Falling Over Sideways

Falling Over Sideways
Written by Jordan Sonnenblick

Publisher’s Summary:
Harassed at her middle school, not taken seriously at home, and with a “perfect” older brother, Matthew, to live up to, thirteen-year-old Claire has always felt like her life was cursed–then one morning, when she and her beloved father are talking at breakfast, her father suddenly falls over with a stroke, and suddenly everything changes.

Primary Source Pairing:
Author Jordan Sonnenblick has done the remarkable with Falling Over Sideways. He not only gives us a front row seat to the challenges of middle school and finding yourself, he also gives the readers a play by play on the struggles of taking care of a sick family member. Just like Claire and her family are stronger for their experiences together, I believe the reader ends the book stronger and with more empathy.

For this primary source pairing, invite students to study a diagram of the brain created by Scottish doctor Sir David Ferrier and published in his book The Functions of the Brain in 1876. Ferrier’s work, then and now, is considered a cornerstone in neuroscience (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Ferrier). Claire’s dad’s stoke was caused by an occlusion in the middle cerebral artery (pg 66). Invite students to study the image and consider the developments of brain science. Additionally, encourage students to learn more about the brain and which parts of the brain control which body functions.

Questions for Discussion:

  • Describe what you see.
  • What do you notice first?
  • How much of the text can you read? What does it say?
  • What do you see that looks strange or unfamiliar?
  • How are the words arranged?
  • What do you notice about the page the writing appears on?
  • What do you see on the page besides writing?
  • What other details can you see?
  • What tools and materials were used to create it?
  • If something like this was published today, how would it be the same? How would it be different?

Book Cover and Summary: Follett
The Functions of the Brain book page: Wellcome Library

Additional Resources:
Sir David Ferrier: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Ferrier
Middle cerebral artery: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Middle_cerebral_artery