“A boy of about ten came running along the pavement. He was very pale, and so scared that he forgot to take his cap off to a German policeman coming t“A boy of about ten came running along the pavement. He was very pale, and so scared that he forgot to take his cap off to a German policeman coming towards him. The German stopped, drew his revolver without a word, put it to the boy’s temple and shot. The child fell to the ground, his arms flailing, went rigid and died. The policeman calmly put the revolver back in its holster and went on his way.”
As sickening and infuriating as it is to read about horrific and cowardly acts like the one above, the reality is that the tragic end of this boy’s life is only one in a disheartening spectrum of millions that occurred during the Holocaust. Not just innocence lost, but innocence taken. In “The Pianist,” Wladyslaw Szpilman describes in detail the growing grim of unfolding events that robbed countless Jewish and “non-Aryan” families of dignity, love, and life that those living in freedom take for granted daily.
On the loss of freedom: “I was aware of being torn irrevocably from everything that had made up my life up until now. I did not know what awaited me, only that it was sure to be as bad as I imagined.”
On the loss of material possessions: “In this new world, where everything that had been of permanent value a month ago was destroyed, the simplest things, things you hardly noticed before, took on enormous significance…”
On the loss of family: “The very first night there I had a dream that utterly discouraged me. It seemed to be the final confirmation of my assumptions about the fate of my family. I dreamed of my brother Henryk, who came up to me, leaned over my bed and said, ‘We are dead now.’”
This wasn't an action-packed book but I don't think it was supposed to be. I think a story like this is important for many young readers to READ ABOUTThis wasn't an action-packed book but I don't think it was supposed to be. I think a story like this is important for many young readers to READ ABOUT rather than falling into the trap of DOING IT. That's one of the many great things about reading, that you can step into the shoes of people making bad decisions and see the consequences they have to face. Whereas breaking the law in real life could cost you your life or freedom, reading about characters breaking the law can make you evaluate the pros and cons of going down certain roads. Hopefully young readers will walk away from this story with a similiar perspective.
Having lived in Queens, NYC, for 5 years after college, I also enjoyed the memories of Astoria that popped up as I read this book, especially life along Steinway Street. ...more
While any Holocaust-related book has a good chance of ripping your heart out from page one, Sender's pointed, fast-moving delivery of the horrific timWhile any Holocaust-related book has a good chance of ripping your heart out from page one, Sender's pointed, fast-moving delivery of the horrific times she and her loved ones endured amplified the emotional pain of reading this firsthand account of unfathomable monstrosities. With each sentence, I could hear the cries for help of the millions of Jews whose lives were systemically destroyed during Hitler's ultimate showcase of incessant racism gone mad. Sender's own real-life strength, courage and will to survive in the face of history's worst evil made me think of William Wallace's (i.e. Mel Gibson's) final cry of "FREE-DOM!!!" at the end of Braveheart. Just chilling. This story makes you want to put it down and hug your loved ones between every chapter. For me, that's the message that seemed to jump out more than any other. Take nothing for granted. Not family. Not friends. Not freedom....more
Patti Wheeler’s passion for traveling the globe is ingrained into her children's DNA, and Keith Hemstreet's award-winning writing skills have also rubPatti Wheeler’s passion for traveling the globe is ingrained into her children's DNA, and Keith Hemstreet's award-winning writing skills have also rubbed off on these articulate boys. Wheeler's twin sons, Gannon and Wyatt, have been traveling to all corners of the world since they were in car seats. Now charming and charismatic 15 year-olds, world explorers Gannon and Wyatt have documented some amazing expeditions that combine stories filled with fun-loving adventures, educational descriptions of exotic animals and fascinating nature, and plenty of doses of suspense-inducing peril!
When I was younger I watched Dave Matthews play a small show long before his band became famous. I remember telling my friends, "Have you listened to Dave Matthews? His music is amazing! He's going to be famous someday!" As I turned the pages of "Travels with Gannon and Wyatt: Botswana," I felt a similar enthusiasm. This book is the first in what will surely become a wildly popular series that will first fulfill and then exceed Wheeler's goal of instilling a spirit of exploration in young people. These books will also serve to educate children about wildlife conservation and help them gain a deeper appreciation for nature and animals. Equally important, you can bet that teachers and parents, alike, will love having kids reading these books because they will help spark a love of reading in children as Gannon's and Wyatt's venturesome accounts will keep readers on the edge of their seats!
Patti Wheeler will tell you that "the world is your classroom." And her twin teenage boys may very well wind up being your teacher! Explore the world. Learn about wildlife. Laugh one minute and hold your breath the next. This family is tapping into unchartered territory and this series is the real deal! I will not be the least bit surprised when I turn on Discovery Channel one day soon and see that this exciting book series has become a hit TV show. In fact, if I was a TV producer, I would move quickly to sign a deal with this family of fearless, funny and groundbreaking travelers! ...more
“But most of my earliest memories are of spinal taps, throwing up for two hours straight on my birthday, watching my own hair fall out while my friend“But most of my earliest memories are of spinal taps, throwing up for two hours straight on my birthday, watching my own hair fall out while my friends were worried about learning how to write their names in crayon. And I guess Steven has lot of those shocks, too, through being my brother. But that’s still not the same as being me.”
Calling all teachers, parents and educators: Jordan Sonnenblick might just be the most important young adult author on the market! This man has found a niche that millions of teenagers have been desperately waiting to be filled. In a delicate way that blends good humor with tough reality, his books address critical issues related to family, friendship, school, life and death. Sonnenblick obviously understands what kids are going through and knows how to help them feel more comfortable with their daily challenges and goals through wholesome literature. I wish more authors would write with such purpose and passion to spread meaningful messages to young readers.
In “Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie,” Jeffrey was fighting cancer as his older brother, then 8th-grader Steven, threw his whole life into providing the necessary support for his sick brother. Now, in this sequel to “Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie,” Jeffrey is in remission. In the aftermath of his sickness, a lot has changed besides his health status. Jeffrey’s older brother has gone on hiatus to Africa to escape the responsibilities that he couldn’t avoid when he was playing second fiddle to his sibling's cancer battle. Their parents continue to worry about finances and state testing requirements following the imposing learning disabilities cancer treatments and medications have handed their young son. Jeffrey’s best friend, Tad, also has his share of challenges to worry about. Together, they face the mystic challenges of deciphering the baffling words and actions of girls, setting seemingly unreachable goals, and clearing up the cloudy meaning of life.
This book hit home for me in many ways. One example is that it reminded me of my 10th grade year, when my older brother – my best friend, idol and mentor throughout my grade school years – joined the Marine Corps and moved overseas to Japan. This person I’d counted on for so long was suddenly nowhere to be found. I remember how hard it was for me to deal with the void he’d left behind. I’m sure a lot of people can relate to similar feelings of loss and abandonment.
“I wish I could remember now what I was thinking during those next two hours, because they were the last good hours I was going to have for a long time. But nobody ever tells you in advance when you should concentrate on the good times — that’s why you’re supposed to try to do it every day.”
Be sure to read “After Ever After” sooner rather than later! Books don’t get much better than this one! ...more
Shouldn't there by an ongoing countdown and a Times Square block party ball drop for the 3rd book of The Hunger Games like there was for the New Year?Shouldn't there by an ongoing countdown and a Times Square block party ball drop for the 3rd book of The Hunger Games like there was for the New Year? That's my take....more
“There is nothing in the world…that would so effectively help one to survive even the worst conditions as the knowledge that there is a meaning in one“There is nothing in the world…that would so effectively help one to survive even the worst conditions as the knowledge that there is a meaning in one’s life.”
I can easily understand why this book has impacted so many lives over the years and will undoubtedly continue to do so for centuries to come. The Holocaust is a tragedy that I never come closer to understanding (how or why it actually happened to begin with and then went on for as long as it did) regardless of how much I read about it. But like Anne Frank (albeit in a very different way), Viktor Frankl was courageously able to take something prophetic away from the sadistic events of the Holocaust, using his firsthand accounts of the Nazi's cruelties and close observations of how his fellow prisoners reacted under the unthinkable circumstances and duress of the time.
“…saying yes to life in spite of everything…presupposes that life is potentially meaningful under any conditions, even those which are most miserable.”
The memory of this book will make me think twice the next time I think about complaining about how "I'm starving" when I haven't eaten for a few hours, or I fool myself into thinking the problems in my life are in any way imposing, or I find myself wishing for material things that have no bearing on the meaning of life...no bearing at all. ...more
I found this book to be incredibly helpful as a way of instructing aspiring novelists with specific, tried-and-true methods and techniques of writing.I found this book to be incredibly helpful as a way of instructing aspiring novelists with specific, tried-and-true methods and techniques of writing. It also got me thinking about the significance of "motivation-reaction units" or the idea that a story is driven by characters' internal/external reactions to a series of outer stimuli. ...more