Another book reviewed by Jacqueline Wilson and another chance for an IPad Mini!
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I finished some terrific books this week, and also am reviewing one more by Jacqueline Wilson, a British author being introduced to the US. Hope you will enter for the chance to win an IPad Mini!
Code Name Verity – written by Elizabeth Wein
Why did I wait so long? I've had this book for a long time, even loaned it a couple of times! Just couldn't get started, but when I did, WOW! How can I write anything without giving too much away. This is historical fiction, about, and told by, two different girls fighting in WWII for the British. One is a pilot; one is a spy. They become friends, they have crazy and wonderful adventures, and they have terrible, heart-wrenching experiences. Written in two strong voices, it is an extraordinary story that one does not want to end. This is how good the writing is for the quite subtle hints of future events: "Incredible to think what an ordinary day it was for her, to begin with." I loved every bit!
The Longest Whale Song – written by Jacqueline Wilson
This is the 4th book I’ve read by this British author, recently introduced to USreaders. It is a contemporary novel, suitable for middle grade readers, unlike the Hetty Feather series, set in the past. The story begins with Ella, the main character, and her mother practicing breathing for the coming birth of Ella’s new step-sibling. This young girl has had lots of adjustments in recent months, new stepfather (father is rarely around), new house (but she gets to stay in her old school), and now a coming baby sister or brother. Ella is telling her own story, and isn’t pleased with much of her new life.
Over the weeks in which Ella’s story occurs, more tragedy happens, things a young girl should not need to worry about, and worry she does. Friendships at school become difficult; teachers are kind and helpful, but not always, yet through all Ella’s school and home life, one thread of a school project holds her tightly like a hug, and that is the connection to whales.
Jacqueline Wilson has written a book I wasn’t sure I would enjoy, but the way characters grow as their lives become more challenging made me want to read on to discover what was next because I had begun to care about these people. And isn’t that what a good book does, stick to you until you can’t stop till the end? There will be some young readers challenged by some of the British terminology, like “fringe” for “bangs”, “crisps” for “potato chips” and the reference to “tea” for our “dinner”, easily fixed by a little research. The relationship between the stepfather and Ella is wonderfully complex. These are not perfect people and each have their little quirks, but as the story moves, so does the relationship, challenging both to discover that there is a fine part to being together after all. I’ve tried to give away little about this story because I want the readers to discover and enjoy the book all by themselves.
How The Meteorite Got To The Museum – written and illustrated by Jessie Hartland
Like her other books, this one tells the story of a museum artifact, this one, a meteorite, what it is, how it ended up, this time, on earth, then step by step through the parade of experts until it is discussed by the science teacher with her students on a trip to the museum. Through graphically whimsical illustrations, and easy-to-understand text, Jessie Hartland has written an entertaining book full of interesting information. I liked it a lot, think it would be a helpful book for teaching organization.
A Firefly Names Torchy – written and illustrated by Bernard Waber
I discovered this at the library, an older book by Bernard Waber. The firefly Torchy, born into the world with sweet parents, grew up and discovered he couldn’t twinkle like the other fireflies, in fact his light was so bright that it lit up the entire woods. As the book reads, “Flowers, with petals unfolded for the night, unfolded again. Baby birds, thinking it morning, cried out to be fed.” All other nighttime animals could see each other, and alarmed, yelled that Torchy should turn out his light. The story shows someone who is different who needs to find a way to fit it, but you’ll need to read to discover how Torchy ends his problems. The illustrations are filled with different and beautiful portrayals of light. Fun book!
Cat Talk – written by Patricia MacLachlan and Emily MacLachlan Charest, illustrated by Barry Moser reviewed HERE for Poetry Friday!
Blueberry Girl – written by Neil Gaiman and illustrations by Charles Vess
This book was written when Gaiman was expecting his daughter. It's just gorgeous to hear the words, and to see the illustrations, dream-like and celebratory. When writing about various girls throughout the book, Gaiman keeps the wishes clear, as he writes about various kinds of girls. The words are nearly blessings: “Word can be worrisome, people complex, motives and manners unclear, grant her the wisdom to choose her path right, free from unkindness and fear.” These are but one example of the beauty of these on a two-page spread, shoeing a young girl walking a path with an owl leading. Gorgeous illustrations, as is every page!
The Lightning Dreamer, Cuba’s Greatest Abolitionist – written by Margarita Engle
I admire those writers who can write a wonderful story in verse, and Margarita Engle can do that very well. I added so many bookmarks to the beautiful language in this story, an inspiring fictional creation based on the life of real-life abolitionist and poet, Gertrudis Gómez de Avellandea, originally from Cuba, who ended up living (and writing) in both France and Spain. She left Cuba knowing that she needed to leave in order to be free, free to write, free from the oppression of women. Her childhood name was Tula, whose name Margarita uses as the main character in her novel. Each poem is spoken in a different voice, that of Tula, the house cook Caradad, Tula’s brother Manuel, and later the young man Tula falls in love with, Sab, and a few others.
Considering the time, beginning in 1827, it is unusual to find any young woman, especially in Cuba, knowing how to read, and writing poetry. The author tells early on that bookcase cabinets are locked and young Tula was not allowed to use the books. Tula’s story is one of hope and defiance, hope for a increased freedom for women, and defying the practice of arranged marriages. We see her at 13, at 15, having rejected a wealthy suitor chosen for her marriage, and later, sharing her writing in secret meetings. Her life fills with passion for her poetry and passion to be free. She says: “I study verses with a drumbeat rhythm/like pounding music” and “Each swoop of a paintbrush/turns into our own magical/dance/of celebration.”
Tula volunteers at an orphanage run by nuns. She is there when a baby is abandoned, probably because of his darker skin, perhaps a brother of someone already in the orphanage. She writes, “I can hear a story unfolding…”When collecting stories, Tula writes “a wistful tale/of an earthbound turtle/who believes he can learn/how to fly. And continues: “I do believe that someday/silenced words/will rise/and glide.” Finally, one of my favorite parts, by Sab: “I envy the trees/that grow/at crossroads./They are never/forced/to decide/which way/to go…” In the historical note at the back, Margarita Engle shares that Avellandea published her abolitionist novel 11 years before Uncle Tom’s Cabin was published. It’s a beautifully written story.
Next: Still reading the PD books, and would love to start Jen Bryant’s Pieces of Georgia that I won a while ago. Nice to think about!
|You can access Jacqueline Wilson's website right here!|
Entry mechanisms are
a) Answer the question “If you win, which of the new Jacqueline Wilson ebooks will you read first?”
b) Follow @JWilsonebooks on Twitter
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