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K-12 Evaluated Resource Collection

Miles to Go

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Author/Publisher/Website: Young, B.
Copyright: 2018
Evaluation/Record Entry Date: Nov/2019
Submitting suppliers/Website: Not Available
Primary Identifier: 9781772032642
Recommended Grades and Subjects/Courses: 7-9
(View recommended grades and subjects)

Resource Description

Anna and Maggie, pre-teen girls from very different backgrounds, live in rural Saskatchewan in 1948. Anna is part of a poor family whose mother dies and whose father drinks too much and neglects his children while Maggie comes from a middle class family with a doting RCMP father and a stay-at-home mom. The best friends support each other as they deal with grief, complicated family relationships, and the complexities of growing up. Based on a true story, this fast-paced Canadian novel is suitable as a literature circle, entire class, or independent novel, and deals with friendship, hope despite adversity, poverty, trauma, child apprehension, substance abuse, grief, and mental health.

CURRICULUM FIT

Does the resource support BC curriculum?
Extensively
This product supports the Core Competencies of the BC curriculum:
Communication
Creative Thinking
Critical thinking
Positive Personal and Cultural Identity
Personal Awareness and Responsibility
Social Responsibility
Comments:
This is a fictional story written from the first person perspective of two twelve-year-old protagonists (alternating chapters) who live in small town Saskatchewan in 1948. It supports the Big Ideas in the English Language Arts curriculum grades 7, 8, and 9 ELA 7, 8, and 9: stories as a source of creativity and joy, helps us understand ourselves and make connections to others, and understand different perspectives and world views through text. Social Studies 9: The physical environment influences the nature of political, social, and economic change.

SOCIAL CONSIDERATIONS

Gender Roles, Identity & Sexual Orientation:
The novel is set in 1948 and the gender roles depicted in the text reflect the binary-gendered roles of the time. The women and preteen girls perform the domestic work, while the boys and men work outside the home and do not “help” with child-rearing or other domestic chores. Annie, the twelve-year-old girl who lives on a farm, must quit school to look after her siblings and father when her mother dies in childbirth.
Indigenous Peoples:
The only mention of any Indigenous groups in this novel is a brief paragraph that describes that, in the past, the Cree, Blackfoot, and Metis hunted buffalo on the prairie grasslands with bows and arrows for food and clothing. This description, and the fact that there is no other mention of Indigenous peoples, supports a settler narrative that Indigenous people are situated in the past and that by 1948 (the setting of the novel), it was the RCMP and European settlers whose stories are most prominent in the Canadian West. This colonial perspective should be discussed and Indigenous stories used to balance this narrative.
Socio Economic:
The two protagonists come from different socio-economic situations and both are described in simplistic, clichéd, and stereotypical ways. Annie, the rural girl, is growing up poor in a large family with an immigrant father who often neglects his children and spends much of his limited funds on alcohol. While Maggie, on the other hand, lives in town and has a middle class upbringing with a kind and doting RCMP father and a strict stay-at-home mother. The three youngest children in Annie’s family are apprehended by child services due to financial reasons – the mother has died and they do not have money to pay for child/domestic care.
Violence:
There is a sub-plot in the novel about a prisoner who is temporarily housed in Maggie’s building (she lives above the town jail). The prisoner killed his wife and baby. Maggie hears him crying in his cell and feels sympathy for this man who struggles with mental health and regrets his actions. Also, Maggie is caught smoking and is forced by her father to smoke a cigar until she vomits.
Ethical:
Maggie is caught lying, stealing and smoking cigarettes. There is also repeated reference to Annie’s father consuming alcohol and driving under the influence of alcohol.
Do the social considerations support, rather than detract from, student learning?
Moderately
Social Considerations Comments:
Miles to Go brings to light issues such as poverty, trauma, child apprehension, substance abuse, grief (both protagonists lose close relatives), and mental health. It is a good starting point to explore these issues through the context of Canadian history and rural small town life. Despite these heavy topics, the novel’s conclusion is hopeful for both protagonists – Maggie resolves her difficult mother-daughter relationship and Anna is able to go back to school. Both girls resolve to embark on a future search to reunite Anna’s family. By keeping it light and hopeful, the author introduces difficult issues, but avoids the complexity and depth necessary to truly grapple with these issues.

GENERAL CONTENT

Content
Should this product be identified as Canadian?
Yes
Is the resource engaging?
Extensively
Is the content current for the intended curriculum and grade?
Extensively
Is the content accurate for the intended curriculum and grade?
Extensively
Is the content timely and important for student broad understandings?
Moderately
Audience:
Is the content appropriate to the emotional maturity and cognitive level of students?
Extensively
Does the resource provide opportunities for creative and critical thinking?
Extensively
Can the content be differentiated?
Not at all or slightly
Can reading level be adjusted?
Not at all or slightly
Is the level of detail appropriate?
Extensively
Is the language use appropriate to the emotional maturity and cognitive level of students?
Extensively
Comments:
Miles to Go is an engaging, fast-paced novel. The short chapters and dual narration make it compelling and easy to read. The ending is hopeful and many of the conflicts are resolved. The novel deals with issues of poverty, child apprehension, and grief and grieving. Teacher should be aware of students’ lived experiences when assigning this novel. Extra social emotional support may be necessary for some readers.

TECHNICAL DESIGN

Does the resource make effective use of the medium?
Extensively
Is the resource easy to use?
Extensively
Is the use of font, text size and presentation uniform?
Extensively
Comments:
The novel is small, light and has a simple and bright cover design. Chapters are short, and chapter titles are the name of the narrator (it switches between two protagonists) and the date of the events of the chapter. The novel is 214 pages, followed by a brief author’s note.

PRINT NOVEL

Does the text show insight into the complexity of the human condition?
Extensively
Does the text broaden students’ experiences and understanding?
Extensively
To what degree is this text stylistically rich?
Moderately
Plot description:
Miles to Go is about two white girls, Anna and Maggie, who are best friends growing up in a small rural Saskatchewan town in 1948. The story begins in February and ends in July, the year that both girls turn 13. The girls face grief, complex family relationships, and growing up - one from the social location of rural poverty, the other as a middle class town dweller. It is about friendship and hope despite adversity, and was inspired by a true historical account.
Related Comments:
This historical fiction novel is beautifully written in some places, particularly in the description of the Canadian prairies. Both protagonists are dynamic characters who grow and change throughout the novel as they grapple with both internal and external conflicts. Although set in the past, the teenage issues that the girls face in the novel are ones that many of our students can relate.
Genre:
Historical
Literary Highlights:
Rich Characterization
Effective figurative language
Point of view
Type:
Novel

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS

Readability:
At intended grade level(s)
Comments:
The novel is followed by a brief author’s note that explains that the characters in the novel are inspired by real people. There is also an author acknowledgement and a brief author biography.

SUGGESTED CLASSROOM USAGE

Comments:
Miles to Go could be used as a literature circle selection, an independent novel study, or as an entire class novel study. It could also be used to support a humanities program that explores Canadian geography (the prairies) and history, and the use of story. The author’s note at the end of the novel explains that the book was inspired by a true story of a family in a tiny Saskatchewan town.
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