I had originally set this out as an additional book for a Kids Cafe I had done on the Ancient Assyrians and Persians, but it looked cool, so I pickedI had originally set this out as an additional book for a Kids Cafe I had done on the Ancient Assyrians and Persians, but it looked cool, so I picked it up for myself. I've been fascinated by the Persians for a while now, and I've tried (and failed) to read "The Shahnameh (Persian Book of Kings)", so I thought this might be a better introduction to Persian literature. The book gives a small introduction on the Persian empire and its early history until the 7th century CE. It talks about the teachings of Zarathustra, the prophet of the Zoaroastrian religion, which was one of the first monothesistic ones in the world, and influenced Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism and Islam. The book features the Persian Creation story and the Triumph of the Light over the Dark, the First Sin, and four epic hero tales from the Shahnameh (an epic poem on ancient Iranian myths and Zoroastrian traditions). The back of the book has a Glossary of terms used in the book, a breakdown of the major texts used in the book, a booklist and websites to explore and find out more information. Recommended for ages 8-12, 4 stars. ...more
The actual story is about a young Algerian man named Mersault who is ambivalent about everything. His mother dies in the very beginning of the book anThe actual story is about a young Algerian man named Mersault who is ambivalent about everything. His mother dies in the very beginning of the book and he goes to the funeral but is bored by it. When he returns home the next day, he continues with his life by starting an affair with a woman named Marie from his office and they go to see a comedy. She asks him later on if he loves her and he responds "Probably not," but they still agree to get married. He becomes friends with Raymond, an upstairs neighbor and even vouches for the man as a witness with the police he abuses his girlfriend for cheating on him. In a way, hanging out with Raymond leads to his downfall. Raymond's now ex-girlfriend's Arab brother and the brother's friends have started fights with Raymond, one of which Mersault was involved with. He and Raymond are at the beach that day, and later on as he is walking down the beach and the sun is beating down on him, Mersault sees the Arab brother and shoots him five times killing him. He is of course arrested and a trial ensues. The prosecution manages to convey that he is a heartless individual based on the way he handled his mother's funeral and his subsequent actions. He is sentenced to death by guillotine. Recommended for ages 15+, 3 stars.
I was not sure at all how to review this book as I wasn't 100% sure that I understood the complexities that Camus was trying to convey with this seemingly simple short book. At first glance it seems to be talking about the absurdity of life and humans in general, and how we're all going to die anyways so we might as well be happy, but I'm sure people have read/taught it many times probably think it is way more. As this reviewer (http://www.ratracerefuge.com/bookrevi...) has said: "Digesting the content will certainly take much longer [than the afternoon it takes to read it] as this little novel raises serious questions about morality, society, justice, religion, and individuality." The one part I did enjoy about the book was at the very end as he is awaiting his execution and has the encounter with the priest. As this article (http://www.newrepublic.com/article/11...) says, "His only advantage, if any, is that he knows that he does not know anything except the succession of events that was his life. This certainty he cannot betray. That is why he revolts so violently against the priest who comes to console him. Consolation would mean substituting something else for the bare truth." "...more
I honestly picked "To Have and Have Not" because of the 1944 movie starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. I haven't seen all of it, but the sceneI honestly picked "To Have and Have Not" because of the 1944 movie starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. I haven't seen all of it, but the scenes I have seen between them were smoking, so I figured why not give it a try as it sounded pretty good. Only problem is the film is set during World War II and is about getting away from Nazis, whereas the book is set in Depression era Key West and is about early Cuban revolutionaries. Hemingway originally wrote the book as a 2 short stories and a novella, and really only came about because of a contractual agreement with his publisher. I always thought of Hemingway as a man's man, because he is almost always pictured shooting large game on a safari or bullfighting, and he worked as a foreign war correspondant for a newspaper before he became a writer. He was married four times, suffered from depression in later life and eventually committed suicide.
There are flashes of brilliance in the writing, but it is overshadowed by the tangintial storyline with rambles on and on. The whole book seems really disjointed because it starts out with Harry Morgan's story, which was kind of fascinating, but then kept jumping into secondary stories like Richard Gordon, his wife, and the Professor who broke up their marriage. As Andrew Blackman said in his review of the book, "The main problem with the book is that it is schizophrenic. It’s a cross between an adolescent high-seas adventure story and a social analysis of the effects of the Great Depression. The writing style, too, is schizophrenic, lurching from first person to third person, from one character’s point of view to another’s." Ok, I realize that this book was written in 1937 and being racist back in the day was considered socially acceptable, but it is kind of hard to read in the 21st century. Literally for the first five minutes of the audiobook, all the narrator said was the N-word. There are other racist episodes, which include more uses of the "N-word" and derogatory terms for Chinese and Cubans. Hemingway is also generally sexist towards women as well in the text, regarding them as frivilous and stupid.
On to the actual storyline of To Have and Have Not. Harry Morgan is a down-on-his-luck fisherman who takes rich folks deep sea fishing off the Florida Keys. After his last pickup broke one his fishing poles and then skipped out on paying for it, and seeing as he has a wife and three daughters to support at home, he decides to take some illegal work, including ferrying Chinese workers to Cuba, smuggling liquor, and providing a getaway for Cuban gangsters who have stolen money from Key West to fund the revolution in Cuba. It becomes pretty obvious, early on, that Harry and his "rummy" (alcoholic) crew-members are part of the "have-not" crowd who have to struggle to survive, while the rich white men he takes out fishing or that stay in their yachts in the harbor are the "haves". The book is pretty dismal and sad, although I was never quite sure if I should root for Harry or not, as most of the trouble he got into was his own fault. One thing I did really like about the book is the relationship between Harry and his wife. Though obviously not a looker, Marie Morgan tries her best and keeps her bleached blonde look up for her husband. They seem to have a tender loving relationship, despite his prickly exterior and attitude to everything else. She is completely devastated at the end of the book when Harry's actions ultimately lead to his death. 2-1/2 stars....more
It has been a long time since sixteen year old Carly Vega's parents were deported back to Mexico. She and her older brother Julio have been working veIt has been a long time since sixteen year old Carly Vega's parents were deported back to Mexico. She and her older brother Julio have been working very hard to get them back, with her working the graveyard shift at a local convenience store. She is studious and quiet, and not whatsoever on the radar of Arden Moss, the former quarterback of the football team. That is until one night when their lives collide and they realize they have more in common than they think. Arden is still grieving over the loss of his sister Amber, whose mental illness caused her to commit suicide, something their father (the town sheriff) will not acknowledge. Arden sees in Carly a kindred spirit, someone that not only understands him and will not lie to him, but also a partner in crime for his pranks. Will Carly be able to get her family back? Recommended for ages 14+, 4 stars.
The author did a good job of portraying a small North Florida town, and especially the conservative attitudes towards immigration. Apparently she even lived and graduated high school in Niceville, Florida (a bit north of Destin) where my brother also graduated. Having lived in the South most of my life, I have sadly met people like Arden's dad. As others have mentioned, I think Carly's character was a bit too passive (despite her explosive temper), especially in agreeing to work till the point of exhaustion every day to get a little bit of money to send to her parents so they can illegally cross the border again, and I think it was wrong of her family to do this. I mean c'mon, she's only sixteen, let her be a kid a little bit longer. I liked that it wasn't your traditional romance in that Carly didn't immediately fall for Arden, only only agreed to be friends with a lot of conditions before they eventually fell in love.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author, in exchange for my honest review....more
Spike the salamander believes he is a monster and practices at being one. The only problem is that he is small, only the size of a lily pad. So everyoSpike the salamander believes he is a monster and practices at being one. The only problem is that he is small, only the size of a lily pad. So everyone just thinks he is cute. One day a real monster, a Gila Monster, comes to the pond and all the other animals are scared and run away. Spike holds his ground and tries to scare the new monster, but only succeeds at making him laugh. The monster asks Spike for directions to his family's party as he has gotten lost, and Spike tells him the way. When the other creatures return, they are amazed that Spike has survived. Spike is actually an axolotl from Mexico and so the story is peppered with Spanish and you can't help but adopt a bit of an accent while reading it. The back of the book features nonfiction information on the axolotl, cinnamon teal duck, armadillo and vole featured in the story. My son and I really enjoyed this book. Recommended for ages 4-8, 4 stars. ...more
I've been wanting to read this forever because I love books about Frida Kahlo and Yuyi Morales is particularly talented. I just didn't like this bookI've been wanting to read this forever because I love books about Frida Kahlo and Yuyi Morales is particularly talented. I just didn't like this book at all though. The puppets Morales made were incredibly detailed and gorgeous (and the reason this book got two instead of 1 star) and it does give a very basic look at Frida and her art, but the bilingual single or couple of words per page just made it too choppy for me. It is a very unique look at the artist though, so that's probably why it won a 2015 Caldecott Honor and a 2015 Pura Belpre Illustrator award. It is obvious through the book and the author's note that Morales really admires Frida's work. Recommended for ages 3-7, 2 stars. ...more
I was looking for a book to do with Preschool DiscoveryTime storytime and found this book. Thankfully there is a pronunciation guide in the back of thI was looking for a book to do with Preschool DiscoveryTime storytime and found this book. Thankfully there is a pronunciation guide in the back of the book as some of the Hawaiian names are rather hard to pronounce. This book tells the story of the volcanic fire goddess Pele and how she came to the Hawaiian islands. I loved the beautiful acrylic/watercolor on paper collage illustrations. It's really cool that this book was written by a librarian and you can definitely see his passion for the subject in the book. Recommended for ages 4-9, 4 stars. ...more
I was looking for a book for my Toddler Storytime on dance when I came across this gem from Leo & Diane Dillon. It's a book about Bill "Bojangles"I was looking for a book for my Toddler Storytime on dance when I came across this gem from Leo & Diane Dillon. It's a book about Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, one of the world's most famous tap dancers and has a rhyming repeating text. I had heard of him before this book, but this was the first time I'd seen a children's book based on the his life and dancing skills. Recommended for ages 2-7, 3 stars. ...more
I had seen the trailer for the movie and thought it would be an interesting. So when the book came out, I was intrigued. There was next to no materialI had seen the trailer for the movie and thought it would be an interesting. So when the book came out, I was intrigued. There was next to no material about Dido Elizabeth Belle, the person about whom the book and movie is based (which was rather sad as her story is so unique), so I was curious to see how they would talk about the book. They put her in the context of the slave trade, in particular the manufacturing of sugar in the Caribbean. I knew how precious sugar was in the 18th century but not the extent to which slavers and slaves were involved with the trade. The book also discusses the Lord Chief Justice, uncle and adopted father of Dido, and his role in legislation that helped outlaw slavery in Great Britain and its Caribbean colonies. I was especially fascinated and a little bit horrified with the ideas of the 18th century in regards to African women and their sexuality, and how white men should act towards them. I had picked up bits and pieces in the past, but it was discussed with much greater detail since the main character was a black female. 4 stars...more
One of the books I looked at for a Toddler Storytime on Imagination, I rather enjoyed this one. It could also be used in a Reading/The Library theme aOne of the books I looked at for a Toddler Storytime on Imagination, I rather enjoyed this one. It could also be used in a Reading/The Library theme as well. Little Lola loves getting books from the library and hearing the stories read to her by her parents. Everytime she is read to, she uses that story to influence her play afterword, like her mother reads to her about tigers and she spends the next afternoon chasing her friend through the jungle. Recommended for ages 2-6, 4 stars. ...more
The story starts off in 1919 and finishes up in 1965 in an Ohio town called Medallion, more specifically in the African-American section called the BoThe story starts off in 1919 and finishes up in 1965 in an Ohio town called Medallion, more specifically in the African-American section called the Bottom. We first learn about Shadrack, a shell-shocked Veteran of WWI, who is returning to his hometown. The main part of the book focuses on two families, the Peace family and the Wrights. Helene Sabat marries Wiley Wright and they have a daughter named Nel. Respectability and a high position in the community are of utmost importance to Helene, something she tries to pass on to her daughter. Eva Peace is the one-legged head of the other family. She is abandoned by her husband BoyBoy early in their marriage and must raise her two children Plum and Hannah, along with adopted children The Deweys (three boys) on her own. Hannah is considered a bit of a harlot by the community, and they think even less of her daughter Sula. Sex is very loose at their house, a complete opposite to that of the Wright's home. Despite all this, Sula and Nel become fast friends. Their relationship makes up the bulk of the story, or rather the consequences of their friendship.
I picked this story out of Toni Morrison's bibliography because it sounded the most interesting, and it definitely didn't disappoint in that regard. I would be curious to read some more of her work in the future for comparison. The author won the 1993 Nobel Prize. The book is narrated by the author and she has a very quiet voice, so much so that I had to crank the volume way up to even be able to understand what she was saying (and even had to re-listen to some parts). I will admit that I've been putting this review off for awhile because it was such a bizarre story, at least in my opinion, and I wasn't 100% sure I knew exactly what it was really about. I will also admit that my exposure to African-American writers has been limited to poetry, "The Color Purple", and some children's books. Overall, I enjoyed the story but there were points that I was pretty shocked at and not at all sure what the author actually meant by them (especially the episodes concerning Sula's mother and uncle). 3 stars. ...more
When I saw this book in the library, I just had to pick it up. Famous graphic designer Saul Bass, who created the opening sequence for the movies "VerWhen I saw this book in the library, I just had to pick it up. Famous graphic designer Saul Bass, who created the opening sequence for the movies "Vertigo" and "North By Northwest", as well as the logos for famous name brands. This is his only children's book, originally printed in 1962 and reprinted in 2012, the story was created by former librarian Leonore Klein. I loved the illustrations, but wasn't a fan of story.
Henri is a small boy who lives in Reboul, France just outside of Paris, and dreams of visiting the famous city. His town is small and only has one bus and park, and a small population. After reading a book on Paris, he decides to go there with some lunch. After traveling for awhile, he stops in a wood and falls asleep. He gets turned around and thinks he is heading towards Paris, which looks remarkably like his town (it is) and then returns home. Recommended for ages 3-6, 3-1/2 stars. ...more
I picked up this book at the library for myself because of the subject matter and the illustrations, which I adored. It is a very simplified version oI picked up this book at the library for myself because of the subject matter and the illustrations, which I adored. It is a very simplified version of the epic Hindu poem, the “Mahabharata”. Ganesha is a young elephant-headed god (always one of my favorites in Indian art), who along with his friend Mr. Mouse, loves Indian sweet called laddoos. Ganesha especially wants to eat the super jawbreaker laddoo, with which he promptly breaks one of his tusks on. He is so embarrassed by his broken tusk, but Mr. Mouse says it doesn’t matter. Shortly after this, they happen upon the poet Vyasa, who asks Ganesha to write the “Mahabharata” with his broken tusk and it takes a really long time. Mr. Mouse occupies himself with lots of sweets in the meantime. Finally they are done. The illustrations give a brief visual description of what happens in the poem, but I think it would be better to hear an audiobook version of the tale (the author mentions that it is not a 100% accurate view of the actual poem). The illustrations were fabulous and really drew my eye to the book, despite the semi-complicated storyline (especially when you’re trying to explain it all to a 3-year-old). You can tell the illustrator is also an Pixar animator. The book totally made me crave Indian sweets while reading it. Recommended for ages 5+, 3 stars. ...more