Needless to say, the issue of bullying is a hot and relevant topic, which is the one strength of this Judy Blume book.
Yet all I could think of as I pNeedless to say, the issue of bullying is a hot and relevant topic, which is the one strength of this Judy Blume book.
Yet all I could think of as I progressed through this story was just how much I detested each and every character in it. Perhaps Blume was going for the gritty realism angle and emphasising that not every ending is happy or neatly resolved. This idea is also reinforced by the numerous cynical reviews I've read by teachers who say "Hey, that's real life," or "I've seen worse."
Still, I struggled to look for someone, ANYONE to rest my sympathies on. It was clearly not going to be Jill, who was more than willing to join in the remorsely teasing of her classmate Linda. Even when she herself had briefly become the target of bullying, Jill never seemed to develop a sense of empathy for what Linda had been going through.
As for Linda, I sympathised with her up until the guns were turned on Jill, at which point she happily joined the bully bandwagon (Apparently, she learned nothing from the experience either). Jill's best friend Tracy was a marginally better character, although she was perfectly content in joining her friend in stuffing a neighbor's mailbox with rotten eggs and peeing on his lawn because he had the temerity to be mean, and (oh the horrors!) never donating to UNICEF.
Then there were the adults (teachers, parents, bus driver, etc.) who proved to be virtually negligent in addressing, or even acknowledging, the matter.
Finally, call me old-fashioned, crazy, ignorant, out-of-touch (or whatever label is en vogue for the ivory tower progressives out there), but I STILL think morality matters....more
Firstly, I have not read any of the other books in the "I Survived" series so my critique is aimed at just this particular title.
Second, I do realizeFirstly, I have not read any of the other books in the "I Survived" series so my critique is aimed at just this particular title.
Second, I do realize that I am reading a middle grade chapter book from the perspective of an adult, so I may be unjustly critical in my assessment. In other words, you may want to take my review with a grain of salt.
I picked this book up with the expectation that this would be a story that really delved into the horrors of the San Francisco earthquake. However, the natural disaster seemed to be merely a backdrop to the actual story of an orphan boy overcoming poverty, bullies and an annoying kid who turns out to be the best kind of friend. Collapsing buildings, burning neighborhoods and occasional aftershocks seemed to be mere inconveniences as Leo, the main character, seeks to recover an heirloom stolen from him by a local thug.
That's just my personal view. However, as a library employee who works in the children's department, I cannot deny the popularity of the "I Survived" series with the kids. So...despite my initial reaction, I might be willing to give this series another try or two....more
A word of advice: If an ex-president ever offers you an all-expense paid trip to an uncharted portion of the Amazon rainforest, TURN IT DOWN!
This is aA word of advice: If an ex-president ever offers you an all-expense paid trip to an uncharted portion of the Amazon rainforest, TURN IT DOWN!
This is another wonderfully written book by Candice Millard, author of "Destiny of the Republic." In it, she manages to capture the angst and utter despair of one of the worst-planned and executed scientific research trips since Robert F. Scott's ill-fated journey to the South Pole.
Following his loss to Woodrow Wilson in the 1912 presidential election, the ever-restless Theodore Roosevelt was on the lookout for the next big adventure. He found it in the budding plans of an expedition to explore an unmapped Amazonian river, known as "The River of Doubt."
Despite gathering an array of experts and men familiar with life in the jungle, Roosevelt's expedition proved to be woefully unprepared for the brutal environment that awaited them, and which nearly cost the ex-President his life.
Even from the safe confines of home, I found myself in a constant state of nervous anticipation, wondering just how the trip could get any worse, and then finding out in the next chapter just how the trip did get worse.
I recommend this book for those looking for a real-life adventure and survival story!...more
Years ago, I was recommended this and other Bill Bryson books when the recommender (or recommendee?) discovered that I loved to travel and write.
It waYears ago, I was recommended this and other Bill Bryson books when the recommender (or recommendee?) discovered that I loved to travel and write.
It wasn't until I returned from my most recent cross-country road trip that I decided to pick up The Lost Continent. I was intrigued by Bryson's humorous observations about some of the very places that I had just returned from, his endearing memories of family vacations, and his newfound love for his native state of Iowa. I thought some of his descriptions of his various stops were spot-on, others not so much.
As for Bryson's humor, I'm not sure if he was trying to employ Mark Twainesque satire to his writing, but on many occasions he came away sounding very mean-spirited and petulant, which I think spoiled the narrative a bit for me.
Overall, I did enjoy this book. I was also glad that I chose to read this book after my trip so that my observations were purely my own and not influenced by the author....more