This is a quick read, but powerful - especially knowing that the story is based on experiences and memories of the author's Aunt Lucy. I really likedThis is a quick read, but powerful - especially knowing that the story is based on experiences and memories of the author's Aunt Lucy. I really liked the Pushkin excerpts at the beginning of each chapter. Rifka's only book was a book of Pushkin's poetry. This book was also her only paper, and she wrote letters of her experiences to her cousin back in Russia in the margins of the book - which made up the text of the book. I definitely felt for Rifka and admired her incredible strength as she survived experiences such as saving her family by distracting Russian guards, being left behind and alone in an unfamiliar country because of contracting ringworm, and then being held at Ellis Island because her hair hadn't yet grown back. 3.5 stars....more
I didn't immediately love this. I enjoyed it a lot, but felt that it just wasn't up to the greatness of Savvy. But the more I read, the more I enjoyedI didn't immediately love this. I enjoyed it a lot, but felt that it just wasn't up to the greatness of Savvy. But the more I read, the more I enjoyed the story, cared about the characters, and LOVED the book. Now I'm wondering if I might like it even more than Savvy. Either way, they are both 5 star books! Ingrid Law has a savvy for writing amazing books!
Note: I hope that in her next book she will talk more about the race of tiny people who live in the library and come out at night to shelve books! :)...more
This is part of the "Scientists in the Field" series, and another great collaboration by Sy Montgomery and Nic Bishop. I found it to be very fascinatiThis is part of the "Scientists in the Field" series, and another great collaboration by Sy Montgomery and Nic Bishop. I found it to be very fascinating. Although I did learn a bit more than I wanted about the mating habits of snakes - such as the formation of a "mating ball" of up to 100 males!? Yikes! How does the one female choose? Scientists still don't know for sure. And that's another thing I found very interesting in this book - mention of many things that still aren't known about snakes.
I like snakes, and I always like Nic Bishop's photographs. But even just seeing pictures of this many snakes all in one place gave me a bit of a shiver. If you don't like snakes, you might not enjoy reading this. But, if you don't mind looking at pictures of LOTS of snakes, there are some fascinating things to learn about snakes from the Snake Scientist!
Did you know:
* So-called flying snakes of Southeast Asia and the East Indies hurl themselves from treetops and glide through the air.
* Snakes can go for weeks or months without a meal.
* There are more reptiles species (5,970) than mammal species (4,050).
* Research so far suggests that female snakes prefer larger male snakes. Scientists don't yet know why....more
Did you know there are kangaroos that live in trees? I had no idea! Or if I did ever know, I didn't remember. But now I feel like I know all about theDid you know there are kangaroos that live in trees? I had no idea! Or if I did ever know, I didn't remember. But now I feel like I know all about them! With Sy Montgomery's amazing text and Nic Bishop's even more amazing photographs, I felt like I was right there with their team in the cloud forest of Papua New Guinea making all sorts of new discoveries. I was so interested in the story and the things I was learning, that I was sad when I got to the end of the book. Now I need to find a zoo that has tree kangaroos so I can see them in person! It's either that or plan a trip to New Guinea. :)...more
Another excellent addition to the Ranger's Apprentice series. This was a little slow in the beginning, but even during that part I absolutely enjoyedAnother excellent addition to the Ranger's Apprentice series. This was a little slow in the beginning, but even during that part I absolutely enjoyed the bantering between Halt, Will, and Horace. They are all three such great characters who work well together. I was soon caught up in the story and couldn't stop reading. Halt is in peril and Will and Horace must save his life! (I know I'm making it sound cheesy, but it really was very gripping and intense.)
What can I say? If you've read others in this series, you definitely want to read this one. If you haven't read others in this series - why not? I look forward to April 2011 and The Emperor of Nihon-Ja!...more
I really enjoyed Susan Campbell Bartoletti's Hitler Youth: Growing Up in Hitler's Shadow and have always planned to read more of her books. So I was vI really enjoyed Susan Campbell Bartoletti's Hitler Youth: Growing Up in Hitler's Shadow and have always planned to read more of her books. So I was very interested upon reading Gerald Lund's The Undaunted to see that he listed her Growing Up in Coal Country as one of the sources he used in research for his book. I immediately checked to see if it was available at my library and put it on hold. I wanted to read it while the storyline of The Undaunted was still fresh in my mind. I'm glad I did! I think they are two great books to read together. While one is historical fiction and the other is nonfiction, they both give you a great sense of the life of the coal miners during that time in history, and particularly the young children who grew up working in the mines. Bartoletti includes the harsh working conditions, but also the freedom that such a job could afford a family. She shares an amazing amount of detail in a relatively short book. I especially liked the first-hand stories and quotes she obtained through interviews - some with her own relatives who had grown up in the coal country of northeastern Pennsylvania. She also includes many amazing photographs that tell the story just as much as her words....more
I have loved this series! I'm very sad to finish the tenth and final book. I would love to go back and read them all again from start to finish, one rI have loved this series! I'm very sad to finish the tenth and final book. I would love to go back and read them all again from start to finish, one right after the other. If I do, I will enjoy this last book much more a second time through. This first time through it took me a long time to get drawn into the story. Somehow I felt out of step with it. It wasn't what I was expecting, and it just felt overly long. It didn't help that I only had short amounts of reading time, but even when I had some time I was still easily distracted from reading.
Eventually I was pulled in. I loved it when Weelum the banderbear showed up! There were many parts I really loved - especially towards the end where the entire series was brought full circle. Many dangling threads from previous books were resolved. I guess I was expecting more of that earlier in the story. Maybe there were some call-backs earlier on to other books and characters in the series that I missed because it's been so long since I read the first books.
This is definitely a series I would love to revisit sometime! I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to visit a wonderful, strange world with interesting and varied characters. (Thank goodness for Chris Riddell's amazing illustrations to help me know what all the characters and places look like!)
Note: This did have a couple of parts that were quite violent, which I don't remember from other books in the series. This definitely isn't for little children - although the more than 660 pages will keep most away who aren't ready for it anyhow....more
Another autobiographical dog book by Gary Paulsen that will make you both laugh and cry. This one is all about Cookie, the dog he dedicated My Life inAnother autobiographical dog book by Gary Paulsen that will make you both laugh and cry. This one is all about Cookie, the dog he dedicated My Life in Dog Years to. I think I didn't initially connect as much with this book because I don't know much about sled dogs. In fact, nearly everything I know about sled dogs, I've learned from Gary Paulsen's books. But once he started telling stories about Cookie's puppies, I was hooked. 4.5 stars....more
Shaun Tan's wordless graphic novel is brilliant! With no words to tell you the story, it makes you feel as an immigrant might who doesn't speak the laShaun Tan's wordless graphic novel is brilliant! With no words to tell you the story, it makes you feel as an immigrant might who doesn't speak the language and has to understand everything by eyes alone. And Tan's world is just different enough that we as readers are also immigrants there who must attempt to learn the language as we go. Simply brilliant!...more
Dragon's Gate takes place from 1865 to 1869. Otter's father and uncle are welcomed home as heroes anytime they return from living and working in the "Dragon's Gate takes place from 1865 to 1869. Otter's father and uncle are welcomed home as heroes anytime they return from living and working in the "Land of the Golden Mountain" (also known as California). Otter especially admires his Uncle Foxfire and wants to go with him to work in the U.S. What Otter doesn't know until an accident forces him to join them in California, is that their work is the back-breaking labor of tunneling through the Sierras for the transcontinental railroad. Not only is the work extremely difficult and dangerous, but the American bosses haven't kept their agreements with Chinese crews regarding working conditions and hours. Otter must figure out how to survive while learning about himself, his family, and his people.
I thought that this would be pretty much the same as the other book I recently read in Laurence Yep's Golden Mountain Chronicles, Dragonwings - only with a different time period and characters. That wouldn't have been a bad thing at all, and there were a lot of similarites. But I enjoyed how different this was while still making a lot of the same points about Chinese immigrants in the U.S.
I had mixed feelings about Uncle Foxfire throughout the story, but towards the end I really came to admire him. He really came through for Otter. During a scene when they are climbing a mountain in the middle of a raging snowstorm, he encourages Otter again and again. He says: "Just concentrate on one step at a time." and "There's no magic. It's what's inside you." and "It's just a question of little steps."
Note: This contains a couple of pretty intense scenes of violence that might be a bit too much for some young readers....more
Those who choose the Newbery awards seem determined to teach me some history! After reading George Washington's World, I didn't want to jump right intThose who choose the Newbery awards seem determined to teach me some history! After reading George Washington's World, I didn't want to jump right into this one. But even after waiting a while, this wasn't a book I wanted to sit down and read all at once. I enjoyed taking my time with it and reading just a few pages at a time. Consequently, this took me a long time to finish. I do feel like I learned some historical facts I hadn't known before, even though this didn't get into great detail on any of the topics covered. This is a nice overview of the history of the world during Abraham Lincoln's lifetime....more
This is really a remarkable idea for a history book. Genevieve Foster explains in clear, simple language and nice, short chapters the events and peoplThis is really a remarkable idea for a history book. Genevieve Foster explains in clear, simple language and nice, short chapters the events and people that were noteworthy in George Washington's world - which includes leaders of countries, scientists, soldiers, inventors, philosophers and many others around the world. Each chapter begins with an illustrated two-page spread introducing the people living and the events that took place during that particular time in George Washington's life.
It took me a while to make much headway through this book. I think it was partly due to the short chapters and the switch to a new topic or person with each chapter. It was too easy to read just a chapter or two and then find something else to do or another book to read. Also, I was expecting to read a bit more about George Washington and his life. He is included, of course, but it feels like during much of the book he is merely the device to introduce other people or events. But as I continued to read, I was captured more and more with the events and the flow of history. I enjoyed Foster's explanations of the historical context of events and the reasons behind many of the political decisions made. I was particularly caught up in her descriptions of the French Revolution. And, of course, I did learn a lot about George Washington himself. I wish the book had a bibliography or an explanation of Foster's research for the book. I would love to know how many books she read or consulted in her research.
This won a Newbery Honor award in 1942. Was it a popular book with children back then? I don't know, but I'm sure it didn't hold a candle to another Newbery Honor that same year: Little Town on the Prairie. This would be a great book for students to gain some perspective on history during George Washington's life, but I think it would be a hard book to sell to most students these days. I will soon be reading Foster's Abraham Lincoln's World which also won a Newbery Honor. 3.5 stars....more
This is a quiet, sweet story about a teenage girl and her relationships with her parents, her best friend, and her grandfather. I didn't care about soThis is a quiet, sweet story about a teenage girl and her relationships with her parents, her best friend, and her grandfather. I didn't care about some of the characters until quite far into the story, but by the end I really cared about them all. It wasn't as much about her relationship with a new boyfriend as I thought it would be based on the cover picture. But I should know by now that you can't depend on cover pictures to let you know what the story is about!
This took a while to draw me in, although I did care about Shabanu and what happened to her right from the beginning. I was more and more drawn in asThis took a while to draw me in, although I did care about Shabanu and what happened to her right from the beginning. I was more and more drawn in as the story progressed, especially when things happened that I wasn't expecting or predicting. I don't know much about the culture of Shabanu's people, but now I feel like I know a lot more. The details and the world felt very real. I enjoyed Staples descriptive writing style. I could tell she had really witnessed some of the events in the story. Now I need to read Haveli and find out what happens next in Shabanu's life!
I think this is for a bit older reader than many of the Newbery winners, and is more of a young adult book than a children's book. This won a Newbery honor award in 1990....more
There's always room for another book telling the story of a Holocaust survivor. This is a particularly nice one for young adults. It isn't too long orThere's always room for another book telling the story of a Holocaust survivor. This is a particularly nice one for young adults. It isn't too long or graphic, but still doesn't pull punches in sharing the experiences of 15-year-old Jack Mandelbaum.
Jack survived his time in concentrations camps for several reasons. He made good friends who gave him good advice and who helped him to laugh and keep his optimism going through his darkest days and moods of despair. His family was also a huge factor. He had a burning desire to survive so that he could be reunited with his family. He also made several key decisions. He decided, based on advice from a friend, that he would not take what was happening to him personally. He would treat it like a game in which he would outlast the Nazis. Also, he would not complain, but would act respectful, be likable and cooperative, and as good of a worker as he could. He chose not to hate the kapos, the guards, or the officers. He felt that the negative emotion of hate would consume energy that he needed for survival. He said, "In spite of all the terrible things that happened to me, I did not allow Hitler to make me feel less than human. I had been raised well and I knew who I was. My strategy was not to allow myself to hate. I knew I could be consumed by hate."
After all of that, with good decisions and some luck, Jack survived the concentration camps. The sad part is that of the 80 people in Jack's extended family, only five survived. None of his immediate family survived.
Because of the way Jack chose to live during his concentration camp experiences, he has some very wise advice for the rest of us. He says:
One thing people wonder is why the Jews did not defend themselves, why we were like lambs led to the slaughter. In truth, many Jews fought back bravely. But the Holocaust was so well planned that we were overwhelmed. It started with little acts of racism and discrimination and eventually led to the murder of millions of innocents. We thought the European people would rise up out of basic decency and defend us. Some tried, but not enough. We must never think the Holocaust cannot happen again.
Moon Shadow is a young Tang boy (white demons would call him Chinese) who comes to live with his father in the Land of the Golden Mountain (San FranciMoon Shadow is a young Tang boy (white demons would call him Chinese) who comes to live with his father in the Land of the Golden Mountain (San Francisco). We get to follow Moon Shadow's life from 1903 – 1910, during which he becomes friends with a "demoness" and her granddaughter, corresponds with the Wright Brothers, and experiences the San Francisco earthquake of 1906.
For some reason, I was reluctant to read this. Once I finally got started, though, I enjoyed it a lot! What's not to like about such well-written and interesting historical fiction? This was my first time to read Laurence Yep, but definitely not my last....more
About half way through this, I wasn't sure I was going to care enough to want to read the sequel. But the closer I got to the end, the more caught upAbout half way through this, I wasn't sure I was going to care enough to want to read the sequel. But the closer I got to the end, the more caught up in the story I became. Some of the things that bothered me in the beginning were either resolved or the story moved away from those parts of the plot.
In the beginning, I felt like I didn't have a firm grasp on what was going on or how the societies inside Incarceron really worked. Details were given, but not enough to make me feel like I had a firm grasp on things. Turns out that didn't really matter a whole lot to the overall plot of the story.
Also in the beginning, I felt like we didn't get much of a feel for the prison Incarceron as an actual alive and aware being who is able to affect the people and events inside the prison. Well, that aspect did start out slowly, but by the end I actually liked that we got to know the character of Incarceron just bit by bit throughout the story. I felt like my patience with that aspect was amply rewarded.
This was well worth reading and I enjoyed the journey even in the beginning when I felt a bit lost and not sure of all the elements in that world. By the end I was completely caught up in the story. I enjoyed my time spent in Incarceron. Now I definitely need to read Sapphique!...more
This one definitely lives up to its title - especially the "adventures" part. Homer gets into one adventure after another without even a space for breThis one definitely lives up to its title - especially the "adventures" part. Homer gets into one adventure after another without even a space for breath in-between. I enjoyed some of the adventures more than others, but all in all I think this is a nice addition to the Newbery Honor list of historical fiction war stories. 3.5 stars....more