Texas Bluebonnet Award 2015-2016

Official TBA Master List Resources Compiled by the TBA Program Committee

Saving Lucas Biggs

SavingLucasBiggs HC


Saving Lucas Biggs
by Marisa de los Santos and David Teague

SavingLucasBiggs_delosSantos.Teague_Author photo

Scroll down to find Related Activities & Resources, Book Talk Teasers, Read Alikes, and Book Reviews.

Readers Theater Script

Book Trailer

Author Interview


Literary Mama interview with Marisa de los Santos:

Lit Lovers interview with Marisa de los Santos:

Fresh Fiction Interview with Marisa de los Santos:

Love Walked In and interview with Marisa de los Santos:

Barnes & Noble Author bio of Marisa de los Santos (scroll down):

Facebook page for Marisa de los Santos:


Lyrics to Sixteen Tons:
Read the lyrics to Sixteen Tons.  Figure out how many pounds is in 16 tons.  Discuss the meaning of the lyrics.  Click on the orange icon on upper left above the words that says meaning and read what the words mean. Then watch the video of the song.

Youtube video of Sixteen Tons showing lyrics and hearing Tennessee Ernie Ford (2:40):

Youtube video seeing Tennessee Ernie Ford singing Sixteen Tons:

Definition and synonyms for whistle blower:

Whistleblower protection programs:

Whistleblower definition, act, rights and protection:

Scrip- a coal miner’s credit card:

Pictures of scrip:

Exoneration Project:

Consumption explained:

Ways to stop being bullied (5:30):

Buried alive-The Chilean mine rescue (47:03)

Youtube of doves cooing (5:22):

OSHA home page:

About OSHA:

What is fracking, hydrofracking or hydraulic fracturing?:

Definition of slander:

1930’s clothing of the poor:

The life of George Fox:

Discussion Questions:

Margaret says the judge’s black robe made him look like the grim reaper.  Why do you think judges wear black robes and would you feel differently if a judge wore regular street clothing.

Margaret experiences a silent scream.  Have you ever experienced a silent scream?  What caused it? Is it really a scream if no one can hear it?

What is the importance of the rhyme Margaret’s dad makes her repeat? What about the part that says “And one way the road goes: onward, onward.”? Should we dwell on our past and mistakes we have made? Why/why not?

Forswearing is a promise to not do something and a vow is a promise to do something.  Name 3 things people vow to do and 3 things people forswear to.

What does Margaret’s dad mean when he doesn’t hate anyone because ‘Everyone was a human being exactly as much as he was’?

Margaret’s dad gets the harshest sentence.  Should people alway get the harshest sentence?  Explain.  Does your sentence depend upon which judge you get? Example: The hanging judge.

Are people wrongfully convicted today?  Look up a case.

What is a company town and a company man?

Would you want to work for scrip?  In the past American servicemen were paid in scrip. Give an example of how teachers and schools use scrip.  What are the pros and cons of scrip? Create your own scrip.

Margaret’s dad took a stand against Victory Corporation.  Is it hard to take a stand against a company that pays you?  What are some consequences?  What is the whistleblower law and how does it work?

Would you change the past to save a family member?  What if it mean’t breaking a vow or forswearing?

How would you feel about being given 2 days warning you were moving?  What would you spend those 2 days doing?

Josh’s new home is a real rip-snorter. If you lived in a lean-to of rusty tin with no running water and a dirt floor would you be willing to move anywhere?

In the early 1900’s many moved to the dry desert because they had consumption. Josh’s brother Preston is sick with a cough.  How does dry air make people with consumption better?

Josh’s mom learns they owe $70 to the company store on the first dat.  Do you believe it is right to force people to buy things they do not want and not give them the option to buy or not? Is the company store being welcoming and helpful or making sure they can’t leave?  Explain.

When Josh meets bullies the first day of school he runs away and hides at recess.  What would you have done?  Did Josh do the right thing?

The mine collapses and 2 men are hurt.  Research mine collapses to see how common they are.  Watch the rescue videos of the one in South America a couple of years back. What procedures are in place today for mine safety?  What is OSHA?

Margaret collects words.  Her favorite word is equilibrium. She likes the way it sounds.  If you had a favorite word what would it be and why?

Fossil fuels were Victory’s bread and butter.  What does this saying mean and where does it come from?

Margaret’s dad blew the whistle on Victory Corp because of the dangers of hydrofracking or fracking.  We have hydrofracking today by Chesapeake.  Chesapeake is in the news often.  Research hydrofracking.  What impact is it having in Texas today?

Margaret and Charlie signal each other by cooing like mourning doves.  Try imitating a dove.  Try other birds.

Margaret and Charlie make up countries for fun.  Make up your own country.  Give it a name, a flag, location, language, etc.

Margaret says she learned a version of history in class.  Is the information in our history books accurate or does it tell only one side of the story?  For example what does England call The American Revolution and what it was about?

Mr. Alexandropoulos was fired the day after his back was broken in the mine and his family was thrown out.  This can’t happen today.  Why not?  What are the labor laws?

The miners went on strike after the accident and lived in tents in ‘Canvasburg’.  Would you quit your job over a principle?  What if it meant you couldn’t feed your family?  Will anything change if people don’t take a stand?

Aristotle believes wars are fought through writing letters instead of fighting.  He wrote to President Roosevelt and Eleanor, Babe Ruth and Woody Guthrie.  If you were to write letters today in order to change something who would you write to and why?

Josh said bullets travel faster than the sound of the gun that fires them. How fast do bullets travel and how fast does sound travel?

Josh and Luke didn’t have fear until after they hid everyone in Canvasburg behind objects.  Why do you think they didn’t have fear until the tank stopped firing?

Mr. Donahue didn’t charge the miners for medicine after the shootings.  Josh said he was a terrible businessman but a great human being. How do we measure greatness today and is our definition of greatness warped?

Margaret says, ‘a place isn’t just a snapshot of itself in the present, a place is everything that ever happened it it. We need to know where we are in history.’ Do you know where you are in history?  What is the history of where you live: of your town, family, business, etc.?  Why is knowing the history of a place or family important?

Ratliff agreed to give the miners what they wanted. A safe place to work, a fair salary, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  Where are we given life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?

Biggs spreads lies about Aristotle to Luke. He runs a smear campaign calling him a traitor, coward and liar.  Could Biggs get away with doing this today?  What is slander? What are the libel laws?

After Aristotle dies Luke turns against his dad.  Margaret says she would cut off her own arm before she’d turn on her dad. Would you ever turn against a family member? How bad would that member have to be?

Luke still played on the Victory football team while living in Canvasburg.  Is this ethically okay?  Explain.

Josh teaches Luke to throw rocks in order to kill animals for food.  Have a rock throwing contest to see who comes closest to a still target.

Margaret’s dad explains that eyes see at 10 frames per second and that our brain fills in the rest.  He gives flip books as an example.  The wheels on cars sometimes appear to be going backward on a highway yet the car is moving forward.  Can you explain this using the 10 frames per second rule?

Aunt Bridey’s dad was forced out of his farm because Victory Corp. found coal their.  Does this happen today and is it legal?

Aunt Bridey tells Josh friendship will stand the test of time.  What does this mean?

Aunt Bridey hid a daguerreotype in a cave because she couldn’t time travel with it.  If you went into the past what one object would you hide so you could find it in your future and why?

Luke wants to steal guns and food?  Does the ends justify the means?  Is it ever okay to steal?  What if it was to save someone?

Compare Aristotle’s views to Martin Luther King, Jr. and Gandhi.

Luke asks Josh, if somebody shoots at you if it’s okay to shoot back?  How would you answer? He also asks is someone is killed shouldn’t they make them pay.  What is a vigilante and why is being a vigilante illegal?

Aristotle says ‘take away the occasion of all wars’.  What do you think he means?  What is it that would take away the occasion of all wars?

Charlie gives Margaret clothes from 1930 to wear.  Pick a time period you would like to visit.  Research the clothing and vocabulary of the time period.

If you could go back in time to any period of history before you were born to change one thing which time period would you pick, what would you change, and why?

What does it mean ‘to change history in the present?

Aristotle had a red and black 8 point star as his talisman.  Do you have a talisman and if so what is it?

The Society of Friends or Quakers is a religion that practices pacifism. Pacifism does not mean passive.  What is peaceful activism and how can we make a change in society through it?

Lucas Biggs problem was not that his dad was a coward but that he thought his dad left him on purpose.  What effect does abandonment have on kids today?  Is this a big issue or not at all?  How can we help our friends who have been abandoned?

How can Margaret’s dad be unhappy with her breaking her forswearing and proud of her at the same time?



Perform the readers’ theater.

Play Tennessee Ernie Ford singing Sixteen Tons.

Read the front flap and back cover.


Genre science fiction with hot-button issues:
Bacigalupi, Paolo. Zombie baseball beatdown. While practicing for their next baseball game, thirteen-year-old friends Rabi, Miguel, and Joe discover that the nefarious activities of the Delbe, Iowa, meatpacking plant have caused cows to turn into zombies. (NoveList)

Relationships between family and friends:
Harper, Charise Mericle. Dreamer, wisher, liar. Ashley’s summer is filled with babysitting, letters to her best friend at camp, and a wish jar filled with secret revelations that help her understand her mother in a whole new way. (NoveList)

Suspenseful, and Genre ‘Fantasy fiction’ and the subject ‘Time travel (Past)’:
Osborne, Mary Pope. Stallion by starlight. Travel to Ancient Greece with Jack and Annie as they meet Alexander the Great and help tame his wild stallion. (NoveList)

Osborne, Mary Pope. Danger in the darkest hour. The magic tree house has taken Jack and Annie back in time to England in 1944. England is fighting for its life in World War II. Before long, Jack and Annie find themselves parachuting into Normandy, France, behind enemy lines. The date is June 5. Will the brave brother and sister team be able to make a difference during one of the darkest times in history? (NoveList)

Sage, Angie. Queste. Nicki and Snorri are trapped in Time, and Septimus Heap goes on a quest to find the House of Foryx, a place where all Time meets. (NoveList)

Sage, Angie. Pathfinder. 13-year-old Alice TodHunter Moon goes in search of her friend Ferdie, who has been kidnapped by the malevolent Lady, encountering Septimus Heap, ExtraOrdinary Wizard, and awakening her own Magykal potential. (NoveList)

Gutman, Dan. Mrs. Lane is a pain!. It’s time for the annual Ella Mentry School talent show, and this year Principal Klutz has hired a wacky professional, Mrs. Lane, to help the kids with their talents. (NoveList)

Bell, Ted. Nick of time. With the help of Lord Hawke, whose children have been taken by the evil pirate Captain Billy Blood, young Nick McIver uses a time machine to rescue the two children as well as change the course of events in two time periods, the Napoleonic Wars and World War II. (NoveList)

Romantic and Character-driven, and the genres ‘Women’s lives and relationships’ and ‘Fantasy fiction’ and the subject ‘Men/women relations’:
Banerjee, Anjali. Seaglass summer. While spending a month on an island off the coast of Washington helping in her Uncle Sanjay’s veterinary clinic, eleven-year-old Poppy Ray soon questions her decision to follow in her uncle’s footsteps. (NoveList)

Romantic, Heartwarming, and Moving, and the genre ‘Women’s lives and relationships’ and the subject ‘Men/women relations’:
Steel, Danielle. Pretty Minnie in Paris. In Paris, France, Minnie, a long-haired teacup chihuahua who loves to dress up, gets separated from her fashion-loving owner, Francoise, at a fashion show. (NoveList)

Heartwarming, Moving, and Witty, and the genre ‘Women’s lives and relationships’ and the subject ‘Men/women relations’:
Trigiani, Adriana. Viola in reel life. When fourteen-year-old Viola is sent from her beloved Brooklyn to boarding school in Indiana for ninth grade, she overcomes her initial reservations as she makes friends with her roommates, goes on a real date, and uses the unsettling ghost she keeps seeing as the subject of a short film–her first. (NoveList)

Engaging and Character-driven, and: the genre ‘Fantasy fiction’ and the subjects ‘Men/women relations’ and ‘Fathers and daughters’:
McKinley, Robin. Shadows. Magic is illegal in Newworld, so Maggie struggles to explain the strange shadows–that only she can see–that seem to accompany her new stepfather everywhere. (NoveList)

Suspenseful, corruption and time travel:

Curley, Marianne. Old magic. Sensing that her new classmate, Jarrod, has supernatural powers similar to her own, Kate Warren tries to inform Jarrod of the gift he possesses, but he does not believe her until his power reaches a dangerous level. (NoveList)

Cooney, Caroline B. For all time. Annie, a teenager in 1999, tries to travel back in time to join her lost love Strat in Egypt in 1899, but instead she ends up in ancient Egypt and in great danger. (NoveList)

Suspenseful, and the genres ‘Time travel romances’ and ‘Love stories’ and the subjects ‘Time travel (Past)’ and ‘Teenage girls’:
Bergren, Lisa Tawn. Waterfall. “Maybe most American teens would love a Mediterranean vacation, but the Bentarrini sisters are stuck in Italy every summer with their archaeologist parents! Young Gabi is bored out of her mind . . . until she’s swept into the 14th century and a whole new world filled with knights, horses, armor, swords, and great-looking Italian guys!”–Provided by publisher. (NoveList)

Corruption and suspenseful:
Grisham, John. The activist. “Aspiring lawyer Theodore Boone takes the stand to protect his political and environmental freedoms in the fourth installment of the series”. (NoveList)

Abrahams, Peter. Robbie Forester and the outlaws of Sherwood Street. After getting a strange charm bracelet from a homeless woman, thirteen-year-old Robyn Forester and new friends join together to fight injustice in their Brooklyn, New York, neighborhood. (NoveList)

Lieberman, Andy. The silver six. Discovering that they share a common connection, a group of orphans makes a daring escape from their orphanage to an uninhabited moon, where they are pursued by a powerful corporate boss who caused the deaths of their parents. (NoveList)

Pope, Paul. Rise of Aurora West. Aurora West, daughter of Arcopolis’s last great hero, seeks to uncover the mystery of her mother’s death, and to find her place in a world overrun with monsters and corruption. (NoveList)

Bacigalupi, Paolo. The doubt factory. “When a radical band of teen activists claim that Alix’s powerful father covers up wrongdoing by corporations that knowingly allow innocent victims to die in order to make enormous profits from unsafe products, she must decide if she will blow the whistle on his misdeeds”–. (NoveList)



Saving Lucas Biggs. de los Santos, Marisa (author) and David Teague (author).  May 2014. 288p. Harper, hardcover, $16.99 (9780062274625). Grades 4-7. 

REVIEW.  First published May 1, 2014 (Booklist).

Margaret O’Malley’s father has just been sentenced to death for a murder he didn’t commit. In the same town 70 years earlier, a miners’ strike led to another murder and another falsely accused man. The O’Malleys’ forbidden ability to time travel might save everyone or no one, but Margaret is desperate enough to try. De los Santos and Teague craft a gentle, quiet sci-fi story where the focus is not on the science. Margaret’s time-travel abilities aren’t the point—love, nonviolence, and social justice are. The husband-and-wife writing team keep the story moving along at a nice clip, so the peaceful message grows naturally out of the action and drama. The resolution might be a bit easy, but by that point most readers won’t care. They will be too busy appreciating determined Margaret, her plucky friend Charlie, and his steadfast grandfather Joshua—a character in both 2014 and 1938. Give this one to readers who like stories about family, doing the right thing, and standing up to those who don’t.— Snow Wildsmith

Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books:
de los Santos, Marisa. Saving Lucas Biggs. By Marisa de los Santos and David Teague. July/August 2014

ISBN 978-0-06-227462-5

Paperback: 9780062274632, Audio CD: 9781483003634.

Just like all the O’Malleys before her who had the family “quirk,” thirteen-year-old Margaret vows not to use her ability to time travel. Yet when corrupt, hardened judge Lucas Biggs sentences her father to death for a crime he didn’t commit, Margaret sees a chance to change the past and Biggs’ heart before it’s too late for her family. With help from her best friend Charlie and Charlie’s Grandpa Josh (who had been the judge’s friend in childhood), she moves between her hometown of Victory, Arizona and its 1938 counterpart, when town founder Victory Fuels Corporation facilitated the starvation and murder of striking miners and their families. The book takes on some weighty issues here, from workers’ rights to metaphysics, and handles them with grace and sensitivity. While concrete descriptions of Margaret’s unique inherited ability and the time travel process are understandably scant, the first-person narrative voices, alternating among Margaret, Grandpa Josh, and, later, Charlie, provide a sense of immediacy and conviction. The authors’ graceful use of language and fearless exploration of a more spiritual dimension simultaneously comfort and challenge readers, encouraging deep thoughts without proselytizing, and providing plenty of suspense besides. A restrained but resonant rumination on social justice, community, and trusting the light within each of us, this novel makes a good companion for armchair time travelers and budding philosophers alike.

Horn Book:
de los Santos, Marisa and Teague, David Saving Lucas Biggs
282 pp. HarperCollins/Harper 2014. ISBN 978-0-06-227462-5

(4) 4-6 When her whistle-blowing father is framed for murder by his corrupt employer, Margaret explores her family’s forbidden secret power of time travel to set things right. A parallel story set in 1938 exposes Victory Fuel’s history. The time-travel element and character development feel incidental to the environmental (hydro-fracking) and social-justice (exploited workers) messages, but the compelling-enough narrative and suspense may engage high-volume readers.
(Fall 2014 Guide)

Reprinted from The Horn Book Guide by permission of The Horn Book, Inc., www.hbook.com

School Library Journal:
★De los Santos, Marisa & David Teague. Saving Lucas Biggs. 288p. HarperCollins. Apr. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780062274625; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9780062274649.

Gr 5-8–Margaret O’Malley’s father is sentenced to death for crimes she knows he did not commit. She watches as he is taken from the courtroom, his voice calling out to her with a verse from a poem. It is a vow that could carry her to a world gone by, but is not to be used. His clever explanation of string-theory physics and her family’s “quirk” of being able to relocate, although briefly, into history sends her on a quest to save him from bitter, vindictive Judge Biggs’s sentence and from the people who are still trying to silence him. Margaret goes back to 1938 and witnesses the events that caused Lucas Biggs to become the person he is today. The authors weave a tale of justice and family bonds with threads of historical fiction accented with the fantastical physics of time travel. The heroine begins to realize that the very stuff that makes people who they are—that combination of all their life experiences—can sometimes shift the very fabric of history. At least that’s what Margaret is hoping, because the only way to save her father is to first save corrupt Lucas Biggs from himself.–Cheryl Ashton, Amherst Public Library, OH




One thought on “Saving Lucas Biggs

  1. I am SO proud and happy to be part of the Bluebonnet Awards! These resources gathered by the great Bluebonnet people are insightful, on target, and spectacular. I learned a ton of new things about Saving Lucas Biggs from them, and I’m the guy who WROTE HALF OF THE BOOK! Thank you, Texas Library Association! –David Teague

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