If you fell in love with Hetty Feather in her first book, do not despair--you can follow her further adventures as she grows up in two sequels, Sapphi...moreIf you fell in love with Hetty Feather in her first book, do not despair--you can follow her further adventures as she grows up in two sequels, Sapphire Battersea and Emerald Star. In Sapphire Battersea, Hetty is 14, has discovered who her mother really is, and begins the life the Foundling Hospital has prepared her for--as a scullery maid. But fate has other things in store for Hetty--including a stint as a "pocket-sized mermaid" in a freak show. (less)
Hetty's saga was partly inspired by Jacqueline Wilson's time as a fellow at the Foundling Museum, a museum telling the story of the Foundling Hospital...moreHetty's saga was partly inspired by Jacqueline Wilson's time as a fellow at the Foundling Museum, a museum telling the story of the Foundling Hospital. Our heroine, Hetty, narrates her own story in an unforgettable voice that immediately endears her to the reader. Although our story begins in London in 1873, with her bright red hair, fiery temper, and her romantic inclinations, Hetty has much in common with another beloved heroine of children's literature, Anne of Green Gables. Hetty, abandoned as an infant by her mother at the Foundling Hospital, was not to be at the hospital for long--stuffed into a large basket, she was carried away to the countryside, where she is raised as a foster child by kindly Peg and an assortment of foundling brothers and sisters. She's especially close to her big foster brother Jem. Jem even sneaks Hetty into a traveling circus, where we see Hetty's romantic nature in full force. Hetty meets Madame Adeline, a glamorous circus performer who Hetty becomes convinced must be her mother when Madame Adeline picks her to ride on her horse with her in the circus ring.
But at the tender age of five, Hetty meets her cruel fate--she is returned to the Foundling Hospital to be educated and raised there until she is old enough to secure a respectable job as a serving girl. Life at the hospital is hard--bullies abound, but Hetty learns to hold her own, and some of the staff are kind to her, especially the kitchen maid, Ida. On the day of Queen Victoria's Jubilee, Hetty and the other foundlings have a special treat in store--an outing to the festivities. For Hetty, it's a chance to see the Queen, and maybe to find Madame Adeline and her own mother. What adventures will our feisty heroine have...and will she return to the Foundling Hospital? Hetty Feather series is a great choice for anyone who enjoys a story filled with everything from humor, adventure, and friendship to sadness and loss. You will definitely be touched by her story! (less)
For the Good of Mankind? tells the difficult but important history of human medical experimentation in a format suitable for middle school or high sch...moreFor the Good of Mankind? tells the difficult but important history of human medical experimentation in a format suitable for middle school or high school students. With the onset of the Common Core, Wittenstein's book is exactly the type of well-researched, provocative, and stimulating narrative non-fiction that teachers and libraries will be needing to put into students' hands. (less)
n this picture book, young Sam is looking forward to Hanukkah in a few weeks, but when he and his Hebrew school friends make homemade menorahs for fam...moren this picture book, young Sam is looking forward to Hanukkah in a few weeks, but when he and his Hebrew school friends make homemade menorahs for family gifts, Sam is not sure what to do--his family already has seven menorahs at home. He's sure they have no need of another one! But by the first night of Hanukkah, Sam has found a perfect solution to his problem, one that involves his beloved Grammy.
Lauren Wohl has created a heartwarming story about family that many children will identify with. When I was growing up, we had only one menorah in our house, but in my own home, we have at least seven, including one shaped like a hippopotamus that I purchased as a Jewish museum in Cape Town, South Africa! So I can easily understand the dilemma for young Sam--how many menorahs does one family need? But a gift made with love will always find a home somewhere. The story includes a brief summary of the story of Hanukkah, as told by Sam's Hebrew school teacher Ms. Zuckerman; this background provides some context for non-Jewish readers. The colorful, child-like art work provides a perfect complement to the text. (less)
Sedwick's novel alternates between the stories of two boys, Andy, a suburban kid in Evanston, Illinois, and his grandfather Myles, who grew up during...more Sedwick's novel alternates between the stories of two boys, Andy, a suburban kid in Evanston, Illinois, and his grandfather Myles, who grew up during the Dust Bowl on the Colorado prairies. Andy has grown up with grandpa's stories about growing up on a farm during the Depression, as well as his corny jokes; now that his grandpa has recently died, Andy wants to discover his grandpa's world. First he does so through a box of mementos and writings from his grandfather, and later first-hand by traveling to the old homestead.
Through Myles' story, Sedwick skillfully recreates the Colorado prairies, where farmers believed that with enough hard work and modern farming methods, they could realize the American dream of prosperity for themselves and their families. Or is the prairie the farmer's enemy, trying to take back what belongs to it? Myles' story starts in 1930, when as a thirteen-year old, he rescues a half-blind coyote pup who's lost in a dust storm, taking the coyote home to raise. Coyotes were the enemies of the farmers, who shot them if they caught them near their livestock. Nonetheless, Myles is determined to raise and tame the pup, much like his father is trying to tame the wild prairie landscape. Sedgwick occasionally switches gears to narrate the action from the point of view of the coyote, who she is careful not to treat as a human character, but instead as an animal who remains half-wild.
Sedwick's novel succeeds in capturing the imagination of the reader with appealing characters, the spirit of adventure in the West, and the adversity of life during the Dust Bowl. We see this through the eyes of Andy, Myles' grandson, who stands in for the young reader. It's a novel I had a hard time putting down.
Helen Sedwick's novel was inspired by her father's stories of growing up on the prairie in the 1930's. An excerpt from the novel can be found at her website. (less)
I really enjoyed this book, once I got past the fact that I couldn't believe that a private pleasure yacht would decide to go into pirate-infested wat...moreI really enjoyed this book, once I got past the fact that I couldn't believe that a private pleasure yacht would decide to go into pirate-infested waters off the Somali coast. Wouldn't they choose a different route? But I'm no expert in boating--just a question. However, after seeing Captain Philips and another Danish movie about Somali pirates, I found Lake's book hard to put down. Of course since it's a YA novel there's a romance involved between the heroine and one of the pirates, but I found that believable. This is definitely a YA novel that's a good read for adults as well. (less)
Teenagers are fascinated by fame and the lure of Hollywood. This phenomenon, of course, is nothing new, and in this historical novel set in the 1930's...moreTeenagers are fascinated by fame and the lure of Hollywood. This phenomenon, of course, is nothing new, and in this historical novel set in the 1930's, author Rachel Shukert recreates the golden age of Hollywood for today's teen readers. Our heroine, Margaret Frobisher, is a Pasadena debutante from a conservative old money family who loves going to the pictures and following the stars in the Hollywood gossip magazines. When she's "discovered" at a Hollywood drugstore counter and invited to come to the (fictional) Olympic Studios for a screen test, her dreams are about to come true, or so it seems. But things are not that simple--her parents are horrified at her decision and want nothing to do with her--proper society young ladies are certainly not supposed to make a career on the silver screen. So she moves into the studio system, where she gets a new name, Margo Sterling, lives at the studio with other underage stars, and meets celebrities she only dreamed of in the past, including the dashing Dane Forrest (who appears to have been modeled on Clark Gable).
Shukert does a great job of evoking the days of the great Hollywood studios, when plump young starlets were put on amphetamines to slim down and then sleeping pills to let them sleep, gay men had to be completely in the closet to protect their image, and studio chiefs were in charge of everything to do with the stars' lives, down to who they would date and even marry. Margo soon learns that fame is not all it's cracked up to be. Her idol, actress Diana Chesterfield, has disappeared, and Margo is cast in her place in a historical drama. But what has really happened to Diana? Several subplots are featured in this novel as well, including one involving a girl with a shady past as a paid escort who wants desperately to go "straight," and another subplot about Margo's studio friend Gabby (modeled on Judy Garland), who sinks into a world of drug abuse brought on by the studio bosses.
For those of us who grew up watching the great MGM musicals, many of these tropes will be familiar, but I suspect they are not familiar at all to today's teens, who will probably not even recognize the famous figures who are behind Shukert's fictional characters. This is clearly the first in a series, and should appeal to girls who'd like to explore the meaning of fame in another era--one without cell phone cameras and 24 hour news cycles. (less)