How many times can one person be betrayed? Within the pages of Chains, Isabel finds out. It is 1776 and the American people have begun their long fighHow many times can one person be betrayed? Within the pages of Chains, Isabel finds out. It is 1776 and the American people have begun their long fight for freedom just as Isabel begins the fight for hers - for Isabel is a slave. Meant to be freed on the death of her Rhode Island owner, Isabel and her epileptic younger sister Ruth are instead unscrupulously sold by their previous owner's nephew to Loyalists, the Locktons from New York. At first, Isabel thinks they'll be able to get by with the Locktons by working hard, but soon her nightmare begins as she learns Mrs. Lockton is both petty and vicious. When Ruth's epilepsy is revealed to a horrified Mrs. Lockton, Isabel knows that she must find a way to freedom before Ruth is sold away from her. But who can Isabel turn to when those who fight for freedom uphold slavery? A sequel is in the works and fans of historical fiction won't want to wait to find out what happens next to Isabel in this look at the American Revolution from a brand new point of view.
Anderson includes a question and answer section at the back to address the historical aspects of her novel, particularly the plight of slaves and prisoners during the war. She does a fantastic job of capturing Isabel's spurts of hopelessness and her slow recovery - set back everytime yet another avenue of escape fails her. The characters are so rounded that they just jump off the pages - everyone is realistically flawed in ways that match their motivations. This would be great as a book discussion title or as a supplement to lessons on the American Revolution....more
Dewey and Suze are two unusual girls who have been plucked from their regular lives and plunked down in Los Alamos - a place that doesn't appear on maDewey and Suze are two unusual girls who have been plucked from their regular lives and plunked down in Los Alamos - a place that doesn't appear on maps because it doesn't officially exist. Dewey's father and both of Suze's parents are involved in a project revolving around something only called "the gadget." What Klages has done here is give the reader a very specific window through the eyes of the two girls on to this period of history. Mostly told in the typical third person past-tense narration alternating between Dewey's and Suze's points of view, a few of Dewey's sections are told in the present tense which gives them a powerful feeling of immediacy. The tone of the entire book is somewhat contemplative and melancholy, particularly towards the end as it becomes apparent that the gadget is viable but will only bring about the end of the war with great cost. The Green Glass Sea would work well both for units on World War II and for book discussion groups....more
It's 1860 and Elijah is the first free-born child in the settlement of Buxton in Canada and as such you would think he'd get a little respect, but insIt's 1860 and Elijah is the first free-born child in the settlement of Buxton in Canada and as such you would think he'd get a little respect, but instead everyone tells him how fragile he is and boy do they love to tell the story of how he threw up on Mr. Frederick Douglass even though Elijah was just a baby when it happened. Elijah enjoys his life - he has a best friend, Cooter, to get in trouble with, he gets to go rock fishing on his favorite mule, Old Flapjack, and he gets to work with Mr. Leroy helping to clear a neighbor's land. Now that he's almost 12, Elijah thinks it's about time people realize he's pretty much grown up even if some things are still pretty confusing. For one thing, his Ma tells him he "has to respect what growned folks say" one minute and the next she's telling him "not to believe some of the things growned folks tell" you. How's a boy to know which things are which? As the year goes on and Elijah learns more about the world outside of Buxton - especially about slavery, he starts to see that being grown up is much more complicated than he thought....more
Dust. It’s 1934 in Oklahoma and dust is everywhere. Billie Jo can’t escape it. Dust is out in the fields killing the crops. Dust is in the house coverDust. It’s 1934 in Oklahoma and dust is everywhere. Billie Jo can’t escape it. Dust is out in the fields killing the crops. Dust is in the house covering the floors, covering the table, covering the piano. Dust is in the food; regular milk looks like chocolate milk, everything seems to have pepper on it, but it’s not pepper, it’s dust. And ever since the accident that took so much away from Billie Jo, the dust is inside her too. All she wants is out. Out of the dust. Maybe the poems that she writes will help, but how can you escape something inside you? Using free-verse poetry, Karen Hesse tells the unforgettable story of two years in Billie Jo’s life and how she finds her way out of the dust.
This was the June 2009 selection for my 3rd-5th grade book club and while the kids enjoyed it, most of them didn't understand any of the nuances. I think they're just not ready yet for seeing the layers underneath what's said - they're still very literal taking what's on the page at its word. I think 5th grade is probably the youngest this should go in general now that I've read it. Hesse's depiction of Billie Jo's troubles is powerful and moving, but I always struggle with the poetic form for narrative stories. Perhaps if I had the time to read them aloud it would be different.