Category archives for Anuva
BOOK NAME: Of Mice and Men
AUTHOR: John Steinbeck
Of Mice and Men, written by John Steinbeck, is a story of friendship and hardship.
George and Lennie are two men who are best friends. Lennie, with a huge build, is not mentally sound and often acts like a little child. George, the exact opposite of Lennie, is short and straight to the point. Together they work on a ranch, hoping to gather enough money to buy their dream house – a small farm with rabbits, chickens, and alfalfa. However, Lennie, who is immature, often gets in trouble with Curley, the ranch boss’s son. As a true friend, George supports and cares for Lennie through all his hardships. However, one day Lennie takes things too far by accidentally strangling Curley’s newly-wed wife. How will George manage to help Lennie in this tragic incident?
Of Mice and Men is an amazing book for teens. It realistically portrays the two men’s friendship through good times and hard times and their everlasting support of each other until the very end. At times, the plot is dramatic and the story turns in ways I would never have expected. The unexpected ending mystified me and left me with mixed feelings. However, the author’s descriptions helped me clearly picture the plight of the ranch workers during the Great Depression.
BOOK NAME: Moon Over Manifest
AUTHOR: Clare Vanderpool
Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool is one girl’s journey to learn more about her father’s
In the summer of 1936, twelve year old Abilene is sent by Gideon, her father, to Manifest,
Kansas, his hometown. Here, in a room, Abilene discovers a cigar box filled with letters, a fishing lure,
doll, cork, and skeleton key. Her mind is stuck as to whether these mementos belong to her father.
While on her quest to learn more about her father’s childhood days, she enters Miss Sadie’s divining
parlor, the Path to Perdition. Miss Sadie tells her the adventurous, yet tragic story of two boys, Ned and
Jinx, from 1918 Manifest. Still, there is no mention of Gideon. Abilene tries to make connections
between the stories and the mementos. Where is Gideon’s place in this story? Read the book to find out.
This 2011 Newbery Medal Winner is an all-star read for middle school kids. Readers will get
involved with Abilene’s adventure, and they, too, will wonder who Gideon was when he was a boy. Also,
at the end so many mysteries come together that the reader will be amazed with the contemplative
mind of the author. The author sets up the plot wonderfully by incorporating newspaper articles and
written letters. Page after page, stories, connections, and wonders build on, making the reader want to
keep reading this book.
BOOK NAME: Where the Red Fern Grows
AUTHOR: Wilson Rawls
Where the Red Fern Grows is a book that shows hard work, adventure, victory, and grief. It is a
fictional book written by Wilson Rawls.
Billy is a young adventurous boy living in Ozark country. Hunting has been his sport and he has
always longed for two hunting hounds. Billy finally gathers enough money through his hard work and
gets his two hounds. He names the smaller female dog, Little Ann, and the tougher male dog, Old Dan.
They make the best loving team of three; the dogs are a pair who will never leave each other’s side. Old
Dan has the courage to fight, Little Ann is the planner and has the common sense, and encouraging Billy
leads them into the hunt atmosphere. Soon, they participate in a big hunt competition which is having
some of the most talented coon hunters and hounds in the nation. Danger awaits them in this unfamiliar
land, but what about victory? Read the book to uncover the answer.
This book is a perfect classic read for any middle school child. It has all the ingredients to a
delightful soup. A tasty plot that has you continuously reading, conflicts that arouse, a catchy
introduction, and personal in-depth characters all add to the wonders of the meal. However, the author
overdoes the heartbreaking ending, so be ready for some tearful tragedy. There are detailed
descriptions like “It screamed its way into the cave and rang like a blacksmith’s anvil against the rock
walls” (47), painting vivid pictures in the readers’ mind. So head out to the library and enjoy a fabulous
BOOK NAME: The Glory Field
AUTHOR: Walter Dean Myers
The Glory Field, a realistic historical fiction book by Walter Dean Myers, is a story of many generations of an African-American family. It shows that struggle can often lead to success.
In 1753, Muhammad Bilal is captured from Africa, put on a slave ship, and brought to a plantation in Curry, South Carolina. During the 1860′s, some of his descendants secretly run away and go off to fight for the Unions in the Civil War. Soon after in 1900, the descendants of this African-American Lewis family are free and work on the small plot of land that they own. Luvenia Lewis accomplishes her goals to succeed in a segregated country in the 1930′s. Soon after, in 1964, Tommy Lewis shows his inner courage by helping in the fight for equality. Malcolm Lewis is born in the modern equal world, but struggles to get his cousin off drugs. The whole family sticks together with family reunions in their original land on Curry–the Glory Field.
This book is well written and others should read it. The author ties in all of the important historical times for African-Americans helping me get a deeper understanding. For example, the 1860′s describes slavery and the Civil War, and the 1930′s section develops on the idea of the Great Migration of African-Americans from the South to the North. The characters change in some of the sections, but this is not confusing, because there is a timeline in the beginning to show the relationships between the characters.
BOOK NAME: Oogy
AUTHOR: Larry Levin
Oogy, by Larry Levin, is a true book about the author’s special dog. The moral of this story is that
be it animal or person, looks don’t account for love.
Oogy, a bait dog used in dog fights, loses his ear and suffers life threatening injuries in one of
the fights. He is brought to an animal hospital and is surgically treated even though his chances of
survival are very minimal. However, Oogy slowly recovers, and is adopted by Larry Levin and his family.
They love having Oogy as a pet. Passersby fear Oogy because of his distorted face, but after seeing his
playful self, they fall in love with him. For the Levin family, Oogy becomes the fifth member of the family
because he needs more care and because he is very affectionate. The Levin family and Oogy have a
loving and protective mutual relationship.
I would recommend Oogy for kids of all ages. The author really brings out his dog, Oogy, as a
symbol of hope. I like how the part about the surgery process is very descriptive, yet not gruesome and
disgusting. Also, there are many pictures at the end of the book, which help readers visualize and
connect to the different scenes. Oogy is an interesting book in which readers will experience the
different emotions and feel pity, happiness, joy, and comfort. This book really brings out the
phrase “dogs are a man’s best friend”.
BOOK NAME: Code Talker
AUTHOR: Joseph Bruchac
Code Talker by Joseph Bruchac is a memoir of one Navajo’s true life which is filled with pride, humiliation, and struggle.
Ned Begay is only a 6 year old Navajo boy when he leaves his parents to go to a boarding school, where he learns the ways of the white people. A few years later, America is whisked into World War II and bilingual Navajos are desperately needed. Courageous Ned signs up for the Marines and is engrossed with a confidential job of a code talker. He learns and helps add to a special Navajo code, on which the lives of thousands of Americans depend on during this war. Ned succeeds with this challenge and faces many dangerous battles in the Pacific while radioing back messages in the Navajo code. Ned, along with his fellow Navajo code talkers, uses his native tongue to protect his beloved country.
This amazing novel which brings out Navajo culture and traditions would be enjoyed by middle school kids. I like how this book depicts the Pacific side of World War II. The descriptions of the war scenes are detailed. However, the violence does not go too much in depth, so it is still pleasant to read. Readers will be astounded with what a big role the Navajos played in the war and how their special code worked. There are many examples of words in the Navajo code giving readers an insight into the code and elevating the excitement.
BOOK NAME: The Outsiders
AUTHOR: S.E. Hinton
The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton is like a stew cooked with ingredients like violence, crime, horror, friendship, bravery, and kindness.
Ponyboy Curtis is a smart and defensive fourteen year old boy who lives in Oklahoma with his two older brothers. He is part of the gang known as the greasers who are poor and are characterized by the grease in their hair. They constantly fight with another group, the Socs, who are rich kids who have a cold, hard, and mean personality. One day things go too far between the two groups and Ponyboy and his friend Johnny kill a Soc in self-defense. They run away to the countryside and hide in a church. Later, the church catches fire, and Johnny and Ponyboy risk their lives to save the children inside. They are hurt badly but are recognized as heroes. But, what dramatic events await them?
The engaging plot of this book, revolving around distinctive personalities, the ordinaries of friendship, and the outsiders in a group, suits the taste buds of all teenagers. Teenagers can relate very well to the characters and incidents in this book because the author, S. E. Hinton, was a teenager herself when she wrote this book. Also, this book has vivid descriptions which come out strongly with the use of similes. I like how the book teaches that groups are not barriers to friendships. So, if you are a teenager, pick out The Outsiders from the library shelf.
BOOK NAME: Liberty Porter, First Daughter, New Girl in Town
AUTHOR: Julia DeVillers
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be the First Daughter of the United States? If so, Liberty Porter, First Daughter, New Girl in Town, by Julia DeVillers would be the perfect book for you as it tells the experiences of Liberty Porter, the new, imaginary First Daughter.
Liberty Porter, a fourth grader, has just moved into the White House, for her father has been elected President of the United States. She has been eagerly exploring her new home and already discovered her two favorite areas–the chocolate shop and the movie theater. Then, the first day of school arrives and Liberty is not sure what to expect. She enjoys meeting many new people but feels awkward as everybody whispers, asks her for autographs, and treats her like a celebrity. But, as the days pass on, she realizes that some people want to be friends with her just because of her high status, while others are friendly to her because of her personality. Soon, Liberty learns how to find who her true friends are.
This is a fun read for younger kids. It shows how life as the first daughter can be glorious yet challenging. In fact, a Secret Service Agent follows her everywhere–even to school! I came across some interesting facts about former presidents such as President Kennedy’s son getting stuck in a mud fountain and President George H.W. Bush hating broccoli. Also, I liked how Liberty sportingly handles the situation when her classmates tease her by coming up with rhyming names for her like Liberty Porter, Bus Boarder, and Liberty Porter, Worst Sporter.
BOOK NAME: Chike and the River
AUTHORS: Chinua Achebe
Chike and the River, an African story written by Chinua Achebe, is similar to Aesop’s fables. This story shows how working, not begging, will help you reach your goals.
Chike is an eleven year old boy who leaves his family to live with his uncle in Onitsha, Nigeria. Chike makes friends who talk about their trips to Asaba, a big city on the other side of the Niger River. Adventurous Chike dreams to go there someday in a ferry, but needs one shilling to do so. Chike wonders how to get the money but learns that begging is not the solution. Then he goes to a money doubler but realizes that people can be deceptive. By being a good boy, Chike unsuccessfully tries getting money from his rich neighbor. Finally he washes cars and earns a shilling to sail to Asaba. However, Asaba is different from his expectations, and danger and crime lurk around him. But soon Chike becomes a hero. How? Read the book to find out.
This book is a fabulous read for all ages. It brings out the traditions of Nigeria. For example, people ride in lorries (or trucks) for long drives, and if they break down people have to push the lorry. Also, the detailed descriptions help visualize Nigeria’s villages by the Niger River. I liked how the author added in a light mystery at the end which has been foreshadowed earlier. This book really brings out African myths by incorporating small fables into the plot.
BOOK NAME: Toys Come Home
AUTHOR: Emily Jenkins
Toys Come Home by Emily Jenkins is a story all about the adventures of a few soft toy animals. The soft toys teach you important morals about friendship and taking responsibility.
Stingray is a blue friendly soft toy who arrives at a little girl’s house as her birthday gift. Stingray is learning all about the house and trying to make friends with the other toys, Sheep and Bobby Dot, the walrus. However, Stingray does not like their personalities as Sheep is lazy and sleepy and Bobby Dot is mean and brags. But, Stingray is a true hero for she rescues Sheep from a thorny bush he gets stuck on. When Bobby Dot dies in the dryer, the girl buys Lumphy, the buffalo to take his place. Stingray and Lumphy become good friends and enjoy playing games together. They are soon joined by a playful intelligent ball named Plastic. The three of them realize that they along with the girl are a true family.
This book is a perfect read when you want to enjoy some simple adventure. It’s amazing how each toy has an individual personality that is reflected by their acts. For example, Plastic is intelligent as she reads lots of books and Lumphy is brave for he saves a mouse from a cat. Also, I could picture the toys so easily because of the detailed descriptions. This book reminds me about little children interacting with each other. I cannot wait to read more about the toy’s adventures in the sequels, Toys Go Out and Toy Dance Party.
BOOK NAME: Fever 1793
AUTHOR: Laurie Halse Anderson
An epidemic in the United States, yellow fever, is brought to life in the book Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson.
Matilda is a young girl growing up in 1793 in the town of Philadelphia with her mother and grandfather. In the coffeehouse that her family runs, all the talk is that Yellow Fever is spreading in the city and taking lots of lives. Soon, her mother is infected with fever and there is no good cure. Yellow fever is contagious; hence Grandfather and Matilda flee from the town. However, Matilda contracts the disease and is cured by knowledgeable French doctors. The two of them head home and are shocked to find the city of Philadelphia deserted. Facing such hard times, Matilda wonders when the epidemic will end and life will be normal.
Fever 1793 is a very intriguing historical fiction book. It brings out a tragic time in America’s history through an interesting story. The story weaves in facts about the Yellow Fever like symptoms such as yellow skin and black vomit and treatments for the disease such as bleeding and the drinking of mercury. It is inspiring how a care-free girl like Matilda learns to help others and take on responsibilities in difficult times. At the end of some chapters, there was a lot of suspense, which made the book really fun to read.
BOOK NAME: Turtle in Paradise
AUTHOR: Jennifer L. Holm
Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer L. Holm is like a ship that sways with the idea of fitting in, sails far with adventure, topples with betrayal, and regains position after coping with loss.
Turtle is an 11 year old girl who lives in New Jersey with her mother during the Great Depression. Due to her mom’s housekeeping job for a lady who dislikes kids, strong and tough Turtle has to move to Florida to live with her cousins in the Key West. It is hard for Turtle to get accustomed to living with her rowdy cousins. Soon, she realizes how everyone in Key West is related to her in some way. She feels better, but she dearly misses her mother. Turtle joins her cousins in the mischievous activities they do. Together, they find Pirate Black Caesar’s treasure and split it among themselves. But after a disturbing event in the family, Turtle understands what her true treasure is.
I would definitely recommend this 2011 Newbery Honor book for all ages. The book has a simple, interesting plot that brings out customs of the Key West. In the book, Turtle is constantly comparing her life with that of movie star Shirley Temple and Little Orphan Annie, a comic character, both popular in the 1930s. Just like a turtle, the character Turtle has a hard shell due to the tough circumstances she has faced, but she soon realizes that she too has a soft inner self. I really enjoyed reading about the kids’ adventures, especially the treasure hunt.
BOOK NAME: Soul Surfer
AUTHOR: Bethany Hamilton
You may be familiar with Bethany Hamilton, a surfer who lost her arm to a shark. Check out her book, Soul Surfer, a memoir of this tragedy in her life. The book shows that with strength and faith, one can always overcome challenges.
Bethany Hamilton was a 13 year old girl living on the island of Hawaii. Since childhood she had been practicing the sport she and her family loved most – surfing. Little did she know how one calm Halloween morning would change her life forever. She was surfing gentle waves at dawn that day when she felt the tug on her arm. She realized that her left arm had been bitten by a shark and she was rushed to the hospital. Her family was in a panic, but Bethany kept her faith in God and got through the surgery. Bethany soon recovered and got back to her normal life. She exercised, never gave up, and showed that the loss of one arm would not prevent her from getting back to the waves. Bethany is thankful to God for helping her out through this tragedy.
This is a very inspiring read for kids in middle-school. Since the story is written by Bethany herself, just one year after the attack, feelings and events are very accurate. Also, the book has quite some pages with photos which bring to life Bethany’s passion for surfing and her accident. It is remarkable how Bethany fulfills her childhood dream in spite of a horrific incident.
BOOK NAME: The Witch of Blackbird Pond
AUTHOR: Elizabeth George Speare
The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare is a story of fitting in, friendship, bravery, and love.
Kit, a well-known girl in Barbados, moves to the colony of Connecticut in the late 1600′s aboard the ship, the Dolphin. Kit comes here to live with her aunt. But, everything in America feels so different to Kit, all the housework, plain dresses, dull landscape, and so much more. Slowly Kit learns to do the housework, but she still feels lonely and homesick. The only place where she finds comfort and peace is kind, old Hannah Tupper’s home. But, the colonists believe Hannah is a witch and one day set out as a mob to kill her. Kit’s time has come to show her courage and to go save Hannah. Will Kit do this, or will she get scared and give up? Read this book to find out.
This is an outstanding novel for teens. The author uses vivid language which allows readers to understand the different feelings such as loneliness, curiosity, and anxiety that a newcomer like Kit goes through. This book takes you back in time to the late 1600′s when people were just beginning to settle in New England. It shows how harshly the religious-minded Puritans treated the Quakers who trembled at the word of God. The Newbery Medal on this book is just another reason why you should get this historical fiction book off the library shelf.
BOOK NAME: Treasury of Greek Mythology
AUTHOR: Donna Jo Napoli
Mythology is a fascinating genre with classic stories about gods, villains, and heroes. National Geographic’s Treasury of Greek Mythology takes you to the world of the Greek gods and goddesses. The book shows the birth, the different qualities, and the significance of the mythological figures in the Greek world.
From the king of the Olympian gods to the strong, enormous demi-god, the stories of all the Greek gods are being retold in this book. The prophecy states that Zeus will overthrow his father, Cronus, and take over the throne. Zeus fights his father and his uncles successfully and the prophecy comes true. Athena, the goddess of wisdom and war, sprung out of Zeus’s head because she was the daughter of Metis, one of Zeus’s wives whom he had swallowed. Heracles is a strong hero who is driven insane and for the crime he commits has to perform twelve labors in order to be forgiven. These are just a few of the many enchanting stories in this book.
Treasury of Greek Mythology is an intriguing mythological book appropriate for all ages. The stories are simple to understand and are very engaging. Each story has an interesting fact which makes it more fun for the reader. The illustrations are beautiful and use vivid colors, bringing out the splendid atmosphere surrounding the Greek gods. Also, the lush family tree and the cast of characters helped me understand each Greek god and their relations with other gods.
BOOK NAME: The Fighting Ground
Have you ever dreamed of becoming a soldier when you grow up? Have you ever thought of what it might feel like experiencing war? Well then you would want to read The Fighting Ground by Avi.
Jonathan, a 13 year old boy has always dreamed of fighting in the Revolutionary War, battling the British and winning glory. When the tavern bell rings, calling soldiers to battle, Jonathan knows his dream is close to coming true. Soon, he is with the Americans, carrying his gun, following the path to the battle site. During the battle against the Hessians (German allies of the British) Jonathan is exhausted and is caught prisoner by three Hessians. He and the Hessians finally seek shelter at an abandoned house. Here Jonathan finds a young boy whose parents are killed and he wonders who killed them. Jonathan is left confused as to which side in the war is he really. When the truth about the boy’s parents is revealed, along with the other incidents, Jonathan realizes the horrors of war.
This is a Newbery Medal winner novel which is simple to read. It is very unique because the plot takes place in only one day. Because of this reason, there are no chapters; rather small sections identified by the time, for example 5:40 and then an incident. Since the book focuses in on war, readers get a clear picture of what it is like to be in a battle. Jonathan’s change in attitude towards the war shows how experience can change a person’s view point.
BOOK NAME: Chains
AUTHOR: Laurie Halse Anderson
Isabel, the main character in this book, is headstrong and hopeful during times of struggle. Chains, a historical fiction book written by Laurie Halse Anderson tells Isabel’s story. This book shows that if you have determination, even when there are lots of challenges, you can still succeed.
After their mother died, Isabel, a young slave girl, is sold along with her sister Ruth to cruel masters, the Locktons. Here, as a slave during the Revolutionary War in New York, she is forced to do various chores for her Loyalist owners. She, however, understands the true cruelty of Madam Lockton when they sell Ruth away from Isabel. Isabel cannot bear this and therefore tries to run away. She is unable to and returns to the house. Also, Isabel has to make up her mind whether to favor the British or the Americans. She secretly helps out American prisoners including her friend Curzon. But, most of all, Isabel keeps on thinking about her freedom. Will she ever be able to earn it?
I would definitely suggest this exciting read to ages 10 and above. It is told from a slave, Isabel’s, point of view, giving an in-depth view into slavery. Also, this book portrays mood so strongly that you go through Isabel’s feelings and pain. Interestingly, the book is written in journal form and at the beginning of every chapter there is a quote which I liked to read. After reading this book, I’m definitely going to read its sequel Forge.
Want another opinion? Read Sheila’s review!
BOOK NAME: Fern Valley
AUTHOR: Aileen Stewart
Do you want to read some interesting stories about animals? Then you may want to read Fern Valley, a collection of short stories written by Aileen Stewart.
This book has many stories about animals who are all neighbors and friends in Fern Valley. These animals have lots of fun but learn lessons, too. For example, Kimmy Curlytail, a pig, one day came across a locket that wasn’t hers. She, however, was amazed with its beauty and decided to keep it for a little while. When guilt started to overcome her, she soon realized the importance of the locket for Alice, and returned it to her. Kimmy learnt never to take something that isn’t hers. Another story tells of Roberta and Mildred Cornstalk, two chickens filled with ideas. When it rained, the two girls called some friends over and guess what they did! Using some quilts they made a whole indoor fort in which they played inside. All of the other stories were just as exciting as these two.
This short book is a great pick to read when you have some free time. The animals in this book are just like us. That’s why it’s fun reading about the activities they play and the important lessons they learn. The morals that these stories teach us can be used in our everyday life. Also, it was easy to remember which family was what animal such as the Curlytail family was pigs and the Woolrich family was lambs. So, read this book and share the stories, for I’ve already read the book twice!
BOOK NAME: The Cay
AUTHOR: Theodore Taylor
Imagine being stranded on an isolated island unable to even see where you are. The Cay by Theodore Taylor depicts such a life. This book shows that one should never take advantage of another’s help.
Phillip, an 11 year old boy is living on the island of Curacao during World War II. When the war comes firsthand in the Caribbean, Phillip’s worried mom wants to go back to their home in safe Virginia, U.S.A. However their ship to the U.S. is torpedoed. Phillip is lost at sea on a raft with only a black man Timothy and a cat named Stew. Soon Philip gets blind due to a head injury. They arrive on a barren island, or cay. Timothy teaches Phillip how to survive on his own without his eyesight and Phillip grows more mature. Phillip has grown up learning that blacks are different, but he now realizes that that doesn’t affect the wisdom and intelligence of his guardian, Timothy. Will Phillip and Timothy ever be rescued from this island?
This book filled with adventure is one you would want to read. The author has brought Timothy’s voice by spelling words in the calypso accent making his character sound strong, rich, and powerful, like, “Why b’feesh different color, or flower b’different color? I true don’ know, Philleep, but I true tink beneath d’skin is all d’same” (79). The survival techniques that Timothy shows Phillip are very useful and portray how barren islands can be lifesaving, too. It’s interesting to read how Phillip matures because of Timothy’s influence.
BOOK NAME: The Strange Message in the Parchment (Nancy Drew Mystery Stories, No 54)
AUTHOR: Carolyn Keene
Do you want to get involved in some detective work? Read The Strange Message in the Parchment by Carolyn Keene. This is a mystery which is part of the Nancy Drew series, one of my all time favorites.
Nancy Drew is an amateur detective who is working diligently to decipher a message in a parchment. Nancy’s friend, Junie, and her family have a parchment with paintings which they bought from their neighbor, Mr. Rocco. They need to decode the hidden message in the paintings. Nancy and Junie question Mr. Rocco about the parchment, but he keeps quiet – which is suspicious. Also, the girls meet young Tony, a worker for Mr. Rocco, who tells them that Mr. Rocco treats him cruelly and that someday he wants to find his family. Nancy’s biggest disappointment comes when the parchment is stolen. However, her picture perfect memory helps her track down the artist. Read the book to see if Nancy is successful in catching the thief and finding Tony’s family. How do the paintings on the parchment weave into the whole mystery?
Kids would love reading this book filled with endless suspense. Each chapter ended with excitement or left me hanging on a thread that I never felt like letting go of the book. Also, this book is composed of couple of mysteries which are interconnected making the book more complex and interesting to read. The way the clues are put together, I myself felt like a detective trying to solve the case. So pick this spine-tingling book off the library shelf and start reading.
BOOK NAME: Red Scarf Girl
AUTHOR: Ji-li Jiang
“The world had turned upside down” (36). Ji-li Jiang writes about her experiences during the Cultural Revolution in China in the memoir, Red Scarf Girl. This book shows that in times of unrest you should not be carried away by false promises.
Ji-li Jiang, a thirteen year old girl, lives with her family in China. Chairman Mao Zedong, the leader of Communist China, has begun the Cultural Revolution and is enforcing strict laws that no one should follow the four olds. Ji-li is smart and always succeeds in school. But now, being smart is a four old. Ji-li is a common target of the school’s Red Guards because she is from a landlord family and that is a crime. In the midst of the Cultural Revolution, Ji-li’s family is falling apart. But, Ji-li also wants to help her country. Read the book to find out which side she will take – her family or Chairman Mao.
I would definitely suggest others to read this heartfelt book. Since the author narrates her story, you get a firsthand source of the pain and torture of China’s Cultural Revolution. It was spine chilling to see how landlord families were made to climb up chimneys and sweep the streets. At the end of the book, all the suspense is revealed as Ji-li talks about how her life has changed after the end of the Cultural Revolution. Red Scarf Girl taught me a lot about China’s history.
BOOK NAME: Homeless Bird
AUTHOR: Gloria Whelan
Homeless Bird by Gloria Whelan is like getting stuck in a maze and thinking there is no way out of it, but eventually coming out and feeling relieved. This realistic fiction book shows that courage is always rewarding.
Koly, a 13 year old girl living in India is married to a boy named Hari by her parents. Hari is sick and dies soon after the marriage making Koly a widow which is considered inauspicious. Her life becomes miserable and all her dreams and hopes disappear. Koly has to bear the harsh scoldings of her cunning Sass or mother-in-law. To get rid of Koly, Sass slyly abandons her in Vrindavan, a city for widows. Here, Koly struggles to find food and shelter. Eventually she makes a living by using her talent of embroidery. Koly meets a hardworking and caring boy named Raji and makes many friends at the widows’ house where she stays. Her new life turns her grief into happiness, making her dreams come true.
I would suggest others to read this book filled with sorrow, pain, relief, and love. Homeless Bird shows many aspects of Indian culture and tradition such as arranged marriages and few rights for widows. I was able to feel Koly’s emotions because of the author’s clever use of similes. The title, Homeless Bird, is very appropriate for it symbolizes Koly’s journey through life. It is definitely an interesting book that you cannot put down once you start reading.
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.