I knew when I picked up this book of poetry that it was pretty much guaranteed to piss people off, which is of course why I had to show it my mother (I knew when I picked up this book of poetry that it was pretty much guaranteed to piss people off, which is of course why I had to show it my mother (an Episcopal priest) to get her view on it. She thought it was very fairly blasphemous, but could understand the humor and cleverness as well. The book is a series of sixteen poems, taken from an earlier work by Rylant, describing God doing a variety of normal things, like owning a nail salon, getting a dog, and getting arrested. I liked it because it didn't show God as your typical omnipotent old man with a long beard, as most Christians like to see him, but he was a female nail salon owner, he was a small child, and got things like a nasty head cold. God was more human, had faults, and doubted him/herself which is a lot easier for me to identify with than the other version we commonly see. The author took only a day to write the book, which is crazy because some of the poems are really good. As someone who occasionally writes poetry and frequently goes back and changes things around days afterward, writing something perfect in one day is really miraculous. The book is geared towards ages 9-12, but I think it could be great for any age. 4 stars. ...more
To be 100% honest, this is only the second children and young adult book, and third book overall that I’ve read on the Japanese-American internment caTo be 100% honest, this is only the second children and young adult book, and third book overall that I’ve read on the Japanese-American internment camps during WWII. There’s not a whole lot of literature on the subject, though there should be. This is one of those events that Americans should never forget because even though it wasn’t as bad as the German concentration camps, it was still wrong to discriminate and punish Americans simply because of their ancestry (though this has sadly been the case in one aspect or another throughout our country’s history). Overall I enjoyed the book, even though it couldn’t quite decide the story wanted to be told like an actual novel or a verse-novel (it kind of switched back and forth). I loved the cover photo by Dorothea Lang. It just completely describes the sadness and hopelessness the Japanese-Americans must have felt at being singled out and isolated from their fellow countrymen. Plus she's a child, so it just makes it seem so much worse.
The story is about a 12 year old Japanese-American girl from Seattle named Mina. She lives with her grandfather, he only speaks to her in Japanese and calls her by her Japanese middle name, Mariko. She also lives with her parents and her older brother Nick. The story starts in Oct 1941 and the catalyst of the book is the bombing of Pearl Harbor in December 1941 by the Japanese. This sets in motion the movement of 120,000 Japanese-Americans to internment camps, where they remained for the duration of the War against Japan. Mina and her family, like most Japanese-Americans, felt rather conflicted during this time. On one hand, they were Americans and proud to be so, but on the other hand, their ancestry and cultural heritage is from Japan. It is interesting to note, and something Mina points out in the book, that though Americans of German or Italian descent were somewhat discriminated against during WWII, they weren’t segregated like the Japanese.
Mina and her family must leave their house in Seattle and are sent first to a staging area in Washington state, where they were forced to live in a horse stall at a former fair ground, before being sent on to Idaho. They end up outside a little town called Eden, which started out as a barren dusty wasteland, but with the green thumb of the confined citizens, turns into something more evocative of the outside town’s name. Mina’s grandfather even manages to grow roses at the camp, despite limited resources. Her brother Nick fights against being a captive and “escapes” to the army to fight in the European theater as soon as he is able. Mina spends most of the book writing letters to her father, who was separated from the rest of the family (but later joins them), her white best friend Jaime with whom she shares half a heart necklace, and later Nick. They do eventually manage to return home to Seattle, though all are changed forever. Recommended for ages 12+, 4 stars.
Disclaimer: I received this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review....more
One of the reasons I like free-verse is that it gives the opportunity for the reader/writer to discuss topics that would otherwise be difficult to putOne of the reasons I like free-verse is that it gives the opportunity for the reader/writer to discuss topics that would otherwise be difficult to put across in a normal fiction novel, like the Holocaust and teenage suicide. Orchards is about an eighth grade girl named Kana (half Jewish/half Japanese)and her friends who unwittingly caused the suicide of a classmate by being mean. Kana is sent away to Japan, to her mother's family to work in their orchard for the summer. Kana learns that working at the farm isn't really so bad and that she actually enjoys it, even though her grandmother still doesn't approve of her because of her mother's decision to move to New York and marry her father, a Russian Jew. While adapting to life with her extended family, she tells the story to Ruth, the girl who killed herself, and tries to figure out what caused Ruth to do what she did. Her world is turned upside down again, when another classmate commits suicide at the end of the summer. Kana decides create a monument to them both by expanding on a Japanese idea to honor the dead. ...more
I picked this book up based on a recommendation from a fellow librarian, and it did not disappoint. I was really impressed with the poetry of this shoI picked this book up based on a recommendation from a fellow librarian, and it did not disappoint. I was really impressed with the poetry of this short history of the Cuban Civil Wars, which started in 1868 and went through 1899, though the actual start of the book was a little bit before that in 1850/51. The wars are seen through the eyes of a slave nurse called Rosa and later by her husband Jose, as well as through the eyes of a slave hunter named Lieutenant Death, Captain General Weyler of the Spanish army and a young girl named Silvia. The poetry is beautifully written and really brings you into the time period, something I knew nothing about. I vaguely remember studying about the Spanish-American War in school, but for some reason I always thought it was in Panama or Mexico. I had no idea that America had requested to buy the island of Cuba, and had eventually only set the island free after occupation if they were allowed to set up the naval base of Guantanamo. ...more
An interesting view of a young girl's life, through free verse poetry, in mainland China and Hong Kong in the 1950s-60s. The author goes from thinkingAn interesting view of a young girl's life, through free verse poetry, in mainland China and Hong Kong in the 1950s-60s. The author goes from thinking she is not worth much (as the emphasis is always on boys) to deciding she wants to be a writer, and learning that she not only loves doing it but is good at it. I enjoyed her fascination with eating dan lai. I also liked reading her biographical summary in the back of the book about what happened to her after sixth grade. ...more
Cute story, in free verse, about a young boy named Jack who discovers that he likes poetry and does journal entry-style poems talking about his dailyCute story, in free verse, about a young boy named Jack who discovers that he likes poetry and does journal entry-style poems talking about his daily life and his dog, Sky. Jack reads poetry in class, which is included in the back of the book, and gets to meet author/poet Walter Dean Myers. Would be a good way to introduce boys to poetry, in a short easy-to-read format. ...more
Another brilliant work from Margarita Engle, this verse novel documents the first half of the Poet Slave's, Juan Francisco Manzano, life as a slave foAnother brilliant work from Margarita Engle, this verse novel documents the first half of the Poet Slave's, Juan Francisco Manzano, life as a slave for a rich Spanish female landowner in Cuba. Parts of it were very hard to read, as his punishments got more and more graphic, but somehow through all of it, Manzano managed to stay hopeful and be somewhat successful. Part of his autobiography and some of his poetry was eventually published. Three excerpts of his actual poetry in Spanish/English are included in the back of the book. Further information about Manzano after his escape from slavery is also featured in the back of the book.
I had never heard of this man before reading this novel, but after reading Engle's other beautifully written work, "The Surrender Tree," I was curious to see what else she had written about. This book won the Pura Belpre Author Award and was on the ALA Notable Children's Books and Best Books for Young Adults, so it seemed like the best one to read. I look forward to reading more of her books in the future. ...more
Interesting verse novel about a young teenage girl named Helen who lives on a fictional African island (though the author says the traditions/sceneryInteresting verse novel about a young teenage girl named Helen who lives on a fictional African island (though the author says the traditions/scenery are based off Nigerian customs and the Caribbean island of Martinique, I believe) whose tribal customs include arranged marriages, the fattening and female circumcision of their women to prepare them for said marriages. However, Helen does not want this life, but dreams of freedom and the chance to be educated. Will she escape her fate? Although I thought it was a little long-winded, it was an fascinating look into traditional African customs and thinking outside of the box. Recommended for teens 15+, though the topics are difficult to read about. ...more
This volume of free-verse poetry by Sonya Sones shows a girl's journey while dating three boys, her parent's increasing fights and pending divorce, anThis volume of free-verse poetry by Sonya Sones shows a girl's journey while dating three boys, her parent's increasing fights and pending divorce, and falling in love with a boy she thinks she shouldn't date. The first part of the book was pretty shallow, but I was intrigued by her constant fascination with Murphy and how she likes him from the beginning but doesn't think he is cool or good-looking enough to date. That is until she gets to know him and realizes they are a good fit together. Yay for nerdy arty boys!...more
**spoiler alert** Beautifully illustrated and written verse free verse novel about singer Billie Holiday. I, like a lot of other people, did not know**spoiler alert** Beautifully illustrated and written verse free verse novel about singer Billie Holiday. I, like a lot of other people, did not know much about her other than she was a singer in the 30s/40s and sang that song about lynching called "Strange Fruit". I grew up listening to big band and swing, but I was never really exposed to her, but more to Ella Fitzgerald, since that is who my parents/grandmother listened to. Billie Holiday led a really hard life and she was constantly being abandoned by her parents, was raped as a young girl and went to reform school. This was all by the age of 15 and then she finally made it to Harlem and began singing for real, though her fame didn't come for awhile. I guess all the hardship and strife of her life made her really strong and determined to make a place for herself in the world. The back of the book features 21 biographies of other famous people mentioned in the book, so that teens have more of an idea of who they were. The author did her research well and her references were listed along with further reading/listening. The illustrations looked like pastels, but as it is described in the back of the book "Floyd Cooper's art for this book was created with a subtractive technique, using erasers to make shapes from a ground of paint. The shapes were then enhanced with mixed meda, mostly oil based, layered in a dry brush fashion." ...more
A very interesting book based on true facts, though I believe a fictional person. It is intriguing b/c the whole book is done in free verse poetry, thA very interesting book based on true facts, though I believe a fictional person. It is intriguing b/c the whole book is done in free verse poetry, that follows one continuous storyline. Paula is a young deaf girl who must escape the Nazi's grip b/c of the T4 program, which set out to racially purify Germany by getting rid of those that were different, in her case disabled people. This was done by murdering over 275,000 people. It was a very short book, but a well-done one. ...more
I got this book for a project I am working on for school and I wasn't sure about it, but I figured, hey it's a Coretta Scott King honor book so why noI got this book for a project I am working on for school and I wasn't sure about it, but I figured, hey it's a Coretta Scott King honor book so why not try it. It was a fantastic book and I really enjoyed reading it, plus it was quick read b/c it was in verse. The book started out talking about Ishmael and his mother Hagar, from the Bible, and how he was the golden child until Sarah was able to give birth to Isaac. Then he feels abandoned by both his father and God, sad and angry. The book then goes to a chapter about Sam, a modern-day teenage boy living in NYC. Sam's father has just left the family to start a new one with an Italian white woman named Rachel, and Sam is feeling the same emotions that Ishmael is feeling. At first after the babies arrived, with both Ishmael and Sam, they loved having a new brother, and this helped to maintain a relationship with their fathers after they left. Sam eventually finds the story of Ishmael in the Bible and calls them "two dark sons". ...more