Sunday, March 14, 2010


By Rose Kent
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf Books
ISBN: 978-0-375-86344-8

FROM THE FLAP: Ice cream warms the heart, no matter what the weather.

That’s the Dobson’s family motto. Whenever things get tough, they break out the special heart-shaped bowls to make sundaes. And the road has been especially rocky lately for Tess and her deaf little brother, Jordan. Their plucky Texan mother talks big, but her get-rich-quick business schemes have only landed them in some serious financial hot water.

Ma’s newest idea is drastic. She abruptly moves the family to snowy Schenectady, New York, where she will use the last of their savings to open her dream business: an ice cream shop. (Too bad the only place she could find an apartment is in a senior citizen’s complex.) Tess wants to be excited about this plan, but life in Schenectady is full of new worries. Who will buy ice cream in their shop’s run-down neighborhood? What will happen when their money runs out? Worst of all is Ma herself—she’s famous for her boundless energy and grandiose ideas, but only Tess and Jordan know about the dark days when she crashes and can’t get out of bed. And Tess can’t seem to find the right words to talk to Ma about it at all.

This moving story of family, community, and ice cream proves that with a little help from the people around us, life really can be sweet—and a little nutty—just like Rocky Road.

ASL SENTENCES (Interpersonal and Bodily/Kinesthetic)

Jordan needs to use ASL to communicate with everyone around him. Go to this link and ask students to learn how to sign a simple sentence of their choosing. Then, have each student sign their sentence and have the rest of the class guess what they’re signing.

BUDGET BLUES (Logical/Mathematical)

Tess’s mom has financial woes. Give students a hypothetical monthly salary, and ask them to develop a feasible budget that provides for food and shelter.

CLASS QUILT (Intrapersonal, Interpersonal, Logical/Mathematical and Visual/Spatial)

Craft a quilt like Tess. Have each student design a quilt square on a piece of paper. Then have students measure the cloth and cut out their squares. Each square could reflect the hobbies of each student like Tess’s quilt reflected Winnie’s hobby, or have each square reflect a piece of your town’s history. Ask a crafty student or parent to piece the quilt together.

INTERESTING INTERVIEWS (Interpersonal and Verbal/Linguistic)

At first Tess is upset about living in a senior citizen complex, but then she gets to know the seniors as individuals, and they become her friends. Ask students to interview a senior citizen. Have them turn in their interview questions ahead of time, and record their interview.

MOTOWN MUSIC (Musical, Interpersonal, and Verbal/Linguistic)

Winnie, Tess’s friend, has a band called The Salty Old Dogs. They specialize in Motown Music. Pick a song and perform it in front of the class, or write a report on a Motwon musician/band.


-A Crooked Kind of Perfect by Linda Urban
-Eggs by Jerry Spinelli
-The Year the Swallows Came Early by Kathryn Fitzmaurice
-Waiting for Normal by Leslie Connor
-Zen and the Art of Faking It by Jordan Sonnenblick

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