I try to read a William Allen White book to my children every summer and last summer wasn’t any different. I took the suggestion of the school librarian and picked up Jessica Day George’s book Tuesdays at the Castle which opened the door to a summer of Castle Glower adventures. When I discovered Jessica Day George had a new book/series, I was elated! George does her research on her books, so my excitement was at an all time peak when I discovered Silver in the Blood begins in 1897 in New York with two cousins who are on their way to meet their Romanian family, the Florescu, in Bucharest.
The cousins are separated on their journey across the ocean despite their own desires. Dacia is extroverted, troublesome and quite the flirt. She was going to elope with a young, handsome aristocrat of New York society when her family discovers this and ships her off with a maiden aunt. The first of the family secrets to be discovered is when Dacia discovers this maiden aunt to be kissing a man on the train into Bucharest.
Louisa, nicknamed LouLou, comes to Bucharest through Paris picking up the latest fashions for the cousins to wear when meeting the well-to-do in Bucharest. She is the timid, sensitive one who likes to please everyone and remain in the shadows. To her angst, she is followed around Paris by a young, dark man who calls her a ‘Wing’ and a ‘Houri.’ While LouLou is being scared by this ominous man around Paris, Dacia meets the leader of the family, their grandmother, Lady Ioana.
When the two girls are reunited, they learn their family has old magic; they are shape shifters. They are on this Earth to protect the ancestors of Vlad the Impaler: the family of Dracula. The girls are informed of a Prophecy stating two girls from the New Country will help ‘the dark become light’ by their position to help the family overturn the King and put the Dracula family on the throne.
Thanks to the dark and mysterious man in Paris, the girls discover a secret society who wants to destroy the monsters of the night and keep peace within Romania. The girls must learn to control the silver in their blood while also keeping peace in a kingdom and within their own family.
In the Store:
Bram Stoker’s Dracula has multiple adaptations through movies and books. A complete display with both Fiction and Nonfiction would be a great introduction to this new series. George has some of the history of the Wallachia/Transylvania history, but not near enough to indulge the fan of this infamous character. Shape shifters are also part of this mystical tale of old. Werewolves, although not mentioned in this book, are creatures of the night. Dacia becomes a wolf and this overwhelms the strong person who we meet in the beginning of the book. She is not a werewolf, but still shifts into a Claw–as named through her family history.
In the Classroom:
Although Silver in the Blood is written for the middle grades, it is a wonderful introduction to Bram Stoker’s Dracula. The history, the folklore, the tales of old abound in this new adventure by Jessica Day George. Dracula is often taught in the 11th grade year at many high schools. If it isn’t taught in the classroom, it is a great read to recommend for independent book reports, or small group reading.
This book could easily be a classroom read or used as a small group read. I loved splitting my class into five small groups and letting them meet for book club on Friday. It was a great way to integrate more reading in my classroom–their book club reads would be independently read at home with group meetings on Friday.
One easy CCSS for this text would be to analyze the impact of the author’s choices regarding how to develop and relate elements of a story or drama (e.g., where a story is set, how the action is ordered, how the characters are introduced and developed) (RL.11-12.3.)
Using compare/contrast pull excerpts from Dracula and analyze how an author’s choices concerning how to structure specific parts of a text (e.g., the choice of where to begin or end a story, the choice to provide a comedic or tragic resolution) contribute to its overall structure and meaning as well as its aesthetic impact (RL.11-12.5.)
Silver in the Blood by Jessica Day George (Bloomsbury Childrens | 9781619634312 | July 7, 2015)