Anne Frank Beyond the Diary was published in collaboration with the Anne Frank house in the Netherlands; therefore, it is well-researched and has manyAnne Frank Beyond the Diary was published in collaboration with the Anne Frank house in the Netherlands; therefore, it is well-researched and has many photographs that were not published anywhere else. This book would be a great resource in tandem with Anne Frank’s diary, either as an introduction or to be read immediately afterward. I read Diary of a Young Girl a few times in my youth, sometimes for class assignments but also for personal reading, and the photos in this book of the Secret Annex helped me to imagine the difficulties of living in secret for those two years. I would recommend this for upper elementary students who have read, or wish to read, about World War II and the Nazi occupation. ...more
Summary: The Gaither sisters take a memorable trip to Oakland, California in 1968, to visit the mother who abandoned them. Cecile is called by differeSummary: The Gaither sisters take a memorable trip to Oakland, California in 1968, to visit the mother who abandoned them. Cecile is called by different names, has strange visitors come to her house at night, and her kitchen is off-limits; what’s worse, it doesn’t seem that she really wants them there. Will the girls ever find out the truth about their past?
Evaluation: There is a lot going on in this book – family dynamics, racism, clash of cultures. The Gaither sisters (Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern), who live in New York, are sent by their father and grandmother to visit their mother, Cecile, who lives in Oakland, California, and left them many years ago. It’s a tumultuous time – the rise of the Black Panthers, who the girls, as well as the reader, learn about from the day camp that Cecile sends them to so that she can work on her radical poetry. Oakland is very different from New York, as the girls quickly see. Delphine, who is the oldest, has to bear the responsibility of looking after her sisters, no matter what; a thankless task for an eleven-year-old girl.
Cecile comes across as extremely unlikable, and I’m not sure if the intended readership would understand her rationale for leaving. It’s not explained in much detail in the book, but as an adult reader, I gathered that Cecile left because her life was not her own; she was on the streets, was rescued by a man, and had a child with him shortly thereafter. There is no mention of marriage or love, so perhaps the only way she could gain control of her own life was to leave.
Delphine was a good choice for the protagonist of One Crazy Summer. She has enough knowledge due to having to be a substitute mother to her sisters, while also having her own share of naivete and preconceived notions (such as the encounters with the Black Panthers day camp and some of the other children). I enjoyed her growth as a person over her time in Oakland.
The one thing that didn’t seem realistic to me, however, was the main thrust of the plot itself. The girls’ grandmother, known as Big Ma, never has nice things to say about Cecile. Their father’s rationale is that it’s ‘something that has to be done,’ but it doesn’t seem like a good decision to send the girls off to a mother they don’t really know for a month, when they’re not sure if she will look after them.
If one overlooks this and suspends her disbelief, however, it is a very readable novel, with elements both heartbreaking and humorous, that upper elementary to middle grades readers could appreciate. I think it would appeal to girls more, as the Gaither girls and their strong bond (which is not without its sibling squabbles) would resonate with readers. ...more
Summary: A young boy takes on the challenge of his life in the summer of 1959 Memphis – his friend’s paper route. Victor has a stutter which makes talSummary: A young boy takes on the challenge of his life in the summer of 1959 Memphis – his friend’s paper route. Victor has a stutter which makes talking seem pretty impossible at times. However, when he has a run-in with the neighborhood junkman, he learns what real danger can be.
Evaluation: While this could easily be dismissed as a “problem novel,” as the protagonist has a speech impediment, the stutter is just one of many aspects of Victor’s life: he plays baseball, he enjoys movies, and he’s quite introspective for a child his age. Victor narrates his own story as he types it on his typewriter, a tool he has learned to use due to his dislike of having to talk. His family’s housekeeper, who Victor calls “Mam,” is African-American, and the novel touches on the themes of segregation and racism, though never very deeply. Victor encounters some memorable characters as the substitute paper carrier, such as Mrs. Worthington, who drinks her pain away; and Mr. Spiro, the merchant marine with his own library and who seems to understand Victor so well. Paperboy is a semi-autobiographical novel, as Mr. Vawter tells the reader in the end notes, as well as providing some resources for others who stutter. There are a few instances of mild cussing and a violent scene involving stabbing in the climax of the novel, so Paperboy is best suited for middle grades readers who enjoy realistic or historical fiction. ...more
A bit dated now, as it was published in 1998, but no less true. And I say this as someone who is an annual passholder to WDW. I have a love-hate relatA bit dated now, as it was published in 1998, but no less true. And I say this as someone who is an annual passholder to WDW. I have a love-hate relationship with all things Disney, honestly. It helps me see both sides....more
This is my second Carl Hiassen book, and while it was amusing, it didn't make me laugh as hard as Bad Monkey did. I've been told that the ones involviThis is my second Carl Hiassen book, and while it was amusing, it didn't make me laugh as hard as Bad Monkey did. I've been told that the ones involving Skink are better, so I won't give up on him just yet. I do enjoy all of the crazy Floridians that Mr. Hiassen cooks up, though. ...more
1. Culture or group portrayed: Autism Spectrum Disorder 2. Book information: Tourville, A. (2010). My Friend Has Autism. Minnesota: Picture Window Book1. Culture or group portrayed: Autism Spectrum Disorder 2. Book information: Tourville, A. (2010). My Friend Has Autism. Minnesota: Picture Window Books. 3. Summary: Nick’s friend Zack has autism, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be friends. Nick and Zack love model airplanes, so they enjoy that together, as well as video games. Sometimes, Zack doesn’t talk at all, and sometimes he talks too much about his interests; Nick knows that Zack doesn’t like to be touched, so he doesn’t wrestle with him like he does with his other friends. 4. Cultural/Multicultural evaluation: I was pleased to discover that the child, Zack, that has ASD was not white, as that seems to be the norm in portrayals of autistic children. The book is very simple in its message – just because someone is different from you doesn’t mean you can’t be friends. Nick tells us about the positives and negatives of having a friend with ASD, but even the negatives are not harsh – when Zack walks away while Nick is trying to show him a new magazine, he says that he (Nick) will just show it to Zack another time. Each page has a “Did You Know?” box that explains the characteristics of ASD, and at the end, there is a page with further reading resources and a curated search engine for children. 5. Conclusion/verdict: Recommended for young children. ...more
1. Culture or group portrayed: Marcelo is on the autism spectrum. 2. Book information: Stork, F. (2009). Marcelo in the Real World. New York: Arthur A.1. Culture or group portrayed: Marcelo is on the autism spectrum. 2. Book information: Stork, F. (2009). Marcelo in the Real World. New York: Arthur A. Levine Books. 3. Summary: Marcelo Sandoval is a 17-year-old boy on the autism spectrum (it’s not entirely clear what his diagnosis is, but the closest is Asperger’s, according to him). He goes to a specialized school that uses animal therapy, and is all set to spend his summer working with the horses. However, Marcelo’s father wants him to experience the “real world,” so instead, he makes him work in the mailroom at his law firm. Marcelo learns how to adapt to real-life situations, encounters some unsavory people, and finally has to make a test of loyalty to his family. 4. Cultural/Multicultural evaluation: As stated earlier, Marcelo is on the spectrum; from what I know about people with Asperger’s, his character seems to be in line with some of the behaviors that tend to be noticed by other people. Unfortunately, some of the people he meets are unkind and refer to him as “retarded.” In addition, he is Latino, which brings up some uncomfortable situations later with the boss’ son when he speaks about Marcelo’s father being a “minority hire” in the early days of his career. One of the things I liked best about the book is the fact that, while Marcelo was raised Catholic, one of his friends and spiritual mentors is a female rabbi, and he has some interesting conversations with her throughout the novel. This makes the conflicts in the book more well-rounded, as it’s not just “Marcelo versus his autism,” but also conflicts between love and loyalty, doing the right thing versus what is easiest, and so on. Marcelo’s language is a little stilted and formal and took a few pages to get into, but once you get into it, he hooks you in. 5. Conclusion/verdict: I highly recommend this book for upper middle through high school. There are a few instances of language and some conversations involving sexual situations. ...more
1. Culture or group portrayed: Clay is on the autism spectrum, specifically, Asperger’s. 2. Book information: Marzo, C. and Yehling, R. (2015). Just Ad1. Culture or group portrayed: Clay is on the autism spectrum, specifically, Asperger’s. 2. Book information: Marzo, C. and Yehling, R. (2015). Just Add Water: a Surfing Savant’s Journey with Asperger’s. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 3. Summary: Clay Marzo has been in the water since before he could walk. Growing up in Hawaii, he learned to surf from his parents and never looked back. Clay is not like your average surfer, though, for two reasons – his supreme skill that won him many contests and contracts at a young age, and his diagnosis of Asperger’s. This book follows Clay’s journey as a surfer and a human, trying to figure out how to navigate life from a different point of view. 4. Cultural/Multicultural evaluation: I know nothing about surfing, so those parts of the book, replete with name-dropping, didn’t hold as much interest for me. However, I could respect Clay’s dedication to his craft. The book was a bit slow, but it was trying to tell both stories – both Clay’s rise to surfing fame as well as his path to diagnosis on the autism spectrum. I admired how tenacious his mother, Jill, was, looking for answers for her son’s “differences.” It was sad how his father seemed to feel that his undiagnosed issue was just a “cop-out” to be lazy and not do his schoolwork, although I’m sure he’s not the only parent to feel that way. The book also gives you a glimpse into the difficulties of living with someone on the spectrum – getting to places on time, dealing with crowds, romantic relationships, and so on. 5. Conclusion/verdict: I would recommend this book to upper middle school and beyond, as it has several things to offer. If you are into surfing, you might want to read about Clay’s rise to fame. If you enjoy inspiring stories about overcoming diversity, Clay’s journey definitely has that, as well. Of course, it also is a story about autism, and shows others on the spectrum that they’re not alone. ...more