Sunday, June 30, 2013

Book Trailer - The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

This isn't your typical WWII book.  Yes, it has a German family hiding a Jewish man from the Nazis, but the book goes so much deeper than that.  Take it slow, and savor the beautiful writing.  It will be your next favorite book!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Book Trailer - The Devil's Arithmetic by Jane Yolen

Hannah learns the true meaning of sacrifice in this classic book by Jane Yolen.  Children today will understand why it is so important to always remember.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Book Trailer - Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Read this beautifully written book by newcomer author Ruta Sepetys.  This work of historical fiction set in the early 1940's makes for a memorable journey through Lithuania and Siberia like you have never imagined.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine

Mockingbird is about a ten year old girl who has Asperger's Syndrome.  She recently suffered the loss of her older brother and protector through a school shooting at the local middle school.  Caitlin desperately wants to find "closure" and show her dad how to do it along the way, but it's much harder than she ever thought it was going to be.

My Impressions
I loved being able to see the world through Caitlin's eyes.  So many times we think we know what is going on the mind of others, but with children who have Asperger's Syndrome, we only think we have it all figured out.  Watching Caitlin deal with the emotions of losing her brother, of trying to help her father, of trying to make friends in a world of ambiguity, and of trying to find closure, opens our eyes to a world beyond what most people can imagine.  How do you wrangle emotions when you don't really know what an emotion feels like?  How do you help your father with the loss of a child when you deal with things in black and white?  How do you make friends with the other girls when they are desperately trying to set themselves apart from the "weirdo" whose brother was shot?  Kathryn Erskine did a beautiful job of making the reader aware of all the emotions involved.  It's a story about a school shooting, but from an angle like no other book I have read.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

Ivan the gorilla has lived in his domain for most of his 27 years.  His only friends at the Big Top Mall are Bob the dog, Stella the elephant, and Julia, the daughter of the custodian at the Big Top Mall.  When tragedy strikes, Ivan sets out on a path to make sure the newest member of the little group does not suffer the same fate. Along the way, Ivan discovers that self-preservation is just as important as helping others.

My Impressions
This is one of the most beautiful books I have ever read.  Written in a simplistic format that reads like poetry, we discover Ivan and his friends through Ivan's own thoughts and feelings, but this book goes beyond the typical books that are narrated by animal main characters.  At the beginning, the reader sees the world through the eyes of a gorilla who has been taken from his home and family in the jungle and placed in a cage.  By the end of the book, however, the reader is seeing things from the perspective of a human who is cheering on the liberation of Ivan and his friends.  One of the best things about this book is the simple way that Ivan thinks.  It really inspires the reader to imagine what is really going on.  We are never told that he is going to create his own billboard to help save Ruby - we discover it along with Julia and her father.  We don't really know what the nice lady from the zoo looks like - we can only guess that Ivan thinks she is beautiful with the description of having hair the color of "ants crawling on a rotting log in the jungle."  And, because this book is based on a true story, everything comes alive at the end when the reader is compelled to research the real Ivan.  The Newbery Committee finally got one right with this one!