Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Is It Night or Day?

Is It Night or Day? *

by Fern Schumer Chapman (2010)

The story of a Jewish German girl sent to live in America to escape the inevitable in WWII.  Not a cheerful story or rousing ending, but very poignant and seems to accurately portray the swing and resiliency of childhood emotions (which are often the only thing allowing children to survive the horrors this world subjects them to).

This would be a nice companion to The Book Thief, showing a slightly different side (and location) touched by the Holocaust.  Highly recommended.

The author based the story on her mother's life, and has another book and a nice website as well.

* exactly how should the title be written -- It and Or, it and or, It and or ...? I've seen it several different ways. What's the rule, or do I just go by what looks better?

Ugliest Blog Ever?

No wonder I get a headache every time I look at my own blog, it is butt-ugly and makes me wonder if I'm color blind.  My apologies.

Sunday, June 13, 2010



by Scott O'Dell (1976)

The sequel to Island of the Blue Dolphins, although the girl from the island is a minor character; her niece lives in a Santa Barbara mission and longs both to meet/rescue her independent island Aunt and gain her own freedom.  Great for whatever year students study California history and the Missions, and for discussions of how and when to do the right thing -- would you tell the truth if it landed you in jail?

The Wednesday Wars

The Wednesday Wars

by Gary D. Schmidt (2007)

Newbery Honor Book

Very good book, with a lot going on: religion, politics, Viet Nam, sibling rivalry, jerk of a father, hippies, cream puffs, Shakespeare, rats, bullies, heroes, baseball, track, and even a little romance... whew! 

There's a lot going on but a lot to grab on to, and different readers will like/focus on different elements.  Well worth it for higher readers, and a great introduction/companion to U.S. history (late 60's) and The Bard.  Probably good too for a class that thinks they have a mean teacher who doesn't like them...

I wonder if Son #2 realizes that when he's finished reading this one I'm going to start him on Shakespeare -- Macbeth?  Midsummer's Night?

Max The Mighty

Max the Mighty

by Rodman Philbrick (1998)

Gentle giant Max's continuing adventures, a sequel to Freak the Mighty -- this time around Max has more on the ball mentally and a heightened sense of chivalry.  The bad guy is very cartoonish (I even pictured him twirling a thin mustache) and the cross country escape very implausible, but you know from the beginning Max will do something sweet and good and it will turn out all right. 

La Telarana de Carlota

Charlotte's Web (en Espanol)

by E. B. White* (1952)

Of course I've read this one before, but this week it will be in Spanish, out loud, to a 2nd grade class... wish me suerte!

*first posted this with "Stuart Little" as the author; should not blog and watch NBA Finals at same time.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Jim the Boy

Jim the Boy

by Tony Earley (2000)

Loved it.

A boy whose father died before he was born, but is very much present in his and his mother's life*, grows up in small town America with trains, Ty Cobb, the coming of electric lights, and his 3 uncles to show him the way.  Good balance between the lighter county fair and school yard chapters and those that deal with Polio, a dead father, and a scary grandfather.  Captures the confusion and perspective of a young boy well.

*Probably some of the "eternal love" stuff is above a 10 yr old, but even if the boys just skim through those parts there's a lot good in the book.

The Magician's Elephant

The Magician's Elephant

by Kate DiCamillo (2009)

Old fashioned, in a good way -- beautiful illustrations, magic, soldiers, orphans finding/being found by childless couple... It really does have an old time fairy tale feel to it, and the art is a big part of it (almost has a Hugo Cabret look).