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Children

The Orphan Band of Springdale by Anne Nesbet a #Cybils middle grade finalist

The Orphan Band of Springdale by Anne Nesbet

So much packed into The Orphan Band of Springdale. It covers so many issues yet still manages to be a tender, touching story.

It’s 1941, and tensions are rising in the United States as the Second World War rages in Europe. Eleven-year-old Gusta’s life, like the world around her, is about to change. Her father, a foreign-born labor organizer, has had to flee the country, and Gusta has been sent to live in an orphanage run by her grandmother. Nearsighted, snaggletoothed Gusta arrives in Springdale, Maine, lugging her one precious possession: a beloved old French horn, her sole memento of her father. But in a family that’s long on troubles and short on money, how can a girl hang on to something so valuable and yet so useless when Gusta’s mill-worker uncle needs surgery to fix his mangled hand, with no union to help him pay? Inspired by her mother’s fanciful stories, Gusta secretly hopes to find the coin-like “Wish” that her sea-captain grandfather supposedly left hidden somewhere. Meanwhile, even as Gusta gets to know the rambunctious orphans at the home, she feels like an outsider at her new school — and finds herself facing patriotism turned to prejudice, alien registration drives, and a family secret likely to turn the small town upside down.

I love reading a book about a girl who plays a musical instrument. How about you?

Categories
Books Children Young Adult

Invasion by Walter Dean Myers

Hotlight Spotlight: Invasion

by Walter Dean Myers

There are many reasons to love Walter Dean Myers.  He writes books for communities who are often overlooked: boys and African Americans.  Many students are turned on to Myers’ books through school assignments.  Then they keep coming back to Myers for more of the hard hitting reality that Myers is known for.  Kids who won’t read about vampires and aren’t interested in sports will often be willing to read about war like “Invasion.”

invasion

What’s “Invasion”?

Walter Dean Myers brilliantly renders the realities of World War II.

Josiah Wedgewood and Marcus Perry are on their way to an uncertain future. Their whole lives are ahead of them, yet at the same time, death’s whisper is everywhere.

One white, one black, these young men have nothing in common and everything in common as they approach an experience that will change them forever.

It’s May 1944. World War II is ramping up, and so are these young recruits, ready and eager. In small towns and big cities all over the globe, people are filled with fear. When Josiah and Marcus come together in what will be the greatest test of their lives, they learn hard lessons about race, friendship, and what it really means to fight. Set on the front lines of the Normandy invasion, this novel, rendered with heart-in-the-throat precision, is a cinematic masterpiece. Here we see the bold terror of war, and also the nuanced havoc that affects a young person’s psyche while living in a barrack, not knowing if today he will end up dead or alive.

Need I say more about the power of Myers’ ability to discuss the human condition in a way that boys can understand? TheWWII backround will certainly discuss racism in a manner that the kids might not have thought about.

Which Walter Dean Myers’ books have your children read?

 

Categories
Diversity Reading Challenge Lists

Diversity New Releases for Toddlers through YA

Diversity New Releases for toddlers through YA

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You know I love bringing you diversity book reviews, right? Today I’m bringing you a list of new books that contain diversity and the best bit is, there’s one book for every age group: toddler through YA!

  1. Beautiful by Stacy McAnulty Illustrated by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff

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I love this book so HARD. You know how I love opening lines? The opening line here is simple: “Beautiful girls…”
And the graphic contains five girls of different colors doing what they do best, being themselves.  What’s especially great is the back of the drawing, on the next page, shows the backsides of the girls: the girl wearing the tutu and sporting a fan also wears a pirate’s sword, which feels alot like yours truly.  The rest of the book is full of beautiful girls in wheelchairs, camping, pirating, in a science lab, playing in water with frogs and other critters, and more! Girls activities reimagined.  The last line: “Because they make the world..” Reminds me of the old Chinese saying that women hold up half the sky. Beautiful girls make the world?

Yes.

2. Kid Artists: True Tales of Childhood From Creative Legends by David Stabler, Illustrated by Doogie Horner

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Quirk has done it again! Ever imagine what your favorite artist was like as a kid? Here it is. For example, did you know that the great artist Frida Kahlo (whom I love) suffered from polio as a child?  And did you know that Pablo Picasso was labeled as a problem child? There’s also interesting very short readable bios about Leonardo da Vinci, Charles Schulz, Andy Warhol, and Jean-Michel Basquiat. Check it out!

3. The Last Cherry Blossom by Kathleen Burkinshaw

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Based on a fictionalized account of her mother’s childhood during the bombing of Hiroshima it’s a tale of war through a 12 year old’s eyes.

Yuriko was happy growing up in Hiroshima when it was just her and Papa. But her aunt Kimiko and her cousin Genji are living with them now, and the family is only getting bigger with talk of a double marriage! And while things are changing at home, the world beyond their doors is even more unpredictable. World War II is coming to an end, and Japan’s fate is not entirely clear, with any battle losses being hidden fom its people. Yuriko is used to the sirens and the air-raid drills, but things start to feel more real when the neighbors who have left to fight stop coming home. When the bomb hits Hiroshima, it’s through Yuriko’s twelve-year-old eyes that we witness the devastation and horror.

 

Right? If you think you’ve read all the WWII books there are, you haven’t read this. Teachers, I think this title could be added to your collection, right next to Anne Frank.

So you know what else I just noticed? All these books are about kids who are BEAUTIFUL and DIVERSE. Have you read any of these titles?

Diversity Reading Challenge additions galore today!

Categories
Books

Paws of Courage by Nancy Furstinger

There are many ways to show courage.
Here’s how dogs do it:
Paws of Courage by Nancy Furstinger

Paws of Courage

 

Here’s a great kids book: it’s a book about war dogs and working dogs. But here’s the question: is there anything better than photos of dogs in uniforms? Well besides being awfully cute, these furry friends in uniform are brave. Paws of Courage is a great book that showcases the many types of four legged heroes who help our military over the past century. From Sgt Stubby to Xanto, dogs have performed numerous jobs helping our men and women in uniform. The greatest bit about these dogs is that when they retire, they can get adopted! Usually their handlers adopt them and reward them with love and good dog treats as a way of thanking the pooches for protecting them. Sometimes, regular people get to adopt a retired military working dog.

Can you imagine the stories old Fido could tell about finding explosives in a mine field or sniffing luggage at the airport for hidden items? Or what about the dog who can hear an enemy plane approaching and alert her military friends so they can get to safety?

I’ve always been a fan dogs, but military working dogs have become my all time favorite, after I heard about all the work they did during September 11th. If you have a friend who likes dogs or the military, this book will win their heart too. Also? Information in the back to find out about retired service dogs for sale.  Maybe you can get one!

Here’s a great quote from the book:

 

The Final Woof

He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog. You are his life, his love, his leader. He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart. You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion.

~Anonymous

 

 

 

Categories
Blogging from A to Z Challenge

Bad Girls Book Club Letter Z #atozchallenge

Welcome to the Blogging from A to Z Challenge

Today’s letter is

Z

The Book

Zlata’s Diary by Zlata Filipovic

Zlata's Diary by Zlata Filipovic

You might think that Zlata’s Diary is an odd choice for book club. After all, what’s so special about a young girl’s diary? Haven’t we learned by now that young girls’ diaries contain powerful observations? Hello, Anne Frank much?
To be sure, Zlata is a young girl who has much to say about her environment. And Zlata’s environment is war torn Sarajevo in the 90s. If you weren’t around to remember the conflict in Bosnia, it resembled many of the scenes straight out of WWII: food shortages, military occupations, bombings, snipers, etc. Can you even imagine being 11 and enduring war?
Neither can I. And that’s why Zlata is in the Bad Girls Club. Despite all the multiple horrific odds against her, she and her family survived the war.  She now lives in Ireland, has attained all sorts of degrees, and helps kids.

Well gang, that’s the last member of the Bad Girls Fight Club, A to Z.
What did you think? Anyone I should have added?

Thanks to visiting and I’ll see you around the internet!

Categories
2015 Diversity Reading Challenge Blogging from A to Z Challenge Books

#AtoZChallenge – P (A) Place Where Sunflowers Grow

it’s P Day!!!!

Today is a busy day so let’s get started.

On my LETTER day you’ll be thrilled to know that I’m in two places:

Here and over at the A to Z Challenge website.

After you check out my book here, pop over to the Challenge site and see the beautiful book I have for you there.

today’s book is:

A Place Where Sunflowers Grow by Amy Lee- Tai

A Place Where Sunflowers Grow by Amy-Lee Tai, illustrated Felicia Hoshino

Under the harsh summer sun, Mari’s art class has begun. But it’s hard to think of anything to draw in a place where nothing beautiful grows — especially a place like Topaz, the internment camp where Mari’s family and thousands of other Japanese Americans have been sent to live during World War II. Somehow, glimmers of hope begin to surface — in the eyes of a kindly art teacher, in the tender words of Mari’s parents, and in the smile of a new friend. Amy Lee-Tai’s sensitive prose and Felicia Hoshino’s stunning mixed-media images show that hope can survive even the harshest injustice.

There is so much to love about this book. At a time when America did not treat it’s Japanese inhabitants very well, comes a

beautiful tale of a little girl and her growing talent.  This is a book you’ll need to read several times, because the first couple times you’re in shock when you imagine that this was being done in our own country (at a time when Jews faced similar opposition). After the initial shock, you are left with a loving appreciation of childhood no matter where it takes place.

Have you read this book? Any books you can recommend about Japanese internment?

Don’t forget, I’m on the blog today. Show me some love!

Categories
Books

#AtoZChallenge – N Number the Stars

Thank you for joining me for N day. Today let’s talk about Number the Stars by Lois Lowry. Is there anyone who doesn’t love this beautiful little book?

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

As you can see, Bailey, my pooch, loves the book too!

Ten-year-old Annemarie Johansen and her best friend Ellen Rosen often think of life before the war. It’s now 1943 and their life in Copenhagen is filled with school, food shortages, and the Nazi soldiers marching through town. When the Jews of Denmark are “relocated,” Ellen moves in with the Johansens and pretends to be one of the family. Soon Annemarie is asked to go on a dangerous mission to save Ellen’s life.

There are so many great stories of regular people caring for Jews who were brutalized during the war. Here’s one young people can understand and relate to. Lowry is an expert at telling stories from a kids’ perspective.

Have you read this gem?

Categories
Adult Fiction Books

SPOTLIGHT: The Color of Courage– A Boy at War: The World War II Diary of Julian Kulski

If there is going to be a war, I do not want to miss it. So writes Julian Kulski a few days before WWII begins, in this remarkable diary of a boy at war from ages 10 to 16. As the war unfolds through his eyes, we are privileged to meet an inspirational soul of indomitable will, courage and compassion. At age 12 Kulski is recruited as a soldier in the clandestine Underground Army by his Boy Scout leader, and at age 13 enters the Warsaw Ghetto on a secret mission. Arrested by the Gestapo at age 14 and sentenced to Auschwitz, he is rescued and joins the commandos. At age 15, Kulski fights in the 1944 Warsaw Uprising. He ends the war as a German POW, finally risking a dash for freedom onto an American truck instead of waiting for Soviet liberation. “

Yeah. So what were you doing when you were 12? Me? Singing along with The Jackson 5 or at Girl Scout Camp or at band camp.  It’s hard to imagine a 12 year old who wants to go to war, right?

JulianKulski1944_age15uniform

Look at that face! Ok so he’s not 12 anymore but he’s still very young. Too young to fight in a war.

World War II veteran, international architect, and author Julian Kulski’s book, The Color of Courage—A Boy At War: The World War II Diary of Julian Kulski, will be published by Aquila Polonica on Veterans Day, November 11, 2014.

“I can’t say I really want to die,” 12-year-old Julian Kulski writes, “but I can see now that there are times when one has to be prepared to do just that.”

The Color of Courage is a rare and vivid day-by-day eyewitness account by a young boy who becomes a man far too soon under the brutal Nazi German occupation of Poland.

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Julian is a 10-year-old Boy Scout when the Germans invade his native Poland to start World War II. At an age when most boys are still playing with toys, Julian begins his own private war against the Germans with small acts of sabotage. At 12, he is recruited into the clandestine Underground Army by his Scoutmaster, and begins training on weapons and military tactics.

By 14, he is holding up German soldiers at gunpoint, has gone on a secret mission into the Warsaw Ghetto to liaise with Jewish resistance leaders, is captured by the Gestapo, beaten and interrogated, sentenced to Auschwitz, rescued, and joins a Commando unit of the Underground Army. At 15, he fights in the Warsaw Uprising, ending the war as a German POW.

The war’s end brings physical freedom but very little peace for the 16-year-old veteran suffering from PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). A wise army doctor advises Julian to write down his experiences to help lessen the psychological and emotional burdens of the war. The Color of Courage is the result.

I know, right? Here’s a book trailer to pique your interest even more:

I think this will make the perfect holiday gift for the war hero in your life.

Categories
Books

My Real Children by Jo Walton

Sometimes you read a book that makes you think. And sometimes you just can’t put the book down.  Isn’t it fabulous when you finally get to meet the author and he/she is as smart and great as you’d hoped they’d be? That’s the case with Jo Walton’s

My Real Children

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Intrigued? Here’s a bit about it:

It’s 2015, and Patricia Cowan is very old. “Confused today,” read the notes clipped to the end of her bed. She forgets things she should know—what year it is, major events in the lives of her children. But she remembers things that don’t seem possible. She remembers marrying Mark and having four children. And she remembers not marrying Mark and raising three children with Bee instead. She remembers the bomb that killed President Kennedy in 1963, and she remembers Kennedy in 1964, declining to run again after the nuclear exchange that took out Miami and Kiev.

Her childhood, her years at Oxford during the Second World War—those were solid things. But after that, did she marry Mark or not? Did her friends all call her Trish, or Pat? Had she been a housewife who escaped a terrible marriage after her children were grown, or a successful travel writer with homes in Britain and Italy? And the moon outside her window: does it host a benign research station, or a command post bristling with nuclear missiles?

I love love this book. Thanks to a  meeting with Brandon Sanderson, I’ve discovered the joy of Science Fiction and Fantasy books! To be sure, YA includes both genres, so jumping to adult Sci Fi was not difficult.  If I can enter an alternate reality from a YA book, why not an adult?

And so I did.  I love how smart the heroine, Patricia is. She thinks about thinking.  I love that. This would be a great book for bookclubs or older teens, too.  Curious? Follow this link and read the first few chapters and see if you aren’t hooked too!

Wonder what the author looks like?

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Categories
Books Children Young Adult

Hotlight Spotlight Invasion by Walter Dean Myers

Hotlight Spotlight: Invasion

by Walter Dean Myers

There are so many reasons to love Walter Dean Myers.  He writes books for communities who are often overlooked: boys and African Americans.  Many students are turned on to Myers’ books through school assignments.  Then they keep coming back to Myers for more of the hard hitting reality that Myers is known for.  Kids who won’t read about vampires and aren’t interested in sports will often willing to read about war.

Myer’s latest war book, after Sunrise Over Fallujah and Fallen Angels is Invasion.

invasion

What’s Invasion?

Walter Dean Myers brilliantly renders the realities of World War II.

Josiah Wedgewood and Marcus Perry are on their way to an uncertain future. Their whole lives are ahead of them, yet at the same time, death’s whisper is everywhere.

One white, one black, these young men have nothing in common and everything in common as they approach an experience that will change them forever.

It’s May 1944. World War II is ramping up, and so are these young recruits, ready and eager. In small towns and big cities all over the globe, people are filled with fear. When Josiah and Marcus come together in what will be the greatest test of their lives, they learn hard lessons about race, friendship, and what it really means to fight. Set on the front lines of the Normandy invasion, this novel, rendered with heart-in-the-throat precision, is a cinematic masterpiece. Here we see the bold terror of war, and also the nuanced havoc that affects a young person’s psyche while living in a barrack, not knowing if today he will end up dead or alive.

Need I say more about the power of Myers’ ability to discuss the human condition in a way that boys can understand? And WWII backround will certainly discuss racism in a manner that the kids might not have thought about.

This is sure to be another hit.

Which Walter Dean Myers’ book has your child read?