Tag archives for True Stories
The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank is a memoir of a young girl’s life in hiding during the Holocaust.
It is World War II and the Nazis are persecuting Jews all over Europe. Thirteen year old Anne Frank, her elder sister Margot, father, Otto, and mother, Edith are a Jewish family living in Amsterdam, in the Netherlands. In July, 1942, when tensions rise, the Frank family goes into hiding. They hide in the Secret Annex, a three-story space of small rooms and stairways. The entrance to the Secret Annex is hidden by a moveable bookshelf. With eight people sharing limited space and supplies, quarrels are persistent in the tense atmosphere. Amidst this, Anne finds her diary as a source of comfort and shares her feelings with this friend whom she calls Kitty. Anne’s last diary entry is dated August 1 st, 1944. Three days later, on August 4th, the Gestapo arrest all the Annex members due to an anonymous tip. Read this tragic story to find out who lives on and who perishes.
The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank is an intriguing book which gives a detailed insight into the struggles and hardships Jews faced during the Holocaust. Since it is in a diary form and vividly portrays the families’ day to day struggles, the reader feels as though they are in the Secret Annex. The information in the end explains to the reader about the fate of each character in the concentration camps. This can also serve as an excellent primary source in research projects about the Holocaust.
Sylvia Mendez never imagined that she would be forbidden to attend Westminster Elementary School because of her Mexican ancestry. Aki Munemitsu never imagined that she would be forced to go to an internment camp because of her Japanese ancestry. And most of all, both girls never imagined that their worlds would one day collide.
In this book, which is based on a true story, Sylvia and Aki both face different challenges during World War II. Sylvia’s family moves to an asparagus farm that they are renting. Sylvia’s father, Mr. Mendez, wants her and her brothers to attend the closest school to where they live, Westminster Elementary School. Yet he is told that because his children are of Mexican descent, they must enroll at Hoover Mexican School, quite a distance from where they live. Aki Munemitsu lives on an asparagus farm and attends Westminster Elementary school. But when the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor, Aki and her family are forced to go to an internment camp and abandon their farm. That’s when the Mendez family rents the farm.
One day, when Sylvia accompanies her father to the internment camp to deliver the rent payment to the Munemitsu family, she meets Aki and sees how terrible life is for the Japanese-American people. The girls become friends, and send letters to each other. At the same time, Mr. Mendez goes to court against Westminster Elementary School for its segregation against Mexican-American children. Will he convince the court that segregation in schools is wrong?
This is a great book! Many kids look at a book and say, “If it’s history, then I’m not reading it.” Yet although this book is based on history, it is amazing. I would recommend it to anyone ages nine and up. Sylvia and Aki taught me so much about the history of our country and of the injustices that went on during World War II.
BOOK NAME: Hachiko Waits
AUTHOR: Lesléa Newman
Who doesn’t love a heartwarming book that is about loyalty and a strong bond between others? It’s even better when it includes a dog! In this case, a dog named Hachiko. Hachiko Waits is based on a very real story about a dog named Hachiko who lives with its owner in Japan. When Professor Ueno goes to the train station, Hachiko (or Hachi for short) follows to see off his master. Each time Professor Ueno pats Hachi’s head he says “You must be the best dog in all of Japan.” And then he boards his train. Hachiko then goes home the rest of the day until 3 o’clock when he returns to the train station. At that time, he gets to welcome his owner home.
This goes on for several years. But one day, when Hachi is at the train station waiting for Professor Ueno, he doesn’t step off the train. Puzzled, Hachi eventually heads home. The next day, Hachiko comes back, but again there is no sign of the professor. Hachi then stays at the train station and every day at 3 o’clock he would sit there waiting in hope. Even one boy named Yasuo can’t persuade Hachi to leave his post. Children would feed Hachi and the conductor too. Where can the professor be?
This is a sad book, but it is worth the tears to experience this wonderful story. Since it is based on a true story, it makes it even more fantastic. In fact, Hachiko is so beloved by the Japanese, they even have a statue of him still waiting for his master to come home. I’m glad they recognized his loyalty and remember him even though he was a dog. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes dogs and heartwarming stories.
BOOK NAME: Stolen Into Slavery: The True Story of Solomon Northrup
AUTHORS: Judith and Dennis Fradin
Hello, guys. Check out this awesome new book! Stolen Into Slavery: The True Story of Solomon Northrup by Judith Fradin and Dennis Fradin has made me look for other books like it.
This wasn’t the funniest book I’ve read, and I definitely love books with lots of humor in them, but I don’t think it was meant to be funny. It’s about slavery, after all, so it’s pretty serious. It was set during the time of the Civil War. The main character, Solomon, is a free black man from New York. The ironic thing is that even though Simon is a free man, he is kidnapped and forced to be a slave in the South. It’s so frustrating to see how much he wants to get in touch with his family but can’t because he can’t trust just anyone to deliver mail or messages to them!
I thought this was a great book. I learned a lot while I was reading it and thought a lot about it after I was done. And even though it was as educational as a school book, it wasn’t just a list of facts. Stolen Into Slavery really grabbed my attention right away because it was about a specific person and his life. It has probably been my favorite to review too!
BOOK NAME: Heart of a Samurai
AUTHOR: Margi Preus
Traveling can be a unique, exciting, and sometimes scary experience. The experiences you have can be remembered for ever and possibly change your life. However, what if traveling came at the cost of never returning home again? Would you still be willing to leave?
14-year-old Manjiro lives in a small village in Japan. One day, in the year 1841, while Manjiro is out fishing with four other fishermen, a terrible storm blows their small boat out to sea, eventually stranding them on a deserted island. Manjiro and the other fisherman are rescued by the crew of the John Howland, an American whaling vessel. Manjiro has grown up hearing tales about “barbarians” from distant lands, but because of his country’s isolation, he is overcome with curiosity about the strange culture of the people around him. It’s this curiosity that leads him on an epic journey to distant countries like America. Even though Manjiro is fascinated by the wondrous places he visits, all he really wants is to go back to his family and homeland. Due to Japan’s isolation policy at that time in history, that may not be possible. If he returns from his travels, he may be imprisoned or executed.
This book was a unique story that I truly enjoyed reading. I am part Japanese, so the story had a special impact on me. I enjoyed learning more about the culture and history of the country to which I owe some of my family’s origins. Manjiro is an interesting character because he is based on a true life diplomat, adventurer, and negotiator. The book even included sketches that Manjiro actually drew about the places he visited and the things he saw. The only aspect of the book that I was not fond of was that it involved whaling. Whales are my favorite animals, and although whaling is a major part of the world’s history, I do not like reading about humans slaughtering such majestic creatures.
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 Secret of the Yellow Death: A True Story of Medical Sleuthing
AUTHOR: Suzanne Jurmain
Do you remember the last time you were sick…really sick? Did you have an icy chill that coursed through your body, followed by a horrible head ache and painful stomach ache, an excessive temperature, yellowing skin and eyes, black vomit containing blood, violent muscle spasms, and excessive bleeding? I assume your symptoms weren’t as severe as the ones that were mentioned. The symptoms being described are linked to one of the most deadly and mysterious diseases in the medical world, yellow fever.
Throughout history, yellow fever has killed over 100,000 people. Both the yellow fever germ and its infecting agent pretty much remained a mystery to scientists for a long time. In a major outbreak in the early 1900s, a group of dedicated scientists decided to try and crack the case of the unknown killer. Walter Reed was the leader of this group of scientists. His co-workers were Jesse Lazear, Aristides Agramonte, and James Carrol. Carlos Finlay was a scientist who conducted independent research and studies related to yellow fever. Through long months of hard work, a complicated series of experiments, and countless failures, this team of scientists searched for answers on why this disease was taking so many lives. Then something finally arose. The work of brave volunteers, dedicated research, and even the tragic death of a scientist, helped one of the greatest medical breakthroughs in history be made, the prevention of yellow fever.
This is the first non-fiction book that I blogged on this year. Yellow fever and the scientists’ quest to discover its source seems like something out of a science fiction movie. All of the odds were against them since they knew very little about the yellow fever germ and how it spread. I am amazed at the teamwork, perseverance, and logic of the scientists trying to crack the yellow fever case. Despite the risks and the fact that they had very little information on yellow fever, the scientists still managed to find the preventative strategies to save thousands of people all over the world from getting infected with yellow fever. The gruesome description of the disease that I referred to earlier was based off of all of the detailed information in the book. The book is short, making it a quick read during your spare time, so I highly recommend picking it up. Another amazing thing is that many modern day scientists are trying to find preventative measures and cures for diseases that are just as mysterious as yellow fever. In fact, a new cure for a disease may be found while you are reading this blog!
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: 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: The Kidnapped Prince
AUTHOR: Olaudah Equino
ADAPTED BY: Ann Cameron
In 1755 a young African boy, Olaudah Equino, was kidnapped from his people and sold into slavery. Never being exposed to any other people or cultures other than his own village, this frightened him greatly. His first taste of the world was the bitter and cruel ways of the white people, beating people of other races and treating them like animals. As Olaudah serves as a slave for most of his life, he learns the difference between right and wrong in many instances. On his journey to earning back the freedom he should’ve already had Olaudah travels halfway around the world, experiencing things that made him famous.
This was a book I was to read as part of my world history for school. I wouldn’t have picked this book off of a shelf and read it willingly, but I’m rather glad I did. Although the book is historical fiction and my tastes tend to lean more to the ‘steampunk’ style, I enjoyed it and actually learned some things from it. I was happy to read a book that featured slavery from the view of an actual slave. Olaudah Equino wrote his autobiography and it became a best-seller. Later, author Ann Cameron edited his biography to a story that could be enjoyed by all ages.
The Kidnapped Prince is a short chapter book, each chapter being about two pages long. I recommend this to anyone who can read and even to those, like myself, who have no interest in the history of slavery. This short read with increase your knowledge in slavery and peak your interests greatly, leaving you wanting more.
BOOK NAME: Walt Disney: Young Movie Maker
AUTHOR: Marie Hammontree
ILLUSTRATOR: Fred Irvin
We all know Walt Disney as the super rich guy who created Disney World. I know that I used to think that he had the best life. But in this book, you read Walt’s life story. Turns out, his life wasn’t so perfect. His family was actually very poor.
Walt was young but worked like he was an adult. After all, it was the only way he could make some money. He worked at his father’s newspaper business, as a newsboy. But even that money Walt couldn’t keep. All the money he earned, his father took from him and kept it so that Walt wouldn’t spend it on foolish things. Walt Disney had three brothers and one sister.
His father wanted him to be the next owner of the jelly factory. But Walt didn’t want to do that in life. He wanted to be a cartoonist. His father thought that being any type of artist was stupid. He thought those were Walt’s childhood dreams, and that he would convince him not to do it when he was older. But Walt was growing up, and insisted on being a cartoonist.
I really liked this book because it changed my view of famous people. It made me notice that maybe some celebrities didn’t start out rich and famous. They had to work to get like that. This is a book for all ages.
BOOK NAME: Incident at Hawk’s Hill
AUTHOR: Allan W. Eckert
Imagine if you were stranded in the prairie and your only hope of survival was a badger! That’s what 6-year old Benjamin MacDonald has to live through! After wandering aimlessly away from his home, he becomes hopelessly lost. He finds the den of a badger, and falls asleep. This begins an unlikely friendship between Ben and the badger. The badger brings Ben food, and lets him sleep in her den. Even with the badger’s help, is it possible for a small boy like Ben to survive on the unforgiving prairie, when the only skill he has is the ability to mimic animals?
Incident at Hawk’s Hill is actually based off of a true story that happened in 1870. The story was so amazing that I actually thought that it was a fictional book! For example, I found it hard to believe that a small boy and a badger could fight a huge ferocious dog and survive! That was also my favorite part of the book. I find it interesting that Ben could mimic animals, like badgers, mice, and birds, so well. I like observing animals too. Only once or twice has one ever responded to my mimicking calls. If I’m astounded by the story today, I can only imagine how people must have felt in 1870!
BOOK NAME: Bulu: African Wonder Dog
AUTHOR: Dick Houston
Have you ever adopted a dog? I have. A beautiful Chihuahua named Sophie became a part of our family in December. We do typical dog owner things like feed her, play with her, and take her for walks. But after reading Bulu, I’ve come to realize that there is nothing typical about owning a dog in the African bush! Many dangers await Bulu as he fights for his life to survive in Africa.
The name Bulu means “wild dog”. The Tolans adopted Bulu after no one else would take him. He was different from his littermates and didn’t seem like the perfect dog, except to the Tolans. They were able to see his many fine qualities and he soon became a part of their family.
Despite many sad encounters, this is a story full of love and adventure. Most dogs die a tragic death in Africa, but Bulu survives all the hardship. And he not only survives, he provides nurturing and companionship to orphaned baby animals. That’s right, Bulu acts as a foster parent to orphaned animals such as warthogs, vervets, baboons, bushbucks, and even elephants!
I especially love this book because it is a true story with pictures throughout the book. So it’s very easy to see for yourself what a wonderful dog Bulu truly is. If you like dogs or a story that take places in Africa, then this is a book for you. In fact, I feel this book will become a classic in time. I have a dog of my own so I love this book. If you read Bulu you will never look at a dog the same again!