A coming of age story set in 1959 Memphis featuring a boy with a stutter takes over a friend's paper route for a month. He struggles with being forced...moreA coming of age story set in 1959 Memphis featuring a boy with a stutter takes over a friend's paper route for a month. He struggles with being forced to talk to people to collect the subscription dues, meets a scholarly and kind merchant mariner and tangles with a dangerous junk collector. Engaging first person narrative sucks the reader into the story. I can see this appealing to fans of Gary Schmidt's books (though it doesn't quite have the humor.) Apparently this was a semi-autobiographical work. (less)
A charming, old fashioned family story about an orphaned girl who transforms from a pale, weak child into a joyous, confident, robust child under the...moreA charming, old fashioned family story about an orphaned girl who transforms from a pale, weak child into a joyous, confident, robust child under the care of her aunts and uncle on their Vermont farm. Sure to please those who like such books as Anne of Green Gables, Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, Betsy-Tacy or Little House on the Prairie.
Illuminates Canfield Fisher's appreciation of Montessori.(less)
Enjoyed the characters, setting and humor. The first half was great fun. The ending came out of left field and didn't work for me. For trouble maker k...moreEnjoyed the characters, setting and humor. The first half was great fun. The ending came out of left field and didn't work for me. For trouble maker kid with eccentric, older lady friend, my heart still belongs to 'Okay for Now.' (less)
Spunky girl growing up in turn of the century Southwest Washington. Only girl among 7 brothers in immigrant Finnish family, she refuses to bow to exce...moreSpunky girl growing up in turn of the century Southwest Washington. Only girl among 7 brothers in immigrant Finnish family, she refuses to bow to exceptions for girls for that time and subsequently seems to be a magnet for trouble. Doesn't sugar coat the struggles homesteading families faced here in the PNW.
Naturally, coming from Southwest Washington myself I loved the setting- the descriptions of farming and logging made the moss between my toes tingle. The valley I grew up in had been settled by many Finnish immigrant farmers (though we were much further from the coast, but I am familiar with Naselle and Astoria) and I had no problem imagining the adventures of May Amelia in this landscape.
Grabbed me from page one. Gary Schmidt creates the most engaging characters and manages to pull in all sorts of crazy tangents and make them compellin...moreGrabbed me from page one. Gary Schmidt creates the most engaging characters and manages to pull in all sorts of crazy tangents and make them compelling- Audubon's birds, Jane Eyre, horseshoes, the moon shot, etc.
sorry, up too late to write the long essay of praise this book is due.
A good introduction to the Japanese American internment for middle graders unfamiliar with the topic. The scrapbook style format is engaging- a series...moreA good introduction to the Japanese American internment for middle graders unfamiliar with the topic. The scrapbook style format is engaging- a series of letters back and forth, newspaper clippings, etc. between two best friends, Japanese-American Dottie and German-American Louise. The writing is a bit clunky and contrived at times which I find often to be the case when reading faux diaries or letters. There is often something a bit off about the voice. As for setting the story on Bainbridge feels like the author just looked at a map and said 'Bainbridge Island....that sounds good.' For people who do live here it definitely feels like the author has never been here and didn't do much research into local history despite the included bibliography and reference. Too much has been unnecessarily fictionalized. I am fine with dropping fictional characters into history to tell a story, but feel that one should try to stick as close as one can to actual documented events- like sending the Japanese Americans from Bainbridge to Camp Harmony instead of Manzanar. I am going to theorize that the author probably happened to find a better online exhibit about Camp Harmony. It just felt a little lazy to me. If you want to use Camp Harmony, fine, but why bother to specify the protagonists are from Bainbridge and then write the rest of the book like they aren't. Our local history museum has plenty of information and documentation if an author really wants to use Bainbridge as a setting. There is better fiction available about internment. The strength of this book is that it makes it accessible to a slightly younger audience than other available material.
For a better fictionalized account of Japanese interment through the letters of two BFFs read "The Fences Between Us" by Kirby Larson.
For a better scrapbook style book about interment based on a true account read "Dear Miss Breed: True Stories of the Japanese American Incarceration During World War II and a Librarian Who Made a Difference."
For an authentic account of internment from the perspective of a young Japanese American girl, read 'Farewell to Manzanar' by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston and "Desert Exile: Uprooting of a Japanese American Family" by Yoshiko Uchida. And for better fictionalized accounts read Uchida's 'Journey to Topaz' and 'Journey Home.'
I still have strong memories of reading and being facinated by Rhonda Blumberg's 'Commodore Perry in the Land of the Shogun' in 5th grade. This book i...moreI still have strong memories of reading and being facinated by Rhonda Blumberg's 'Commodore Perry in the Land of the Shogun' in 5th grade. This book is a great pairing for that read as it shows the period just before Perry's arrival in Japan and provides a bit of the backstory. Based on historical figure Manjiro "John Mung," who rose from poor fisherman to adviser to the Shogun through his amazing real life adventure. Shipwrecked at 14, nearly starves to death, rescued and adopted by a whaling captain, believe to be the first Japanese person to visit the United States and then returned to Japan to play a role in the end of the period of Japanese isolation. You have to remind yourself that this actually happened as it reads like a historical adventure. What an incredible life.
Historical notes, glossary and bibliography for further reading at the end. drawing by Manjiro and other historical illustrations throughout.
I probably would have given this 4 stars if all the documentary extras had been stuck at the end instead of interspersed, distracting me from Franny's...moreI probably would have given this 4 stars if all the documentary extras had been stuck at the end instead of interspersed, distracting me from Franny's story and making the book much more disjointed than it needed to be. Then I thought, maybe the confusion and disorientation caused by the addition of photos, snippits of speeches, newspaper clippings and other ephemera may be the authors way of helping you relate to the confusion and disorientation the character might be going through, living through the Cuban missile crisis, threat of nuclear annihilation, her uncle going crazy (maybe) and a feud with her old best friend/ new frenemy. Regardless, I wish the extras were at the end. I promise, dear author, I will read them. I do love extra historical documents and other materials at the end of my books. Just don't take me out of the world of the story. Let me sink into it. An engaging coming of age story on an airforce base in suburban Maryland in the summer of 1962. (less)
the return of Scholastic's 'Dear America' series- first person journal-style stories set in a variety of moments in American history. I loved Larson's...morethe return of Scholastic's 'Dear America' series- first person journal-style stories set in a variety of moments in American history. I loved Larson's "Hattie Big Sky" and was excited to see she did a book for 'Dear America.' Here the narrator, Piper, daughter of a baptist minister of a Japansese-American congregation in 1940s Seattle takes us from a time just prior to Pearl Harbor (where her older brother was serving on the Arizona [he lives]) to the incarceration of the Japanese. She and her father relocate to Twin Falls, ID so he can continue his ministry with his congregation, now held in Minidoka. Based, in part, on Reverend Brooks Andrews of Seattle.
Historical notes, photos, web links, references at the back.
Piper has a believable voice and her friendships and encounters provide a snapshot of the time and the prejudice and persecution of the Japanese-Americans. (less)
A challenging read told from the perspective of 24 different girls. It can be a little tricky to keep the various narrators straight, but combined the...moreA challenging read told from the perspective of 24 different girls. It can be a little tricky to keep the various narrators straight, but combined the voices paint a compelling story of post-WWII life in the rural Northwest. Two small towns have a long standing softball game that pits the 6th grade girls against each other- the Bat 6 game. This year each town has its champion- for Bear Creek Ridge it is Aki whose mother had also been an MVP softball player and whose family has finally moved back home to their orchard after trying to resettle after internment. At the Barlow school it is a new girl with extraordinary natural athletic talent and a hatred of Japanese Americans stemming from her father's death at Pearl Harbor. The two are on a collision course culminating at the Bat 6 game where the attitudes and beliefs of two towns will be revealed and played out.
It is impossible to life in the northwest without eventually confronting the topic of the internment of Japanese Americans. Bat 6 is an example of how pernicious racism is when it is swept under the rug and not talked about. What makes this book a valuable read is how it deals directly with the racism faced by Japanese American families and doesn't shy away from a realistic portrayal of that time and place. For me one of the most powerful images about the internment (besides seeing a preserved copy of the actual exclusion order poster at the UW libraries) is down at the Bainbridge Island Historical Museum. There are two high school year book pages- the senior graduating class in 1941 and the class a year later. 1941 shows a pretty diverse student body and a year later half the class has disappeared. It is startling and shocking. What is even more shocking is how few of these families returned and what they faced when they did. (less)
Seoul, Korea 1473. Two kite loving brothers- one with a gift for building kites and the younger with a gift for flying them. Sometime at odds with one...moreSeoul, Korea 1473. Two kite loving brothers- one with a gift for building kites and the younger with a gift for flying them. Sometime at odds with one another because of birth order traditions, the two brothers have a deep bond and a new unlikely friendship with the young king who shares their passion for kite flying. Exciting kite battles and a lovely story of family honor with a light introduction to Confuscian values.
Good for a classroom read aloud or family read aloud. Good excuse to build and fly kites. (less)