o Dr. James Murray has come to the University of Turin in 1867, to become the assistant of Professor Cesare Lombroso, who is teaching the newly-establ...moreo Dr. James Murray has come to the University of Turin in 1867, to become the assistant of Professor Cesare Lombroso, who is teaching the newly-established field of criminal anthropology. This was the era that science first started to be used in criminal investigations, and James assisted with that in Edinburgh before coming to Italy. His father was involved in the study of the criminal brain, so this field is natural to him. James left behind a sister with a religious aunt as since his parents died, he has been the breadwinner and needs a proper job to do that. Right in the middle of his interview for the assistant position, the carbinieri (police) come in and inform Professor Lombroso of a gruesome murder they would like his assistance with, as his name has been mentioned in a note left by the killer.
Sofia, one of Lombroso’s servants intrigues James with the way she has no problem looking right at him, far different from the reserved manner of Scottish women. Lombroso is having a symposium at the university and has invited scholars from all over Europe to assist him. James is excited to be invited to go because he will finally get to meet all the people whose work he has read about. As the symposium continues, more and more people are being killed as a “Tribute to Lombroso”. Will they ever be able to figure out who the killer is and why he or she is doing this? To find out read this fascinating book. 4 stars.
I had never heard of Cesare Lombroso, although I had heard of Dr. Bell. Forensic and criminal anthropology have been fascinating to me for awhile, as is true crime, so I was interested, after reading the book, to read the author’s note at the end which described the field and its champion. My biggest gripe with the book was the middle part, which really dragged, and nearly made me lose interest. Another thing to mention about the book is that the killings were pretty horrific, and definitely not for the faint of heart.
Disclaimer: I received this advanced reader’s copy book via Edelweiss in exchange for my honest review. (less)
This volume starts with the twin girls Laila and Leily from Volume 4 getting married. So much preparation was needed to decorate, make sure the brides...moreThis volume starts with the twin girls Laila and Leily from Volume 4 getting married. So much preparation was needed to decorate, make sure the brides were properly decked out, that enough food was prepared not just for each of the families involved but their neighbors and even strangers. The wedding preparation and ceremony reminded me of a Pakistani wedding I’ve gone to, at least in the length and the rituals involved. The twins cracked me up because they got so bored they made their husbands-to-be sneak them food and help them escape as they had been sitting under heavy veils for hours. The twins cry when they finally realize they are no longer part of their father’s house. Mr. Smith and Ali sneak away in the middle of the celebrations and head towards Ankara. Amir and Karluk and his family come back into the story in the second half of the volume. Yay! It also seems that they are to be the subject of the future books. My favorite story was the “Queen of the Mountain” where Karluk’s grandmother uses a goat to climb the side of a mountain to save a stranded child. Amir is further settling into her duties as wife. There was also the cool story at the end of the book where Amir is out hunting with her bow and kills a large goat to bring back home. While she is out there, she discovers a wounded hawk and takes it back home. Since the men in her family take care of the hunting hawks, she’s not exactly sure how to proceed, but starts spending a lot of time with the injured hawk. This makes Karluk jealous for the first time in his life and Amir must attend to him. In the end, the hawk has to be put down, but Amir and Karluk grow closer because of it. Recommended for ages 13+, 4 stars. (less)
After devouring the first three volumes in the series, I was anxious to get my hands on the fourth volume. This story was a little bit different from...moreAfter devouring the first three volumes in the series, I was anxious to get my hands on the fourth volume. This story was a little bit different from the rest, mostly because there weren’t as many things going on. It starts out with Mr. Smith heading with Ali to Ankara (sp?) but they get sidetracked after he falls off his camel into the Aral Sea and is rescued by twins Laila and Leily. When they realize he is a doctor, they immediately take him to their grandfather, who has a dislocated shoulder. He quickly fixes that problem and soon everyone in the village is waiting for him to help them. Laila and Leily are trying to catch rich handsome husbands, but not having much luck in their small fishing village. Eventually, their father and his friend decide that they will be just fine for their father’s friends’ sons, Sarm and Sami. They’ve all grown up together but never really thought much of each other until they are forced into the situation. The twins decide that these boys aren’t so bad after all, and pick which one best suits them. They are preparing for the wedding at the end of the book.
My favorite part has to be a tie between the twins’ grandmother hoodwinking them into working hard, pretending she is giving them a “charm” for future suitors, and when their mother gives them a crash course in being wives. These girls look so young to me, way too young to get married or even thinking about it (though I know the average age was probably 12-14 years old). Recommended for ages 14+, 3 stars. (less)
I was a little sad to say goodbye to Amir in the last volume, as I really enjoyed getting to know her character, but thankfully she made an appearance...moreI was a little sad to say goodbye to Amir in the last volume, as I really enjoyed getting to know her character, but thankfully she made an appearance in this one as well. Mr. Smith, who has taken a very backseat role in the first two volumes, is front and center for the next few books. I’m hoping they’ll give more back story on him to fill in a lot of the gaps. As in the other books, the artwork is stunning even in black and white, and full of so much detail.
At the end of the last volume, Mr. Smith had left Karluk’s family and was headed to a nearby city to meet up with his guide. When he gets there, he and a young woman both get their horses stolen. They are returned by the local magistrate and the woman named Tala invites Mr. Smith back to her and her mother-in-law’s yurt as a guest. The young woman has had a very unfortunate history, which her mother-in-law (who she simply calls mother) relates to him. The mother had five sons and Tala was married to her oldest son. He died of an illness after a year, and they had no children, so she married the next oldest. In time, all five of them had died and the mother’s husband was so heart-broken, he died soon afterwards. This left Tala and her mother-in-law to take care of their sheep and themselves. While Mr. Smith is there, he gets to know Tala and enjoys her company. One day, an uncle of the young woman comes in demanding her hand for as his son’s second wife. The mother refuses because she knows the girl will basically be a slave in the household and have no rights, and tells the uncle that Mr. Smith has asked for Tala’s hand in marriage. Of course, then Mr. Smith walks in and is rather surprised by it all. He decides that the best thing to do would be to leave.
So he goes back to the city and immediately gets arrested after the uncle, unhappy with the answer from the mother, got Mr. Smith put in jail on trumped-up charges (they think he is a Russian spy). After spending a period of time in jail, his guide, Karluk and Amir finally come to the rescue. Tala follows shortly afterwards. They try to make Mr. Smith look less foreign, so he won’t get into trouble in the future. Tala finds him again, worried after she learned that he had spent the time apart from her in jail. Mr. Smith has developed feelings for her during his long time to think in prison and ends up promising to come back and find her, leaving her with his gold pocket watch. As he escorts Tala back to her yurt, they find out that her mother has married the uncle to appease him and he is now considered the young woman’s father. He obviously dislikes Mr. Smith and refuses to let them see each other, and her mother-in-law tells him to forget Tala. He is heartbroken but leaves with the guide, and Amir and Karluk go back to their home after eating an enormous meal together. It turns out Mr. Smith was originally destined to go to India, where he has a small house, but got sidetracked in Turkmenistan. He heads there now with his guide Ali, though it will be a very long trip. Recommended for ages 14+, 4 stars. (less)
I had heard of Marian Anderson before, but never had the opportunity to read a biography of the singer. I had also heard that Russell Freedman books w...moreI had heard of Marian Anderson before, but never had the opportunity to read a biography of the singer. I had also heard that Russell Freedman books were quite good, not only because he had won so many awards but because his books are well-researched and on interesting topics, so I was excited that he had written this book. It had won a 2005 Newbery Honor award, as well as the Sibert Medal for that year (which honors great nonfiction books for children). It was a very personal biography of a fascinating woman with great determination and perseverance, who opened the doors for future generations to experience new realms of possibility.
Marian Anderson grew up in Philadelphia at the turn of the 20th century. Her African-American family was poor, but she was a very talented singer from an early age and helped out her family financially throughout her life. It was hard for African-Americans to get recognition of any kind, and it was even harder in music performance. She had to suffer through many hardships related to Jim Crow Laws and segregation in America. She was a huge hit in Europe in the 1930s and came back to the US to conquer her native country as well.
She set about doing just that until 1936, after performing for President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his wife Eleanor at the White House (who thought she was amazing), when Howard University tried to get a booking for Constitution Hall on her behalf. It was the biggest auditorium in Washington DC and the home of the Washington Opera and the National Symphony. The Hall, which was owned by the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), allowed only whites to perform there. Eventually it was decided that Marian would have her concert no matter what, and so a free un-segregated concert was held outside in front of the Lincoln Memorial on Easter Sunday 1939. It was attended by 75,000 people. After this event, Marian became more involved with the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) and the fight for civil rights for African-Americans. The setting of the Lincoln Memorial was used again in August 1963when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his I Have a Dream speech at an event that was also attended by Marian. She broke the color barrier in the operatic world in January 1955 when she appeared with the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. She eventually married Orpheus Fisher, who she had known since high school, in her 40s and they lived together on a farm in the Connecticut countryside until his death. Highly recommended for ages 7-12, 5 stars. (less)
This was another fascinating book by Leodhas, which was almost completely ruined by Evaline Ness’s horrible illustrations. This 1964 Caldecott Honor b...moreThis was another fascinating book by Leodhas, which was almost completely ruined by Evaline Ness’s horrible illustrations. This 1964 Caldecott Honor book is based off a counting Scottish folk song that the author grew up with. A boy is going to the mill to grind some corn into flour, and along the way he meets sheep, gypsies, farmers, geese, and all sorts of other things which join him on the way to the mill. I am very interested in reading more by the author. Recommended for ages 4-7, 3 stars. (less)
One thing I love about the Caldecott Challenge is that I get to read and find all sorts of lovely new books, authors and illustrators. I have fallen i...moreOne thing I love about the Caldecott Challenge is that I get to read and find all sorts of lovely new books, authors and illustrators. I have fallen in love with Marcia Brown’s work. This book was a 1950 Caldecott Honor. It is about a young boy named Henry who lives in the Virgin Islands. All of the male members of his family have been fishermen, and he can’t wait to be one himself. The story tells about Henry and his family, and what he does on a normal day. I love the bright and colorful illustrations! One day, Henry’s father lets him go fishing with him, and sends him down to unhook the fish traps, where Henry narrowly escapes from a shark. Recommended for ages 3-7, 4 stars. (less)
I would probably have not picked this book up on my own, mostly because I hadn’t heard of it, but the book had won the 2005 Newbery Award so I decided...moreI would probably have not picked this book up on my own, mostly because I hadn’t heard of it, but the book had won the 2005 Newbery Award so I decided to give it a try. The book is interesting because it is told after the events of the book by the main character, looking back on her childhood and life with her sister. The narrator was really good at switching between her normal accent, a Japanese accent, and one from the Deep South.
Katie is a five year old Japanese-American girl in the mid-1950s who lives with her older sister Lynn and her parents in Iowa. They run a Japanese market in the town, but it closed down, and her parents decide to move to Southern Georgia. Her uncle lives there with his family and works in a chicken hatchery separating the males from the egg-producing females. This is where Katie’s father will work too. Her mother will work in a chicken processing plant. Lynn and Katie grow up in Georgia, are very close to each other. Her mother later has a son named Sammy, who completes their family. The whole family has to deal with racism while living in Southern Georgia, as they are subtly ignored by the white population there. When Lynn is sixteen years old, she starts to get ill and has to go to the hospital a lot. Lynn later dies and Katie, now eleven (check age) years old and her family must come to grips with Lynn’s death. The title comes from the Japanese and it means sparkling or glittering. I think it refers to Lynn and how she was viewed by her family and in turn, how they looked at the world, especially Katie. Recommended for ages 9-13, 3 stars. (less)
The author and illustrator Leo Politi can do everything. He creates delightful multicultural stories with adorable illustrations, and writes music and...moreThe author and illustrator Leo Politi can do everything. He creates delightful multicultural stories with adorable illustrations, and writes music and lyrics for his books (though some are traditional songs I believe). This is the third book I’ve read of his for the Caldecott Challenge, and this won a 1949 Caldecott Honor. The book is another book that starts on Olvera Street (the same as his book "Pedro, the Angel of Olvera Street"), which is the Hispanic part of Los Angeles. On the street are shops owned by Mexican families, including one named Juanita after the shop owner’s young daughter. Juanita is turning four years old and her parents have bought her a dove for her birthday, and her mother has sewn a beautiful pink and lace dress. Juanita takes the dove everywhere with her. On the day before Easter, the local Catholic Church has a Blessing of the Animals ceremony and all the local families and their pets attend, including Juanita in her new dress with her dove. After the day’s excitement, Juanita’s dress is hung back up for Easter Sunday and her mama sings her to sleep (the music/lyrics are included in the book). Recommended for ages 4-7, 4 stars. (less)
I probably would not have picked this book up except that it won a 1993 Newbery Honor and a Coretta Scott King award. But I’m very glad I did. The boo...moreI probably would not have picked this book up except that it won a 1993 Newbery Honor and a Coretta Scott King award. But I’m very glad I did. The book is a fascinating glimpse into African-American folktales from the Southeastern US. I’ve never heard of most of them. Patricia C. McKissack is a fabulous storyteller. There’s a little bit of everything in this book: ghosts, voodoo, Sasquatch, daring escapes, demons and protector spirits and monsters. The woodcut illustrations by Brian Pinkney are great, though I wish there were more of them. My favorites were “We Organized”, “The Woman in the Snow”, and “The Gingi”. Recommended for ages 7-12, 5 stars. (less)
I found this book to be a rather slow read, as the text was really dense, but it definitely got easier to read the more you got into it. I really enjo...moreI found this book to be a rather slow read, as the text was really dense, but it definitely got easier to read the more you got into it. I really enjoyed the snippets of memories about his father as a game keeper in Tanzania and his growing up there, which were interspersed among the narrative about the author and his father’s past. Although I know about the expansiveness of the British Empire, I sometimes forget that were British citizens living in Africa, outside of South Africa.
What would you do if you found out that your father, a man you always idolized, was not who he seemed to be? That is just what happened to the author, after being contacted by an Indian historian researching the Parallel Government, right before the Indian Independence from Britain. So the author sets out on a quest to discover the truth about his father, who was stationed there during the last days of the Raj (the period of the British dominion in India), and his role with the Indian Police from 1938-1947. Through the course of the author’s investigation into his father, I learned more about British-controlled India and the Indians’ first attempts at becoming their own separate country, and about how terrorism is perceived throughout the world. Because of his trip to India, the author is able to have some closure on his father’s death, and reconcile how he saw his father versus how his father really was as a man and as a professional. 3 stars.
Disclaimer: I received this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.(less)
I managed to slip this short read into our bedtime story routine last night. The book won a 1949 Caldecott Honor. This is only my second Kurt Wiese bo...moreI managed to slip this short read into our bedtime story routine last night. The book won a 1949 Caldecott Honor. This is only my second Kurt Wiese book but he seems to predominantly write books about China, and the books are a little dated, as evidenced by the clothing in the story. This was a cute story about a young Chinese boy named Young Fish who wants to fly the biggest Fish kite. His father, Old Fish, buys it for him and on the way to flying it, Young Fish promptly gets swept away by a strong wind and end up in the river. He is caught by a napping fisherman, and rescued by his father. He quickly decides that he would much rather have the smallest fish kite. Recommended for ages 3-7, 3 stars. (less)