The Other Half of My Heart

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The close relationship of a pair of biracial twins is tested when their grandmother enters them in a pageant for African American girls in this new story from Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Award winner Sundee T. Frazier. When Minerva and Keira King were born, they made headlines: Keira is black like Mama, but Minni is white like Daddy. Together the family might look like part of a chessboard row, but they are first and foremost the close-knit Kings. Then Grandmother Johnson calls, to invite the twins down South to compete for the title of Miss Black Pearl Preteen of America. Minni dreads the spotlight, but Keira assures her that together they'll get through their stay with Grandmother Johnson. But when grandmother's bias against Keira reveals itself, Keira pulls away from her twin. Minni has always believed that no matter how different she and Keira are, they share a deep bond of the heart. Now she'll find out the truth. From the Hardcover edition.
Curriculet Details
74 Questions
74 Annotations
3 Quizzes

Designed for students in fifth grade, this free digital curriculum contains annotations explaining simile, character traits, and theme. It also contains interactive videos that support comprehension, such as videos about inference, and conflict. Over the course of the book, students will answer Common Core questions and quizzes related to the subjects of textual evidence, inference, and figurative language. This free online unit will increase student engagement while building reading comprehension.

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Chapter One

Forks is a city in Washington in the United States. The population in 2012 was 3,545. Note the location of Forks in the map below. What type of climate do you think is typical in Forks? (This annotation contains an image)
What evidence proves the sisters have a very close relationship? 
Did you know that you can look up any word in the text of the book or the text of the questions and answers? Just click (or press on mobile devices) the word you want to define and hold until the blue text selector pops up. When you release, a define option will appear. Since it’s so easy to look up words, make sure you use this feature frequently. Try it right now to look up the word hoax.  
A simile is a comparison of two unlike things using the word like or as. What two things are compared in the highlighted simile? 

Chapter Two

A good reader uses clues to figure out things that are not exactly stated in the text. From the clue "Keira's lips twisted in disappointment" you can figure out that she doesn't really like the caller. Learn more about how to make inferences in the following video.  (This annotation contains a video)
An idiom is an expression having a special meaning different from the usual meanings of the words. For example, “up a creek without a paddle” means a situation involving trouble without any help. What does "not exactly walking your talk" mean in this story? 
Grandmother Johnson and Mama have an external conflict over ______________ 
Dyslexia is a learning disability that people are born with. They have difficulty reading words, spelling and understanding what they read. People with dyslexia can become good readers by learning to use different reading strategies. Dyslexia can affect anyone. Celebrities with dyslexia include Stephen Spielberg, Tom Cruise, Cher, Jay Leno and Magic Johnson. Do you know anyone with dyslexia? 
How does Minni feel when Denise says there are only two black people in the town? 
Dr. Martin Luther King was a civil rights activist who inspired all people to fight for equal rights without resorting to violence. One of his famous speeches "I Have a Dream" was delivered in Washington, DC to over 250,000 people and called for an end to racism in the United States.  (This annotation contains an image)

Chapter Three

Similes and metaphors are used to explain things, express emotion, and make writing more clear. The simile in the highlighted sentences compares Daddy with a pine tree using the word as. Can you identify the metaphor? Learn more about these types of figurative language in the following video. (This annotation contains a video)
Minni seems to be adventurous and talented at many things.  Why do you think Minni does not want to be in the pageant? 
What is the figurative language used in the highlighted sentence? 

Chapter Four

By reading between the lines, or making an inference, you can tell that Mama does not like her mother very much. Continue to use actions and words as clues to the hidden meaning.  
Which dictionary definition of driven is appropriate for this sentence? 
Minnie struggles with her mixed heritage of black and white; she is not sure where she really belongs. She becomes flustered because the teacher has indicated her identity is not important by ignoring her black roots. The theme of identity is important to this story. As you read, look out for other instances where the girls struggle with their identity.  
Some words have a different meaning in the different cultures. This can cause confusion when trying to communicate. For example, quite in the United States means completely. In the United Kingdom, the word quite means slightly. The comment, "Your party was quite nice" would be a compliment in the US, but someone in the UK might be offended that the party was only slightly nice. The word perm in the story has a different meaning in the black and white culture. If you didn't know that, you could become confused in the conversation. As you read, notice other cultural differences that appear.  
Minni's concern over being included in the group of black-skinned girls relates to the theme of __________ 

Chapter Five

In this novel, the narrator tells the story from the perspective of being on the outside looking in. The narrator tells what all the characters are doing or saying, but only tells the thoughts of one character, Minni. This type of narration is third-person limited point of view.  
Which statements best describes a comparison of Minni and Keira? 
What motivates Minni to sit in the sun with no sunscreen protection? 
Minni knows that even though Keira doesn't read well, she has many strong talents. People who are dyslexic are usually highly creative, great thinkers, and work well with their hands. View this brief video about one boy's perspective on his dyslexia.  (This annotation contains a video)
Notice the dictionary definitions show that guffaw can be used as either a noun or a verb.  How do you know guffaws is used as a noun in the highlighted sentence? 

Chapter Six

Minni has an affection for animals. You know this because she wants to volunteer at the animal shelter and she is now boycotting the restaurant because of the abuse of animals. We are finding out more about her character and values as the story continues. Learn more about character traits in the video below.  (This annotation contains a video)
The highlighted sentence contains a simile.  Which statement correctly changes the simile to a metaphor? 
Minni has been concerned about the black girls at the pageant accepting her because her skin color is white. Here, Keira is judged by the white sales clerk on the basis of her black skin. Treating someone differently because of skin color is called racial discrimination. Because of Dr. Martin Luther King's work to end racial discrimination, laws are now in place making discrimination illegal. How do Minni and Keira feel about their experience with discrimination? 
Why doesn't Minni tell Keira the sales clerk treated her nicely in the store? 

Chapter Seven

Mama is describing ethnic traits that are characteristic of the cultures that make up their heritage. An ethnic group is made up of people who share certain social, cultural, and physical characteristics. Keira and Minni have traits associated with the ethnic groups of their parents' families. What are the traits that you share with your parents' families? 
The Sesame Street song made a deep impression on Minni's sense of belonging. We discover this through a literary device called flashback. Flashbacks are interruptions of the current scene to provide background information that is important to understanding the story better.  
What does the narrator mean by the statement "all the mysteries of the universe had suddenly come clear"? 

Chapter Eight

Keira styles Minni's hair as she might wear it in the pageant. The author uses detailed descriptions so you will get a clear picture of the style. Can you see the "dainty flower-shaped clips, sparkling with rhinestones"? This description is called imagery.  
Why is Daddy reading Around the World in Eighty Days? 
Minni and Keira base their career plans on their interests and talents. Minnie cares about the environment and animals, so it is reasonable that animal researcher or veterinarian would be appropriate careers for her. Keira has a talent for fashion, so fashion designer would be a good job for her. What interests and talents do you have that could lead you into a certain career? 
Good readers focus on important ideas, ask questions as they read, and predict what will happen next. Here is one example of a good reader's thoughts at this point in the novel. Minni is very aware of the skin color differences between her and Keira and how others make judgments about them based on their color. I wonder how the pageant will turn out.  Will Minni be accepted by the pageant girls? What do you predict will happen when the girls get to North Carolina?  

Chapter Nine

How would you describe the moods of the girls as they leave the plane? 
The capital building in Raleigh, North Carolina was built in 1840. Reports by nightwatchmen of strange unexplained noises, feelings of a person standing over a shoulder, and ghostly sightings add to its reputation of being haunted.  (This annotation contains an image)
The use of a word whose sound suggests its meaning is a literary sound device called onomatopoeia. The word "thunk" sounds like the noise a dead bolt unlocking would make. Can you think of another word that is onomatopoeia? 
Why does Keira enter the house "with a huff"? 
How does the figurative language in this sentence help show the meaning of the girls' time with Grandmother Johnson? 

Chapter Ten

Personification is a literary device that give something that is not human characteristics that are human. This sentence contains a strong example of personification because the steps groan like a human would groan.  
Good readers make a picture in their mind of what is happening in the text. Can you see Minni's actions and facial expressions as she drinks the buttermilk? 
Explain the ways Grandmother Johnson and the girls think differently during their first day together. Are there any similarities in their thoughts or attitudes? 
The girls are having a conflict with Grandmother Johnson because they each expect different actions and attitudes from each other. Learn more about conflict in the following video.  (This annotation contains a video)
How does Minni's pride compare to an ocean wave in this simile? 
In most texts you read, several tensions probably exist. They serve to intensify the mood of the story. Tension and conflict often go hand-in-hand. A police chase and an argument between two characters in a movie are examples of tension. Tension can be felt by the reader as an emotion. How does it feel as Keira and Minni are criticized by Grandmother Johnson for bad grades, hairstyle and bad manners? You care about the twins so you feel nervous, on the edge of your seat and tense. Pay attention to the ways the author conveys tension and how you feel during these tense moments in the book. 
After a period of high emotional tension, an author may add some comic relief to lighten the mood.  What provides the comic relief after the tension with Grandmother Johnson? 

Chapter Eleven

Authors structure their writing according to their purpose. Narrative stories are usually told as the events happen, or chronological order. This particular paragraph is structured sequentially, as the narrator tells each step Keira takes to fix her hair. How would a recipe for pancakes be structured?  
What type of figurative language is used in this sentence? 
What does this paragraph reveal about Grandmother Johnson? 
Minni is struggling with the decision to help Grandmother Johnson if the dog attacks her or not. This is an internal conflict.  
A spade is a tool used for gardening. Can you see how it compares to the spade on playing cards?  (This annotation contains an image)
Make a prediction about what Grandmother Johnson will do with the bag of dog poop.  
What can you infer from Grandmother Johnson quickly ushering the girls into her garage when she sees the neighbor drive up? 
Quiz Chapters 1-11 

Chapter Twelve

Irony is when the opposite of what is expected happens. Minni notices the irony of Grandmother Johnson's statement since she is expecting them to be well behaved right after she behaved badly toward her neighbor.  
In this passage, "letting the water lick her toes and the sea breeze tickle her face" are examples of _________ 
From her muttering, you can tell Grandmother Johnson is more focused on getting the girls into the pageant because she is concerned about social status and how well the girls behave, not the character traits of her granddaughters. Do you think she will ever change her attitude? 
What does the shell symbolize for Minni in this scene? 
Dr. Hogg-Grafff uses verbal irony, or sarcasm, here to emphasize the fact that many participants in the program have stretched the truth about their ancestry.  
How is Minni feeling by the end of the meeting with Dr. Hogg-Graff? 

Chapter Thirteen

The narrator tells us through Minni's thoughts that she is homesick for her parents and needs to reconnect after the people at the Miss Black Pearl Preteen Program question her identity.  
Minni and Keira learn that her great-great grandmother was _________ 
The narrator gives the reader a lot of background information about Grandmother Johnson in this scene at the restaurant. She lost her parents when she was young and was raised by her grandmother, who was as strict as Grandmother Johnson is now. Do you think knowing these facts will change the way the girls feel about her? 

Chapter Fourteen

What does Laverna Oliphant mean when she says, "we've got a perfectly good set"? 
Stage fright is very common for people who rarely engage in public speaking, but those who speak to crowds frequently can also have stage fright. The physical effects of it can range from sweating, shaky voice, and blushing to nausea and fainting. How do you feel when you have to speak in front of your class? 
In some religious services, the music will evoke such emotion from the congregation that they will shout out, dance in the aisles, or even faint. Listen to this rendition of "His Eye Is on the Sparrow" and see if you are overcome with emotion.  (This annotation contains a video)
What do Grandmother Johnson's actions in this scene tell you about her character? 

Chapter Fifteen

Minni wants Keira to ______ so she won't have to participate in the pageant.  
Minni is very patient with Keira as she is trying to read. The following image shows some hints to deal with someone struggling with dyslexia.  (This annotation contains an image)

Chapter Sixteen

Explain what Keira means when she gives Minni the "stink-eye"? 
The author uses an allusion to illustrate how the girls view Grandmother Johnson. An allusion is a literary device that makes the reader think of ideas, associations, and extra information with only a word or two. But the reader must know about the allusion in order to understand what it means in the current story. Allusions are commonly made to the Bible, nursery rhymes, myths, famous fictional or historical characters or events, and Shakespeare. In this story, Minni alludes to the Wicked Witch of the West in the book The Wizard of Oz. Learn more about allusions in the video below. (This annotation contains a video)
Good readers make a picture in their mind of what is happening in the text. Can you see images of the deep lilac paint, the jewel-encrusted lamps, and hip, red velvet chairs? Can you smell the coffee, heat and dried lavender? 
The flashback of the incident at the hair salon relates to which theme of the book? 
Grandmother Johnson uses _____to hide her insult within a compliment.  
Remember how one word can have different meanings in different cultures? If Minni had not explained that she meant a curly perm, she would have been highly disappointed to see her hair even straighter after the perm.  

Chapter Seventeen

The author adds this scene after the tension of the events at the salon as _________ . 
A pun is the humorous use of a word or phrase to emphasize different meanings; a play on words. Here, "make a stink" and "full of hot air" are comical references to passing gas. 
Which word is an antonym for the word curt? 
The first lady of the church is the reverend's wife.  
Which type(s) of figurative language is used in the highlighted sentence? 
Are you laughing hysterically yet? Did you notice the tension increasing as the scene continued?  

Chapter Eighteen

The object of Hearts is to get the lowest score. Each heart is one point and the queen of spades is 13 points. Learn more about the game of Hearts from this brief video.  (This annotation contains a video)
What does the narrator mean by Minni's weakness? 
Explain why Minni feels awkward about tutoring her sister. 
Good readers make connections to the text. In this scene, the girls are looking at pictures of their ancestors. They learn about important events in their lives. Have you ever seen pictures of your ancestors? What can you learn about them from pictures? 
List three items that are typical in the southern culture.   
Grandmother Johnson is describing the time period of segregation, when black and white children were not allowed to go to school together. There were many laws separating blacks and whites in places like public bathrooms, restaurants, and water fountains. Dr. Martin Luther King was a major activist to change these laws. One of the big changes was made with the court ruling of Brown versus the Board of Education, which states that separating black and white children in schools is unconstitutional.  

Chapter Nineteen

This monument is near the statue of Dr. Martin Luther King in Raleigh.  (This annotation contains an image)
What type(s) of figurative language does Grandmother Johnson use to describe how she felt to be in the presence of Dr. King? 
Good readers adjust the pace of their reading to match the emotion of the text. Minni is extremely excited to tell her mother about her experience at the museum. As you read, did you quicken your reading pace as Minni did when she was talking to Mama? 
Minni feels _____ as she reflects on her day at the museum. 

Chapter Twenty

This is the first time the reader gets to know how Keira feels. The third-person limited point of view does not let the reader in on what other characters are feeling or thinking unless they actually use dialogue to show it. Here, Keira is about to explain how she feels being the only black student in a white school.  
What coping strategy does Keira use to learn her personal introduction, since her dyselxia hinders her reading it? 
Minni's fear of public speaking has made her nervous and panicked. What advice would you give her to help her be successful with the speech? 
When Grandmother Johnson says being born on an airplane is common, she means____ 
Minni is planning another practical joke for Grandmother Johnson. Predict what you think the joke will be and how it will turn out.  

Chapter Twenty-one

What does Minni think Grandmother Johnson means when she says they will "address the issue of character building"? 
Minnie remembers why her mother and Grandmother Johnson argued the last time they were together. Grandmother seems to feel that having black skin is somehow wrong. Minni feels this is ironic since her grandmother has black skin, just like Keira.  
Why does Keira feel anger toward Minni? 
"Cat got your tongue" is an example of which type of figurative language? 
Miss Oliphant calls Grandmother Johnson a "feisty woman." Notice the dictionary gives three slightly different definitions of the word "feisty." When trying to decide which definition the author means, a good reader will use what he already knows about the character or situation and apply the one that fits the best. In this case, we know that Grandmother Johnson is very mean to Miss Oliphant, so the third definition, ready to bicker is the best one for this sentence.  
What changes Minni's feelings about Miss Oliphant's eye? 

Chapter Twenty-two

The genre of the books by Booker T. Washington and W.E.B DuBois are nonfiction. Nonfiction texts are writing that presents and explains ideas or tells about real people, places, ideas, or events. The genre of the book you are reading is realistic fiction. View this video for details about the genre of realistic fiction.  (This annotation contains a video)
Authors use suspense to build the reader's desire to know what happens next in the story. Here, the girls are feeling scared that Grandmother Johnson will wake up as they are sneaking around in the dark trying to record her snoring. Do you think she will catch them? 
The figurative language used here to compare Grandmother Johnson to a giant mountain is a _________ 
Chapters 11-22 Quiz 

Chapter Twenty-three

Minni's conversation with her mother is an example of the literary element ________ 
Minni is again questioning her identity. She knows she has many strong characteristics on the inside, but still feels like the external features of her skin color, big feet, tall height, and hair color make her different. She has a hard time accepting her mother's advice to be herself. Do you ever feel like you don't belong or your external features make you stand out?  
The author lets the reader know through Keira's actions that she has the character trait of being fearless. Keira is standing up for Minni, defending her identity. Other ways the author lets the reader know about character is through what they think and what they say.  
This interaction between Alisha and Keira is an example of the literary element _______________ 

Chapter Twenty-four

Grandmother Johnson does not want _____ to be a judge for the Miss Black Pearl Preteen Pageant.  
The girls understand Grandmother Johnson's character by her actions toward Miss Oliphant. Grandmother describes her first interaction as "civil," a word that has a positive feel to it. The girls describe her visit as "snooping," a word that shows a negative feeling. As you continue reading, watch for other times Grandmother describes her actions in a positive tone, when others would describe them in a negative tone.  
Summarize Mama's advice to Minni about her identity.  

Chapter Twenty-five

Alisha calls Minni an albino because her skin in white. How do you think Minni feels when she hears this comment? 
Minni makes friends with _____ and sits with her at lunch.  
Keira explains her feelings of isolation and not belonging in their home community where the majority of people are white. Minni realizes that she has the same feeling here in this North Carolina community where most people are black. Have you ever felt isolated and lonely because of your appearance? 

Chapter Twenty-six

Minni always thought Keira wasn't bothered by her skin color because ______ 
Minni understands that Keira has experienced racial prejudice at their school. Prejudice is judging someone because of their skin color or religious beliefs before you actually know them. Have you ever judged someone because of their appearance before you got to know them? 
Which answer choice is an antonym for the word ebbed? 
Miss Oliphant uses the relationship of the sun and moon to compare the relationship between Minni and Keira. Both are dependent on each other for survival. Who is your sun or moon? 

Chapter Twenty-Seven

Explain why Minni feels as though she was in the ocean floating all by herself.   
Identity is a strong theme in this book. Minnie and Keira both struggle with who they are and how they fit in. They are also upset that so many people think skin color is a reason to treat people differently.  
Minni and Keira begin this trip with the thought that as long as they were together, they could get through it. Now the emphasis on their skin color has put a wedge between them. Will they be able to work through it and become close sisters again? 
Which answer choice changes the simile in the highlighted sentence to a metaphor? 
As Minni is yelling at God, she sees Miss Oliphant ______________ 

Chapter Twenty-eight

Red, black and green are the colors of the African flag. Red represents the noble blood that unites all people of African ancestry, the color black is for the people, and green stands for the rich land of Africa. Are there colors that represent your nation? (This annotation contains an image)
What advice does Miss Oliphant give to Minni? 
Leonardo da Vinci painted the Mona Lisa in the 1500s and it has become one of the most famous paintings in the world. Can you see Miss Oliphant smile like the Mona Lisa?  (This annotation contains an image)

Chapter Twenty-nine

Why are Grandmother Johnson's outfit and accessories appropriate for what you know about her character? 
The author lets the reader know that Mrs. Russell and Grandmother Johnson do not like each other very much by the way she describes their actions. They give each other "once-overs" and only acknowledge each other slightly. They do not engage in friendly conversation. Why do you think they are not real friends? 
Minni doesn't talk to or make friends easily with the other girls in the pageant because she is _____ 
Authors sometimes use an important statement for the title of the novel. Minni's statement sums up her relationship with Keira and is a major theme of the book.  

Chapter Thirty

The simile contained in the highlighted sentence compares the view of the crowd from the stage to __________ 
Minni thinks she hears Grandmother Johnson cry out because she knows grandmother thinks being born in an airplane is inappropriate.  
Minni is daydreaming about the mountains near her hometown. They are actually name the Brothers, but their family calls them the Sisters. This thought of home and family calms her during the program.  
Minni gains courage to sing on stage from __________ . 

Chapter Thirty-one

Why does Keira fall as she is walking on stage in her ball gown? 
Keira realizes Alisha's grandmother puts a lot of pressure on her to win the competition, which makes her cheat to gain an advantage. Do you think Keira or Minni will cheat to win? 
Explain why Minni does not rush out to accept her prize for winning the humanitarian award. 
Here is a point of great tension in this part of the plot. Alisha has won first runner-up for the contest. Who will win Miss Black Pearl Preteen of America? 

Chapter Thirty-two

Grandmother Johnson is overly excited at Keira's win that she completely forgets how important she feels about looking and acting appropriately in public. Do you think she is happy for Keira or happy for herself? 
Which statement best describes Grandmother Johnson and Gigi in this paragraph? 
MInni and Keira have grown to understand their struggles fitting in with the black and white cultures. How do you think life will be back in Port Townsend, Washington? 
How does Keira show she does not believe Grandmother Johnson is sincere in her praise? 
Minni's character has grown stronger through her experiences in Raleigh and she stands up for Keira because Grandmother Johnson had made Keira feel bad about herself. Have you ever stood up for someone who was made to feel bad about who they are? 

Chapter Thirty-three

What is the mood of this scene? 
Minni realizes that Grandmother Johnson is right about life being harder for darker-skinned women. She and Keira have both felt the rash judgments people make because of appearances. Does her grandmother's explanation of her experiences make Minni any more understanding of the way she acts now? 
The shrunken head doll Miss Oliphant gives Minni symbolizes_______ 

Chapter Thirty-four

What can you infer about Grandmother Johnson and Miss. Oliphant's relationship after Minni gives her the doll? 
The necklace symbolizes the change in both Minni and Keira to be true to themselves and that they will always need and depend on each other just as the sun and moon do.  
Chapter 23-34 Quiz