The stories in this book were powerful and moving, no doubt. I may be showing my (old) age here, but I found the format to be a bit difficult to folloThe stories in this book were powerful and moving, no doubt. I may be showing my (old) age here, but I found the format to be a bit difficult to follow. This is in part because it is hard to digest so much information so quickly. I read it in one sitting and didn't have a chance to sit with each work before moving on. I think this is a case where I would have valued the parts more than the whole if that makes any sense.
I think ideally, readers would read a few excerpts - selected poems or stories, just one at a time and then slowly go back, read just a few more.
Amazing true story of a boy fleeing Iran at the time of the Iran-Iraq war. The book details his escape and his stay in Istanbul while awaiting a BritiAmazing true story of a boy fleeing Iran at the time of the Iran-Iraq war. The book details his escape and his stay in Istanbul while awaiting a British visa. The book does read like a narrative in a way that detracts slightly from the text. It's also quite long and yet leaves you a bit unsatisfied as it ends with a brief epilogue about England. After spending so much time with Abbas, you at least want a bit of information about his life.
It's interesting though and definitely offers a perspective on life that many Americans have never had to contemplate. It would make a nice pairing in schools with other books about people fleeing war torn countries.
There are a few bloody/scary bits, and it is lengthy, but I do think it actually is okay for a middle grades audience even though it's often shelved as YA....more
This is definitely more of a 3.5 and it's a book I am terribly glad exists, because there really aren't all that many books out there that cover the tThis is definitely more of a 3.5 and it's a book I am terribly glad exists, because there really aren't all that many books out there that cover the territory of a boy who is unsure of his sexuality and dreams of living in a place of acceptance away from the endless homophobic taunts and slurs of his hometown.
The difficulty for me lies with the audience. It's too mature for upper elementary, with the repeated use fag, faggot, homo and similar. Its subject matter - auditioning and wanting to be in a Broadway play is highly specific and not something that many kids will relate to.
So…on the subject of homophobia…Nate is constantly bullied by kids at his school, his brother and even strangers. He relates the taunts, the physical violence in a very matter-of-fact way, but in some ways that detracts from the just how horrible and unacceptable his experiences are. I know kids go through this. His experience will undoubtedly speak to readers. BUT I just wish there was a little more done on the part of the author to point out to readers "hey, this is NOT OKAY. No one should have to live through this". One of the worst bits for me is when his very best friend starts making being gay a joke. She should know better. And everyone deserves better from their best friend.
Rose was born to replace a sister she never knew. She was meant to be an East born child, mild and docile and staying close to home. But Rose was bornRose was born to replace a sister she never knew. She was meant to be an East born child, mild and docile and staying close to home. But Rose was born facing North, a wanderer, bound to find danger. The White Bear was once not a bear. He was once a prince, who showed kindness to a stranger. But the stranger was a troll princess and soon he was caught in an enchantment, his freedom gone. Rose’s parents have kept her birth-direction a secret, hoping to keep her from harm. but when she is 15 the great white bear comes to them and asks that she come live with him. In return he will return her sister (who is very ill) to health and make her family wealthy beyond their dreams. Feeling betrayed by her parents, Rose agrees and soon finds herself living in an enchanted castle. She grows fond of the bear, but one night, her curiosity about their circumstances gets the best of her and she makes a choice that endangers both of their safety and the enchantment.
When I decided to read this, I had a copy of Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow at home as well, and I was very tempted to read that instead, because it’s by Jessica Day George whom I love. But I figured that you all already know I love her and that it would be good for all of us if I branched out. I am thrilled I decided to read East. It has a lot to recommend it, not least of which is a fairly strong and determined female character. In this book there is no question that the girl is doing the rescuing while the boy (while clearly in love with her and choosing her) is far more powerless and passive. In fact, most of the women in this book are the ones who wield the power, for better or worse.
There a few things I didn’t love, but I find that to be true with so many fairy tales. My main issues with this one are further detailed below, but the basic idea that a girl’s curiosity leads to terrible consequences for someone she loves isn’t one that I support.
Age Recommendation: This was filed Juvenile at my branch of the public library while the rest in the system have it as Young Adult. I would say it’s Young Adult because there is an underlying theme of romance and love, but there’s really not so much as a kiss, so it’s likely chaste enough for middle grades readers who are reading above grade level. I’d say advanced fourth grade readers up through teens would enjoy this. Honestly the most off-putting thing is an important part of the fairy tale – that someone is getting into bed with Rose each night and she doesn’t know who it is. And that there are terrible consequences for her finding out. Her mother is made out to be the bad guy because she sort of bullies Rose into peeking at her bed mate, but mothers out there, I know you’re with me on this, what kind of mother wouldn’t insist her daughter knew who was sharing her bed???
Great for: This is a perfect pick for readers who have torn through more traditional fairy tales. Encourage them to try this rather than yet another retelling of Cinderella. The ice and snow theme should also appeal to all of the Frozen fans out there. While based on a different fairy tale, East should contain similar enough elements to capture their curiosity....more
It can be hard to cover the issue of abuse and foster children without getting into some pretty nasty stuff. Henson does a good job of implying what wIt can be hard to cover the issue of abuse and foster children without getting into some pretty nasty stuff. Henson does a good job of implying what went on and backing it with only a few graphic details rather than descend to the depths in her description. She chooses not to name the bad words Shiloh uses either. Because of this, the book is more accessible to a wider audience. There are lots of opportunities for readers to do work - holes left by Henson that won't be filled in for awhile. It's a fast read - the multiple narrator format and the doling out of details like breadcrumbs makes the pages turn quickly. The ending is a bit surprising, but the ultimate resolution is not.
I'll openly admit that I do not know enough about the foster care system to judge Henson on accuracy or plausibility there....more
Not nearly as clever as it thought it was. I'm a sucker for things making sense and when they don't I tend to dislike the book disproportionately. TheNot nearly as clever as it thought it was. I'm a sucker for things making sense and when they don't I tend to dislike the book disproportionately. The bad guys felt very trendy (I know, it's a weird thing to say, but trust me) and unoriginal, which was disappointing.
It was also disappointing in that it didn't give you the creeps really. All of the "horror" (thank you library sticker on the spine) was a graphically violent confrontation at the end. There wasn't the proper anticipation and build up and reveal that you (well at least I) like in a scary book....more
This volume was much darker than its predecessor. Lots of the stories deal with hard issues or moral ambiguity. I LOVED the story by Rita Williams GarThis volume was much darker than its predecessor. Lots of the stories deal with hard issues or moral ambiguity. I LOVED the story by Rita Williams Garcia and the one by Kyoko Mori....more
As far as fairy tales go, this was pretty interesting. Emmeline has a "curled foot" and is shunned for it in her village. As the story unfolds, we leaAs far as fairy tales go, this was pretty interesting. Emmeline has a "curled foot" and is shunned for it in her village. As the story unfolds, we learn there is much more to her than her status as an unwanted in her own town.
With elements of other fairy tales woven through, The Sweetest Spell wasn't nearly as predictable or comfortable as I thought it would be. There was unpleasantness leading up to the ending and in ways I didn't anticipate.
Overall though, it was enjoyable. I liked having a heroine who had what some would consider a disfigurement (and no it does not magically get fixed, even if other things about Emmeline do). There's also a gay character toward the end, so extra bonus points for that.
I think my only reservations are that she's not particularly bright (her people aren't educated, but that shouldn't make a difference in inherent intelligence) and she doesn't do much saving of herself (something I tend to look for in fairy tales....more
I really did enjoy Dash and Lily, but Naomi and Ely were not for me. There is so much emotion and drama and angst and I am SO OLD that I can only fainI really did enjoy Dash and Lily, but Naomi and Ely were not for me. There is so much emotion and drama and angst and I am SO OLD that I can only faintly remember a time in my life when things were that fraught and tangled and confused. And of course, my life was never as exciting as Naomi or Ely's.
But the real problem was not all of the star-crossed lover, confused dating crap. It was that Naomi is not only not likable, she is someone I actively disliked. She's a stone cold bitch and selfish on top. But she doesn't mean to be, it's really just that she's SO HOT she can't help it. That's right, she's just so incredibly sexy that she just makes guys want her and she just can't help the power her breasts have over people. You would hope that somewhere in the course of the book that we would learn that perhaps beneath her hot!hot!hot! facade she had some depth, but alas, it is not to be. Her depth is: She is not actually a slut. She's a virgin. So see? She can't be evil. It's not like she's using all her hotness for this. But she is both actively stupid (failing out of NYU and had her best friend do her high school homework for her back in the day) and has no discernible personal interests - can't even make a meaningful mix for someone. THIS DOES NOT MAKE HER LIKABLE!
Ely is shallow and selfish too, but I minded it less on him for some reason.
Despite not being into it at all myself, I certainly have known some people in my life that would have not only enjoyed it, but gotten something out of it (or I hope would have) namely that YOUR GAY FRIEND IS GAY. He is not turning straight for you baby, no matter how big your breasts are....more
Ann Rinaldi always did know her way around a chaste historical romance, I can see why I really enjoyed her works as a teenage. This one was nothing exAnn Rinaldi always did know her way around a chaste historical romance, I can see why I really enjoyed her works as a teenage. This one was nothing exceptional, but I did like it, despite the weird age difference/power dynamic going on in the romance. Oh, and the war was pretty bloodless, not without deaths, but certainly low on gore....more