I wasn’t sure about this one at first. It’s basically a historical fiction very short picture book story. A lot of 20s slang and mood is at the forefr...moreI wasn’t sure about this one at first. It’s basically a historical fiction very short picture book story. A lot of 20s slang and mood is at the forefront, which I enjoyed, but as I read I wasn’t sure young children would.
The illustrations are terrific. I love when the illustrations bleed out of their area.
However, and I’m embarrassed to admit this, I didn’t read the cues about what was going on re Ben’s trumpet. I wasn’t sufficiently observant about what the pictures were telling me. But, because of that, how this story evolves, I found even more emotionally rich when I finally did understand. What a lovely story! Much is told in relatively few words.
This book is one of the six books (five books and an alternate) chosen by the Pictures Books Club over at the Children's Books group for its March theme of music.
I’d already read two of the books, have three at home to read (including this one), and for the first time cannot get one of the books, in this case the book designated as an alternate book, which is too bad because it looks fabulous.(less)
I saw a Gee’s Bend quilt exhibit at my local museum a few years ago and read an accompanying book: The Quilts of Gee's Bend: Masterpieces from a Lost...moreI saw a Gee’s Bend quilt exhibit at my local museum a few years ago and read an accompanying book: The Quilts of Gee's Bend: Masterpieces from a Lost Place,which I now just noticed I’d never marked as owned or read; that’s been rectified. I can’t remember the names of the couple artists whose quilts I most liked, but I loved the exhibit and the art book, and that’s why I wanted to read this picture book for children.
I was completely blown away by this book! I’m so glad I’ve seen so many of the Gee’s Bend’s quilts in person, and had read the stories of some of their creators, but even if I’d never seen any or known about these artists, the story is this book is told so beautifully and the illustrations are so wonderful; I’m sure I’d have loved it almost as much as I do.
How quilt pieces tell a story (I love the one the little girl in this book makes!), the history of the citizens who created the Gee’s Bend quilts, and some general related history, stellar introduction and author’s note at the end. I love quilts even more than I did before. I’d be interested in participating in some sort of quilting circle but I don’t have old fabrics that have sentimental meaning and I suspect I’m too much of a klutz. But, reading about the Gee’s Bend women and girls is heartwarming and fascinating. The poems and their titles are wonderful. This sort of poetry, with its rhythm and cadence doesn’t always do it for me, but here it worked wonderfully. This is a very worthy book with which to introduce children to this tradition. Loved it!(less)
This is one of those books that so impressed me I’m struggling to write about it in a coherent manner.
Right away: wonderful WONDERFUL!!! from the auth...moreThis is one of those books that so impressed me I’m struggling to write about it in a coherent manner.
Right away: wonderful WONDERFUL!!! from the author’s note about writing what she/authors know, or not, before the start of the book, to the very engaging narrator. Oh, if I’d had this book to read when I was 12 or 13, it would have been one of those lifesaving books, true even when I was a decade older perhaps.
In my opinion, it’s stunningly marvelous. I appreciated how a lot is left open to interpretation, including even the book’s genre.
It’s about survival and living and death and grief and books (especially books!) and connection and so much more, what the dead are and aren’t to the living, about doing right and being oneself, and growing up and growing strong, and it’s about coping. And. And. And.
I love having a narrator who’s smart, thoughtful, and a superb writer. In this case the entire story is told via Mori’s diary entries. She’s such a good writer and knows so much about speculative fiction literature, I had to look up a few words, and I enjoyed learning what I learned.
I enjoyed it when I recognized my read books that were mentioned and I regretted not having read all the books, wondering what in the conversation I was missing.
This is an almost perfect book for me. As I read, and I thought about writing a review for this book, I kept planning to say this is an almost perfect book until/through, expecting my feelings would change, but they did not.
I am confused about one or two things and so I’m glad I read it for a Goodreads’ online book club. It’s a June selection, and I can’t wait to chat about it. If only we had a real world book club that could meet in a library such as the book club featured in this story.(less)
The inside front cover gave away too much about what is going to happen in the story. True, I am often dense, and it’s likely that the vast majority o...moreThe inside front cover gave away too much about what is going to happen in the story. True, I am often dense, and it’s likely that the vast majority of readers would quickly, maybe immediately, figure out what is revealed without reading the synopsis on the cover, but I was a bit disappointed to learn something prematurely.
But, I was not disappointed in the book. This is a historical fiction picture book, a dual story about the creation and gift of and installation of the Statue of Liberty and a family who immigrate to America. The family is closely based on Jane Yolen's Jewish Russian/Ukrainian family.
On the left side of every page, the reader sees a family who decide to go to America, and their very slow progress is followed until they’re shown together in America. On the right side of each page the inspiration, planning, creation, and giving of the Statue of Liberty is shown. And finally, the two parts of the story do meet. It’s an effective way to tell about the big picture and also personalize the experience of immigration.
Shortly after I turned five my family moved to New Jersey/New York for a year. I was fascinated by the true story about the Statue of Liberty. I’m thinking now that it might have been my first, or one of my very early, history lessons, and I’ve always enjoyed learning history. So, I’d have loved this book when I was a child, and I really enjoyed it now too.
Yolen is such a prolific writer, and she writes such a wide variety of types of books. This is one unlike the others by her that I’ve read so far.
I actually learned quite a bit about the statue and its history, most of it from the author’s note at the end of the book. The note is titled “What is true about this book” and I am glad that Yolen explained about her actual family history of immigrating to America and how she combined her mother’s family and father’s family into this book’s single family. This relatively short author’s note (2 pages) also includes a lot of educational and interesting information.
The illustrations feel very authentic and while I appreciated some more than others, overall I enjoyed them in the context of this story.
One thing I found interesting is that there was much talk about people taking on American names when they immigrated to America, and the inference is that Americanized names is a good thing; I noticed no dissension regarding this practice, but given that all the events here take place more than one hundred years ago, I guess that’s part of this book's authenticity.(less)
I loved the animal and human interconnectedness in this book. From the animals’ perspective Barefoot (an escaping slave) is hunted by Heavy Boots (tho...moreI loved the animal and human interconnectedness in this book. From the animals’ perspective Barefoot (an escaping slave) is hunted by Heavy Boots (those trying to recapture him) and the young man who is fleeing makes use of the presence of the animals to find food, water, etc. It’s an interesting way to tell a story about an escaping slave and the people attempting to recapture him and the people who are willing to help him.
I appreciated the idea of the story and I was very grateful that the author’s note mentioned some of what bothered me: mentioning that the animals didn’t know they were being helpful, and yet asking kids to ask whether perhaps they did know; that latter question was okay with me.
But I didn’t like that in the story, the animals did seem to know a tad more what was going on that is reasonable to expect. I also didn’t like the sort of magical content, the main instance being that while Barefoot is hiding in the marsh he inexplicably escapes getting any mosquito bites, while those same pests cover the Heavy Boots with bites, driving them away from the man escaping. I think it would have been a more powerful story if the escaping slave had been bitten as well. (I know there are great variations in how susceptible different individuals are to getting mosquito bites and perhaps the mosquitoes were attracted by the hunters’ lanterns, but even so; I couldn’t suspend disbelief.)
I did like how it was made obvious that there were multiple slaves fleeing to freedom. And I think that the brief author’s note at the end gave useful information about the Underground Railroad network.
The illustrations were wonderfully atmospheric, and I like how that until toward the end, it was feet that were emphasized in the pictures of the humans. It’s supposed to be night, and the pictures are so dark, even the one that shows the house with the quilt, and I think that was a good choice.
This book could be a good choice for learning about and starting discussions about slavery and the Underground Railroad.(less)
So, I loved the foreword at the beginning and the author’s note at the end. I liked the illustrations. The historical fiction story didn’t do it for m...moreSo, I loved the foreword at the beginning and the author’s note at the end. I liked the illustrations. The historical fiction story didn’t do it for me. Part of it was in the incessant religion, with which I couldn’t relate. (I could say something about her head injury here but I’m not going to go there.) But the religion wasn’t really my problem with the story. This woman was extremely religious and so telling her story in this manner makes sense. It was that the words didn’t flow in a pleasant way, I wanted more about her leading slaves to freedom along the Underground Railroad, which is how I learned about her growing up, and there was just something lacking for me; I’m not sure what. The ancillary material does give me all the “missing” information. I did learn quite a bit. I didn’t know she’d never lost someone she was helping escape from slavery, I didn’t know (or remember) how she saved her own family members, or how she got her name, or much about her life when she was a slave. I’m having a very hard time rating this. I didn’t personally enjoy it all that much; I’d rather have read another book about this woman. But, I think it’s a worthy book: fine illustrations, good information about slavery and the Underground Railroad and its helpers, and Tubman herself. I do think most readers will appreciate this book more than I did. Most people will not be turned off by the religion and many will like it better because of the religion. She was a remarkable woman and I’m glad that a book about her was chosen for this month’s (theme of Black History Month) Picture Books Club at the Children's Books group.
So, foreword and author’s note: 5 stars, illustrations: 3-1/2 to 4-1/2 stars, story: 2 to 2-1/2 stars.(less)
This is a wonderful historical fiction story about an African-American family of children, 4 boys and finally 1 girl, who have to put in a lot of dedi...moreThis is a wonderful historical fiction story about an African-American family of children, 4 boys and finally 1 girl, who have to put in a lot of dedication to go to school. Because these people (names are intact) are based on ancestors of the author, I was tempted to put it on my biography and history shelves, but I can tell from the stellar author’s note at the end of the book that she took quite a bit of artistic license, so historical-fiction is where it belongs.
Virgie begs to go to school with her older brothers and her parents finally agree that schooling is for all who are free. The children have to walk 7 miles through difficult terrain to reach their school and then they stay for the whole school week. The school is based on a Quaker school that was formed for the purpose of educating ex-slaves.
Virgie’s hunger for learning and books is very laudable. Today’s children, who might take their education for granted or who are not fond of school, might be impressed with what the kids in this book have to go through to get an education.
The illustrations are wonderful. They’re very evocative of that time and place and circumstance, and the colors are gorgeous, and I find the artistic style very aesthetically pleasing.
The end of the book author’s note “Learning to Be Free” gives information about the actual school, the family members, and just a bit of history about slavery and literacy, and also she recounts the research she did and how she decided to write this book. There is one possibly sad thing revealed about one of the main characters.
I was very touched by Virgie and her family and by the (brief appearance of) Quaker schoolmaster.(less)
This was a wonderful book choice to transition me from 2011 to 2012.
Flavia is so much fun! She’s a hoot. But, with each book, I also find her more &...moreThis was a wonderful book choice to transition me from 2011 to 2012.
Flavia is so much fun! She’s a hoot. But, with each book, I also find her more & more endearing. And she really makes me appreciate chemistry.
For the first time I’m enjoying Gladys as her own character, not just as an accoutrement of Flavia’s.
I would have preferred Roma to Gypsy, though this is historical fiction and I’m sure the term is more correctly used for this time and place. But then right away the word for horse was given in the Romany language so I was satisfied.
So, I read this almost immediately after reading book 2 and my thought was I’d go on almost immediately to book 4, but it turns out that for all the griping I do about waiting for each next book in a series to be available, I think there is something to be said for enjoying series books more if there is some time in-between them. I think I’ll wait at least several months to continue with this series; I have too many books at the top of my queue to do anything else anyway.
I love how Flavia says: “…because I was only eleven years old, I was wrapped in the best cloak of invisibility in the world.”
This series is one of my favorite cozy mystery series.
I love how the scary parts are short and not too scary. In this book, I nearly cried with emotion at the last line and nearly laughed when I turned the page to read the short author’s note.
And, I didn’t guess the mystery in full, not at all, and I enjoy having good clues yet being kept basically in the dark. I read so many mysteries I often do guess them, which can be fun but I prefer being surprised.
4 ½ stars
I just upped the other books in this series from 4 to 5 stars. Its protagonist is just too unique for me to feel otherwise.(less)
This is a wonderful story of a Kamishibai Man (a storyteller who uses storytelling paper cards & sells candy) who goes back to work because he mis...moreThis is a wonderful story of a Kamishibai Man (a storyteller who uses storytelling paper cards & sells candy) who goes back to work because he misses it. I was fascinated to learn about this Japanese tradition; I’d never heard of it. The afterword, which is written by a Japanese folklore scholar, greatly added to my enjoyment of this story.
The whole story and its afterword have a melancholy feel, but there are some very uplifting aspects included. There is a fascinating author’s note at the beginning of the book, where he describes the importance this art form has had for him.
I was so touched by this storyteller and his wife, and the children, and particularly one young boy, and then the adults they grow to be.
Kamisibai flourished in the 1930s depression, when people struggled financially. With the advent of television and greater prosperity, it fell into disfavor, though it survives today (apparently not in scintillating form though) and it has inspired some other art forms.
I would have been way too sad about this story except for the attitudes of the man & his wife and the man’s biggest fan. The reader/listener is also given a lovely reminder about how what was old can be new again and what has been forgotten can again be appreciated.
I really enjoyed some of the illustrations, particularly the landscapes, and while I’m not a huge fan of the style, particularly the way people are depicted, the pictures fit the story perfectly so they all did work fine for me.
I wasn’t as touched by this story as I thought I’d be, and while I stayed interested, I didn’t learn anything new from this historical fiction story,...moreI wasn’t as touched by this story as I thought I’d be, and while I stayed interested, I didn’t learn anything new from this historical fiction story, and I’d assumed I would. But, I did like this book, and I think it has appeal for those interested in the Golden Gate Bridge, particularly its construction, bridge construction in general, and especially those interested in father and son stories.
I liked the paintings, particularly those of the bridge, but of the people also.
I appreciated how Robert is so proud of his father and also how he decides that his friend Charlie’s dad has just as important role as his own father’s. Their fathers are two of the more than 1,000 men who built the bridge. The story covers a real life accident that happened toward the end of the project.
I love how the kids work on a jigsaw puzzle of the bridge as it’s envisioned at the same time as their fathers work on the actual bridge. And I was moved by the fate of that last puzzle piece.
The illustration of Robert and his parents and Charlie and his father, celebrating after the bridge’s completion, touched me more than anything else in the book. I realized that maybe Charlie did not have a mother and his father had just participated in a very dangerous endeavor, a project where other men lost their lives.
I just wish that there had been a bit more to the story and a lot more background about the actual bridge. There is an author’s note at the end that for me did add something important to the book, but even there I wish that there had been more, and perhaps also additional different information.
The bridge was completed in April 1937. My mother was living in the city then and she was 21 years old, and I wonder if she got to walk across it on its first day.
I’m thrilled to have another book to add to my san-francisco shelf.
Wow! This story, two intertwining stories actually, was very effective storytelling. It was a fabulous way to tell a historical fiction story.
It’s abo...moreWow! This story, two intertwining stories actually, was very effective storytelling. It was a fabulous way to tell a historical fiction story.
It’s about two young women in their late teens, Andi who’s living in the 21st century and Alex who’s living in the 18th century, during the time of the French Revolution. We learn about Alex as Andi is reading her diary.
Does every main character in young adult books have to be extraordinary to be interesting to the reader?! When I first started this, that was my gripe. But, I like that Andi, who lives in Brooklyn, New York, has a genius level IQ, is an accomplished musician, speaks French fluently, is well educated, and independent and resolute, knowing her own mind, is willing to work hard, and is also seriously depressed and grieving. I’m assuming her psychotropic medication was helping her depression enough so she could function as well as she did.
Alex’s story is also fascinating. Through it I learned quite a bit about the French Revolution. (I am not as well educated as Andi, it seems.) Though fictionalized, of course, I got a wonderful and slightly different perspective on Marie Antoinette. When I was back in the 18th century, everything was just as vivid as in the other story/today’s world. Anybody who has any fascination with guillotining will get their fill here; those descriptions were quite vivid.
The stories are psychologically sophisticated about depression, human relationships, and human nature too.
I did guess the “mystery” that’s a part of this book, and fairly early on, but that did not at all detract from my enjoyment of the book. The entire story was gripping; as I read on & on, it got harder & harder to put down the book.
In addition to Andi and Alex, music (and a variety at that!) is another main character that shines in this book. I love how the author was able to incorporate music (musicians, instruments, specific pieces and songs, and music’s importance) throughout the entire book. She did it brilliantly. There were also at least a dozen other characters that were wonderfully presented.
I cared about Andi and Alex and most of the other characters too. I got very invested in them. At one of the saddest moments, capable of sending the reader (along with the main character) into utter despair, I got one of the biggest laughs from the book; that was an amazing feat. It did not at all feel manipulative, but rather true to life.
At first I wasn’t so sure I liked a long portion toward the end, but I ended up loving it. While open to interpretation, I enjoyed my take on it and I think it’s the one that’s meant to be taken; I’m happy with how I understand that part of the plot. For some time I was afraid this would totally disintegrate into a pedestrian teenage love story, but I was pleasantly surprised.
There are quite a few notable quotes in this book. I added at least one to my quotes and could have added several. There is (for me) a powerful message about how healing oneself can often best be accomplished by being there for and helping someone else.
The notes on sources and bibliography at the end of the book are sufficiently extensive that it’s obvious how much research went into writing this book, as much as for many non-fiction books. It showed!
4 ½ stars
Edited to add: This author is able to describe and write about depression remarkably well!(less)
This book is amazing, outstanding, and its pictures and storytelling via those illustrations are exquisitely done; they’re just beautiful. I need to r...moreThis book is amazing, outstanding, and its pictures and storytelling via those illustrations are exquisitely done; they’re just beautiful. I need to reread this over and over and over. I might have to get a copy for myself someday. I’ve never been to Europe but there are a lot of clues are about the various locations in the story. I thought that I was being incredibly observant but in the notes at the end, I see I missed so much, so much. I can’t say enough good things about this book and I’m so enthusiastic I am sad that I can’t give a more useful review.
What I’ll say is that the author (illustrator) is a native of Japan but he’s been interested in Europe and its culture and architecture and art, and its folk & fairy tales, its people, etc. etc. These illustrations tell stories of two of his trips, and they include a lot of fantastical elements. Brilliant and fun and appealing to the eye.
I can recommend this to everybody. Pre-readers and readers of any and all languages will be able to read this wordless picture book.
I wish I knew even more about art, folklore, and Europe because I know I’d get even more from this book than I do. But, even as things are, this is now a favorite book of mine.
I’m beyond impressed. And I’m off to reread it again.
I can’t thank the Children's Books group enough! I learned about this book because of the members of that group. When this was nominated for one of our January wordless picture books to read for the Picture Book Club, I immediately put it on reserve at the library. I’m deliriously happy that it is one of our six books for our book discussion next month. The other five selections I’ve already read, and I’ve read many other wonderful wordless picture books too, and this book is definitely one of the outstanding examples of the genre.
Enough said. I’m off to re-read it. I hope to get to at least one other picture book today and back to my novel this evening; I’ll have to see. This might be one I don’t return when I get to the library next time. I think I’ll keep it for nearly the three weeks.
Hours & hours of entertainment are in these pages!
Addendum as I’m shelving this: I’m having a hard time choosing all the appropriate shelves.
And, I'd really enjoy reading some kids' book reports about this book!