This is a surprising, quick read written for children, grades 3-6. I would classify it as a chapter book because it has chapters (ten of them), simpleThis is a surprising, quick read written for children, grades 3-6. I would classify it as a chapter book because it has chapters (ten of them), simple, easy to read language, and an elementary plot that children can follow.
I read Stone Fox 25th Anniversary Edition because it was selected by the teens in my Teen Reading Club that I lead. In the beginning, I was interested in the book because of its premise. My enjoyment lessened as Grandfather's situation clarified, and Doc Smith was introduced, both characters I found lacking. In fact, the teens voted them as their least favorite characters in the novel. The story picked up when Stone Fox was introduced, a Shoshone Indian who lives on a reservation with another Indian tribe, the Arapaho. Stone Fox was the teens' favorite character, second only to Willy's dog Searchlight. The ending ruined the book for me, and almost everyone agreed minus a few of the guys in the reading club.
Stone Fox 25th Anniversary Edition is based on a Rocky Mountain legend told to the author, John Reynolds Gardiner, by Bob at Hudson's Cafe in Idaho. The historical roots intrigued me. Unfortunately, everything is fictional minus the dog Searchlight and the ending. This really surprised me since the title of the book comes from Gardiner's fictional character rather than the actual historical legend. In Gardiner's version of the legend, the main action takes place on a potato farm in Wyoming and the nearby small town. The seasons change from potato harvest to winter, all important details for the plot.
The plot is a simple one-- a coming of age story for the protagonist Willy. He's a ten-year-old boy who's given more responsibilities than any boy his age should have. He has to grow up quickly, and it's his determination, strength, resilience, and hope that allows him to save the day-- that and his best friend Searchlight, a female dog. Willy conquers one obstacle after another until a climatic and unforeseeable ending, which is the only part of the story that is based on the actual legend.
I tried researching the legend, but there was very little substance available on the Internet. There could be some information in scholarly databases, or it might be an oral legend, with John Reynolds Gardiner being the first to write it down. I did wonder why he had to "spice" the legend up with all the characters that he created, especially when the title of the book is derived from one of Gardiner's fictional characters. A more apt title should have been "Searchlight" since the book is about Willy's dog.
As I already mentioned, none of the characters are based on the original Rocky Mountain legend. My favorite character was Searchlight, Willy's dog, closely tied with Stone Fox, the Shoshone Indian. The only other admirable character was Willy, but there wasn't enough character development to form an attachment to him. Characters I didn't care for were Doc Smith and Willy's Grandfather, mainly because of their "give in" attitude, which was frustrating to come up against around every turn and hardship. I did appreciate, though, that Gardiner created a woman physician for the book (a good role model for young children). Gardiner never gives a specific time period for his book, but considering it's a legend, you would think it took place around the time that dog races were extremely popular, maybe late-1800's. Some of the lesson plans and study materials for the book indicate this date as well, so it makes it more exciting that Gardiner included a female doctor when it wasn't very common in that time period.
In the end, the character development is rather simple because the book is meant for such a young audience. Likewise, there are no literary elements utilized or complex writing strategies employed because, again, it would take away from the simplicity of the story and the "easy to read" factor that parents and teachers are looking for when they give this book to children.
Despite its simplicity, there are positive and powerful themes and motifs in the story:
**Perseverance in the face of adversity. **Strength of the human and animal spirit. **Never let others tell you what you can achieve. **Take your life and future in your own hand. **Respect admirable opponents. **Friendship means more than winning.
The author's intent is a bit unclear. All I can fanthom is that he wanted to preserve the oral legend that he had heard. One aspect I would have liked was more research information about the legend, but as I already speculated, perhaps that information does not exist, or at least is not readily accessible for the everyday reader.
One of the best and most powerful aspects of this read are the illustrations, drawn by Marcia Sewall. The illustrations add the perfect amount of visualization for young children transitioning into chapter books, and they are so beautifully sketched that even adults are sure to to find a lot of enjoyment in them. Marcia Sewall uses pencil illustrations, and I'm really glad she did. It fit with the overall time period feel of the piece. Sewall's excellent illustrations is illuminated by the contributions she's made to over 40 different children's books. It's no surprise that this fantastic woman is also a celebrated author. I highly recommend reading Stone Fox 25th Anniversary Edition just to get an opportunity to see her artwork.
I can't think of other books to compare this one to. It is what I would call a "dog book," so if you like dog heroes, you might enjoy this one. One word of caution, though, for parents with sensitive children, is that the ending is quite a shock...it surprised me and most of the teen readers. I was upset over the ending, as were numerous others, and I have a feeling that some children will not appreciate the abruptness. This book is a fast read, as quick as fifteen minutes, so I highly recommend that parents concerned about their children's emotional state take the time to read this on their own. It never hurts to be cautious, especially if your children are not ready for such a sudden end. Hopefully, my little warning didn't give away too many details about the end of the book.
In the end, I recommend this book for most children, with some minor exceptions. There are also fabulous resources for teachers using this book in their classroom, including the following sites:
There are discussion questions, book recommendations for children who liked this one, and even lesson plans about the state of Wyoming, women doctors, vocabulary, and human relations, to name just a few. I especially liked how the homeschool website included a botany lesson and a potato recipe. It takes reading outside the novel, and makes the story more engaging for nontraditional learners.
Even though this book wasn't one of my favorite reads, mainly because of the lack of character development, no basis to compare this retelling to the original legend, and the distasteful ending, I still recommend it purely because of the teaching experiences instructors and parents can have with it. I'm sure the appropriate age group will enjoy Stone Fox 25th Anniversary Edition too. After all, I'm not the target audience.
I had heard amazing things about David McCullough's research and writing abilities but hadn't read anything by him until John Adams. I bought it purelI had heard amazing things about David McCullough's research and writing abilities but hadn't read anything by him until John Adams. I bought it purely because I was looking for some audio books to listen to during my long trips visiting family. Lucky for me, I found an unabridged copy on sale for $9.99 at Borders. Since buying this audio book, I've seen the collection sell for as much as $40+ dollars, so I'm especially elated at the price of the purchase.
I had no idea what was before me when I started this audio book. It took my husband and I almost a year to finish John Adams. That wasn't because we weren't enjoying it. On the contrary, we absolutely loved the facts, details, and personality that McCullough created in this biography of a truly prolific American and one of the finest presidents of our time. We didn't want the book to end, and I cried when it did. I'm actually glad I listened to John Adams rather than read it because it would have taken even longer to finish it. My hands would have been very occupied taking copious notes of interesting tidbits about Adams' life and his loving relationship with Abagail. I could see myself saving myriad amounts of direct quotes from Adams' own writings and letters. Eventually, I did purchase a paperback copy of this biography to track some of the data in it. John Adams was a pioneer in American history and did much more for our country and its people than the average citizen realizes.
I tried to find a favorite part from the biography, but it was very difficult to choose just one because of the massive expanse of time and data covered. If you twisted my arm until I picked just one moment from John Adams, it would have to be the letter that Thomas Jefferson wrote to John Adams that never got delivered. It was written when Adams beat Jefferson and became the second president of the United States of America, right before the two really began to quarrel. Jefferson was persuaded from delivering it by the ever meddling Madison. McCullough speculates that the letter might have changed Adams' presidency. It broke my heart to hear such praise and confidence from one close friend to another get lost in a file until some historian unearthed it many years later. As for my least favorite part, it would have to be the end of the book. I was very sad to see both the biography and John Adams' life come to a close.
Honestly, I enjoyed the entire biography. The layout is chronological:
* Early Childhood * School Years * Career as a Lawyer * Marriage to Abagail * Foreign Ambassador Services * Vice President * President * Retired Years
The primary setting is America, specifically the original thirteen colonies, although there are plenty of international scenes explored thanks to John Adams' and his son's travels as American Ambassadors. The purpose of the book is to deliver a thorough biography of a relatively obscure American president (compared to such historical giants as George Washington and Abraham Lincoln). The character development presents a realistic portrayal of a complex man, husband, father, and president. There are no particular themes, motifs, and literary devices used, although McCullough emphasizes some overarching characteristics such as honor, loyalty, stubbornness, steadfastness, Christian morality, pride, and love.
A few facts that I enjoyed:
* Adams seriously courted a woman before Abagail Adams. * Adams defended the British soldiers from the Boston Massacre. * Adams played a major role in the drafting of the Declaration of Independence. * Adams was an unstoppable force who called for independence when many other "brave Americans" balked at the difficulties the nation would have and did have because of the war and split with Britain. * Adams helped draft the Constitution. * Adams had a tumultuous relationship with both Franklin and Jefferson. * Adams firmly disapproved of slavery and never owned one his entire life (neither did his wife Abagail).
I could list tidbits forever, but that would take away from the joy of discovering them yourself when reading this truly fascinating piece of history.
John Adams wasn't a perfect man, and he made many mistakes:
* How Adams developed his relationships with others. * Adams' sometimes short temper * Certain actions Adams took while president * And perhaps his Achilles heel-- Adams' self-degrading attitude (He was always his worst critic.)
Though he found himself acting too proud for his own good, Adams was a man who put his nation and its people as the second most important aspect of his life (God was always first). Adams' Christian morality allowed him to lead a life that I find inspirational for his time period and even our own. As I learned more about this mysterious historical figure (for I had learned little about him in my history classes), I discovered someone that I'm proud to call an American and Founding Father. Here is a man I would love to have a philosophical, religious, or political conversation with. Adams' intelligence, caring nature, and love of literature made me fall in love with him just as his wife did. Abigail Adams' was truly a lucky woman to have known him as intimately as she did, being his true love and confidant. If I could meet any person from history, it would be John Adams.
David McCullough has a gift for exposing the careful details of a historical figure's life. Because of this talent, the book is accessible to any audience. Even if one doesn't like history, this is a great way to change that mindset. To some degree, the book reads like a novel, and John Adams takes on a fictional role of greatness akin to Macbeth or Romeo. He is larger than the contents of the book, and the audio version will probably compel many to finish this read more than the text version, which is massive and daunting for many readers.
Nelson Runger reads the book. He has an excellent voice and changes his tone/inflection when quoting from Adams' original writing, which makes it easier for the listener to acknowledge the primary sources versus the secondary sources/the researcher's commentary. The mobility of the audio books is the real draw and is very handy for anyone that travels a lot. You can listen to the book in the car, in the comfort of one's home, or even during a workout session at the gym (which is actually a lot of fun because you can stimulate both your body and mind).
The only qualms I have about Nelson Runger's voice is that sometimes it's too low and comes off as "soothing," which makes me sleepy during a nonfiction read. There were times when I found myself nodding off and dreaming that I was living in the era of the early Americans (not necessarily a bad thing). Thankfully, it was very simple to skip to the previous tracks. Still, I recommend listening to this piece when one is awake and alert to really appreciate all the information in this fantastic book.
Overall, this is a must have book for anyone who calls themselves an American. Even foreigners will appreciate this historical gem. I've never had the pleasure to read such a piece of nonfiction/biographical writing. I hope to find more like this one in the future and will especially look for some of McCullough's other biographies. Eventually, I want to watch the HBO mini-series that was adapted from this book to write a comparison/contrast piece.
There are really only two negatives about this audio book:
1. Nelson Runger's voice might make you sleepy if you're not alert when listening to the audio book.
2. There is no bibliography or footnote references of the historical research for the reader to use for further exploration.
Ultimately, there is no reason not to try this audio book and experience a new side of American history. Bring the past to life with this timeless nonfiction classic. If I ever teach an American History class, I will be sure to reference parts from this book purely because it's a treasure-trove of information with new facts for students to discover daily.
This was an amazing science fiction young adult novel. The story is about a clone named Matt who struggles with ideas of power, class, and prejudicesThis was an amazing science fiction young adult novel. The story is about a clone named Matt who struggles with ideas of power, class, and prejudices to find his place in society. The story's setting mainly takes place in Dreamland, a country between the U.S. and Aztlan, which used to be called Mexico. Ceclia and Tam Lin act as surrogate parents for Matt. His clone father, El Patron, is one really creepy guy. This book has it all: action, adventure, drama, romance, and political intrigue. Much of the novel relates to modern day issues and will open new areas of critical study for any teen or adult. ...more
I had read this narrative before, at least three different times, but the repeat reading only brings more of the details to the reader's attention. SiI had read this narrative before, at least three different times, but the repeat reading only brings more of the details to the reader's attention. Since the previous readings were so long ago, I didn't remember too many of the details of the narrative. It was like I was reading Jacobs' story for the first time. Harriet Ann Jacobs is very deliberate in her language and the way she acts as supplicator and judge. The complexity of the language is often overshadowed by the "flowery" writing of the time period. Jacobs is a complex individual and narrator who tells the story from the first person perspective of Linda Brent, a fictional pseudonym. Even though I read Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl for a graduate American literature course, I was inspired to write a research paper about Jacobs' story and present it at a literature conference. This narrative enlightens the reader on many levels and offers a critical examination of one of America's darkest periods of history-- African American slavery....more