Feature Book of the Week # 9 Jump Into the Sky by Shelley Pearsall

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Feature Book of the Week

Jump Into the Sky 
Shelley Pearsall

Levi Battle's been left behind all his life. His mother could sing like a bird and she flew away like one, too. His father left him with his grandmother so he could work as a traveling salesman—until Levi's grandmother left this world entirely. Now Levi's staying with his Aunt Odella while his father is serving in the U.S. Army. But it's 1945, and the war is nearly over, and Aunt Odella decides it's time for Levi to do some leaving of his own. Before he can blink, Levi finds himself on a train from Chicago to Fayettville, North Carolina, where his father is currently stationed—last they knew.

So begins an eye-opening, life-changing journey for Levi. First lesson: there are different rules for African Americans in the South than there are in Chicago. And breaking them can have serious consequences. But with the help of some kind strangers, and despite the hindrances of some unkind ones, Levi makes his way across the United States—searching for his father and finding out about himself, his country, and what it truly means to belong.

A Guest Post from Author Shelley Pearsall

Hello St. Louis Readers,

Thank you for reading Jump into the Sky for your Book Battle!   I’m often asked where I get the ideas for my books – surprisingly, I discovered the idea for this book during lunch at a middle school a few years ago. 

The school had invited several guests to speak on the topic of freedom and I happened to be seated with one of the guests at lunch.  He was a thin, soft-spoken, African-American man in his 80’s, and I discovered he had been one of the “red tails” – courageous black fighter pilots in World War II.

I was amazed by the man’s story, but even more interested in something else he told me – that his unit wasn’t the only black unit that secretly fought in World War II.  There were others, including a unit of black paratroopers, called the “Triple Nickles,” that served on a secret mission in the United States at the end of the war.  Even today, very few people know about them, he said.

Not only had I never heard of the Triple Nickles and their top-secret mission…I didn’t even know what a paratrooper was.  (Not a spoiler alert: they parachute out of airplanes).  Researching this story took me to Union Station in Chicago…the Special Operations museum in Fayetteville, North Carolina...Charleston, South Carolina to meet sweet grass basket makers…on a steam train ride in Ohio…and many other places. 

Okay, I’ll confess: I did not jump out of an airplane for my “research.”  But I sat inside a real World War II C-47 airplane (on the ground) in the jump seats used by paratroopers, if that counts…
I love unraveling the surprising secrets of the past, and you’ll see that this story has a lot of surprises.  I hope you enjoy meeting the unique cast of characters: Levi, Peaches and Cal, Aunt Odella, Mawmaw Sands, Killer and Tiger Ted – and many more.   By the way, St. Louis and the Mississippi River appear in the story, too.
And remember – always keep your eyes and ears open, because you never know who you might meet at lunch…

Read on!

Shelley Pearsall

About the Author

A native Ohioan, Shelley Pearsall has enjoyed writing since childhood. More than a quarter million copies of her books have been sold nationwide, and her work has received regional and national recognition. Her first historical novel, Trouble Don't Last, was the recipient of the prestigious Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction in 2003 and her first contemporary novel, All of the Above, was a 2007 ALA Notable book.

Before writing Trouble Don't Last, Shelley Pearsall was a public school teacher and a museum historian. In her spare time, she wrote historical scripts and short stories for Cleveland-area museums. She was the recipient of an Ohio Arts Council Fellowship in Writing in 1999 and was named the 2005 Children's Writer-in-Residence for the James Thurber House.

Shelley Pearsall's work and writing often has been influenced by her love of the past. She has taken part in a Revolutionary War shipwreck archaeology project, worked in an 18th century shoemaker shop in Colonial Williamsburg, and performed Great Lakes stories on a steamship--just to name a few of the unique historical jobs she has held over the years.

She graduated from the College of Wooster (B.A.) in 1989 and holds a master's degree in education from John Carroll University. Although she no longer works as a classroom teacher, Shelley enjoys visiting schools as a guest author!

Shelley Pearsall lives in Silver Lake, Ohio with her husband Mike, stepson Ethan, and rescued barn cat Marbles.

8 Delicious Comments:

Anonymous said...

You feel like you are a part of the story in Jump Into the Sky. It definitely is worth reading

Parkway Northeast Middle School

Anonymous said...

Jump Into the Sky will have you holding onto your parachute, and jumping into the wide open sky!!

Fort Zummwalt North Middle

Malik K. said...

This is the right book I would read. I like books about black civil rights, and I loved the movie, Red Tails, because it compares to this book. This is a book my dad would even read because he is interested in the things I am. It makes me think I’m in the old days. --Malik, 7th grader at Lift for Life Academy

Makala R. said...

I would like to read this book because it is historical fiction. It sounds like a family story who is estranged, Levi, 12, an abandoned child who was left with his grandmother.--Makala, 8th grader at Lift for Life Academy

Jermaine L. said...

I like adventures from back in the old days. That’s why I love this book. It reminds me of how far African-Americans have come. I think I will read this book.--Jermaine, 8th grader at Lift for Life Academy

Shamarr H. said...

I think this book would be a good book. I like books that can relate to real people’s life and adversity. Also this book would be great for people who can relate to not having their parent in their life.--Shamarr, 7th grader at Lift for Life Academy

Jordan N. said...

Levi has a hard life which makes me feel bad for him. He’s gone through so much adversity. He even lived in the more racist part in the U.S. I hope his father is alright, and they get reunited. Also I wonder what it means in the summary about learning what it means to belong. --Jordan, 7th grader at Lift for Life Academy

Shannon Steimel said...

Thanks for telling us how you came up with the idea for this story. That's really cool that you found a little known topic from history, researched him and then turned it into a story. --Shannon Parker, Librarian, Lift for Life Academy

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