Monday, August 27, 2012

Black Radishes By Susan Lynn Myer

This book takes place in the 1940's in France. It starts when Germany is threatening, but moves into the time that Germany occupied France. I must say I never realized that Germany took over almost half of France, nor did I realize just how awful it was for the French people. I'm not sure if my history teachers skipped that, glossed over it or I just didn't pick it up, but I always knew we invaded Normandy, but never put it together that many French people were ruled by Germans during this time. Anyway, Gustave is a boy of about 11 who lives in Paris with his family and close friends Jean-Paul and Marcel. Marcel came from Poland, but they are all Jewish. As the Germans continue to threaten, Gustave's mother decides they must leave Paris and they leave for a small town south of Paris. Gustave's cousin and friend stay in Paris. Shortly thereafter, the Germans invade France and the provisional occupation occurs. Gustave is very worried about his friends and relatives, as they learn more and more about the abuses to which the Jewish people are subject in Paris. Even in his remote town that is just south of the occupied part of France, Jewish people are stripped of rights and marginalized. This book was a good book but it seemed to be more history lesson than story. It was bits and pieces of Gustave's life over almost 3 years, I think. It didn't make for a very cohesive story but it painted a vivid picture of occupied France and the pressures of being Jewish in this time period.
Grades 4-7 Caudill nominee 2013

Friday, August 10, 2012

Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life by Wendy Mass

This book is about a boy, Jeremy Fink, who receives a present from his father where he has to find keys to open the very intricate box to learn the meaning of life. The twist is that his father has been dead for about 5 years and no one seems to know where the keys are. Jeremy and his best friend Lizzy go off on several interesting and somewhat impractical adventures throughout New York to find these keys before his 13 birthday, which is when he is supposed to open the box. Interesting story with impractical elements but if you can overlook them, it is entertaining.
Grades 5-7

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Countdown by Deborah Wiles

I read it but am keeping a lid on the summary, as we will be working with it in class this year. Once we get that done, I'll post a summary/review!

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

How many of you read or saw the movie Coraline? It was creepy, creative, different and yet intriguing, right? This book is exactly that but totally not like Coraline at all. This book introduces us to a character, Bod, short for Nobody Owens. He was born into a normal family in a British town but the rest of his family was murdered. He managed to escape (not knowing they were murdered) and found his way to a graveyard. The murderer knew Bod had escaped and followed him to the graveyard where his mother (newly dead) beseeched the ghosts of the graveyard to protect her toddler. Mr. and Mrs. Owens do just that with the help of the other ghosts and a character named Silas, who is neither ghost nor human. The murderer leaves without killing the boy but promises to find him and kill him. The characters in the graveyard decide they will raise and protect this boy and they do. The rest of the tale is how he is raised and eventually faces the man who seeks to kill him. It's a very interesting tale, told with such relish that you can't help feeling as though there is truth to this tale, although there cannot be!
Grades 5-7               Caudill Nominee 2013