This Caldecott Honor book is Peter Sis's autobiographical account of growing up in Communist-controlled Czechoslovakia. Sis combines beautiful illustr...moreThis Caldecott Honor book is Peter Sis's autobiographical account of growing up in Communist-controlled Czechoslovakia. Sis combines beautiful illustrations and personal recollections with factual information about the time period. Sis brilliantly sets the tone of this era through the use of beautiful and riveting illustrations. The little boy in the book is permitted to illustrate anything at home he desires. When school begins, he finds he can only draw those things he's told to draw. Children are brainwashed through schooling by not being permitted to learn about current events worldwide and by only being permitted to know what the government allows. So many freedoms are denied. Through the wonderful illustrations, we see the world in black and white. Splashes of red mar the pages, demonstrating communist rule. We briefly see fabulous color appear in the boy's drawings as hope is for freedom is seen. However, black and white returns as the communist force makes a comeback. The vocabulary is advanced and background knowledge of the Cold War and communism would be needed to understand the book. (less)
"Charlotte's Web," by E.B. White, belongs to a special class of literature: a children's book which has much to offer to older teen and adult readers....more"Charlotte's Web," by E.B. White, belongs to a special class of literature: a children's book which has much to offer to older teen and adult readers. White's wonderful story is superbly complemented by the charming illustrations of Garth Williams. As the story opens, eight year old farm girl Fern Arable stops her father from killing a piglet who has been labeled the runt of the litter. The little pig, whom Fern names Wilbur, becomes one of the central figures in the story. Eventually he will be befriended by Charlotte, the wise and loving spider mentioned in the book's title. White creates a sort of modern animal fable in which his barnyard characters can speak both with each other and with Fern. White's barn is populated with some truly marvelous characters. Special mention should be made of Templeton the rat. Gluttonous, sneaky, often nasty, but curiously sympathetic, Templeton is one of the great anti-heroes in modern literature. Part of this novel's brilliance is the fact that the author makes a heroine out of a spider: a creature that many people probably regard with fear. Unlike a cute piglet or other barnyard creatures, a spider is a creature vastly different from humans. White's Charlotte is a truly remarkable character. White's witty, compassionate prose style is an ideal vehicle for telling the story of Charlotte and her friends. "Charlotte's Web" is a masterful blend of whimsy, humor, gentle satire, and life-and-death drama. But above all, it is a powerful story of friendship. Deeply moving and superbly written, this is a book which, I believe, will endure as a treasured classic.(less)
American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang is a well-crafted graphic novel that explores issues of self-image, cultural identity, transfo...moreOverall Response
American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang is a well-crafted graphic novel that explores issues of self-image, cultural identity, transformation and self-acceptance. The novel was about a boy named Jin Wang, a kid who meets with ridicule and social isolation and struggles to find and accept his cultural identity. Intertwined with Jin’s story are those of other characters who also do not fit into their surroundings. The Monkey King who has ruled for thousands of years and has mastered all the heavenly disciplines, yet he yearns to leave the monkeys behind to join the ranks of the gods. His foolish acts get him into five hundred years of trouble at the hands of Tze-Yo-Tzuh, and the Monkey King must then rely on the trust of a stranger to lead him toward redemption. In another story, Danny is a popular, blond, blue-eyed athletic teenager whose social status is jeopardized when his goofy, embarrassing, Chinese cousin, Chin-Kee enrolls at his high school. Chin-Kee is the epitome of Chinese stereotypes—eating cat gizzards, excelling in classes, and speaking in broken English.
Writing is very simple and clear, with occasional words in bold print to emphasize meaning.
The line drawings are crisp and the art includes muted colors and cartoonish artwork that provides a strong visual component.
Linear panel arrangement allows for ease of eye movement throughout the novel.
American Born Chinese is geared towards middle school through high school students who are investigating racism and stereotyping. This book could be recommended to a reluctant reader. (less)