Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Grey King

The Grey King

by Susan Cooper

Newbery Medal 1976

One of the middle books in a series, The Dark is Rising Sequence, of which I have not read any of the others, but each story seems able to stand alone. Magic spells, prophecy and destiny, Good vs. Evil, English boy in Wales.

Very poetic,

connections: A Wrinkle in Time, The Golden Compass

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Catherine, Called Birdy

Catherine, Called Birdy
by Karen Cushman (1994)

Very spunky, this Catherine, aka Birdy; she's a poet, an artist, a diarist, a nurse, and a mischievous, troublemaking runaway rebel.  Good book to help show what a child's life was like in other times, as in 13 going on bride and mother. My 5th graders last year were shocked to learn girls were not always, and in some places are still not, allowed to go to school.  Probably more appealing to girls than boys.



Laurence Yep (1995)

Part history, part historical fiction; well done anti-war with a personal touch students will connect to.

You Wouldn't Want to Be a(n)...

You Wouldn't Want to Be... an Inca Mummy? a Roman Soldier? a Victorian Mill Worker?

illustrated by David Antram

Cool series of books, great illustrations, sometimes gory facts (the Inca Mummy one has quite a few sacrifices) but lots of interesting facts, many centered on a child's life in the specific period.

The Matchlock Gun

The Matchlock Gun

by Walter D. Edmonds

Newbery Medal 1942

A boy must help his mother protect the family while his father is away during the French and Indian War; bravery, responsibility, self-sacrifice, following instructions and remaining cool under fire (figuratively and literally). Probably not 21st century PC depiction of the Native Americans, but it wasn't derogatory either.

connections: the Little House books (is it the art?), Johnny Tremain, Winter Danger

Thursday, August 20, 2009

My Mom the Pirate

My Mom the Pirate

by Jackie French (2003)

cute, funny, good for beginning of school year or new students

Thursday, August 13, 2009

My Side of the Mountain

My Side of the Mountain

Jean Craighead George

Newbery Honor Book 1960

After reading Paulsen's Hatchet books, it's tempting to lable this as "fantasy" -- c'mon, the kid's camping in the back yard talking to Disney animals compared to Brian's ordeal. ; )

Fun read, great ideas for budding wilderness challengers, if at times a bit farfetched and simplistic.

The Time Warp Trio

The Good, the Bad, and the Goofy
Me Oh Maya

by Jon Scieszka (say it like "fresca")

Oh, those three wacky kids and their magical book! Traveling backwards and forwards through time (usually backwards) and getting involved with a variety of historical characters and events, with interesting factoids tossed in for good measure. Some of these read like the weaker Magical Treehouse series, the kids are only put in trouble to get them out quickly, but with much more personality and humor.

An Innocent Soldier

An Innocent Soldier

by Josef Holub (2007)

A farmboy fights in Napoleon's army and befriends a young officer; not very cheerful-- full of hunger, poverty, and the horrors of war (realistically but not graphically), but with humor, personal caring, and positive messages.

Writing style is for a stronger reader; translated, complex sentences and ideas.

connections: Red Badge of Courage, My Brother Sam is Dead

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Giant Rat of Sumatra: or, Pirates Galore

The Giant Rat of Sumatra

by Sid Fleischman (2005)

Good thing Flieschman Jr or Sr, I can never keep 'em straight, put in the "Pirates Galore" subtitle, because there are a ton of Giant Rats, specifically from Sumatra, in books, plays, poems, etc. out there! Never realized they were so popular...

Part pirate, part western, part history of San Diego; a shipwrecked boy helps a reforming buccaneer become a Californio ranchero and find his long lost childhood sweetheart before heading back to find his mother in Boston. Good adventure, interesting characters, life decisions, personal responsibility, character building. And pirates.

The conclusion to the Great Horned Spoon (which I have not found at the Library yet) trilogy.