Saturday, July 12, 2008

Did Fleming Rescue Churchill?

Subtitled "A Research Puzzle," this book will work well in the classroom where students are working on first research projects. I don't plan on putting it in the library, but I will definitely be recommending it to our third grade teachers.

Jason gets to school late on the day that inventors are assigned for the big class research project. All of the "cool" inventors, The Wright Brothers, Edison, Franklin are taken and he gets stuck with Sir Alexander Fleming. Since he's never heard of Fleming, Jason assumes he must not have done anything too important. When his teacher informs him that Fleming discovered penicillin, Jason is a little more impressed, but not much.

Jason immediately complains to his teacher that it will be too hard to find information, but Ms. O'Mara sticks to her guns and challenges Jason to complete the report. His first response, which is very realistic, is to head to the internet. I love his teacher's response to first check sources like encyclopedias and biographies as they tend to be more accurate and credible than the internet. WHAT!? I don't really thing students question this fact, they just like the quickness of the internet.

As Jason begins to discover things about his inventor, he is both impressed and disappointed. It seems Fleming discovered penicillin but didn't really develop it any further. Jason uncovers a story about a Fleming man saving a Churchill man from a swamp in Scotland and then penicillin saving Winston Churchill from pneumonia that turns out to be untrue.

In the end, Jason uses all of the information in his report as a way to show that he really did his research in order to find out the truth behind Sir Alexander Fleming.

I like the simple story of this book and the reading level is such that all beginning researchers can read it. What I really like about the book is how it works through the research process without being boring. The book has lots of tips and pointers for beginning researchers embedded in the story and at the end it has a list of tips and helpful hints. In the beginning I said I would be sharing it with our third grade teachers. Even though other grades can benefit from this book, our third grade does famous Americans and inventors as their topic, and it is the first in depth research the kids do. I think the kids and teachers will find this book very helpful.


  1. Great find! I love books about writing! Thanks for sharing -- I'll have to check it out at the library!

  2. Thanks Bill! I just read this book tonight and what a great read aloud for third graders and I love the praise the teacher gave for doing something different within research writing.