BOOK NAME: The Door in the Wall
AUTHOR: Marguerite de Angeli
Going through a painful event can be depressing, but you’ll always find a few sparks of hope. This is the moral that enhances the plot of The Door in the Wall. It is an adventure book by Marguerite de Angeli that won the Newbery Medal.
Robin, son of the knight, Sir John de Bureford, is a young boy living in London during the medieval times. Soon after his parents leave to help the King and Queen, Robin falls ill and paralyzes his legs. Robin is left alone thinking that nothing good will come, but a monk named Brother Luke rescues Robin and takes him to the church. Here, Brother Luke makes Robin cheerful by taking him swimming, teaching him how to read and write, and helping Robin carve wood figures. Brother Luke explains to Robin that these are all doors in the wall. Upon getting a letter from Robin’s father, Brother Luke and Robin begin a long journey to Lindsay to stay in the company of Sir Peter and his family. Not long after they reach, however, the Welsh army attacks Lindsay and the town is at battle. Brave Robin goes on a secret mission to seek help. It’s a risky journey that Robin takes, so will he be able to get help and find another door in the wall?
I would definitely recommend others to read this amazing book. The detailed description helps picture the Middle Age setting. It’s amazing how people got names in that time period, for example, John-go-in-the-Wynd is a messenger who travels very fast. I enjoyed identifying the different doors that Robin entered. The adventure in this book builds up the excitement till the very end.
BOOK NAME: Hana’s Suitcase
AUTHOR: Karen Levine
Do you want to learn about a Jewish girl who suffered during the Holocaust by searching for clues of their life? This is exactly what a Japanese woman does to learn about the Holocaust victim–Hana Brady. This true story is told in Hana’s Suitcase by Karen Levine.
Fumiko Ishioka, the curator of the Tokyo Holocaust Center, teaches her students about the Holocaust by using artifacts from Jewish children who suffered, one of which is Hana’s suitcase. The children want to know more about Hana, so Fumiko goes to Holocaust museums in Europe where she learns about Hana’s fate, and also about Hana’s brother, George, who survived. Fumiko gets George’s address and writes to him about the suitcase. George then comes to Japan to tell the excited students about Hana’s sad story. Hana Brady was a Jewish girl who was growing up in the 1930′s in Czechoslovakia. Little did she know her life would change drastically as the Nazi soldiers invade her country. Her parents are sent to concentration camps. Hana and George are sent to Theresienstadt, under Nazi lookout, and then to Auschwitz, a concentration camp in Germany. What happens to Hana over here?
Hana’s Suitcase is an amazing book which shows the pain of the Holocaust by focusing on Hana’s life. Actual photographs bring to life this young girl who suffered terribly. This book is filled with suspense as to whether Fumiko will find more clues about Hana’s life or not. I like how this book keeps switching between Hana’s life in the 1940′s and Fumiko and George living today. Hana’s Suitcase is touching to the heart.
BOOK NAME: Little Joe
AUTHOR: Sandra Neil Wallace
Have you ever wondered what it is like growing up on a farm? Little Joe by Sandra Neil Wallace is a realistic fiction book about life on a farm. It shows how love and affection towards an animal will make the animal love back.
Eli Stegner is a young boy who is growing up on the Stegner farm. He gets his first calf which he names Little Joe. Everyday, Eli gets closer to Little Joe, his big black calf. Caring and compassionate Eli teaches Little Joe to follow his directions and helps Little Joe when he has to part with his mother, Fancy. Soon, Eli, along with Grandpa’s help, starts preparing Little Joe for the annual Country Fair. This is where everyone shows their animals in the show ring and the owner of the meatiest calf wins a blue ribbon. Eli’s big dream is for Little Joe and him to win the blue ribbon and he has high hopes on it.
I would definitely recommend this book for others to read. The book sets a lively mood. The story is simple to follow and is filled with fun moments. There are lots of details about calves and how to raise them. At the front of the book there is a labeled diagram of a cow’s body parts which I would refer to while reading the book. My favorite part in this book is the “Big Night” when Eli and Grandpa see so many amphibians coming out of hibernation.
BOOK NAME: The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate
AUTHOR: Jacqueline Kelly
Do you like to explore in your own backyard? Well, The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate is a book about this hobby. This science fiction novel, written by Jacqueline Kelly, encourages you to pursue your interest.
Calpurnia is an eleven year old adventurous girl who lives in Austin, Texas in 1899. Rather than doing household chores, Calpurnia loves to explore the woods. She goes to her lonely, grumpy scientist grandfather to get the book, The Origin of Species, by Charles Darwin to learn more about nature. Thus begins Calpurnia’s relationship with her grandfather. Grandfather and Calpurnia discuss about many scientists and their accomplishments. They go to the river and observe animals like baby foxes, squirrels, and bears. They watch a moth’s life cycle and make liquor out of pecans. Together, they realize how a gold grasshopper is the same species as a green grasshopper; they just have different colors because one gets less water than the other one. Grandfather and Calpurnia even discover a new species of plants called Vetch. Calpurnia has a keen interest in science and is a young naturalist!
I loved reading this book and would recommend it to others. It received a Newbery Honor which it truly deserves. It is hard to believe that in 1899 it was difficult for a woman to become a scientist. Incorporated into the story are many tips for a young naturalist. It is interesting how each chapter begins with a Charles Darwin’s theory that relates to the event in the chapter.
BOOK NAME: A Single Shard
AUTHOR: Linda Sue Park
A Single Shard is like a walk down an art gallery with a 12 year old docent, seeing beautiful Korean celadon pottery. This historical fiction book with some exciting adventure is written by Linda Sue Park and shows that hard work is always rewarding.
Tree-ear is a young orphan boy who lives in Ch’ulp’o, Korea during the 12th century. He lives under the bridge with his caring and wise friend, Crane-man, whose meaningful advices teach Tree-ear good virtue. Tree-ear works hard for master potter Min and helps him make the most exquisite celadon pottery, so that Min can be assigned the royal commission for the palace. The emissary however wants to see more intricate designs in Min’s pottery before assigning him the commission. Since Min is old, considerate and thoughtful Tree-ear agrees to go on an arduous travel to Songdo to deliver the beautiful vases to the emissary. Read the book to see if Tree-ear safely completes his mission.
I would suggest this Newbery Medal book to all readers. The author thoroughly develops the characters and events incorporating Korean history and art keeping the excitement up till the very end. Crane-man’s advices are influential and can be used in our everyday life. My favorite quote is “…the same wind that blows one door shut often blows another open (97).” This means that an event which brings something bad can often bring something good, later on. Rather than closing up the book with a satisfying ending, the author opens up the reader’s mind at the end with a new twist making it an outstanding book!
BOOK NAME: Julie
AUTHOR: Jean Craighead George
Imagine visiting a modern Eskimo village. That’s exactly where Julie by Jean Craighead George takes you. This realistic fiction book is a sequel to Julie of the Wolves. Julie teaches you that if you are determined to achieve something you should never give up.
In Julie of the Wolves, Julie, a young Eskimo girl, survives the harsh winter on the tundra alone with help from a wolf pack. In Julie, she returns to her father, Kapugen, in Kangik, Alaska. Kapugen has given up Eskimo ways and has adapted to modern amenities. He has even married an American woman named Ellen. At first, Julie has a hard time adjusting to the new ways, but eventually feels happy as she learns to balance herself between the two traditions. However, problems arise when a wolf from the wolf pack Julie had befriended kills a musk ox which belongs to Kapugen. Kapugen wants to kill the wolves. But, Julie wants to save her wolves and sets out on the tundra to push them farther away from Kangik. Will the wolves stay away from the musk oxen? Will Kapugen’s desire to kill them lessen? Read the book to find out.
Julie is a book one would enjoy reading. I would suggest reading Julie of the Wolves first, so you can understand Julie better. The interaction between the wolves and Julie is described so thoroughly that communicating with animals seems simple. The details about the Eskimo village and the Eskimo ceremonies are very informative. Julie is truly a wonderful book!
BOOK NAME: Bridge to Terabithia
The book Bridge to Terabithia is like a roller coaster of emotions which rides you through feelings of sweetness, happiness, sadness, and comfort. The author, Katherine Paterson, brings out all these sentiments in this Newbery Medal award-winning book. It is a realistic fiction book with a touch of tragedy. The theme of this book is that best friends can have lasting changes on one another’s lives.
Ten year old Jess Aarons lives in countryside Virginia. He becomes best friends with Leslie Burke, a ten year old girl who has recently moved into the neighboring house. With Leslie’s imagination, the two of them create the secret, magical land of Terabithia where they reign as king and queen. In Terabithia, they build a castle for themselves, fight off imaginary enemies invading Terabithia, and pray to spirits in the pine grove. However, a tragedy strikes, leaving Jess sorrowful and heartbroken. It is painful for Jess to go through this challenge, but slowly he gathers the courage to cope with it.
I would recommend others to read this outstanding book. The author’s writing style makes it easy to follow and simple to comprehend. One doesn’t need to run away from this book because there is a sad part. There are many moments of adventure, happiness, and friendship, too. I like how the woods are transformed into a magical land, sparking imagination–turning the ordinary into extraordinary. Bridge to Terabithia is an exceptional book to grab off the shelf and start reading.
Want another opinion? Check out Sheila’s review!