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Strong as Fire, Fierce as Flame book cover

Strong as Fire, Fierce as Flame

Set in British-occupied India in 1857 when the Sepoy Mutiny began in South Asia, Meera, an escaped child bride, ends up a servant to a British officer in the East India Company and must choose between a life where she has no say in what happens to her or rebelling against the colonists.
Strong as Fire, Fierce as Flame book cover

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Strong as Fire, Fierce as Flame provides a snapshot of a moment in Indian history. Inspire readers to find out more and put Meera’s story into a larger historical context.

After your students get a taste of history from the book and the author’s historical note and timeline, have them select a focused area of interest that they’d like to pursue to gain in-depth knowledge about the country. Their topic should be something that is connected to their own personal interests and will encourage them to go beyond simple fact gathering. Help students develop key questions around their topic and determine appropriate research strategies that support looking for information from multiple perspectives.

As students begin their research, they should determine what format would be the ideal way to present their information. Give students the choice (within reason) of deciding how to share what they learn. Have them share drafts of their project with their classmates to get early feedback on their presentation format. Have them also share their research resources with each other and create a group bibliography that can be a research tool for future readers. Have students give their presentations over a period of time that offers plenty of opportunity for learning and reflection.

Questions for Discussion or Reflective Writing

  1. The book opens with Meera explaining “My father taught the village boys right outside our little earthen home, but I wasn’t a boy, so I didn’t get to learn. That didn’t stop me from trying, though.” Why is it so hard for her parents to see past gender norms and traditional expectations? How does Meera feel about her family’s values and beliefs?
  2. Strong as Fire, Fierce as Flame introduces many aspects of history that readers may not be familiar with, especially since colonization is very often taught from a white European perspective. What did you know about British colonization? What have you learned from the book?
  3. Talk with students about how to look at history. How do you determine whose point of view matters? Why is it so important to hear the perspective of those who were colonized? Why has it taken so long to prioritize their stories?
  4. How are Meera and Bhavani similar and different from each other? How does Meera and Bhavani’s relationship change and grow throughout the story?  What do they learn from each other?

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