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December 5, 2008

Jip His Story

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Jip His Story

Author: Katherine Paterson

Page Length: 181

Reading Level: 6

Genre: Historical Fiction

PLOT SUMMARY: Did you know that during the mid to late 1800s people who had no income might have lived together on a poor farm? Jip, a young boy, is the backbone of the poor farm on which he lives. He milks the cows, cares for the all the animals, and does more than his fair share of chores. Everyone relies on Jip; one day, the town lunatic is brought to the farm to be housed in a cage. Jip befriends Put and helps him enjoy his life on the farm and never gives up on him no matter how deep his darkness runs. One day, Jip is approached by a stranger who claims that he knows a man who just might be Jip’s father. Jip senses danger and avoids the stranger – until the day that the stranger and the man come to town. Soon Jip is on the run for his life. Can he get away before it is too late? Why does this man seek him and what might his “father” want from him?

REVIEW: This is an excellent book. The reader is completely absorbed in Jip’s acceptance of his life on the poor farm and how responsibly he shoulders the burden for everyone. We feel Jip’s angst at the stranger’s continued appearances and fear for Jip’s life when he learns of his past and must run to keep from being captured and taken to a life of slavery. Connecting students to text and historical contexts would be easy with this text. Engaging and recommended! Jip teaches everyone compassion and hope.

Of special interest in this story also is the role of the country school teacher. She teaches Jip to believe in himself and that he is not stupid as he has been led to believe by those who wish to keep him in a certain role. She champions Jip’s education and becomes an important part of his struggle for freedom.

AREAS FOR TEACHING: historical connections, cause and effect, sequence, author’s purpose, connecting text to self, point of view

TOUCHY AREAS-PAGES: the issue of slavery, slave catching, treatment of the town lunatic (locked in a cage), alcoholism, social status issues

RELATED BOOKS: Bridge to Terabithia, Jacob Have I Loved, Nightjohn, Lyddie



REVIEWED BY: Dayna Taylor

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