In Freedom Over Me: Eleven Slaves, Their Lives and Dreams Brought to Life, Ashley Bryan created a treasure of a book that deeply moves the heart, informs and influences our humanity. Following the January publication of Teaching Hard History: American Slavery by the Southern Poverty Law Center, multiple articles looked into the need for students to learn more about the experience of slavery. Bryan’s book, which appeals to ages 11 and up, helps accomplish this. Continue reading
If you were enthralled by Philip Pullman’s Dark Materials series, you will welcome his new book, The Book of Dust: Volume One La Belle Sauvage. It is a prequel to the first book in the previous series, The Golden Compass. When I read the first chapter of this new book I relished the feeling of reentering Pullman’s familiar fantasy world. Pullman is a master storyteller. In this story, he weaves another powerful and fantastic adventure saga. The star of this book is Malcolm, an 11-year-old boy whose parents run an Inn in Oxford. Malcolm helps out there and in the Priory across the river from the Inn. At the Priory, Malcolm meets the baby, Lyra, whose father, Lord Astrial, left her there to be protected by the nuns. After he meets the 6-month-old Lyra, he becomes “her servant for life.” Later Malcolm saves Lyra from a danger that threatens her life. To keep her safe he undertakes a heroic journey in his canoe. When a terrible flood changes the landscape, Malcolm battles against horrific odds to protect Lyra. Along the way, Pullman strews nuggets of wonder that enthrall the reader. When we reach the end of that journey and the book on page 450, there is a promise: “To be continued.” Hopefully, we won’t have to wait too long to re-enter the world of Pullman’s Dark Materials, since two more books are planned. -Recommended by Marilyn Carpenter, Professor Emeritus, Eastern Washington University, Spokane, WA Continue reading
This December WOW Recommends Bronze and Sunflower written by Cao Wenxuan and illustrated by Meilo So as our book of the month. The book won the Hans Christian Anderson award in 2016 and is translated from Chinese into English by Helen Wang. Wenxuan is a best-selling author for children in China and a philosophy professor at Peking University. Bronze and Sunflower is set during the Cultural Revolution in China. Continue reading
The colorful picturebook, All the Way to Havana by Margarita Engle with illustrations by Mike Curato, is set in modern day Cuba. It focuses on a family celebration and how Cuban resourcefulness keeps American cars from the 1950s running. A boy narrates the trip his family takes from the country to Havana in their precious old car, Cara Cara, a 1954 Chevy. Before they can take off, Papa and his son have to fix the car. They try and try to fix the silly noises. “The rattling parts have ben fixed with wire, tape and mixed-up scraps of dented metal.” Finally, “Cara Cara once again begins to sound like a chattering hen!” Continue reading
To wrap up October’s My Take/Your Take, we discuss The Rooster Who Would Not Be Quiet! by Carmen Agra Deedy. In a town where silence is law, a rowdy rooster enters the scene and demands to be heard. We will discuss how this playful picturebook illustrates individuality, voice and opposition in relation to the other stories we’ve explored this month.
All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely is a story that focuses on the relationship between Quinn, a white boy, and Rashad, an African American boy who is violently beaten by a white police officer. This week, we discuss the racial issues of this book and how they relate to society today. We will also discuss how bullying in this book compares to what we observed in The Hate U Give and Wolf Hollow.
This week, we look at Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk, a story focused on bullying and friendships in a rural Pennsylvania town in 1943. We will also compare and contrast this book with last week’s book, The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. Both books contain elements of bullying, abuses of power, and the choice to do what is right. However, these books also have a number of differences worth discussing.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas is a powerful young adult novel that centers on the death of Khalil, an African American teenager who is shot by police after a traffic stop. Starr Carter, a witness to the shooting, frames the story as she watches the chaos and controversy erupt from Khalil’s death. Starr is caught in the middle of a conflict: she must either speak out about what she saw, or let the rumors speak for themselves. It’s a book full of controversy, tension, community and heart that takes a long look at relevant issues and movements, including the Black Lives Matter movement.
Book of the Month, August 2017
The Rooster Who would Not be Quiet! by Carmen Agra Deedy with illustrations by Eugene Yelchin
This allegoric tale demonstrates the power of resistance when a rooster challenges a unjust law. Even when the mayor chops down the rooster’s favorite tree, imprisons him, separates him from his family, and puts him in the dark, the rooster will not obey. The lively illustrations and text combine to demonstrate how injustice can be overcome. Don’t miss the essential Afterward. -Recommended by Marilyn Carpenter
Book of the Month, June 2017
Dive! World War II Stories of Sailors and Submarines in The Pacific by Deborah Hopkinson
These engrossing, fascinating stories focus on particular sailors, skippers and submarines that operated in the Pacific for some years as practically the only part of our navy that survived the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Special sections such as Dispatch, Briefings, Submarine School (operating the head should be a hit), Skippers Recommendations, Timelines, Maps, and Photographs deepen the telling of the stories and add historical facts without being didactic. The After section is superb with more fascinating information. The whole book is a page turner. -Recommended by Marilyn Carpenter