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Welcome to Show me the BOOKS! A blog about literature for elementary school students. All posts include a summary, a citation, and teaching suggestions along with websites for lesson extension or references. Please explore and comment!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Just Juice by Karen Hesse

Hesse, Karen. Just Juice (Scholastic Signature). New York: Scholastic Paperbacks, 1999. Print

Just Juice is a graphic novel which depicts the life of a financially struggling family. Juice's illiterate Father, Gannon, has lost his job and is on the unsuccessful search to find a job to support his family. Juice, hates going to school because she can't read and somehow convinces her father to allow her to help him and her Ma at home rather than attending school. In an imperfect moment,  a letter is received from the town hall's office that states Gannon has been late on paying his property taxes and will soon be losing his house. But when Gannon can't find a job, it seems there's no more hope for the Faulstich family. This story proves the importance of family,  shows a family's struggle for stability through perseverance, the search for hope, and the affect on society and it's laws on families. 

Teaching suggestions for Just Juice by Karen Hesse
This novel should be an easy read for most third or fourth grade students. Some vocabulary terms that may be discussed before or during reading include these words: stethescope, tax/taxes, debts, diabetes, fiddle, and social services.
  • Before reading: Provide students with a view of societal issues. Ask questions like, what are some laws that you know your parents must follow for your own good? What are taxes? What things do we get taxed on? Is it possible that some families may be able to provide more for their children than others? Lead students to brainstorm ideas related to the text so that subjects like social services getting involved in Juice's family are connected to society today.
  • During reading, analyze the plot of the story and point out or ask student to point out the problem, conflicts, and the solution of the story. These conflicts are mostly related to the key vocabulary terms and the discussion prior to reading. 
  • After reading, a writing activity can be completed by using a question from the Scholastic website that accompanies the novel. A sample question is: Literacy means more than being able to read books. How does Juice show she knows how to read? How does she use her reading skills to help Ma? What can you read that others might have trouble reading? For example, a computer game manual or poetry or music.
Supplemental Websites for Just Juice include the following:
  •  CT Department of Social Services This web page will provide you as a teacher with background knowledge that you can provide students if and when they question you about it- whether it spark from the before reading discussion or during reading. 


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