Thursday, September 30, 2010

Word after Word after Word by Patricia MacLachlan

word In this slim book Word after Word after Word, Newbery award winner Patricia MacLachlan introduces us to an inspiring author who is visiting a fourth grade class.  The children become aware of the power of words through the author’s unique approach to teaching about creative writing,   They are invited to experiment and even play with words.  As the children start the writing process, they discover that words can describe a place, transport us back or forward in time, and introduce us to interesting characters.  Patricia MacLachlan tells us that her book Word after Word after Word is somewhat biographical.  We certainly gain in insight into this author’s gift of choosing just the right words to express emotions, thoughts, truth and wisdom.  Word after Word after Word is a fast read, yet this small book opens up whole new worlds through the amazing power of words.  We gain an insight into how this author chooses her words so effectively.  Review by Trudy Walsh

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Song of the Whales by Uri Orlev

song Can dreams come true?  Can they predict the future?  Can dreams transport us back to past lives?  Michael never thought much about dreams while he was growing up in Port Washington, a small town on Long Island Sound in New York.  When his family moves to Jerusalem to be near his elderly grandfather, Michael is surprised to find out how much they have in common.  There is a special bond between grandson and grandfather.  Michael is looking forward to getting to know his grandfather more and more.  Michael’s parents, however, worry that he spends too much time with the elderly man and not enough time with friends his own age.  Michael doesn’t care about meeting kids.  He is fascinated by the antiques in his grandfather’s house.  As Michael shares his love of old things with his grandpa, his grandpa shares his special interest in dreams with Michael.  Together they discover that they have the power to be in each other’s dreams.  Grandpa realizes that Michael has “the gift,” and that’s when Grandpa begins to teach Michael how to make other people’s dreams more pleasant.  Michael gladly becomes Grandpa’s apprentice.   Together  they have some amazing experiences through their synchronized dreams, where time and space become warped.  The Song of Whales takes you on a fantastic trip, where the lines of reality and dreams are blurred.  This story will continue to stay in your mind long after you’ve closed the book.  Review by Trudy Walsh

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Come Fall by A.C.E. Bauer

come fall I have to confess, I was pretty disappointed with this book.  The main story is well-written enough, but the interspersing of the faeries’ story is very confusing even if you know the story of Puck, King Oberon and Queen Titania, which I doubt most kids do.  Salman Page is a new kid yet again, trying to stay under the radar so that no one will find out his situation: that he lives in a foster home with abusive foster parents.  Lu Zimmer is assigned to be his d.b., or designated buddy, and she just won’t leave him alone.  She’s determined to prove what a good d.b. she is, and Salman finds himself drawn to her, despite his intentions to remain a loner.  So far so good, but Salman has a crow for a friend, the crow is really Puck, who has been ordered by both the queen and king of the faeries to keep tabs on Salman for very different reasons. The language of the book seems younger to me than the subject matter, and that combined with the confusing nature of the faery part of the story make this a hard book to recommend.  Review by Stacy Church

Best Friends Forever: A World War II Scrapbook by Beverly Patt

best friends I love everything about this book.  The layout, illustrations and handwritten text really make you feel like you’re reading someone’s scrapbook, and the characters and story are so engaging that once I started reading I couldn’t put it down.  Louise Margaret Krueger, age 14, vows to keep a scrapbook to share with her best friend, Dottie Masuoka, also 14, when Dottie and her family are allowed to return home after being interned with all the other Japanese-Americans during WW II.  The scrapbook begins on April 24, 1942, and continues until January 10, 1943.  Included are letters to Dottie from Louise, Louise’s letters to Dottie, and memorabilia that Louise has taped into the scrapbook, things like a newspaper clipping about the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the incident that led to the “evacuation” of Japanese-Americans to camps, the handbill instructing all persons of Japanese ancestry to report for evacuation, and the note that someone threw through the Kruegers front window “Go back to Germany Nazis.”   The book really gives a good picture of the history of the time period, and Louise’s affection for her friend and contempt for the cowardly way her family is treated make the book a wonderful read.  Review by Stacy Church