I received this book through GoodReads "First Reads" Giveaway. I love Children's/Young Adult books, and since the subject matter was elephants and Ind...moreI received this book through GoodReads "First Reads" Giveaway. I love Children's/Young Adult books, and since the subject matter was elephants and India, I knew I would like this before it even got here.
Based on two trips made by authors Ted and Betsy Lewin, Balarama tells the story of an elephant by that name who will be leading the procession of a parade during Dasara, a holy festival in India. Accompanying the text are the dazzling paintings done by Betsy Lewin.
While this book is aimed at ages 9-12, I read it aloud to my 7 year old son, who enjoyed it as much as I did. We both learned several words in Hindi and Kannada (there is a glossary at the back) and marveled in the artwork. Truly, I think this is the most beautiful illustrated books I have ever seen--my son argued with me over one painting of the parade of elephants, insisting that it must be a photograph.
I can see the use of this book in the study of India, elephants, and relgious/cultural customs for a few age ranges. A section in the back discusses the differences between Asian and African elephants as well as the anatomy of elephants. One final section lists the lineage of the Royal Elephants who participated in Dasara.
I have to admit, based on story alone, I would have given it 4 stars. Betsy Lewin's glorious paintings earned an extra star on its own. I have looked up a few more titles of theirs and will be sure to purchase them.
I feel so fortunate that this book found its way to me; I hope other readers are as equally delighted.(less)
Imagine yourself for 105 days in a foreign land where you may or may not speak the language, and you are suddenly yanked from your job, thrown into me...moreImagine yourself for 105 days in a foreign land where you may or may not speak the language, and you are suddenly yanked from your job, thrown into medieval prisons with no explanation, accused of crimes that can mean you execution at any moment: How would you survive every moment? Where would that faith of rescue come from?
For the 8 workers of Shelter Now International (SNI) and the 16 Afghanistan people who tried to help them, this is the hell they faced as the rule of the Taliban and al-Quaeda rose, and the tragedy of 9-11 loomed in the future. While other SNI workers escaped with the clothes on their back, the accused were daily questioned and accused of converting and attempting to convert Afghan people to Christianity. The 2 men and 8 women were terrorized with threat of torture and death. Their surroundings alone were enough to make them go mad--squalor with risk of disease, little to no news of the world, save from their "Afghan Angels". They were shocked to find they were indeed international news.
I was completely gripped by the premise of this story. To hear about the events leading up to 9-11 "from the other side" was enlightening. And the strength of their faith was just amazing to me. While they had their moments of weakness, their ongoing bravery and courage humbled my heart. The goodness of the people, not wanting harm to come to anyone, even their captors, was truly mind-blowing.
What I really enjoyed about this book was that while it is from a Christian publisher, and regards the Christian hostages and their faith, I feel that this book is very accessible to those of all faiths. Many times they show their respect for the faith of their captors, as they had before being arrested. I think that is a strong message to make today. I feel this book is appropriate for teens (middle school) to adults. While books can convey very strong visuals, I do not feel there is anything inappropriate for a pre-teen/teenager to read. I also do not feel that it is inappropriate in a public school setting--this is history, just as The Diary of Anne Frank, and the history of our nation.
As this book ends (no spoilers!) there is promise of a documentary being released (kabulmovie24.com) I do hope it makes it to light. This is a worthy story to tell.
An amazing true story of a boy's struggle with Tourette's Syndrome and his family's attempt to find help for him. I know a young man with TS (wwww.jay...moreAn amazing true story of a boy's struggle with Tourette's Syndrome and his family's attempt to find help for him. I know a young man with TS (wwww.jaylenschallenge.org) and this helped me understand what he goes through on a daily basis. It was handled very well and was very educational. I understand this is not a typical James Patterson book, but it was my first.(less)
Craig Ferguson is an incredibly talented comic and late-night host. However, he totally lost me on this one, a book of fiction. I kept waiting for the...moreCraig Ferguson is an incredibly talented comic and late-night host. However, he totally lost me on this one, a book of fiction. I kept waiting for the stories and characters to somehow come together, but no such luck. I hear there are allegories. Missed them altogether. My suggestion is for him to keep his night job ;)(less)
Aside from "West Wing" and "Wicked" I knew very little about the powerhouse actress and singer Kristin Chenoweth. Upon a recommendation, I snagged thi...moreAside from "West Wing" and "Wicked" I knew very little about the powerhouse actress and singer Kristin Chenoweth. Upon a recommendation, I snagged this from the library. And OH what fun!
Chenoweth is delightful, bubbly, and full of nuggets of wisdom, not just for the stage and screen, but for life in general. By all appearances, you think her life is all peaches and cream, but she will be quick to show you her flaws, laughing and cringing about them the entire time. She never gets so sweet that you feel like you have to get an insulin shot. That's where the "little bit Wicked" comes in.
I used to want to be an actress, and I have so much reverence for those like Chenoweth. It's a tough world with tough hours and you've never quite done enough to "earn your dues".
But Chenoweth performs this all, while keeping her soul intact. Her heart, big as her home state of Oklahoma, makes this one of the most enjoyable autobiographies I've read in some time.
And yes, Michelle, I promise to see Wicked as soon as I can ;) I also plan to scoop up as much of her work as I can find on Netflix. With a book this much fun, I don't want to miss out on the rest.(less)