Galante writes with empathy and deep respect about the lives of her characters. In this book thirteen-year old Daisy flees with her mother and baby si...moreGalante writes with empathy and deep respect about the lives of her characters. In this book thirteen-year old Daisy flees with her mother and baby sister, Ella, to a Women’s shelter. Even though nothing is familiar and Daisy is embarrassed she is also relieved. Now she doesn’t have to listen to her mother’s boyfriend Slade belittle her or her mother. She no longer needs to eat as an escape and discovers that she loves playing the piano. In the shelter Daisy’s mom discovers things about herself including strength she did not know she had.
Galante provides a realistic portrait of a family under stress and a spirited, loveable young teen. Her writing is engaging. Daisy’s story is realistic; not everything works out well but Daisy is able to move on with her life. Highly recommended. (less)
This book evokes strong reactions from all readers. Based upon the life of the author and her relatives, Yoko’s father was a Japanese diplomat assigne...moreThis book evokes strong reactions from all readers. Based upon the life of the author and her relatives, Yoko’s father was a Japanese diplomat assigned to and living with his family in Korea near the end of World War II. The chaos of war ends up separating the father, son and females of the family from each other. Yoko, her sister, Ko, and their mother gradually make their way back to ravaged Japan only to find that nearly all of their extended family has been killed. Yoko’s mother is not able to survive this news and dies. This story is continued in the story My Brother, My Sister and I.
This is not a book for the squeamish. Watkins describe brutal rapes, torture and killing as well as hunger and deplorable conditions of life.
I read reader reviews on Amazon and was amazed at the criticisms of Watkins. Several readers lambaste Watkins for historical inaccuracies and prejudice against the Koreans. This should be kept in mind while reading and hopefully encourage the reader to further exploration of the relationship between Korea and Japan during the war.
Material fortunes and political power waxed and waned during Renaissance; the de Medici family, however, wielded power in Florence for generations. P...more Material fortunes and political power waxed and waned during Renaissance; the de Medici family, however, wielded power in Florence for generations. Primavera recounts one serious threat to their influence in the 1470s. The youngest daughter of Jacopo Pazzi, Lorenza known as Flora, plots her escape from her family’s home before she is transported to a convent. Too plain to make a political marriage, Flora is overlooked and benignly neglected by all in her family except her paternal grandmother, Nonna, and her brother Andrea. Flora’s parents hope to consolidate their power by marrying their beautiful daughter Domenica to Giuliano de Medici. As part of their scheme they hire Botticelli to paint Domenica and give the painting to the de Medicis. If this plan does not work Jacopo Pazzi has aligned himself with Pope Sixtus IV and expects the pope to send troops to his aid. Unfortunately the Pazzis plans fail and the family cruelly destroyed. Flora barely escapes and spends four years disguised as a male apprentice to the silversmith in Florence.
In this first novel Beaufrand captures the intrigue, brutality and beauty of Florence. In Flora she creates an energetic, smart teen heroine who faces the consequences of her choices and survives in spite of great personal cost. Flora chooses to care about her life and family even when all is lost. She demonstrates unfailing courage amidst self-doubt and fear. This is a wonder of a book that combines detailed historical information with an exciting, page-turning adventure story. (less)
As the child of a freed slave and her former owner, Paul-Edward lives in two worlds. Unlike most children of mixed race, he is acknowledged by his whi...moreAs the child of a freed slave and her former owner, Paul-Edward lives in two worlds. Unlike most children of mixed race, he is acknowledged by his white father and educated. Still, he cannot sit at the table when there are guests, and he learns painfully that even his closest brother, Robert, will betray him for white friends. Paul is also disliked by many blacks, since he is educated and seems unfairly advantaged. His worst black enemy, Mitchell, eventually becomes his best friend, however and one who will not betray him. As teenagers the two boys run away together. They are in danger after Mitchell takes money from a white man who is determined to cheat Paul out of his pay. Paul knows both horse care and woodworking, cut the two earn money chopping trees until Paul decides it is time for him to settle down. He find land he wants and then makes furniture and seeks out land he can earn by clearing it of trees. He plans to use his savings, the cleared land, and the horse he has trained, as well as money he makes for furniture, to buy the land he really wants. However, one white man kills his horse and his help and the owner of the land he is clearing cheats him. Only by a last-minuet miracle, and some help from fair-minded white men, can Paul buy the land he loves.
The Land is well-written and full of historical detail about life and work during Reconstruction. Many of its characters are complex, blending both good and bad, and they are also influenced by the times in which they live. The length of the book and its liberal use of dialect make it most appropriate for mature readers. (SW)(less)
Eleven year-old Griffin has never met a challenge he could not conquer with a plan. Griffin loves plans. Now Griffin must make the most elaborate plan...moreEleven year-old Griffin has never met a challenge he could not conquer with a plan. Griffin loves plans. Now Griffin must make the most elaborate plan of his life and convince his friends that his plan to “steal” back a valuable baseball card will not fail. His scheme includes a “dog whisperer” who must charm a Doberman pincher, a girl who loves rock climbing, his best friend who tries to be supportive, an overly nervous actor/classmate, and a bully-type whom Griffin does not trust but must accept. Together this motley crew breaks into the Palomino’s Emporium only to discover that the coveted baseball card is not there. With only hours left before the baseball card is to be auctioned Griffin and his friends must break into S. Wendell’s home and find the card. A hilarious rout ensues. Just when it looks like Griffin’s plan worked, Griffin is detained by the police and threatened with arrest. The plan certainly did not include this. This is a great must-read from Gordon Korman that will induce laughing attacks and cheers. (less)
Galante, Cecilia. (2008). The Patron Saint of Butterflies.
Mount Blessing religious community where Agnes and Honey have always lived helps teaches it...moreGalante, Cecilia. (2008). The Patron Saint of Butterflies.
Mount Blessing religious community where Agnes and Honey have always lived helps teaches its members how to live perfect lives and thus insure heavenly rewards. Fourteen year old Agnes strives daily to live as a saint and embraces the teachings of Emmanuel, Mount Blessing’s leader. Honey, also fourteen years old, cannot wait to escape. She receives cruel punishments from Emmanuel and his closest advisor, Veronica. Agnes’ paternal grandmother, Nana Pete, makes an unexpected visit to Mount Blessing and helps orchestrate major changes in Honey and Agnes’ lives.
Agnes and Honey live in a world that will seem foreign to most readers. To an outsider this world seems unbelievable yet when this is all you have known it makes perfect sense. This story is not so much about the impact of religious fundamentalism as it is about family, friendship, change and courage.
Galante describes the physical abuse meted out in the community without flinching and without commentary. She describes life there and lets her characters react and discover the meaning of their experiences. Galante’s gift is rare; she fully immerses you in a strange, difficult place and yet you feel safe and emerge with a deeper understanding of the power of love and the courage of spirit.
Gordan Korman continues to amaze me with his insights into middle school students’ angst. Once again he has portrayed the politics, insecurities, unex...moreGordan Korman continues to amaze me with his insights into middle school students’ angst. Once again he has portrayed the politics, insecurities, unexpected kindness and enthusiasm of those crazy years. Because Cap lives in seclusion with his grandmother, Rain, he is the ultimate innocent person. Cap knows nothing of modern life; he has never watched television, used a computer, worn store-bought clothes, or eaten meat. All of this changes, however, when he drives his grandmother to the emergency room because she fell out of a tree. Suddenly Cap must live in town with a social worker. Fortunately for Cap, Flora knows all about the commune, Garland. While it was a difficult experience for her she at least understands something of how Cap views the world.
Each chapter is narrated in the first-person by different characters. This change of view adds much to the depth of the story. I missed the heading of the second chapter and it took me a couple of pages to figure out who was talking.
Cap negotiates the difficult world at C Average (actually Claverage) School with grace and humor (often unintended). Cap’s fellow students begin as somewhat stereotyped characters but gradually emerge as multi-dimensional and more true to life. The story is funny and touching and truly memorable. (less)
Charlie and Bernadette are two newly minted middle graders who need each other. Bernadette's home life leaves much to be desired. Her mom's got substa...moreCharlie and Bernadette are two newly minted middle graders who need each other. Bernadette's home life leaves much to be desired. Her mom's got substance abuse problems and a fixation on murdering Bernadette's absent dad with her bare hands. Charlie offers some sense of purpose and connectedness. He's funny, good looking, has an uncanny sense of what time it is, makes good folded napkin cranes and is "stone blind, bottom-of-a-midnight-well blind." Bernadette is an exceptional guide-friend. Joined by Lewis Ellief, a quirky insecure tag-along, and Gideon, a super-confident classmate that appears in the nick of time (along with a celestial soundtrack) to avert disaster, the kids bravely face the challenges of middle school: bullies, odd-ball teachers, dog attacks, wild bus rides, sneering peers, and mind-bending assignments. And if weren't enough, Charlie's dad has been charged with a string of cash-machine robberies, and the friends set out to discover the real culprit.—from Amazon?
I loved the quirky characters and how they formed their own support network. The adults in the book are not positively portrayed and the kids are shown to be much smarter. Still I liked the care and interaction between the characters, their understanding and humor. The mystery adds additional appeal. (less)
Kira moves to New York City to live with her father hoping that life there will be better than with her mother. Unfortunately she finds that the singi...moreKira moves to New York City to live with her father hoping that life there will be better than with her mother. Unfortunately she finds that the singing job he has arranged for her is singing in the subway while simultaneously keeping track of her two stepbrothers. Much to her dismay “house” where she is to live with her dad is a dilapidated basement apartment. Eventually Kira begins attending middle school with Jake and his best friend Eugene, fellow ostracized students. Together they join the school’s chorus and find a place to belong and celebrate being friends.
I had enjoyed all of the books by Franks that I have read, including this one. I did find the dad’s role in this book disturbing though as the book continued I did become more sympathetic. The resiliency of kids is certainly demonstrated in this story as is the value of finding true friends. (less)
This book disturbed me, not because of the violence or the religious zeal of the main character but because I never came to care for the character. I...moreThis book disturbed me, not because of the violence or the religious zeal of the main character but because I never came to care for the character. I wanted to like Nadia and I did empathize with the seeming futility of her family’s life. I found the role that fantasy, especially romantic fantasy, played in her thinking disturbing. It is certainly possible that she engaged in this type of speculation because of the bleakness of her circumstances but I found myself wondering if she was delusional and perhaps out of touch with reality. Of course such delusion could also be a result of her horrid environment. Clearly Nadia is a bright, extremely sensitive teenager who thinks deeply about her faith and her life. I can also see how Wadid used Nadia’s naiveté and manipulated her into buying the materials to buy a bomb.
It is not always a bad thing to be disturbed by a book. This is such an important topic and we need many books to help us in the West understand Islam and how young people view their faith; unfortunately this book did not aid me in my understanding. (less)
This is Susan's review. I included it because I also read this and I want to remember to recommend this.
Grades 6-8 AR 5.6
Fourteen-year-old Elinor, an o...moreThis is Susan's review. I included it because I also read this and I want to remember to recommend this.
Grades 6-8 AR 5.6
Fourteen-year-old Elinor, an orphan, is promised to Sir Thomas hen he returns from the Crusades. She fears death in childbirth, as it came to her mother, but she can’t hope Thomas will die in battle, because then his mean father will marry her. Despite Elinor’s hopes that Thomas will stay away a long time, he returns. Father Gregory sees that the soldiers who return with Thomas need a way to move on from the sins they committed while away, and that Elinor needs time to grow. Father Gregory sends Thomas and Elinor on a chaste pilgrimage to Santiago, to carry the sins of the village to the shrine there. On their travels, the two have many adventures, meet fascinating people, mature and fall in love.
Reminiscent of Catherine Called Birdy, but by no means a clone, this quieter book should interest fans of medieval times. (less)
Grades: 5th-8th AR: 7.4 Susan's Review Critically injured while running from the police, a subsequently imprisoned thief becomes the project of a surgeon...moreGrades: 5th-8th AR: 7.4 Susan's Review Critically injured while running from the police, a subsequently imprisoned thief becomes the project of a surgeon experimenting with restorative surgery. The doctor takes his thief as an example of his work to the meetings of his scientific society, where the thief discovers what he hopes will be an easy and relatively safe way to gain access to prime burglary targets. On his release from prison, the thief becomes two people: Montmorency, a Victorian English gentleman, and his personal servant, Scarper, who commits the burglaries that support Montmorency. While Scarper enjoys his life of crime and relishes the risks he runs, Montmorency begins to develop a conscience and fears losing his cushy life and returning to prison or even ending his life on the gallows. Fortunately for both Carper and Montmorency, they discover an occupation that can support Montmorency and give Scarper the exciting life he craves.
While some may object to the lack of disapproval shown for Montmorency’s criminal pursuits, older readers will not miss the significance of Montmorency’s reform and also the implied criticism of the class system of Victorian England. The reader can also gain a good deal of knowledge about life in Victorian England without even realizing it. This story seems likely to appeal to both boys and girls. It has been nominated as a Best Book for Young Adults.
Despised by his mother, and he thinks, a burden to his puppet-maker father, young Jiro becomes an apprentice...moreAR: 5.4 Grades: 5-8 This is Susan's Review:
Despised by his mother, and he thinks, a burden to his puppet-maker father, young Jiro becomes an apprentice at the Hanaza puppet theater. The master puppeteer, Yoshida, is cruel to his son, Kinshi, but everyone else he treats fairly, if strictly. Most important, there is always enough food at Hanaza, though many others are starving in Osaka. Kinshi and the blind old chanter, Okada, are kind to Jiro, but the boy worries about his ill father and his hungry mother, especially when he realizes that she is in one of the roving bands rioting in the streets. Jiro also wonders at odd little details he notices around the Hanaza, speculating that perhaps they are clues to the identity of the people’s hero, Saburo, a kind of Japanese Robin Hood. The mystery is duly solved, Jiro’s mother is mellowed by her rescue, and Kinshi is assigned to Okada to become a chanter, escaping his father’s cruel teaching methods.
This short book offers considerable information on Japanese history and culture as well as a very respectable mystery. Like The Ghost in the Tokaido Inn, it is likely to be a hard sell due to period and place, but is worth a try. It won a National Book Award for Children’s Literature in 1977 and an Edgar Allen Poe Special Award and was an ALA Notable Children’s Book.
Encounter at Easton is the sequel to Night Journeys. I found the story of these indentured servants intriguing as it offered a picture of early Americ...moreEncounter at Easton is the sequel to Night Journeys. I found the story of these indentured servants intriguing as it offered a picture of early American history seldom revealed.
Set in the early 1200s this historical novel graphically describes the daily life of thirteen-year-old Catherine. Through her journal entries Catherin...moreSet in the early 1200s this historical novel graphically describes the daily life of thirteen-year-old Catherine. Through her journal entries Catherine captures the emotional ups and downs of growing up.
Miss Jane Peck of Philadelphia convinces her father, a doctor, to let her attend Miss Hepplew...moreBoston Jane: An Adventure Holm, Jennifer (2001)
Miss Jane Peck of Philadelphia convinces her father, a doctor, to let her attend Miss Hepplewhite’s school for fine girls; this, in spite of being a tomboy and always disheveled in appearance. At first the young man apprenticed to her father, William, offers the only support Jane receives in her attempts to become a “fine lady.”
William eventually completes his training and leaves Philadelphia for Shoalwater Bay in the Northwest Territory. William and Jane exchange letters and after five years William asks Jane to come to Shoalwater Bay and to marry him.
Jane thrived at Miss Hepplewhite’s school and tries to apply the adages of Miss Hepplewhite’s book on being a fine lady throughout her trip and as she settles into life among the Chinook Indians. Of course there are many difficulties in being a fine lady in the wilderness. Jane learns to survive both hardship and great disappointment. She displays courage, ingenuity and great compassion. This is a great adventure story that is both very funny and poignant.