Phoenix Rising
by Karen Hesse
book talk
author study
classroom connections
web activity
An ALA Notable Children's Book
A School Library Journal Best Book
An ALA Best Book for Young Adults

Entire page edited by:
Elizabeth Iannelli & Nathan Wright

Book talk
By: Ellen Campion

    Phoenix Rising, by Karen Hesse, is a science fiction novel dealing with an accident that occurs at a local nuclear power plant.
    The main characters include:  13 year old Nyle, Nyle's grandmother, 15 year old Ezra, and Ezra's mother.  Both Ezra and his mother have been exposed to the radiation released by the accident that took place at the nuclear power plant.  Many other people in the community/area are also ill, and the hospitals are swamped with all the patients who have radiation poisioning. Therefore, Nyle's grandmother takes the boy and his mother into her house and cares for them in secret, in spite of Nyle's hesitation.  Nyle is hesitant because Ezra and his mother would be living in the back room of the house that is nearly sacred to Nyle, as that is where Nyle's mother died seven years ago, and Nyle's grandfather died two years ago.
    Nyle and Ezra end up forming a friendship that must be kept secret, because people in the community are afraid of those who have been exposed to the radiation.  Nyle's keeping of this secret also causes a problem between her and her best friend Muncie.  Also, the bully of the story, Ripley Powers, plays a large part in strengthening the relationship between Ezra and Nyle as the novel progresses.
    Eventually, Nyle notices that Ezra doesn't seem to be getting any better, but is instead getting worse.  This is a mystery that no one seems able to figure out.  When the extent of Ezra's illness is finally revealed, the story intensifies dramatically as does the relationship between Nyle and Ezra.  As it turns out, their friendship becomes an important medicine for both.

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Author study
By: Anisah Ansari

    Karen Hesse was born on August 29, 1952 in Baltimore, Maryland.  While growing up she dreamed of becoming many things including an archaeologist, an ambassador, and an actor. She began to dream of becoming an author at the age of ten when her fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Datnoff, praised her for being, "good with words."  Thirty years later, in 1991,  her dream came true with the publication of her first novel.

    Karen Hesse began her college career as a theater major at Towson State, but transferred to the University of Maryland a year later.  She graduated the University of Maryland with a B.A. in English and a double minor in Psychology and Anthropology.

    Now Karen Hesse lives in southern Vermont with her husband and two teenage daughters.  Other books by Karen Hesse include:

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Classroom connections
By: Michael F. Fonash

Social Studies- Divide the class in half and have each group research either Three Mile Island or Chernobyl and come up with a timeline from when the power plant opened to when the nuclear accident occured.  Then have the class come together to share their information.

Literature- Make a list anti-utopian novels, and then have the students read one and then compare and contrast that book with the ideas presented in Phoenix Rising.

Science- Have students investigate the after-effects of a nuclear meltdown and how the meltdown affects the various aspects of the surrounding environment (water, air, earth, and ecosystems).

Other books dealing with Nuclear Radiation:

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Web activity
 By: Brooke Coalter

Imagine that the town you live in is considering building a nuclear power plant.  As a reporter for the local newspaper you are assigned to write an article to inform the community about an existing power plants to run in a series about current nuclear power plants. You are assigned to provide the community with an unbiased report on Three Mile Island in PA.
Your article must include:

                 -General info about the nuclear power plant
                 -The accident
                 -Immediate problems
                 -Current problems/conditions
                 -Probable and possible future problems

You will work in groups to create this project.
One person will research___________
Another will research____________
The final person will serve as the story editor/typist to combine all the research into an article.
The two researchers will proofread and edit the article.
All group members must agree on the final product.

Use the links below or other search engines to help you find information.

Meltdown at Three Mile Island
    This site can tell you about what happened on that fateful day.  It has transcripts of interviews that took place so long ago.  This site has pictures that you may want to use.

More information about Three Mile Island

A Nuclear Nightmare in Pennsylvania
    This site shows you the coverage that the Washington Post did on this disaster.  This has pictures that may be used.

Part of the above news articles may show that Three Mile Island was not the last nuclear accident to occur:
Chernobyl: TIME Magazine Coverage

Assorted Maps & Pictures Pertaining to Chornobyl/Chernobyl

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