Wonderful books read this week, one I simply had to purchase so I could read it!
Visit Jen at TeachMentorTexts and Kellee and Ricki at UnleashingReaders to see what they've been reading, along with everyone else who link up. Others join Sheila to share adult books at Book Journeys.
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HAVE A HAPPY HALLOWEEN WEEK EVERYONE!
The Hired Girl - written by Laura Amy Schlitz
I recently read two books, set in countries out of the US that told stories of the powerlessness of women, and the challenge for change that needs to happen, in this 21st century, still a huge issue. This book, set in the US in 1911 is not quite as harsh, but again the powerlessness of women, especially those without money, is there. This is a growing-up story, and one where teens might see themselves, even old fashioned as it is. Fourteen-year-old Joan's mother died when she was ten, and since that time, she has had to manage all household duties for her abusive father and three brothers, older than she is, who still won't help her in any way against the father. First he made her quit school, then he chased her former teacher, her only champion, away, and when she decided to go on strike and asked to have the egg money (like her mother), her father burned the few books she owned. Joan, with amazing courage, escaped to Baltimore, and through strange serendipity, managed to be taken in as a hired girl by a wealthy Jewish family. She first had to please Malka, their aging and beloved housekeeper, and throughout the novel, managed both to please and infuriate the matriarch of the family. The story is about this family of two sons, a married daughter and a young daughter as well as Joan, her interactions with them as Jews, her thoughts as a Catholic, at least a Catholic trying to be confirmed. She meets with her priest once a week, and argues with him as he shows concern that she might be unduly influenced by their religion. None of the characters is perfect, but rise with kindness nearly all the time when a conflict occurs. The story is written by Joan in her diary. We see she is smart, spunky, and still, a fourteen year old. Her inability to stop and think before she acts throws her into lots of trouble, and I ached for her, knowing that she should NOT do what she intended, yet she did most of the time. Thank goodness, Joan is thoughtful too, and at the end, I can see that she will grow up into a wonderful young woman.
It’s Raining Bats & Frogs - written by Rebecca Colby & illustrated by Steven Henry
If you’re a little girl witch and can do spells, when it starts raining right before the Annual Halloween parade, you just want to help. Unfortunately changing from rain “drops” to raining cats and dogs, or even bats and frogs, doesn’t necessarily please. A story that repeats with a few rhymes, too, and lots of funny illustrations create a laugh-out-loud story for young kids, especially at this time of the year.
In A Cloud of Dust - written by Alma Fullerton & illustrated by Brian Deines
A young Tanzanian girl stays in at lunch to do her homework because by the time she takes the long walk home, it is dark and there is no light to see to do that work at home. The story, illustrated with gorgeous and realistic portraits, tells of one day when a pickup loaded with bicycles shows up. The school kids rush to choose a bike, and Anna is too late to get one. She is shown helping her school mates, and finally riding behind one boy on his bike on the path home. When they get to his home, he hops off and lets her take the bike, saying she needs it more. She replies that she’ll pick him up in the morning! It’s simply told, but the joy and excitement is evident in the story, of the need for bicycles in places where there is not other way to travel but walk. More than one international organization that takes donated bikes to ship to countries in need is listed in the back page, with a letter from the author. The book might be good for younger children because of the simple text, easy to read and share.
The Day The Crayons Came Home - written by Drew Daywalt & illustrated by Oliver Jeffers
Definitely for older students, this second book about the crayon’s adventure is full of silly jokes as the ‘left-behind’ crayons write postcards, wanting to come back home. It is fun seeing the individual postcards, often connected to the crayons’ stories, and the jokes were middle-grade laugh-out-loud humor. And I enjoyed the ending of the welcome created just for the crayons with different needs-funny, too. Could be used as a mentor text for writing in different voices along with point of view.
A Thirst for Home: A Story of Water Across The World - written by Christine Ieronimo & illustrated by Eric Velasquez
This is certainly a sad picture book, but also one that may inspire many to help one of the organizations that are putting wells in villages throughout the isolated villages in our world who are in need. A young girl walks with her amaye (mother) hours to the watering hole to get water, while she also mentions a lion roaring in her belly. She is thirsty and hungry, a continuing problem. Eventually, she must say goodbye to her mother and homeland. She’s been given up for adoption to an American family. With beautiful illustrations bringing this poignant story to life, and a full-circle story, Christine Ieronimo shows the terrible need for water so that young girls can stay in their homes, and spend time in school instead of walking hours for water. According to the facts given in the backmatter, only 33% of women in Ethiopia can read or write, leaving them to live in poverty, unable to provide the most basic needs of food and water.
The Whisper - written by & illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski (the one I had to buy!)
This is a story within a story, and of course it’s my “imagination” driving my thinking. A young girl sees a book ‘way up high’ in her classroom, and asks her teacher about it. The teachers says it’s a marvelous story book, filled with stories, and allows the girl to borrow it for the evening. That’s when the fun begins, for as she walks home, the words float out of the book, but look, a clever fox catches the words in a net. What happens in the rest of the story indeed is magical. The girl sees wondrous pictures (painted by Pamela Zagarenski), and on each page begins to make up her own story. I expect many students will look and look, perhaps even join into the stories being created. It may take some close looking as well as reading, yet will be wonderful for a fantasy-writing session. The ending will be a fun surprise for teachers. The endpapers are divine, and there are a few lovely lines from Longfellow tucked onto the copyright page!
Now Reading: Island Treasures, Growing Up In Cuba - written by Alma Flor Ada
As I read more, I am becoming more and more interested in Alma Flor Ada's life.