Sunday, September 20, 2009


Publisher: Simon & Schuster

ISBN: 978-1-4169-0952-1

FROM THE FLAP: It’s 1838. Jake’s father has lost his job and his savings. Hearing of work in Maine, the family leaves their large home in Boston and heads north, taking with them a few furnishings and a deep family secret. In Maine they find only a dirty, isolated farmhouse, and a job for Father that takes him away from home.

“I’ll have to depend on you,” Jake’s mother tells him. But how can Jake find food? How can he prepare for the dangerous cold of a Maine winter? How can he protect his mother and his family’s secret?

Slowly, Jake learns the ways to survive, catching game and storing food for the long winter months. Nabby McCord, whose family also has a secret, helps him. So does Granny McPherson, who may be a witch. But when it comes to earning the money they need, Jake knows he’s on his own. He shows his determination as the winter approaches, but does he have what it takes to bring his family together to face their future and their past?

Finest Kind is the powerful story of a boy who is forced to become a man and to learn the truth about courage, friendship, and secrets.

Family Secrets (Linguistic)

Jake’s family’s secret is that his little brother has cerebral palsy. Choose a specific disability and compare and contrast the current medical treatment and understanding of that disability versus them past medical treatment and understanding of that disability. Or write about a friend or family member who is differently abled and describe your relationship with him or her.

Plant Classification (Naturalist)

Jake had to learn about the different plants in his area to survive. Take a walk outside and collect species of plants or draw pictures of them. Classify the plants into categories such as flowering or non-flowering, herbaceous or woody stems, and whether or not they use the wind, water or animals for seed dispersal.

Relay Races (Bodily/Kinesthetic and Interpersonal)

Jake is surprised when Tom is not a good sport after their race. As a class, brainstorm a list of supportive comments before, during and after a race. During the race, require that each teammate shout a supportive comment during each team-member’s turn. If anyone demonstrates bad sportsmanship, that member has to run an extra leg of the race or if it is after the race, that team is automatically disqualified.

Songs from the 19th Century (Musical)

Jake and his mother sing to soothe Frankie. What songs did they sing? In cooperative groups have students pick one song written in the 19th century and perform it in class. Encourage students to play instruments as well as sing.

Wax Museum (Linguistic/Interpersonal)

Have students research 18th and 19th century presidents. After each student picks a specific president, have them write a short biography of that president. Ask students to dress up as that president, read their bio, and ask their classmates to guess who they are.

Book Buddies:

-A Small White Scar by K.A. Nuzum

-Bigger by Patricia Calvert

-Rules by Cynthia Lord

-Wintering Well by Lea Wait


  1. Hi Kate, it was good to meet you at kidlit pie night. I find the multiple intelligences stuff really interesting -- I'm always interested in educational applications :-) I look forward to seeing you at future events!

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