Wednesday, July 18, 2007

14-15Personal Annotation of The Great Fire

Nonfiction book annotation
By: Angela Wilcox

138 pages

Murphy, J. (1995). The great fire. New York: Scholastic.

Author Creditability: Jim Murphy shows acknowledgements at the beginning of The Great Fire to several institutions for helping to put the book together and for helping with the research needed for this book. He also talks about visiting Chicago and doing research there as well as getting inspiration from The Great Conflagration.

Summary: Jim Murphy provides facts of Chicago’s great fire of 1871. He allows some survivors including: a reporter, a newspaper editor, and citizens; including a young girl, reveal their memories of what took place in Chicago that dreadful day. Murphy shows the reader how some things happened during this incidence that might have altered the outcome and how some things happened just out of bad luck. He also reveals some of the gossip that was reported about the fire as well as how the people became separated both physically and by social class during and after the fire. But, in the end the people of Chicago had to rise together to rebuild their city.

Most Important Access Features: This book has several access features that help the reader read this book. There is an introduction at the beginning of the book that provides background information to the reader about Chicago’s great fire of 1871. There is a table of contents, chapter titles—which provide an insight to what the chapter is about, maps that show where the fire was headed, a bibliography and resource page, and an index that has the page numbers of illustrations on the topic in bold.

Description of Illustrations: The illustrations in this book include photos, drawings, and newspaper articles and illustrations from this incidence.

Grade Level & Uses: Grades 4 and up; This book could be used to teach about lifestyles in America in the late 1800’s as well as showing how we have progressed over time in building our cities.

Standards: Time, Continuity, and Change; People, Places, and Environments; Individual Development an Identity.
Related Texts & How Related: These books could be used along with The Great Fire to discuss Chicago and this time period.

The Great Chicago Fire by David Lowe
The Great Chicago Fire by Ross Miller
Great Chicago Fire and the Myth of Mrs. O’Leary’s Cow by Richard F. Bales
The Great Chicago Fire (Illinois) by Robert Cromie

The following books are also by Jim Murphy and on some other tragedies of America’s history.
Blizzard: The Storm That Changed America
An American Plague: The True and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793

1995 ALA Newbery Honor Book
NCTE Orbis Pictus Award
Boston Globe/Horn Book Honor Book
The Jefferson Cup Award
A SLJ Best Book
A Booklist Editors Choice
A BCCB Blue Ribbon Book
An ALA Notable Book
An ALA Best Book for Young Adults
A PW Best Book

Personal Response to Book: I was not sure that I was going to enjoy or be interested in this book, but I ended up loving it. Murphy did a great job of taking a piece of American history and writing it up in a way that I did not want to put this book down. I plan on reading some more of his books and expanding my knowledge of history. Why can not our history textbooks be this good and interesting?

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