Sunday, November 30, 2014

Children with Tough Lives

Thanks to Sheila at Book Journeys It's Monday! What are you Reading? was started. For many kinds of books, check out Sheila's blog posts and links!

             Later, Jen of Teach Mentor Texts and Ricki and Kellee at Unleashing Readers started another group with a children's focus.  Visit all the links for reading ideas!


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              Not as much time to read, plus I've been putting together a group of short stories for students, too, so fewer books this week, but they're good!  These books meet the challenge given by Latin@sIn KitLit. See the button on the right!

Libertad - written by Anna Fullerton 
           Someone recommended this book a few weeks ago and I got it, and finally read it. It is another verse novel, pairing well with Caminar by Skila Brown, which I also enjoyed. This time, the author starts the journey of the main character, Libertad, and his younger brother, Julio, living with their mother in a shack right by the Guatemala City garbage dump where they sift through the trash to find things to sell. Through happenstance, Libertad finds a marimba, which he repairs, and practices playing. This reminds him of his father, a musician, who has gone to America. They have one slip of paper with his phone number, but really no way to call, and of course, no money anyway to make a call. Through a tragic accident, their Mami is killed and they begin an even longer journey to the US, to find their father. The back matter speaks of so many children alone, fending for themselves, being attacked or burglarized for even the few coins they earn at the dump. And this too happens to the boys, although there are good moments and kindnesses from some people along the way, too. The story of those good things, and then the scarier moments, sometimes seems unrealistic to me, but I will rely on the author's note about her research in this serious plight of children in South America. It is not as frightening a story as others, and perhaps would be a good read aloud for middle grade students, to introduce them to another story of children in need. The poetry is clear prose, arranged for effect, often poignant, and sometimes startling in the content. For example, "Shoes": Julio sits on a bench/and swings his feet so the cool air/flows through the holes/our journey/has made in the soles/of his shoes." To include rhyme, and even a positive comment during this miles-long walk the boys are doing seems beautifully done to me.


Lights on the River - written by Jane Resh Thomas and illustrated by Michael Dooling
          This particular story tells some of the plight of the migrant worker, working hard, but living from crop to crop, as Teresa's mother says, "we carry our home on our backs." This time, we see the family members saying goodbye to their abuelita after a Christmas visit where they have made sand boats with candles lit, and floated them down river to join with the next village. Teresa is old enough to care for the babies while her parents, aunts and uncles pick the crops. They finish the cucumbers, and move on to the peaches, where they are shown their dwelling, an old, still stained, chicken coop. "Making do" appears to be what is expected, yet Michael Dooling's beautiful paintings show different emotions very well. It is a sweet story with undertones of sadness and resentment. I imagine it will gather questions about why the family think they should 'accept' the chicken coop, the kinds of work migrant workers do to help our economy, the issue today.  Dooling's paintings are gorgeous.

Still ReadingA Bird On Water Street - Elizabeth O. Dulemba
Next: I've been wanting to read Laura Resau's What The Moon Saw for a long time. 

         Nov. 30th was Mark Twain's birthday, who said: "A successful book is not made of what is in it, but of what is left out of it."         



26 comments:

  1. I'm thinking that Liberatad would be a good addition to our human rights curriculum. We stay mostly within Brazil, but maybe we will venture out to Guatemala. I lilke the idea of working in some poetry and novels in verse. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. It does fit, Melanie. Actually both Libertad & Caminar do. I'm finding it a challenge to get the students to read verse novels. Maybe if I read one aloud? Thanks for sharing about your human rights work!

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  2. Libertad by Alma Fullerton looks wonderful, put it on my immediate "to order" list... thank you! :)

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    1. Hope you like it, Debbie. I enjoyed it very much.

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  3. Another book about Guatemala! Will be looking for this one. I finally pulled Caminar off my shelf after reading your recent write-up and really enjoyed it.

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    1. I am in awe of the trouble in South America & we don't hear much about it. Both the books are good, and just slightly different. Glad you enjoyed Caminar.

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  4. I need both these books, Linda - each presents stories my students need to hear. I'm hoping to get back into the reading swing of things, too. I feel I've really let that go this Fall. :(

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    1. I'm slowing down, but also trying to find some books from the past that fit the diversity model we're looking for, too. Hope you enjoy them, Tara!

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  5. Don't you love how we feel the need to apologize when life gets busy, and we don't have as much time to read? Thank you for sharing the books you read. :)

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    1. Oh my, you're right, Ricki. I'm missing the reading a lot!

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  6. I loved Libertad. Have you read Serafina's Promise by Ann E. Burg? It's also written in verse a packs a powerful punch. It would fit into a collection of books that included Libertad. I'll have to find a copy of Caminar.

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    1. Serafina's Promise is on my list, but no, haven't read it yet. Thanks much for the push to find it!

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  7. It's hard to imagine these poor children's travails.Their stories need to be told and these sound like beautiful, poignant books.

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    1. They are, Iza. I too have a hard time imagining, especially when I work with my middle school students who are capable young adults, but imagining them in these situations is very hard. Hope you enjoy these, and Caminar too.

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  8. What short stories are you putting together for your students? Where are you getting them from? I always struggle with finding short stories.
    Libertad looks great! I didn't know it--thank you for sharing.

    Happy reading this week! :)

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    1. I can send you a list, Kellee, but I've found some online that are easier to print out, but often most come from anthologies I've read through the years. Let me know if you'd like a list. Libertad is good, especially for middle readers.

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  9. Must check out the Thomas & Dooling book. (Heading over to Amazon right now.)

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  10. Thanks for the reviews. I was not familiar with these books til now.

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  11. I read Caminar and Libertad back to back over a 2 day period just recently. Powerful, both of them.

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    1. I suspect it is you that gave me the Libertad title, Carrie. Thank you!

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  12. Hi there Linda, these are unfamiliar titles to me - thank you so much for sharing. I have submitted a new course module to be offered in August 2015 regarding multicultural middle grade/ YA/ graphic novel titles and how to use them to promote socioemotional learning in the classroom (a part two from my previous course module) - these titles sound like they would fit right into my text-set. :)

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    1. Love your course plan, Myra. I hope you share the list sometime!

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  13. I usually enjoy novels in verse so I'm happy to hear of another one. I hadn't heard of Lights on the River either. It sounds like it could lead to very interesting discussions. Thanks for the titles! Have a great week.

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    1. Hope your week is good, too, Crystal. Have you read The Red Pencil? It is another one that I need to get to!

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