer

Mechanics & Literature: December 2021

Brave Writer

Whether searching for home, new community connections, or a piece of the American Dream, the characters in this month’s Dart, Arrow, and Boomerang are all on a quest to find their place.

Read about it while exploring writing, mechanics, and literary devices in meaningful ways with your family.


[This post contains Amazon affiliate links. When you click on those links to make purchases, Brave Writer receives compensation at no extra cost to you. Thank you!]


Brave Writer Dart
Dart (ages 8-10)

Heartwood Hotel: A True Home by Kallie George

When Mona the Mouse stumbles across the wondrous world of the Heartwood Hotel in the middle of a storm, she desperately hopes they’ll let her stay. As it turns out, Mona is precisely the maid they need at the grandest hotel in Fernwood Forest, where animals come from far and wide for safety, luxury, and comfort. But the Heartwood Hotel is not all acorn souffle and soft moss-lined beds. Danger lurks, and as it approaches, Mona finds that this hotel is more than a warm place to spend the night. It might also be a home.

This delightfully enticing start of a new chapter book series tells a tale of friendship, courage, and community, with exquisite black-and-white illustrations throughout. -Amazon

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Brave Writer Arrow
Arrow (ages 11-12)

The Lion of Mars by Jennifer L. Holm

Bell has spent his whole life — all eleven years of it — on Mars. But he’s still just a regular kid — he loves cats, any kind of cake, and is curious about the secrets the adults in the US colony are keeping. Like, why don’t they have contact with anyone on the other Mars colonies? Why are they so isolated? When a virus breaks out and the grown-ups all fall ill, Bell and the other children are the only ones who can help. It’s up to Bell—a regular kid in a very different world—to uncover the truth and save his family . . . and possibly unite an entire planet. Mars may be a world far, far away, but in the hands of Jennifer L. Holm, beloved and bestselling author of The Fourteenth Goldfish, it can’t help but feel like home.

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Brave Writer Boomerang
Boomerang (ages 13-14)

Great American Short Stories (Dover Thrift Editions) edited by Paul Negri*

Featuring 19 of the finest works from the most distinguished writers in the American short-story tradition, this new compilation begins with Nathaniel Hawthorne’s 1835 tale “Young Goodman Brown” and ranges across an entire century, concluding with Ernest Hemingway’s 1927 classic, “The Killers.” Other selections include Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart,” Melville’s “Bartleby,” Harte’s “The Luck of Roaring Camp,” “To Build a Fire,” by Jack London, “The Real Thing” by Henry James, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “Bernice Bobs Her Hair,” plus stories by Mark Twain, Sarah Orne Jewett, Charles Chesnutt, Kate Chopin, Stephen Crane, Willa Cather, Ambrose Bierce, Theodore Dreiser, and others.

*A note about this Boomerang: These stories touch on mature themes of human experience—love, unexpected windfall, but also danger, stolen luxuries, race, poverty, and death (including suicide in “Paul’s Case”). We highly recommend you preread each story before sharing it with your teen and review the content provided in the Boomerang to help you teach these stories in historical context.

Purchase the book.

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Brave Writer

Mechanics & Literature: November 2021

Mechanics and Literature November 2021

This month’s Dart, Arrow, Boomerang, and Slingshot feature journeys leading toward peace and belonging within community and nature.

We’ll observe how stories, both fiction and nonfiction, shape and shift our understanding of people’s experiences in the world.


[This post contains Amazon affiliate links. When you click on those links to make purchases, Brave Writer receives compensation at no extra cost to you. Thank you!]


Dart Nov 2021
Ages 8-10

Peacemaker by Joseph Bruchac

Twelve-year-old Okwaho’s life has suddenly changed. While he and his best friend are out hunting, his friend is kidnapped by men from a neighboring tribal nation, and Okwaho barely escapes. Everyone in his village fears more raids and killings: The Five Nations of the Iroquois have been at war with one another for far too long, and no one can remember what it was like to live in peace.

Okwaho is so angry that he wants to seek revenge for his friend, but before he can retaliate, a visitor with a message of peace comes to him in the woods. The Peacemaker shares his lesson tales—stories that make Okwaho believe that this man can convince the leaders of the five fighting nations to set down their weapons. So many others agree with him. Can all of them come together to form the Iroquois Great League of Peace? -Amazon

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Arrow Nov 2021
Ages 11-12

Ancestor Approved: Intertribal Stories for Kids edited by Cynthia Leitich Smith

Edited by award-winning and bestselling author Cynthia Leitich Smith, this collection of intersecting stories by both new and veteran Native writers bursts with hope, joy, resilience, the strength of community, and Native pride.

Native families from Nations across the continent gather at the Dance for Mother Earth Powwow in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

In a high school gym full of color and song, people dance, sell beadwork and books, and celebrate friendship and heritage. Young protagonists will meet relatives from faraway, mysterious strangers, and sometimes one another (plus one scrappy rez dog).

They are the heroes of their own stories. -Amazon

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Boomerang Nov 2021
Ages 13-14

The Sea in Winter by Christine Day

It’s been a hard year for Maisie Cannon, ever since she hurt her leg and could not keep up with her ballet training and auditions.

Her blended family is loving and supportive, but Maisie knows that they just can’t understand how hopeless she feels. With everything she’s dealing with, Maisie is not excited for their family midwinter road trip along the coast, near the Makah community where her mother grew up.

But soon, Maisie’s anxieties and dark moods start to hurt as much as the pain in her knee. How can she keep pretending to be strong when on the inside she feels as roiling and cold as the ocean? -Amazon

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Slingshot Nov 2021
Ages 15-18

Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer

As a botanist, Robin Wall Kimmerer has been trained to ask questions of nature with the tools of science. As a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, she embraces the notion that plants and animals are our oldest teachers. In Braiding Sweetgrass, Kimmerer brings these two lenses of knowledge together to take us on “a journey that is every bit as mythic as it is scientific, as sacred as it is historical, as clever as it is wise” (Elizabeth Gilbert).

Drawing on her life as an indigenous scientist, and as a woman, Kimmerer shows how other living beings―asters and goldenrod, strawberries and squash, salamanders, algae, and sweetgrass―offer us gifts and lessons, even if we’ve forgotten how to hear their voices. In reflections that range from the creation of Turtle Island to the forces that threaten its flourishing today, she circles toward a central argument: that the awakening of ecological consciousness requires the acknowledgment and celebration of our reciprocal relationship with the rest of the living world. For only when we can hear the languages of other beings will we be capable of understanding the generosity of the earth, and learn to give our own gifts in return. -Amazon

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Brave Writer Language Arts