There are some books that make me feel like a stronger, better person after I've read them. The characters give me strength, help me reflect on what'sThere are some books that make me feel like a stronger, better person after I've read them. The characters give me strength, help me reflect on what's important in life. While I found the beginning to meander, the climax and ending will stay with me for a long time.
A few favorite quotes: "And the strange thing was we both were doing it because we loved what words could do. We both wanted to be like those people who can magically make words do all sorts of things. In the right hands, words can move more bricks than the strongest team of mules."
“You gotta be careful, boy. Life ain’t fair; it ain’t got no conscience ’bout letting one bad choice you make as a child be the thing what colour every waking minute you has thereafter. You gotta remember to treat each moment and each person as precious, treat ’em all with the same respect I seent you treating them woods.”
"he is a hero because, in spite of all the horrors he’d witnessed, he never allowed anger nor vengeance to poison his spirit. he is a hero because though surrounded by the ignorance of his fellow man, he never became bitter."...more
Wonderful language and setting. I wanted to save some of my favorite quotes:
"I’ve never been anywhere that’s so unbelievably hot and humid. Like the sWonderful language and setting. I wanted to save some of my favorite quotes:
"I’ve never been anywhere that’s so unbelievably hot and humid. Like the sky is sweating and everything smells kind of stinky and moldy and wet"
"the sun would hit you like a hot fist"
"Bandy barks sharply, as if he senses something off in the distance, and a moment later there’s a deep booming noise, like the sound when you thump the side of an empty fuel oil tank, only deeper. Deep enough to feel it rumble through your bones and in the bottom of your belly. Not a good noise. Something big and bad just happened. Next I hear a pop-pop-pop, like corks released from a row of bottles, and the fat, wet noise of rushing water. That’s when I see it with my own eyes. A manhole cover pops into the air, releasing a geyser of brown water. Then another and another, right down the street, one, two, three, four."
"The snake has a thick, scaly body and shiny black eyes and a white mouth with fangs like white needles. The open mouth is an inch from my bare toes, as if tasting the air, or maybe smelling how afraid I am. Something touches my shoulder. Mr. Tru with the blade of the paddle, silently urging me to be still. He gives me a tight smile, and then in one deft move he slips the paddle under the snake and flips it high in the air, out of the canoe."
I agree that the ending is very abrupt, but I think this bookpresents a difficult subject in a way that will engage young readers...more
The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor has meant that everything has changed for Mitsi. Her best friends are avoiding her, she's getting mean notes in heThe Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor has meant that everything has changed for Mitsi. Her best friends are avoiding her, she's getting mean notes in her desk at school, and everyone is looking at her strangely. At least she has her sweet dog Dash to keep her company. When Mitsi's best friends don't even send her Valentine's Day cards,
"Loneliness wrapped around her like a snake. She never, ever dreamed that her friends would desert her like this. How was she going to make it through the rest of the year? The rest of her life?"
Young readers will be able to empathize with Mitsi, especially with the way she finds comfort in art and in her dog. When her family receives the order to move to Camp Harmony and leave Dash behind, Mitsi is devastated. Larson builds the story carefully, first helping readers connect to Mitsi and then showing them how she felt torn from everything she knew. The story is infused with heart and feeling, but it never gets bogged down. I loved the period details, from the game "Hinky Pinky" or the slang Mitsi and her friends use ("I'm busted flat. Can't help.").
Through all of the loneliness and hardship, Mitsi holds onto her dream of being reunited with Dash. She receives letters from Dash, who is staying with a kind friend Mrs. Bowker, and finds solace in being able to write him back....more
Young Lara dreams of becoming the next kennel steward, following in her father’s footsteps raising prestigious borzoi dogs on Count Vorontsov’s countrYoung Lara dreams of becoming the next kennel steward, following in her father’s footsteps raising prestigious borzoi dogs on Count Vorontsov’s countryside estate. When her mother has a newborn son, Lara is caught between honoring her family’s traditional values and her own dreams. Suddenly Lara’s father suggests that she should stop spending time with her beloved dogs and learn skills that would be more useful in finding a husband. Lara has a deep connection to the borzoi, especially her beloved Ryczar, and will go to great lengths to protect them - especially against ferocious wolves. Readers will be swept along by the challenges Lara faces as she struggles to convince her father that she should be able to become the next kennel steward, raising borzoi dogs worthy of the Tsar. In her debut novel, Bay Area author O’Brien takes readers into the world of a Russian noble estate in 1914. O’Brien weaves in many historical, cultural and linguistic details to create a fully realized setting, without overpowering the story. An author’s note provides interesting background on O’Brien’s interest in borzoi dogs, Count Vorontsov’s famous kennel, and other historical aspects of this story. ...more
Capturing warmth and family love, sisters Ginnie Lo and Beth Lo have created another picture book about a moment in their childhood. As in Mahjong AllCapturing warmth and family love, sisters Ginnie Lo and Beth Lo have created another picture book about a moment in their childhood. As in Mahjong All Day Long (Walker, 2005), Beth Lo illustrates the story with delicately painted ceramic plates. Because they were one of the few Chinese American families in their area, the Lo sisters treasured their visits to see heir mother’s sister, Auntie Yang, and her family outside Chicago. Keeping a sense of their Chinese culture was important, and “Mama said she wanted us cousins to grow up ‘as close as four soybeans in a soybean pod.’” One year, as the families were taking a drive in the country past rows and rows of cornfields, Auntie Yang spotted soybeans or mao dou, a common food from their childhood in China. The families picked armfuls of soybean plants, returning home to have an impromptu picnic of boiled mao dou and other favorite dishes. The following year Auntie Yang asked the farmer if they could pick a few more soybeans, and she invited six more Chinese families. Soon, their annual picnic grew until it became an important event bringing together Chinese-immigrant families throughout the Midwest. This story captures a small moment from the Lo’s childhood that celebrates their Chinese heritage, their close family and the fun they had with their cousins. Many children will connect to this warm, uplifting story....more
In simple prose and images, Evans tells the story of one child whose family participated in the 1963 March on Washington. By paring down the details tIn simple prose and images, Evans tells the story of one child whose family participated in the 1963 March on Washington. By paring down the details to the essence of this young child’s experience, Evans invites young children to imagine themselves joining this historic event. Using a much lighter and reassuring palette than in his award-winning Underground (Roaring Brook, 2011), Evans combines textured paper collages with line drawings to create illustrations that focus on the essence of the experience. His simplified figures are particularly accessible for young children, helping them focus on the peoples’ expressions. The March on Washington was a day of working together, coming together to stand for civil rights, and Evans emphasizes this perfectly for a very young audience. “We work together. We come from all over ... to march. ... We walk together.” An essential book for school and public libraries to share with young children. ...more
Magically beautiful. Swept me away. More to come s the snowflakes settle and I can pull together what worked so well. For now, a fun fact: the title wMagically beautiful. Swept me away. More to come s the snowflakes settle and I can pull together what worked so well. For now, a fun fact: the title was almost "the witch's tear". That image, a witch crying in her deathbed....more
I've been wondering about how books hook readers, how they draw us in, and what makes us stay. Sometimes, it's immediate conflict and action; other tiI've been wondering about how books hook readers, how they draw us in, and what makes us stay. Sometimes, it's immediate conflict and action; other times, we're enchanted with a magical place. The Cheshire Cheese Cat hooked me from the very first line: "He was the best of toms. He was the worst of toms. Fleet of foot, sleek and solitary, Skilley was a cat among cats. Or so he would have been, but or a secret he had carried since his early youth." This book hooked me from the beginning, bringing a smile to my face with its playful puns, true friendships, and wonderful writing.
Skilley is an alley cat used to surviving on the streets of 19th century London, and so he is particularly pleased to have found a home as the mouser at Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, a London inn frequented by Charles Dickens and other notable writers. But Skilley has a secret - one that he's going to have to confront very soon. He doesn't like to eat mice. In fact, he detests the thought of eating a mouse. It's cheese that he adores - cheese, delectable cheese. So when he catches his first mouse, he urgently whispers, "Run. If the innkeeper sees you..." Well, not only will the mouse have problems, but so will Skilley. This mouse, Pip, turns out to be a very special mouse - one who leads his fellow mice with courage and wits, and a true friend to Skilley.
The Cheshire Cheese Cat would make a wonderful read-aloud as a family, pulling in both younger and older listeners. I found myself completely drawn into Skilley's world, wondering how he will get himself out of different dilemmas. Parents will love the sprinkling of references to Dicken's works. Young readers will enjoy the tense drama and suspense. I particularly think children will relate to Skilley's agonies about how to apologize to Pip:
"Making a mess of things is an occupation at which even the most unskilled can excel. But mending is an art that requires years of practice. In short, breaking a thing is easy (even a child can do it); fixing that selfsame thing may be harder (sometimes even adult persons cannot manage it).
Skilley was learning this lesson in the most painful of ways. What he had broken was a thread of trust as thin and delicate as a glass filament - a thread that had bound him to one of only two friends in his life." (p. 126)
How many of us have found it hard to figure out how to say, "I'm sorry" and really mean it? That's never an easy thing, and Skilley struggles with it just as we would. And children will also relate to Pip. He's such a courageous, thoughtful little mouse - and a true friend.
Throughout, Barry Moser's illustrations add to the fun, drawing readers into the characters and their situations. He captures both animals' and people's faces with all the emotions you're feeling as a reader, helping us be right there in Skilley and Pip's place. ...more
Deza Malone loves reading and dreams of being a writer, but life is throwing many obstacles in her path. Her father has had trouble finding work for mDeza Malone loves reading and dreams of being a writer, but life is throwing many obstacles in her path. Her father has had trouble finding work for many months, as the Great Depression makes life hard for everyone in Gary, Indiana, especially African Americans. But the Malone family sticks together and supports each other. When her father is almost killed in a boating accident, he returns a drastically changed man. After slowly recovering, he leaves for Flint, Michigan in search of work. Deza’s mother, determined to reunite the family, takes Deza and her brother on the road to find their father in Flint. During a brief stay in a Hooverville camp on the outskirts of Flint, Deza meets a character readers will recognize as Bud Caldwell from Curtis’s 2000 Newbery winning book Bud, Not Buddy (Delacorte, 1999). Curtis renders the Great Depression with detail, connecting readers to this rich cast of characters. Small moments convey so much about characters and the times they live in. The overall plot structure is not as tight or well crafted as Bud, Not Buddy. Curtis uses a Deza’s over-eager school essay about her family to introduce the characters in the beginning of the novel, a technique that creates Deza’s voice but distances readers from the action at the heart of the story. In fact, much of the action in the story is carried out by Deza’s father, brother and mother as Deza watches or comments on the happenings. Nevertheless, Deza’s voice does reach many readers, shining through with her spirit in the face of adversity....more