Sunday, October 25, 2009


By: Keith McGowan
Publisher: Henry Holt
ISBN: 978-0-80508668-3


When Sol and Connie Blink move to Grand Creek, one of the first people to welcome them is an odd older woman, Fay Holaderry, and her friendly dog, Swift, who carries a very strange bone in his mouth. Sol knows a lot more than the average eleven-year-old, so when he identifies the bone as a human femur, he and Connie begin to wonder if their new neighbor is up to no good.

In a spine-tingling adventure that makes them think twice about whom they can trust, Sol and Connie discover that solving mysteries can be a dangerous game, even for skilled junior sleuths.

FORGIVENESS (Intrapersonal, Interpersonal, and Verbal/Linguistic)

Forgiveness is a theme in the book. Think about a time you forgave someone, or chose not to and how your decision affected the relationship. Or, write about a time someone forgave you or didn’t forgive you and how their decision affected the relationship.

MODERN FAIRY TALES (Verbal/Linguistic)

The Witch’s Guide to Cooking with Children is a modern retelling of Hansel and Gretel. Choose a fairy tale and set it in the modern world. Make sure your voice and setting reflect today’s world.


Illustrations from traditional fairy tales are romantic, but Yoko Tanaka’s illustrations are macabre. Choose a setting from the book, think about whether a romantic or a macabre style best suits the setting you chose, and illustrate it.

SKELETON BONES (Rhythmic/Musical and Visual/Spatial)

Pass out the lyrics to Skeleton Bones. Sing the song together, and then give each student a copy of the human skeleton to label.

Song lyrics:
Skeleton printouts:

WATER IN A GLASS (Logical/Mathematical)

Split the class into groups of three students. Give each child a glass of water. Have him mark the water level on the glass. Ask the students to predict how much the water level will rise when one ice cube is added to the water, two ice cubes, and three ice cubes. Have each student take the temperature of her water before adding the ice cubes. Give student A one ice cube, student B two ice cubes, and student C three ice cubes. Add the ice cubes, measure how much the water level rose and record the observations. Have students take the water temperature every two minutes until the ice cubes have completely melted. What was the mean temperature, the median temperature, and the temperature range of each student’s glass of water?

Book Buddies:

-Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
-Fablehaven by Brandon Mull
-The Fairy Tale Detectives (The Sisters Grimm, Book 1) by Michael Buckley and Peter Ferguson
-Twice Upon a Time: A Guide to Fractured, Altered, and Retold Folk and Fairy Tales by Catharine Bomhold and Terri Elder


  1. I'm so happy to see this book featured. It's a fun read for middle graders, and the activity ideas here are great--as always.

  2. Thanks Melissa! The activities at Celebrate Science are fantastic, too.