You know I read this book when I was in 5th grade age 10, and now literally decades later I finished the graphic novel walking away from it with sameYou know I read this book when I was in 5th grade age 10, and now literally decades later I finished the graphic novel walking away from it with same feeling; just what a thought provoking wild ride L'Engle takes the reader on! I really enjoyed the book then and now, and the graphic novel version, which came out in 2012 adapted by Hope Larson, does L'Engle's novel justice. Larson did a great job in distilling this novel by L'Engle to its most engaging and suspenseful scenes. I still think for young readers the first 50 pages or so are very confusing. There are just way too many introductions of new characters. There seems to be one every 4 pages. When I reread the graphic novel version. I still thought the way I did as a young kid. I asked a 5th or 6th grader, and he said that the book's introductory chapters were "confusing". That is why I only gave the novel 4 instead of 5 stars. L'Engle has a purpose in introducing all these characters, and eventually it all makes sense to the reader, but initially the novel is a bit bewildering.
Still, one of topics in this book that makes the writing so unique is that L'Engle doesn't shy away from spiritual themes. One can count on two hands the number of writers in the 20th century who discuss spiritual themes in genuine ways. T.S. Eliot's "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" and "The Wasteland" probably come closest to illustrating the modern life devoid of emotional, psychological, and spiritual soul. L'Engle writing at the beginning of the space age takes these themes into the fantastical, and Hope Larsen gives the drawings sharp and edgy lines. In this novel, the reader connects with the characters whose brooding lines convey a sense that evil is like a malevolent set of eyes just out of sight invisible in the walls. Good and evil in this story aren't just secular ethical concepts rooted in philosophy or humanism, but they are very real choices at the individual and societal levels that have helpful and harmful effects on everyone.
L'Engle talks about spirituality without being preachy or sanctimonious, and I think that fact was as appealing at 10 as it is now as an adult. Along the way, L'Engle takes her characters and readers on a fantastical journey, and it is why after all these years I still think this writing is relevant and engaging to new audiences. In an era, where writers equate spirituality as a social accessory akin to people wearing a wristwatch in an age of cell phones, who needs it, L'Engle's writing like Tolkein and C.S. Lewis remind 21st century readers that having a spiritual center gives individuals purpose, meaning, and an ethical center. Individuals making choices and actions that ripple in time and space do clearly impact not only your own, but the quality of life of others. L'Engle's "Wrinkle in Time" has a message that resonates every bit as much now as it did when first published in 1962, and Hope Larson's adaptation now brings that suspenseful, fantastical, and thought provoking writing a new visual breath of fresh air to capture the next generation. ...more
This is the second novel I've read by G. Neri, and both "Yummy" and "Ghetto Cowboy" include Neri's realistic straight talking urban narrative style. LThis is the second novel I've read by G. Neri, and both "Yummy" and "Ghetto Cowboy" include Neri's realistic straight talking urban narrative style. Like Yummy, the author chooses to take a real story about a young pre-teen caught in rough family and personal circumstances and reveal the obstacles the protagonist faces and puts the reader in their shoes. Unlike Yummy, this historical fiction, based upon the real LIFE magazine cover, about Cole's reuniting with a father he's never known is inspirational rather grimly real and depressing. Regularly truant and in increasing trouble, Cole's mother in a moment of panic to change her son's future decides to send him from Detroit to Philadelphia to Cole's father. This initial scene and chapter with an unexpected turn and fast past emotional exchanges between mother and son will hook most young adult readers into the story.
At this point, we meet Cole's no-nonsense father and the other urban cowboys who have converted a ram shackled warehouse spaces into horse stables. The story then turns into a series of transformations as Cole is exposed by his father and other African-American men to the "cowboy way" or code of life: responsibility, justice, rugged individualism, and accountability to your fellow cowboy. Slowly, Cole takes his selfish and distrusting thoughts and turns towards understanding and taking care of the horses and stables, and assuring that this way of life is protected from outside forces who threaten to end it. Along the way, Cole slowly develops a relationship of trust and respect for his father and the men who have developed some hope for themselves and the other urban youth in Philadelphia. Jesse Joshua Watson's illustrations assist the reader in sketches convey Cole's viewpoint with this strange new world, and allow young readers to follow the dramatic sequences with a certain wide eyed reality and newness that matches Cole's thoughts and actions in the story.
"Ghetto Cowboy" is a book that has a redeeming quality to it. Neri's writing is short, dramatic yet authentic in voice and detail to urban life, and has the suspenseful yet tender story telling which filled the pages of "Yummy". Middle school students would particularly enjoy this journey and unique true tale of one 12 year boy's rite of passage into his teenage years with his father, a horse named Boo, and other African-American men's guiding and firm hand. The book was a 2014 Caudill Award nominee, and Neri provides some insightful notes about Brooklyn and Philadelphia urban stables history and some notes about the real young man who inspired the author to write this fascinating tale....more
"One Green Apple" by Eve Bunting tells the story of Middle Eastern student's attempts at understanding American social customs, language, and interpre"One Green Apple" by Eve Bunting tells the story of Middle Eastern student's attempts at understanding American social customs, language, and interpreting school experiences on a field trip. This book seems tailor made for the classroom. The drawings by Ted Lewin have water color soft brush sunny look to each page, but the depictions seem more intended to convey a reality to Farah, our protagonist's, experiences with her school peers.
Farah is on a school trip to pick apples, and we see how children can often be ignorantly cruel and endearingly tender in their treatment of her. As the students go with their teacher on an apple picking field trip and learn about how to make apple cider, we see the children sitting on the wagon truck making mean and smiling faces at her duppatta, or head shawl, and Farah's inability to speak English fluently. Eventually in the orchard fields, Farah meets a boy and girl who befriend her, and we see how common experience of making apple cider and the American children's desire to reach out to understand and appreciate Farah creates new friendships.
Although I enjoyed this book for its realistic portrayal of how the immigrant experience can be fraught with challenges and misunderstandings due to cultural and language divides, the story telling had a cut and dried mechanical feel and sound to it. Farah's thoughts sounded authentic, but the narrative and events seemed too saccharine and overly simplistic in its portrayal of how students actually interact to seem real to me. "One Green Apple" by Eve Bunting is a very necessary story that would benefit from a more subtle interpretation and less stereotypical interaction between the characters. ...more
This is the second book I've read concerning Native American treatment by American and Canadian governments within the residential schools. The firstThis is the second book I've read concerning Native American treatment by American and Canadian governments within the residential schools. The first being Marlene Carvell's "Sweetgrass Basket" about the two teenage sister trying to keep their cultural ways alive. Each time, I am amazed at how the author is able to tell the story in such simple prose style but in such a way to evoke from the reader empathy and sadness at their treatment. In Nicole I. Campbell and illustrator Kim LaFave's gentle hands in "Shin-chi's Canoe, the combination of their skills leaves the reader appreciating even more the survival and sheer determination of these Native American groups to retain their cultural ways.
The story starts with the reader seeing Shin-chi's whole family going on the cattle trucks to their new destination- Indian residential schools. The father, YaYah, will not return from his work until the salmon run in the summertime, so Shin-Chi and his 6 year old sister Shi-shi-etko must wait for his arrival and begin their acclimation to the residential school. Both siblings have to endure many indignities and changes at the hand of the school's administrators; boys and girls are separated, the sister's braids are cut off, industrial trades of blacksmith and linens are taught, the children sleep in barrack like single cots, and their is never enough food. Meanwhile, Shin-Chi holds on tightly to his father's hand carved boat, and in moment of desperate desire to reunite with his father and family, the child runs out of the school house in winter to float his tiny canoe on the cold river waters. The canoe carries both cultural and personal symbolic meaning as a symbol of delicate and precarious nature of Shin-Chi's attempt to keep his cultural ways alive and his desire to see his father's return.
The fact that Nicola I. Campbell's is a member of the Salish tribe, grew up in British Columbia's Nicola Valley, and that many of her family members and grandfather and mother attended residential school gives her retelling of this historically fictional account a certain genuine feel and sound to it. Kim LaFave, the illustrator, provides tenderly drawn and soft palettes to add to the simple child like story telling of Shin-Chi's journey. The author gives the reader who is unfamiliar with residential schools a one page historical summary which is useful information for an educator. Although a teacher would have to provide students with some necessary background historical knowledge on how Native American residential schools operated, Campbell's picture book would provide the much needed personal children's perspective for 3rd and 4th grade class on little told part of American and Canadian naturalization and educational treatment of Native American children. ...more
What makes award winning journalist Timothy Noah's book so noteworthy is how deftly combines economic theory with facts in a readable style that demolWhat makes award winning journalist Timothy Noah's book so noteworthy is how deftly combines economic theory with facts in a readable style that demolishes neo conservatives views that income inequality is at acceptable levels in the United States in 2013. Anyone who has lived as an adult in the state the last 30 can recognize some of the economic and class divide realities that Noah expounds on; the stagnation and decline of middle income wages,the decreasing political influence and inability to collectively bargain in private and public sectors of unions, the coalescence of lobbying power by big corporations on the legislative agenda of Congress and the presidency, and the devasting impact of "too big to fail banks" and lax regulation of the banking industry on housing, credit card rules, and bankruptcy law.
Noah well researched scholary look into income inequality debunks ideas that computers, globalization, and poor public school preparation of students for 21st century economies is the reason for the 1% retaining a big slice of the the United States overall economic pie. Why not entirely discounting the above ideas on why income inequality has increased in the United States, Noah brings new facts and other Nobel Prize winning economists arguments to lend academic support to the idea that lobbyists and corporate giants are having an undue influence on Congress, tax laws, and employer to employee relations excaberating the welfare and economic well being of the working and middle classes.
Timothy Noah also gives many reasonable solutions to reverse the American political and economic climate in the 21st century to work for common citizens; create fairer tax laws and eliminate tax loopholes, eliminate the Taft Hartley Act of 1947 to legitimate and spur unionization, nationalize preschool education enrollment for all children, put price controls on higher education to make it affordable to more families and reduce costs, regulate banking institutions to prevent periodic high risk bubbles risky investments like the dot.com and housing bubble by doing away with government bailouts through federal regulation and oversight. Noah's well written and insightful book will fuel futher journalistic and scholarly digging into the now national and political topic of income inequality. ...more
I read Neil Gaiman's Graveyard Book, and I think that although the initial pages hook the readers into the story that frankly I begin to lose interestI read Neil Gaiman's Graveyard Book, and I think that although the initial pages hook the readers into the story that frankly I begin to lose interest in middle parts. P. Craig Russel adaptation/illustration of Coraline stays very true to images and message(s) contained within Neil Gaiman's novel. Who hasn't had a point in their pre or early teen years where they just wished Mom and Pop's would actually pay attention to your concerns? Coraline's parents are deeply involved in their own careers, have just moved to a new flat in dreary, wet, and misty Oregon in a large Victorian home with a few other occupants: Miss Spink and Miss Forcible (former actresses), and an old mouse circus trainer. Strange company indeed in the house with more than its share of haunts which Coraline will soon explore. Coraline is bored and her father decides to give her a pen and paper to write down descriptions about every room in the house until she finds the hot water tank. Her mother sees a key above the door frame in the drawing room, and after looking at 13 doors, Coraline takes the key and opens the 14th door, and then finds a brick wall. The wall of course is for when the old Victorian home was sectioned off to create separate flats, but it holds a darker secret which Coraline's own curiosity will reveal a darker secret. In a story that delves into being careful about what you ask for "new parents", Coraline just can't resist exploring what is just on the other side of the doorway. It will be more than she ever asked for and with some strange and dangerous rooms, people, and choices to make.
P. Craig Russell is a perfect illustrator for this graphic novel adaptation of Neil Gaiman's novel. His 30 years of illustrating include adaptations of Batman, Star Wars, and Conan comic series, so I can only assume that this opportunity to make visibly frightening to the reader the sections of Gaiman's book that were just imaginative renderings in a reader's head was just too hard to resist. Russel stays very true to Gaiman's writing. My only criticism is that he doesn't show how Coraline is initially enticed by the "other mother and father's" showering of gifts, clothes, and wonderfully cooked foods before Coraline is horrified to find out that things in this surreal new world are not what they appear at the surface. Colorist Lovern Kindzierski's even toned shades and subtle tones give the reader a real but comic book quality excitement to the story, and we the reader are taken into this alternate malevolent world along with Caroline as she tries to navigate successfully through her many trials to recover her parents who are trapped inside the snow globe by the evil other mother. Russel's adaptation highlights some of the advantages of retelling novels in graphic form; the rats are menacingly drawn with bared teeth, red eyes and black pupils, and jagged outlined hairy bodies. The rats speak in unison with equally black bolded jaggy lines to emphasize both the content and reinforce the frightening aspect of the drawn shapes. The skill of Russell's illustrations bold and menacing shapes contrasted with the soft lines drawn for Caroline highlight the very real dangers the other mother, her minions in the rats and the father, and all the other characters represent to Coraline.
For anyone who enjoyed the Gaiman's tightly written and suspenseful novel, and the movie adaptation with the quirky interpretation of Coraline as an antagonistic but curious and worldly girl caught in a web of wishful thinking for new parents, then Coraline the graphic novel will be a more visually true version of Gaiman's original story. ...more
Paul Tough digs deeply into cognitive and behavioral psychology and looks at many case histories and personal stories to try to uncover what characterPaul Tough digs deeply into cognitive and behavioral psychology and looks at many case histories and personal stories to try to uncover what character traits developed and honed over time make students successful in both school and life. This book tackles a topic, character traits in children, that is hard to quantify via standardized test scores and yet reveals itself in individuals overcoming tremendous socioeconomic, personal, and academic deficiencies to find success. Paul Tough a former NY Times journalist, Columbia dropout, and writer of in depth study of Harlem City Schools in "Whatever It Takes" (2008) about Superintendent Geoffrey Canada's intensive focus on transforming from the inside out every student follows up in this book about this essential educational question: What are the character traits that allow students to persevere and reach their academic goals despite facing overwhelming obstacles? Mr. Tough doesn't necessarily admit to having all the answers, but he brings up a provocative questions that not only can these traits be taught in schools, but that developing character should be part of the curriculum and essential working ethos of every school and classroom.
What Mr. Tough does uncover is that loving parents, concerned teachers, and never say quit students who are surrounded by in school programs, like problem solving chess clubs, can nourish in wayward and academically and socially deficient children a desire to learn. The book takes a long long at a range of economic, psychological, educational, and sociologist scholarly research that seems to confirm Tough's hunches that it isn't necessarily the students with most socioeconomic advantages of financially, socially, and educationally well off parents who overcome their own circumstances to eventually succeed in school and life. Certainly Tough recognizes that financially well off parents give their children many advantages, but what is also noted is that these advantaged students when confronted with legitimate challenges lack the experiential mental "toughness" and resilience to problem solve and confidently walk through these failures, which Tough sees as inevitable and natural events in life, and overcome them; these well heeled financially and academic students lack the character traits to persist and surmount these personal travails and errors in choice and thinking. Of course many of the poorer students in the Chicago Public Schools do not necessarily become model students or citizens to become societal trailblazers for their local schools and communities, so there is a heavy dose of reality contained in the book.
Still, these students possibly because they clearly see in advance the challenges awaiting them and also have the experience of failing and failing again; failure at school and in life may not have such the stigma that it does with economically advantaged students, so it doesn't carry as much sting. Although Paul Tough discusses in his narratives and case studies that class opportunities for wealthy kids may have some inherent and yet unseen disadvantages, he does imply that advantaged students have parents who shield them from negative experiences from birth to 22 and beyond. When real crisis or unexpected turns, like job losses or personal life decisions with big consequences do occur, they can't think independently about what they learned based on past failures. Those poor students possibly learn more quickly how to recognize their disadvantages, home and societal, and look inward and outward for personal strength and resources to help them reach their goals. Failure, frustration, and potential violence is present daily, so Tough brings forth the theory that poor families and their children can juxtapose the positive from the negative role models, tools, and skills that will help them achieve in school and life more readily. The essential tool in changing young lives for both wealthy and poor kids and every child in between is to develop character of perseverance, curiosity, and a consistent positive attitude. How that becomes part of the curriculum or can be quantified is the challenge for 21st century continued educational scholarly research. "How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character" provides more questions than answers about how schools and parents nurture character in their children, but the book brings schools, parents, and other scholars together in encouraging furthering the discussion how can schools create a curriculum that uses formative and possibly some summative tests to support students emotional and social intelligence which will along with quantifiable intelligence, spatial and verbal learning, be a co-partner in their life success....more
The cover and the title are clear indications that THIS set of poetic topics is not for all audiences. Shut Up, You're Fine!: Poems for Very, Very Ba The cover and the title are clear indications that THIS set of poetic topics is not for all audiences. Shut Up, You're Fine!: Poems for Very, Very Bad Children" by Andrew Hudgins is definitely for an audience of older high school students. This book of poems was found under the library topic of "poems for boys", and after reading the content explored in Andrew Hudgins book this is likely accurate. Titles like "Our Neighbors Little Yappy Dog", "The Schlitz Malt Liquor Bull", and "We Buried the Cat but the Dog Dug Her Up" would definitely appeal to adolescent boys. Still, less timid high school girls would clearly enjoy this book as well.
Hudgins' ability to transform the gross and mean things in life through economy of word and voice into moments of humor and poetic beauty is what lifts these poems above there low origins. Sarcasm and insightful laughter mix freely in this set of nursery rhyme poems, and the less squeamish, and honest students, would appreciate his style and topics. Who hasn't at least had this thought cross their head about squirrels in their neighborhood running across power lines.
The Circus In The Trees
I love to watch the gray squirrels leap from limb to leafy limb, tumbling like furry acrobats- and every tree their gym.
The oak limbs are their trampoline, and their trapeze the pines. They stroll, like tightrope walkers, up The looping power lines-
and sometimes they gnaw through a line, exploding as it arcs, and lighting up the evening sky, cascading down as sparks.
Illustrator Barry Moser's penciled sketches mirror the singularity of purpose and concise words and content of each poem. "Shut Up, You're Fine" certainly doesn't present topics that most Language Arts teachers would deem "appropriate" for students, but what Hudgins does express so eloquently is one essential truth about poetry and art in general- no topic is taboo. Andrew Hudgins recognizes that it is not the topic's high or low origins which make it worthy of poetic exploration, but the ability of the poet to use word, imagery, and sound to present to the reader something entirely new to behold. For that reason alone, teachers should carefully pick out poems that highlight these realities of human thought, and explore Hudgins' technique. Ideas for the classroom would include taking topics or images, like roadkill or zits, that others might deem unsuitable for poetic discussion, and see if students can transform them into something comical and poetic. Andrew Hudgins is a Pulitzer Prize and National Book award finalist, and to see how he takes the generic, mundane, and often violent nature of American culture and offers it some means of transcendence is a worthy academic adventure. Teachers would do well to look at his poetic offerings. Other books by Andrew Hudgins to be previewed by teachers for classroom use for his unique and modern take on American life include "American Rendering: new and selected poems", "Ecstatic in the Poison", and "Babylon in a Jar". ...more
Darcy O'Hara is an 8 year girl living in a idealized Irish family life complete with a loving sibling, father, and grandmother in a wooden and stone fDarcy O'Hara is an 8 year girl living in a idealized Irish family life complete with a loving sibling, father, and grandmother in a wooden and stone farm house in the village of Pobble O'Keefe, and Darcy enjoys many pastoral joys of wandering in the cow pastures of a small farm. On her adventures, she collects butterfly wings, a pebble, and flowers, and puts them in hem of her dress for safekeeping. That life is soon imperiled when in 1848 excessive rains puts a blight on the family's potato crop. Soon the the crop is rotted, and the English Crown's agent comes demanding rent. Darcy's father sells off the cows, horse, and wagon, but even that compensation is not enough. In an act of inhuman cruelty, the agent returns with a gang of men to evict the O'Hara from the home and land, and the agent's men torch the family home to the ground. Desolate, homeless, and seeming hopeless, a decision is made to take the Crown's offer to relocate to America. Granny and Grandpa remain in Ireland. Before departing, Grandma and Darcy take one last look at their ancestral land. After a tearful parting, grandmother reminds Darcy to tell her granddaughter to tell not only the sad journey but the beauty that remains in Ireland. Upon her family's arrival in New York City, Darcy's family reunites, and she tells her father of the “small beauties” she has secured upon the transatlantic voyage: a moss covered pebble from their home, a magpie's feather, flowers, and a bead from Granny's rosary. Darcy now tells the tale of sorrow and joy to her family keeping her promise to her grandmother in the new world.
Elvira Woodruff's story brings this sad but promising immigrant story of loss and regeneration to life. Readers feel compelled to pull for this poor Cork county Irish family and our protagonist Darcy. Although the characters are fictional, Woodruff points out that the story's origins about fleeing Ireland for America in 1847 are based in fact. The family left Cork for Canada, and they eventually relocated to Michigan. One son, William gave birth to Henry Ford famous for his founding of the Ford Motor Company. Henry Ford decided upon visiting Ireland to return one hearth stone from his family's humble village in Cork. Illustrator Alex Rex's depictions of Irish family life, rural scenes, and the troubled days of the mass Irish exodus after the potato famine animate the readers to imagine and empathize with the O'hara's entire experience. Woodruff's retelling keeps to the facts, but she humanizes the characters without making them seem too saccharine. We see Darcy's simple joy in collecting small items around the farm, and the grandmother and Darcy's exchange before the granddaughter leaves Ireland forever comes across as genuine and legitimately sad. Woodruff's tale of woe and immigrant's overcoming obstacles is a familiar one to Americans, but what makes this story work for readers is the honesty with which she conveys the endearing charm of Darcy and her family's experience in overcoming such humble beginnings.
"Small Beauties" by Elvira Woodruff would be a useful start for teachers looking to begin a unit with students about the immigrant experience in America. The book seems to best suited for upper elementary grades of 3rd through 5th grade. Teachers should look for other historical fiction books to bring this period in American History alive for students. Comparisons and contrasts with Chinese, Japanese, Latino, German, Slavic, Italian, and Jewish immigration experiences through these books would illustrate for students how each group adapted and shared common methods of surviving and flourishing in the United States. Other picture and chapter books to compare immigrant experiences would be “Brothers” by Yin paintings by Chris Soentpiet about Chinese and Irish cultural exchanges in San Francisco in 1869, “The Keeping Quilt” about Slavic families traditions in America, and “Tom and Sofia Start School” by Henriette Bartow and Priscilla Lamont concerning Italian-American school experiences....more
Melissa Sweet's "Balloons Over Broadway" gives tribute to the origins of not only Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade tradition in New York, but to signifiMelissa Sweet's "Balloons Over Broadway" gives tribute to the origins of not only Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade tradition in New York, but to significant contributions to the artist who made it happen- Anthony Frederick Sarg. What makes Melissa Sweet's account of this true story so appealing for readers is that she mixes her own artistry, Miss Sweet is marionette/puppeteer maker herself, in designing each page with the fascinating true tale of how Tony Sarg solved the problem of keeping very large marionettes up and controlled from the streets during the parade.
Melissa Sweet starts the journey describing how Tony solved the problem of keeping himself in bed while feeding the chickens in the coop at his family's farm house; Tony used a clever pulley, string, and coop door opening mechanism synchronized with his alarm clock as a solution! Our puppeteer travels first to London where he creates a fanciful variety of puppets out of cloth, wood, and strings. They look so lifelike that soon he relocates back to New York. His marionettes are now performing on Broadway. First in Macy Wondertown in a window display that wows the crowd, and soon Sarg is enlisted by Macy's to create marionettes to amuse the children and adults in New York on Thanksgiving Day. After several versions of the marionettes move unsatisfactorily during the parade for Tony, Mr. Sarg uses the Goodyear company to create a light weight hybrid of silky cloth and rubber, inflated with helium, and controlled by strings to allow his wonderful creations to float and bob in a lifelike manner down the canyons of New York City on Thanksgiving Day. Tony Sarg's ingenious solution has been seen across American televisions every Thanksgiving Day for the last 75 years, and we the reader now know the real story thanks to Melissa Sweet.
The illustrations and childlike drawings by Melissa Sweet are just captivating. The story is retold in print and dramatic illustrations, and our illustrator slips in the occasional fun fact, or superimposes a real life puppet/marionette, super sized font, or comically animated set of sketch characters on selected pages to give the story movement and whimsy. Ms. Sweet has stayed true in both illustrating and providing facts about Sarg's story to the childlike nature of American marionette maker. This would be a delightful whole class read to 2nd and 3rd graders in November right before Thanksgiving break. A teacher could also look at other artists in the dance, movies, or music who transformed their field through invention. Students could examine these artists for their contributions and innovations in a short presentation and report. Other books that talk about explorers and inventors that would be suitable companion reads for students include "Amelia Lost" by Candace Fleming about the life and disappearance of Amelia Earheart, "Thomas Edison for Kids: His Life and Ideas, 21 Activities for Kids" (series) by Laura Winn Carlson, and "The Boy on Fairfield Street" by Kathleen Krull about the early years of Theodore Geisel aka Dr. Seuss. ...more
In 1935, a newly created agency of the Roosevelt administration, the FSA, or Farm Security Administration, had the task of documenting through photogrIn 1935, a newly created agency of the Roosevelt administration, the FSA, or Farm Security Administration, had the task of documenting through photographs the plight of rural America. In the depths of the Great Depression, these photographers produced more than a quarter of a million images of American rural and uban life. The goal of FSA and these photographers was to convey in human terms the true meaning of economic statistics. The candid, grim, and occasional comedic faces and actions of real Americans during its most trying times are all captured withing the pages and prose of historian Russell Freedman's pictorial journey "Children of the Great Depression".
What makes Russell Freedman's account work for the readers is the sheer scope of his book; the reader sees how the Great Depression had a generational life changing impact on the American people from this era, and Mr. Freedom covers them all: fathers and families, children at school, the Okies journeys to California, box car kids, and Hollywood depictions about and diversions from the Great Depression. No stone is left untouched, and Mr. Friedman's ability to take statistics about the Great Depression, nearly 25% of men and women between ages 16-64 were unemployed from 1929-1941, and give them a voice through quotes that vacillates somewhere between despair and sheer determination makes the pictures and words just that more captivating to gaze over. The impact on the family and children was seen in nearly every school across the country. "Another boy, Fred Batten, wore no socks, and often that winter the skin of his ankles was raw and swollen. One day he caught me looking at his bare ankles, and he turned away from me in silence." Pictures of children washing in a small metal tub in a dirty farm house, or living in a shanty house in Herrin, IL, and schools districts closing for a school year or more due to lack of local funding really brings the depravity of the situation home to the reader.
Friedman also captures the courage of the Okies from California who leave Oklahoma and arrive destitute in California looking for arable land. They are ostracized by the local farmers in California living in makeshift settlements by ditches near farm roads, but when WWII ends a good portion of these Okies will regain their dignity by become journalists, doctors, and teachers. Graphic photos of boxcar boys hopping a freight car and risking injury, amputation, or even death by misjudging the train's speed again highlights how desperate these boys and girls family's lives clearly must have been during this era.
"Children of the Great Depression" includes chapter notes which provides captions for each picture, a selected bibliography of sources, picture sources, and an index. Although this book was published in 2005, only one internet source is provided: http://newdeal.ferri.org. Certainly other teacher friendly or websites about the Great Depression could have been provided by the author. Other books which may provide students better insight into how children and families survived the Great Depression include "Dear Mrs. Roosevelt: Letters from Children of the Great Depression" by Eleanor Roosevelt, "Peanut Butter for Cupcakes: A True Story from the Great Depression" by Donna Nordmark Aviles, and The Great Depression: An Interactive History Adventure" by Mark by Michael Burgan. ...more