Semiprecious (Hardcover) by D Anne Love. Margaret K. McElderry, 2006. ISBN: 978-0689856389. pp: 304.
Ages: 10-13, gr: 4-7

ArtExplosion

Summary

When asked what Semiprecious is about, D. Anne Love explains "Semiprecious is the story of teen sisters Opal and Garnet who are forced to move to a new town when their mother takes off for Nashville to become a singing star. If you've ever had a dream that you wished would come true, or if you've ever had to move away from all your friends and start over in a whole new place, you know exactly how Garnet and Opal feel."

Activities

Prereading Activities
  1. What major events were taking place in the United States during the 1960s? Create a timeline of these events.

  2. Interview someone who was growing up during that decade. Make a comparison chart of their life to yours.

  3. What is the difference between precious and semiprecious gems? Make a chart of several of each and draw or paste pictures of them under their names.

During Reading

    Chapters 1 and 2
  1. Locate Mirabeau, Texas on a map. How many miles is it from some major cities in Texas, such as Dallas, Austin, and San Antonio?

  2. Who was Mirabeau B. Lamar? Write an essay or poem about his accomplishments.

  3. What is okra? Have you ever eaten okra? Read some okra recipes.

  4. Learn more about the Burma Shave company.
  5. Who was Cordell Jackson? Write an illustrated children’s biography about her. Some websites that contain information about her are.
  6. Choose one of the artists mentioned in chapters one or two and do a presentation about that artist. Try to have at least one song by that artist for the rest of the class to listen to.

  7. Chapters 3 and 4
  8. Find some newspaper or magazine articles about the beginnings of the Civil Rights movement, J. F. Kennedy’s campaign, desegregation, or Sputnik landing on the moon. Write five diary entries, pretending that you were living then, and write in your diary what was happening.

  9. Garnet believed that her mother would have to come home now that her daddy was burned. What do you think? Why? Write a paragraph about your predictions.

  10. Chapters 5 and 6
  11. Read information about Doris Day. Have you seen any movies in which she starred? If so, which? Learn more about Doris Day online. Is there an actress today who you think can be compared to Doris Day? If so, whom? Why do you think this? How are they alike and how are they different?

  12. Read information about Sandy Koufax. What is your favorite baseball team? Who is your favorite player? Create a poster advertising your favorite team and player. Include some of the statistics of either the team or the player in a chart.

  13. Chapters 7, 8 and 9
  14. Have you ever moved and attended a different school? If so, write down your memories of that event. If you have been in the same school, write down some memories/first impressions of someone new who moved in.

  15. Read The Ransom of Red Chief by O’Henry. What do you think Garnet would have thought of this story? What could she compare to her own life?

  16. Study the paintings of David Siqueiros, especially the Siqueiros Mural, Tropical America.

  17. Compare Sandy Koufax to Mickey Mantle.

  18. Chapters 10 and 11
  19. Study the panels of the mural by Jose Orozco called, The Epic of American Civilization. Which is your favorite?

  20. Charlie talks about his grandfather having to walk the Trail of Tears. Read several books about the Trail of Tears. Write a poem about the Trail of Tears. Collect all of the poems and put them into a class book. Share the book with your school library.

  21. Chapters 12, 13, 14 and 15
  22. How much would a one-way bus ticket cost today from Oklahoma to Nashville?

  23. Predict what is going to happen when Garnet reaches Nashville.

  24. Describe Garnet’s mom’s personality and character.

  25. Chapters 16, 17, 18, 19 and 20
  26. What would be the best non-tangible gift you could receive? You don’t have to share this with anyone if you don’t want to.

  27. Read some of Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters. Create an "anthology" of poems about your town.

  28. Chapters 21, 22 and 23
  29. The principal told the art teacher that it wasn’t her job to teach her students about life. Who do you think was right? Why? The art teacher also told Garnet that she had to stand up for what she believed and put it on the canvas, or she couldn’t be a real artist. What do you think she meant? Find a painting that demonstrates the art teacher’s statement.

  30. Compare the art teacher in Semiprecious to the music teacher in Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson.

Following Reading

Think about these questions, and then write another chapter to this book.
  1. What do you think it is going to be like for Opal and Garnet when they go back to Texas? Will their friends still be their friends, or will they have to start over again?
  2. How do you think Aunt Julie will feel now that she’s lost her best friend, Charlie, and she’s about to lose her two nieces whom she has come to love?
  3. What do you think Aunt Julie will do, now?
  4. Will Garnet ever hear from or see her favorite art teacher again? If so, in what context?
  5. What kind of work will Garnet’s father do?
  6. What part will Garnet’s mother play in her life in the future?

About the Author

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Assessment

Semiprecious. Accelerated Reader: Quiz #107376 EN; Book Level 5.1; Points= 9.0
Reading Counts: Reading Level 7.3; Points= 16.0
Lexile Level 860