The Secret Wisdom of the Earth
Synopsis of the Book:
“After seeing the death of his younger brother in a terrible home accident, fourteen-year-old Kevin and his grieving mother are sent for the summer to live with Kevin's grandfather. In this peeled-paint coal town deep in Appalachia, Kevin quickly falls in with a half-wild hollow kid named Buzzy Fink who schools him in the mysteries and magnificence of the woods. The events of this fateful summer will affect the entire town of Medgar, Kentucky.
Medgar is beset by a massive mountaintop removal operation that is blowing up the hills and back filling the hollows. Kevin's grandfather and others in town attempt to rally the citizens against the "company" and its powerful owner to stop the plunder of their mountain heritage. When Buzzy witnesses a brutal hate crime, a sequence is set in play that tests Buzzy and Kevin to their absolute limits in an epic struggle for survival in the Kentucky mountains.”
This is a fantastic book. It covers a boy’s summer as he turns into a young adult. As a boy turning into a young adult, he is faced with many issues that he comes to understand through the summer he spends with his mentoring and loving grandfather in Kentucky. The first issues that he faced with and learns about are personal issues, such as grieving, guilt and loss after his younger brother tragically dies in an accident that he witnesses. Another issue he is faced with are societal issues of accepting people for who they are and how to measure what is right and wrong after a brutal murder and a personal attack when he, his grandfather, and his best friend are camping in the mountains. The last issue that he is faced with is the destruction of the environment and the disrespect of the Earth through mountain top removal of the Appalachian Mountains in Kentucky.
Within the book there is strong language, some violence, and some sexual overtones. So please measure your students’ maturity while they read this book; our students can surprise us with how mature they can be and the issues they personally understand. I would highly recommend reading this book in high school.
This is a reading guide that goes from chapter to chapter with quick questions that helps the student relate to the book and their own personal experiences. There are some fun research it! questions that students can do extra research to learn about nature with, and there are draw it! questions that asks the students to draw what they see while reading a portion of the book. This could be used at the end of the year for a fun unit, as homework for a semester project, or for supplemental or extension activities within the classroom to bring reading into science.