Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

Ship Breaker By Paolo Bacigalupi
ISBN: 9780316056212
Published by: Little Brown Books for Young Readers, 2010
Genre: Juvenile Fiction

Literature Circle Unit description with goals

The Literature Circle unit is geared towards eighth grade students who are reading Ship Breaker (2010) by Paolo Bacigalupi.  This dystopian novel takes place in the future when global warming and climatic disasters have altered the physical landscape on earth.  Communities have forever been altered.  This is a story of a young boy who dreams of a better life and whose adventures with a young girl might change his life forever.

The goal of the three literature circle meetings is to set the stage for reading the novel, analyze the characters and their motives, predict outcomes of the ending, and analyze themes and literary devices.

Oregon State standards

Reading

  • Decoding and Word Recognition:
    • EL.08.RE.01 Read or demonstrate progress toward reading at an independent and instructional reading level appropriate to grade level.
  • Listen to and Read Informational and Narrative Text
    • EL.08.RE.02 Listen to, read, and understand a wide variety of informational and narrative text, including classic and contemporary literature, poetry, magazines, newspapers, reference materials, and online information.
    • EL.08.RE.03 Make connections to text, within text, and among texts across the subject areas.
    • EL.08.RE.05 Match reading to purpose–location of information, full comprehension, and personal enjoyment.
    • EL.08.RE.06 Understand and draw upon a variety of comprehension strategies as needed–rereading, self-correcting, summarizing, class and group discussions, generating and responding

Literature

  • Listen to and Read Literary Text:
    • EL.08.LI.02 Demonstrate listening comprehension of more complex literary text through class and/or small group interpretive discussions
  • Literary Text:  Demonstrate General Understanding
    • EL.08.LI.03  Identify and/or summarize sequence of events, main ideas, and supporting details in literary selections
  • Literary Text:  Develop an Interpretation.
    • EL.08.LI.04  Predict probable future outcomes supported by the text, including foreshadowing clues.
    • EL.08.LI.05  Identify the actions and motives (e.g., loyalty, selfishness, conscientiousness) of characters in a work of fiction, including contrasting motives that advance the plot or promote the theme, an discuss their importance to the plot or theme.
    • EL.08.LI.06  Identify and analyze the development of themes in literary works based on evidence in the text.
    • EL.08.LI.07  Infer the main idea when it is not explicitly stated, and support with evidence from the text.
    • EL.08.LI.08  Infer unstated reasons for actions based on evidence from the text.
  • Literary Text:  Examine Content and Structure
    • EL.08.LI.12  Analyze the importance of setting (place, time, customs) to the mood, tone, and meaning of the text.
    • El.08.LI.14 Evaluate the structural elements of the plot, such as subplots, parallel episodes, and climax, including the way in which conflicts are (or are not) addressed and resolved.
    • El.08.LI.15 Identify and analyze recurring themes (e.g., good versus evil) across traditional and contemporary works.

First Meeting

Book Genre:  Dystopian novels often shows a futuristic society that has degraded into a repressive and controlled state. Dystopian literature usually has underlying cautionary tones, warning society that if we continue to live how we do, this will be the consequence.  This is true in the novel, Ship Breaker.  The story takes place in a post-oil future when climate change has altered the earth and major cities are underwater.  Large conglomerate companies are fighting for control of recycled resources.  Massive iron ships are left to rust away on the shores while poor, uneducated communities break them apart and sell the materials to the companies.  Global warming has caused continuous hurricanes that further rip apart and destroy the cites.  Communities have abandoned what used to be major cities and relocated further inland.

Ship Breaker is about a poor boy, Nailer Lopez, who makes his living crawling through abandoned ducts of rusty old ships pulling copper wire for his crew.  He dreams of what life would be like on the fast, updated clipper ships he sees far off in the horizon.  Luck comes his way when he and a friend find a broken clipper ship after a Category 6 hurricane.  While looking through the wreckage, they discover a young girl, barely alive.  The two friends rescue the girl who promises that her wealthy shipping magnate family will reward them richly.  Unfortunately, Nailer’s drunken father discovers the wreckage first, captures the girl, and plans to salvage the material to make some quick money. Nailer and company escape to the port of Orleans in search of allies of the girl’s father.  Along the way they learn how to survive on their own, who to trust and the true meaning of family.

Anticipatory  questions

  1. Describe dystopian novels.  What makes them so interesting to read?  What are some other titles you might have read?  Ideas:  The Giver, The Hunger Games trilogy, Chaos Walking Series, Feed
  2. This book takes place in the future when the oceans have risen and major seaport cities are now underwater.  Why do you think the author, Paolo Bacigalupi has chosen this topic?
  3. Do you AGREE or DISAGREE with the following statements:
    1. The blood ties among families usually are strong enough to overcome betrayals.
    2. Loyalty is the most important part of a relationship between family or friends.
    3. Our successes in life often have as much to do with luck as with our choices or abilities.
    4. When in danger, it is best to play it safe rather than take a risk.
    5. In a life-or-death situation, almost any action is forgivable.
  4. Explain your rationale for one of the statements above.
  5. Watch the promotional video for this book at http://www.hachettebookgroup.com/teens_books_9780316056212.htm Were you surprised that even today there are ship breaking operations in poorer areas like Bangladesh?

Read Chapters 1- 13 (pages 1-164).  Assign roles for next literature circle:

  • Artful artist uses some form of artwork to represent a significant scene or ideas from the reading
  • Literary luminary points out interesting or important passages within the reading
  • Discussion director write questions that will lead to discussion by the group
  • Capable connector finds connections between the reading materials and something outside the text, such as a personal experience, a topic studied in another class, or a different work of literature.
  • Word wizard discusses words in the text that are unusual, interesting or difficult to understand.

Second Meeting

This is the point in the novel when Nailer’s drunken father finds the wreckage and holds his friend, Prim, hostage.  Nailer is sick with a fever and things are looking very bad for all of them.  Nailer convinces his father that the girl, Nita, is more valuable alive than dead.  Nailer falls sick but is nursed back to health by Prim.   Nailer and his friends are trying to make plans to escape but first they must deal with his father’s hoodlum friends and a strange half-man half-dog creature named Tool.

Discussion questions

  1. Each member should share something from their assigned role of the literature circle.
  2. Locate and discuss the following quotes from the book:
    1. “No one was worth keeping if they didn’t make a profit”  p18
    2. “We’re crew”, he reminded her, “We swore blood oath” p28
    3. “Being close to death made everything in his life shine”  p42
    4. “This swank girl wasn’t crew.  He didn’t owe her anything.  But now, after his time in the oil room, all he could think of was how much he’d wanted Sloth to believe his life was just as important as hers.”  p99
    5. “Pima grinned.  Damn, the swanks and the rust rats are all the same at the end of the day.  Everyone’s looking to get a little blood on their hands”  pg 163
  3. How is the relationship between Nailer and Sloth different than Nailer and Prim or Nita?
  4. What’s more important:  being lucky or being smart?
  5. Discuss the concept of:  The Fates, Scavenge Gods, Lucky Strike, Rust Saint
  6. The author compares the rage of Nailer’s drunken father to a “storm brewing. full of undertows and crashing surf and water spouts – the deadly weather that buffeted Nailer every day as he tried to navigate the coastlines of his father’s moods”.  Why does the author write this way?  Look for other similar examples.
  7. Predict what is going to happen with Nailer and Nita.

Read Chapters 14- 25 (pages 165-326).  Assign roles for final literature circle:

  • Artful artist uses some form of artwork to represent a significant scene or ideas from the reading
  • Literary luminary points out interesting or important passages within the reading
  • Discussion director write questions that will lead to discussion by the group
  • Capable connector finds connections between the reading materials and something outside the text, such as a personal experience, a topic studied in another class, or a different work of literature.
  • Word wizard discusses words in the text that are unusual, interesting or difficult to understand.

Author profile pathfinder

  1. This is author Paulo Bacigalupi’s first Young Adult novel.  Previously he has written Science Fiction for adults.  Often he has underlying themes about sustainability in his novels.  Visit the publisher’s  website at http://www.hachettebookgroup.com/teens_authors_Paolo-Bacigalupi-%281529243%29.htm .  Find out which awards Ship Breaker was nominated for and won.
  2. Read interview with Paola Bacigalupi from Denver Westword News:   Sci-fi phenom Paolo Bacigalupi has seen the future http://www.westword.com/2010-05-06/news/paolo-baciagalupi-is-the-hottest-writer-in-sci-fi-so-what-s-he-doing-in-paonia/
  3. If you like Dystopian novels, you might consider these other resources:
    1. 50+ Fantastic Young Adult Dystopian Novels – http://www.bartsbookshelf.co.uk/2009/09/30/update-best-dystopian-ya-novels-redux/
    2. YAs Dystopia – http://community.livejournal.com/yalitlovers/172111.html
    3. New Dystopian YA Novels to Pair with Old Favorites – http://www.katemessner.com/brave-new-books-new-dystopian-ya-novels-to-pair-with-old-favorites/

Final Meeting

Discussion questions

  1. Each member should share something from their assigned role of the literature circle
  2. Recap the events of the 2nd half of the book with the discussion prompt “…and then”.  The first student tells an important event.  The next person says “…and then” and continues with another important event.  Keep going around the circle until the end of the story.
  3. Locate and discuss the following quotes from the book and relate them to themes of loyalty, family, courage, betrayal, risk-taking, fortune, friendship, pain or redemption:
    1. “Sada shook her head.  Killing isn’t free. It takes something out of you every time you do it.  You get their life; they get a piece of you soul.  It’s always a trade.”  p174
    2. “They used to drill out there, too, in the Gulf.  Cut up the islands.  It’s why the city killers are so bad.  There used to be barrier island, but they cut them up for their gas drilling” p199
    3. “Spending money on the poor is like throwing money into a fire.  They’ll just consume it and never thank you”, Tool said.  p209
    4. “You are no more Richard Lopez than I am an obedient hound.  Blood is not destiny, no matter what other may believe”.  p248
    5. “Nailer made a face.  Lucky Girl’s more of a family than he is”  p251
    6. “Pima’s mom works a thousand times harder than you and she’s never going to have a life as nice as what you go on this boat.  He shrugged.  If that ain’t being born with the lucky eye, I don’t know what is.”  p253
    7. “Richard never felt a thing when he hurt people.  Just didn’t give a damn.  It’s good that you feel something.  Trust me.  Even if it hurts, it’s good.”  p318
  4. Review the AGREE or DISAGREE statements from before the students read the novel.  Does anyone want to change their opinion?  Why or why not?
    1. The blood ties among families usually are strong enough to overcome betrayals.
    2. Loyalty is the most important part of a relationship between family or friends.
    3. Our successes in life often have as much to do with luck as with our choices or abilities.
    4. When in danger, it is best to play it safe rather than take a risk.
    5. In a life-or-death situation, almost any action is forgivable.
  5. In an interview, Bacigalupi states, “We’re good at solving the short-term problem and ignoring the long-term consequence.”  How is this statement reflected in Ship Breaker.  Bacigalupi says he may have a dismal view of humanity, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t a fan of man’s cooler inventions, including bicycles and computers. “It’s not technology’s fault that it’s devastating, An individual car is never a problem; it’s when we have 350 million of them.”  Do you agree?
  6. Some science topics were hinted in this book:  wind energy, genetic engineering, climate change, kudzu vines, extreme weather.  Consider exploring them further.
  7. Do you think there will be a sequel?  How do you think Tool, Prima, Sadu or Nita’s father will be involved?

 

Got books? Promoting YA literature using Technology

Reach your teen audience with creative ways that promote reading and Young Adult literature using free or open-source technology tools.

1.  READ Posters: Following the format of READ posters create by the American Library Association, take photos of staff members and students dressed in costumes holding a companion book.  Add the words READ and a quote. Use free editing software (GIMP, Open office, Picasa, Big Huge Labs, Aviary) to make the posters. You can also use ALA’s READ generator:  http://www.ala.org/ala/aboutala/offices/publishing/graphics/READ_Mini_Posters.cfm

2.  Book Trailers: Create short book trailers using free video editing software (iMovie, MovieMaker, Photostory) to promote new books that are being released.  Include images, titles, narration and audio music. Embed the movies on your library home page.

3.  Wall Wisher for Read Alikes! Set up a wallwisher page (www.wallwisher.com) to have students suggest books for read alikes.  For example:  If you liked “The Hunger Games” then read …  Students can add their own suggestions and images of book cover to the wall.

4.  Bathroom Graffiti with QR codes: Entice students to learn about new books in the Library using QR codes.  Create fun posters and place them in the bathroom stalls.  Include a QR code on the poster. When the student scans the QR code with their mobile device, the code reveals information about the new book.  Great for scavenger hunts too!

5.  Teen Book Video Awards: Have students nominate their favorite novels all year long.  Get your book club to be the “Academy” and narrow down the nominations to 3 in different genres.  Create a short videos or large posters for each genre and have students vote on their favorite.  Hold your own Teen Book Award ceremony in the Library (include a red carpet and paparazzi!)

6.  Digital frames for book promotions: Using free photo editing software (or even PowerPoint) make 5×7 photos of book covers and titles that say “recommended by …”.  Select books with a theme (author studies, Graphic Novels, Banned Books, a specific genre) and display the photos of those books in a digital picture frame.  Place on circulation desk for students to watch during check-out.

7.  Genre PSA: Have students create short 15/30 second audio Public Service Announcements (using Audacity, Garageband, etc) to be played over the school PA system during announcements.  Great for Teen Read or Banned Books Week.

8. Blogging with Book Buddies: Set up a blog with another book club to discuss the novels they are reading or recommend new titles.  Use free blog software like Blogger, EduBlogs, or Class Blogmeister.

9.  Guess the book: Display a colorful Wordle that includes words like: character names, locations, words that describe events or characters of a book along with a title “Guess the Book”.  Another idea is to make a Wordle Advertisement for a book.

10.  Author Labels: Use online forums like MySpace, Facebook, YouTube, author blogs, and online book groups to help get your students excited about reading. Compile a brief list of links with additional info about an author or topic and print them on an address label. Stick the label in the books in a highly visible place–on the last page, or opposite the first page. Encourage your students to explore reading in their own territory (Thanks to Reading 2.o).

11.  Poetry break: Have students record themselves reading their own poetry or a published poem and save it onto a Mp3 player.  Create listening station with headphones in your Library for students to sit and listen.

Other great technology tools you can use: VoiceTread, Animoto, Toon Doo, Google Presentations, Blabberize, Google Maps and more!

Resources:

  1. Book Trailers:  http://www.book-trailers.net/
  2. Literacy on the Web:  https://literacyontheweb.wikispaces.com/
  3. Reading 2.0 – Using Technology to Promote Books – not Replace them:  http://readingtech.wikispaces.com/

Directions for the projects will be posted at: http://sites.google.com/a/lshigh.org/gotbooks/

Nominate your TOP TEN Young Adult books by 10-10-10

Join a collaborative project.  Go to: http://10-10-10.wikispaces.com/

Get Involved:

This wiki is open to anyone who loves YA books. You don’t have to be a teacher-librarian to share your love of reading!

Choose a theme:

You can recommend your TOP TEN YA books of all time, TOP TEN YA fantasy books or even your TOP TEN YA paranormal romance books (you know who you are!) or any genre you want — and you get to decide how to organize your list!

Create your own page:

Add a new page (click link on upper left hand side) to the wiki with your name and then list your YA books in any order. Write a short summary of the book and give a short explanation of why it is included in your TOP TEN. If you use summaries from Amazon or TeenReads – please be considerate and cite your sources. Feel free to share your blog URL or Twitter name on your page. Please keep the listing of pages in alphabetical order.

Get your students involved!

Do you teach Middle or High school students? Do you have a book club? Have your class vote and nominate their TOP TEN list.

Celebrate!

Take time during the week of October 10-16 to look over the recommended lists and do something special to celebrate reading. This is perfect way to get teens excited for ALA Teen Read Week the following week: October 17-23.