A few years ago, I was lucky enough to travel to the Olympic Penninsula. I loved seeing it again through Written in Stone. Parry painted a picture of...moreA few years ago, I was lucky enough to travel to the Olympic Penninsula. I loved seeing it again through Written in Stone. Parry painted a picture of the landscape and I almost felt the fog roll in as I read. It is interesting to see the land, but also the time frame. There aren't that many middle grade books set in the 20s.
More than the setting though, the relationships in the story appealed to me. Pearl has lost both her parents and her sister, but she is surrounding by a caring extended family. Pearl's Aunt Susi works in town and lives on her own. She is a role model and a mentor who stands by Pearl, but also holds her accountable for her actions. Susi brings out the best in Pearl. More than anything else, this is a story of family and the strength that family can inspire.
Roseanne Parry taught on the Quinault Indian reservation. In this text, she has worked hard to respectfully portray the Quinault and Makah people and their history. She explained that she wanted to create a story that would let her students see characters like them. She shared some aspects of the culture, but was careful not to appropriate their stories. She alluded to several characters from stories, but did not explain out of respect. This was a difficult balancing act of utilizing the history to create something new without using the stories of the people because as she wrote in the author's note, "they are not mine to tell." I appreciated that she didn't just make up tales to go along with her narrative but let it stand on its own.
I would recommend Written in Stone. It provides a look into a time, place and culture that many children would not otherwise experience.
This was definitely upper middle grade. Even though she is eight at the beginning, she's in her twenties at the end. It had a vague Anne of Green Gabl...moreThis was definitely upper middle grade. Even though she is eight at the beginning, she's in her twenties at the end. It had a vague Anne of Green Gables feel to it - the setting, not the characters. Better to Wish refers to a part where we are told that it is better to live in that time wishing, than to know what will happen in the future. In Abby's case, I can see why. Wishes are all full of hope and her future is filled with sorrow. This book has a lot of tragedy. The only thing that keeps it from being overwhelming is that it is told in short bursts jumping from one time to another. This is also a problem at times though because it feels disjointed. I would most likely hand it to the students who like the sad stories or historical fiction.(less)
Jade is a character who knows what she believes. She tries to make sense of the world around her, but often, the injustice she sees blows her mind. Wh...moreJade is a character who knows what she believes. She tries to make sense of the world around her, but often, the injustice she sees blows her mind. When this happens, she doesn't always conform to the behavior her family and community expect of her. I love her for that. She stands for what she believes even when that puts her at risk. (less)
This would definitely be a graphic novel that could be used to get young people interested in history because there is action and humor, but it is not...moreThis would definitely be a graphic novel that could be used to get young people interested in history because there is action and humor, but it is not always easy to understand the details. Sometimes I was not sure what exactly was happening. It could have maybe used some endnotes or a timeline. Also, sometimes it wasn't clear initially when it was a two page spread that needed to be read all the way across so I needed to re-read, but that is not a huge problem.
I know his perspective was Lewis & Clark, but in this day and age, it would have been nice to consult (he may have, but it wasn't noted) and note at least one source that is from the American Indian perspective. I know there aren't many history sources that are, but they do exist like Lewis and Clark Through Indian Eyes. I appreciated that all of the American Indians didn't look the same, but I didn't feel convinced that they were completely accurate representations.
The most bothersome thing for me was the pidgin English & the dialect of the French. I would have preferred one straight speech pattern to broken English.
Tis has elements of non-fiction, but the narrative is mostly fictional. The author took bits of first hand accounts and created poems, letters, etc to...moreTis has elements of non-fiction, but the narrative is mostly fictional. The author took bits of first hand accounts and created poems, letters, etc to show what it may have been like on Ellis Island back in its heyday. (less)
I am listening to Weedflower on CD. I have enjoyed getting to know Sumiko. Kadohota presents Sumiko as a young girl trying to find her way during a di...moreI am listening to Weedflower on CD. I have enjoyed getting to know Sumiko. Kadohota presents Sumiko as a young girl trying to find her way during a difficult time for her family. The children have trials, but they also find ways to have fun while they are kept in their internment camp. In some ways, the children like the freedom that they have in the camp. They eat and play with their friends every day. But in this situation, family ties wear down.
I found it interesting that the camp was on reservation land. Since Sumiko becomes friends with a Mohave boy it is easy to start seeing parallels with the Mohave and Japanese. They were not granted the same freedoms that other citizens had. Like, I didn't realize that there were states that did not grant Native Americans the right to vote even after the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924. Some states used residency laws and other technicalities to keep Indians from voting up until the Voting Rights Act of 1965. It just blows my mind. Also, it was interesting/sad that even the Japanese were given electricity and ice, but the Mohave didn't have such luxuries.
I have learned a lot while reading this book, but it isn't just a book about discrimination. It is also a book about perseverance, friendship, and family. It is definitely worth the time.
As usual with historical fiction, I was curious about the history as I read, so I picked up the non-fiction book Children of Manzanar. It was very helpful to see what a camp looked like and to see that the children had good times there along with tough times. It was sad to hear about the breakdown of families and the loss of their belongings. There were so many things done to them. It is difficult to accept man's inhumanity to man. On a side note, Dorothea Lange and Ansel Adams were the photographers for some of the pictures featured. I have since found out that at the time, Dorothea's photos were kept hidden for the duration of the war. I am guessing our politicians didn't think it looked very good for the United States to also have places that looked like concentration camps. To see what Poston (the camp in Weedflower) looked like, you can visit the Poston Internment Camp blog.
For younger readers, I would also recommend the middle grade book Syvia and Aki which is based on the experiences of two young girls. The picture books are also fantastic.
For more titles on this topic, visit Cynthia Leitich Smith's Page (less)
I think my favorite of the whole series has been Porcupine Year, but Chickadee was a bit of a transition book since the main characters are from the n...moreI think my favorite of the whole series has been Porcupine Year, but Chickadee was a bit of a transition book since the main characters are from the next generation in the family. I love reading of this family. I found the story very believable except for the kidnappers. They really seemed more like caricatures. Overall, a wonderful addition to the series though.(less)