Review of Refugee

Air raids, shoot-outs, taxi holdups- nothing seemed to faze him anymore.  Was he just keeping all his tears and screams pent up inside, or was he becoming so used to horrible things happening all around him that he didn’t notice anymore?

How do you discuss the horrible things happening in our world in a meaningful way with your children when they happen to catch a glimpse of the evening news?  When your little one crawls into your lap and asks what will happen to the children fleeing their homeland in Syria, what do you say?  When they begin to understand that a hurricane or tornado could rip their home or their lives apart, how do you assuage their fears?  For my family, we often turn to well-written books that gingerly, yet boldly, address the horrors, evils, and ills that threaten to rip the very seams of our society in an age-appropriate, hope-promoting way.  Alan Gratz’s Refugee is one of those books. Continue reading “Review of Refugee”

Soldier Boys Review

“He knew that a hero shouldn’t fear death, but where was the glory in dying for his country and never knowing it.”

I first came across Dean Hughes’s Soldier Boys as a student teacher when my host teacher selected it for a book club that met before school once a week.  I knew as soon as I read the last page that this provocative title would be among the books I chose to teach in my own classroom.  As I expected, it quickly became a class favorite with students fondly recalling the time in my class we read that World War II novel.  The last time I taught the book I was expecting my now twelve-year-old daughter, so I was thrilled when she decided to read it for herself.  This book opened the door to her love of historical fiction, and she has since gone on to devour every young adult novel she can find on World War II, the Holocaust, and other major historical events.

Continue reading “Soldier Boys Review”

Escape From Aleppo

 

f79efe53481293-59364d7c14023

 

This is a book review written by my 12-year-old daughter.  She joins me now in reviewing her must-reads.

She glanced at her father’s beloved features from under her eyelashes.  Etched upon his features was the terrible knowledge that the world as they knew it had changed and there was no going back.

Escape from Aleppo is about a girl named Nadia who lives in the peaceful town of Aleppo, Syria.  Life is normal then civil war breaks out, and many people are forced to leave.  Her family desires to leave, too.  When a wall collapses, Nadia’s family assumes she’s dead and flees for Turkey.  But Nadia is alive.  Separated from her family, she struggles to find her own way to Turkey.  This book is the story of finding her family and meeting and losing a few friends along the way.

I can’t believe it,” Khala Lina growled.  “They are destroying the very heart of Haleb….erasing five thousand years of history and culture.”

My favorite character in the novel is Basel.  He likes to draw like I do and he’s resourceful.  He reminds Nadia of her little brother, so Nadia takes care of Basel on their journey to Turkey.  Nadia discovers through Basel that she loves her family, and they inspire her will to survive.

This book opened my eyes to the struggle in Syria.  I didn’t even know there was a war going on in Syria.  Nadia shows us that this war is splitting families apart.  I learned from Nadia how to have a good attitude and to persevere in the face of hardship.

Review of The One and Only Ivan

I like colorful tales with black beginnings and stormy middles and cloudless blue-sky endings.  But any story will do.”

 It’s not unusual for me to choose a book for the kids and me to read based on the cover.  Katherine Applegate’s The One and Only Ivan is no exception.  The cover illustration of a contemplative gorilla sitting with his back to a grinning baby elephant glancing admirably at his large friend stood out from among the dozens of other books featured on the display of my local bookstore.  The gold medallion placed prominently in the bottom left corner indicating it was a Newberry winner sealed the deal.  My strategy did not disappoint.

The One and Only Ivan follows the story of Ivan, the mighty silverback gorilla, who is a resident of the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade.  He, along with an elephant named Stella, a poodle named Snickers, and a cast of other animals was at one time the main attraction of this once-thriving mall, but unfortunately, Ivan and his pals no longer bring in the crowds.  Mall owner, Mack, desperate to renew interest in the Big Top Mall purchases a baby elephant named Ruby, whose presence transforms Ivan from contented gorilla into an artist with a mission.

Continue reading “Review of The One and Only Ivan”

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane Review

 

If you have no intention of loving or being loved, then the whole journey is pointless.”

My children and I picked out The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane because it was written by Kate DiCamillo. Having just read Because of Winn-Dixie and being fans of The Tale of Desperaux, we were eager to read the the next book in her catalog of excellent selections. We were not disappointed. Edward not only charms but also instructs, reminding readers that we are all a work in progress.
1383228935_the_remarkable_journey_of_edward_tulane-oo
Edward Tulane is a china rabbit, created by Pelligrina for her granddaughter Abilene’s birthday. Edward, a beautifully dressed vision of rabbit perfection, is adored by Abilene, but Edward’s perfection ends with his appearance. He is a cold rabbit whose shallow preoccupations keep him incapable of love. Continue reading “The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane Review”