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Please join us in welcoming Elizabeth Scott as our current Author-in-Residence at rgz. She'll be hanging out with us through April 2010. Throughout her visit, she will be cross-posting at the readergirlz blog. We are honored to have Elizabeth among us. Learn more about Elizabeth Scott and our author-in-residence position.




Copper Sun by Sharon Draper

Copper Sun by Sharon Draper

Fifteen-year-old Amari's village is destroyed, her family is slaughtered, and she is taken as a slave. Forced from her loving home in Ghana, marched across the continent to a slave ship where she endures the horrors of the Middle Passage, Amari is sold in South Carolina to a life of degradation and despair. But with strength and dignity, Amari first learns to endure, and then survive. She discovers friendship in the indentured servant Polly, and when the opportunity to escape presents itself, Amari and Polly decide to work together to find the thing they both want most -- freedom.

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"Copper Sun is a great choice for rgz because this book reminds us that, even when we've lost close to absolutely everything, we can hold onto our spirit." - Liz Gallagher, rgz diva

"The fast pace and truly horrifying scenes of Copper Sun will have adolescent readers quickly turning pages. Their reward is a riveting tale." - Rollie Welch, The Plain Dealer

"Draper builds the explosive tension to the last chapter, and the sheer power of the story, balanced between the overwhelmingly brutal facts of slavery and Amari's ferocious survivor's spirit, will leave readers breathless, even as they consider the story's larger questions about the infinite costs of slavery and how to reconcile history." - Booklist starred review

"Poignant and harrowing, this narrative of early America alternates between the voices of enslaved Amari and indentured servant Polly, building a believable interracial friendship centered on the common goal of freedom." - Kirkus starred review

2007 American Library Association/Coretta Scott King Literary Award Winner

Top Ten Historical Fiction Books for Youth by Booklist

Ohioana Award for Young Adult Literature

Heartland Award for Excellence in YA Literature

International Reading Association Notable Book for a Global Society

Best Book of the Year by School Library Journal

New York Times Bestseller List

Sharon Draper


Things to Know

Sharon Draper

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On the nightstand: Wrapped in Rainbows - the biography of Zora Neale Hurston

Favorite drink while you write: Water

Favorite bookstores: Any independent

Favorite library: All of them!

Pets: Dog: Honey, Cat: Miss Kitty

Place to write: Office - at my computer - at 4 AM

Inspiration: Sunshine

Dream book tour: A visit to all the homes of folks who could make movies of the books

Writer buddies: None - I work alone

Cure for writer's block: Shopping!

Favorite outfit: Jeans and sweats

Laptop or longhand? Laptop

Stilettos or Uggs? Uggs

Next up: Out of My Mind (coming out in March)

Author idols: Those who write with passion and still answer their emails!

Other YA Novels:
Tears of a Tiger
Forged by Fire
Darkness before Dawn
Romiette and Julio
Double Dutch
The Battle of Jericho
November Blues
Just Another Hero
Out of My Mind

Website: www.sharondraper.com


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Special Projects

TBD 2010

readergirlz and Teen Read Week

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Discuss the book with the author herself. Sharon Draper will be chatting live at the readergirlz blog on Wednesday, February 17th at 6 PM PST/9 PM EST. The chat will last for an hour.


International Red Cross

On January 12th, 2010, a 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck Haiti. The devastation was immense, made worse with every aftershock. The number of persons killed, injured, or displaced continues to rise.

Many service organizations are providing relief, and they need your assistance. The International Red Cross has multiple ways to donate funds or other means of support. If you go to the donation page at their website, you will see these options, one of which is Haiti Relief and Development. You may also contribute to their Disaster Relief Fund or learn how to get involved with Your Local Red Cross Chapter. You may donate in honor or memory of someone special instead of or in addition to your own name.

Zynga, the company which created and runs well-known online games such as FarmVille and Mafia Wars, has taken note of the impact of social gaming, stating at their website, "We are thrilled to be able to offer our players the opportunity to be part of change in a way that can represent positive contributions to human kind." Three of their top games are participating in a special relief campaign to help earthquake survivors in Haiti, donating 100 percent of the proceeds raised by online users to the World Food Programme (WFP). For more info, please visit zynga.org or email socialchange@zynga.com

The following tunes were hand-picked by the author and the readergirlz to accompany her book.

I Know Where I've Been from Hairspray as sung by Queen Latifah
Strength, Courage & Wisdom by India.Arie
Fallen Through by Skye Sweetnam
Baby Be Brave by The Corrs
A Good Day (Morning Song) by Priscilla Ahn
Hiding by Meiko
Pastel Blue by Sister Vanilla


From the Simon & Schuster reading group guide for Copper Sun:

1. The very first page, just before chapter one, tells of a slave sale and how it must feel to be fifteen years old, stripped naked, and standing on the auction block. Describe the feelings and fears of the girl being sold. How would you feel?

2. How is the relationship between Besa and Amari similar to teen relationships today? How is it different? Describe how Amari feels about him.

3. Describe the relationship between Amari and her parents, and between Amari and her little brother Kwasi. How does the strength of her family make a difference in her life?

4. Describe the horrors of Cape Coast Castle, the Door of No Return, and the branding on the beach. How does Amari survive? What necessary survival techniques would you have to develop to survive those experiences?

5. Describe the Middle Passage as described in the novel. What is it about human beings that makes one person mistreat another? What is about humans that makes us survive in spite of it?

6. Discuss the character of Clay and his complicated feelings for Amari. Does he have any redeeming qualities, or is he purely a negative character? What about Clay's father? Does he have any redeeming qualities, or is he purely a negative character?

7. How is Mrs. Derby almost like a slave herself? What predictions did you make about Mrs. Derby and Noah? What foreshadowing is given to prepare the reader for what happens?

8. Why didn't more slaves rise up and protest or fight back? What social and cultural pieces were in place to prevent it?

9. A student recently said, "I don't care about slavery. That happened a long time ago, and I don't want to think about it in my life today. It is no longer important." What do you think about that statement? Tell why you agree or disagree. What would you tell that student if you had the chance to have a conversation?

10. Students in the United States enjoy lots of freedom. List some of the freedoms that you enjoy. Were these privileges always available to everyone? What might someone have had to do in order to make sure you have these freedoms? How does that make you feel about the privileges you enjoy? What about students in other countries who might not have the freedoms that you enjoy?

11. Think back to when you were born. From that time to today is your history, and it is important. You learned, you made mistakes, and you grew. Discuss the importance of knowing your own personal history. Why is it important to study historical information of a country or a people? Why can't the past simply be ignored?

12. What happens if a rule or a law or a practice in a country is immoral or wrong? Who decides if it is right or wrong? What is done to change that law or rule or practice? How does one decide what to do?



Planning your own book group/get-together for this book? Here are some party ideas from the author.

Invite: Use Kente designs.

Attire: Dress in authentic African outfits.

Food: Red Red, also called Doh-doh-chie (cooked plaintain with red sauce), tatale (Ghanaian plantain cakes), and chocolate

Décor: Use African Kente cloth.

Movies: Amistad, Roots, Follow the North Star




Recommended by postergirlz, the readergirlz advisory council

Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson
Day of Tears by Julius Lester
Touching Snow by M. Sindy Felin
Chanda's Wars by Allan Stratton

The Bite of Mango by Mariatu Kamara with Susan McClelland



Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld





Join us in March, when we'll be discussing Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld.



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