Monday, May 17, 2010


By Richard Michelson
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
ISBN: 0-399-23970-7

FROM THE FLAP: Abe and Willie are next-door neighbors. During the day they don’t play together, because Abe is Jewish and Willie is black. But at night, when nobody’s watching, they’re best friends.

All summer long, Abe and Willie open their windows across the alley to play catch. Abe lends Willie his violin, while Willie shows Abe how to throw a real big-league slider. Then one night, Abe’s grandfather catches them—will Abe and Willie have the courage to cross the alley and bring their friendship out in the open?

Set against a backdrop of old-time Brooklyn, E.B. Lewis’s haunting watercolors and Richard Michelson’s stirring prose capture both the fun and the danger of having a secret best friend. Across the Alley, like E.B. Lewis’s timeless classic The Other Side, is a powerful story of overcoming prejudice that will strike a chord with readers of all ages.

KATE’S TAKE: A celebration of music, baseball, and most importantly friendship.

BASEBALL (Kinesthetic)

It’s almost summer! Take the kids outside for a scrimmage. If an adult pitches, the game will move quickly.

FAMILY FUN (Verbal/Linguistic and Interpersonal)

Have students prepare interview questions for their grandparents. Have them find out what kinds of activities their grandparents did when they were in elementary school. If possible, kids could invite their grandparents into the classroom for the interview. This is a fun Grandparents’ Day activity.


Invite students to be like Willie and prepare a piece of music to sing or play in front of the class. Invite them to partner up if that helps them gain the courage to perform.

SEE-SAW FRIEND BOOKS (Verbal/Linguistic, Interpersonal, Intrapersonal, Visual/Spatial)

Michelson compares and contrasts Abe and Willie to one another throughout the book. Ask students to write their own books comparing themselves to one of their friends or a family member. So the pattern would proceed like this: I have _______________ (color of eyes or other physical description). My friend has ______________ (color of eyes or other physical description). My favorite food is __________________. My friend’s favorite food is ______________. My favorite activity is _____________. My friend’s favorite activity is ____________. The last page would read, “We are friends.” Ask students to illustrate each page of their books.

SOMEDAY CLASS BOOKS (Verbal/Linguistic, Interpersonal, Intrapersonal, Visual/Spatial)

Abe’s grandpa tells him someday, “You’ll be the next Jascha Heifetz.” Give each student an 8x11 sheet of paper that says, “Someday I’ll be the next ___________________.” Have them fill in the blank with a famous person’s name or a specific occupation and draw a picture of themselves doing that activity. Bind the pages together and send the book home with a different student each day.


-As Good As Anybody: Martin Luther King and Abraham Joshua Heschel’s Amazing March Toward Freedom by Richard Michelson
-Mis Amigos/My Friends by George Ancona, Alma Flor Ada, and F. Isabel Campoy
-Someday by Eileen Spinelli
-The Other Side by Jacqueline Woodson
-Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts

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