Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Red Sky at Morning by Richard Bradford

redskyatmorning.jpgRed Sky at Morning by Richard Bradford

Genre: World War II Fiction

Publication Date: 1968

Recommended Age Group: 16 years and older boys and some girls

Summary: In this classic coming-of-age novel Josh Arnold learns about love, loss, and responsibility when his Dad goes off to fight in WWII and leaves him with his Mother in New Mexico. The story starts in Mobile, AL where Josh’s Dad Francis Arnold runs a Navy shipyard. Francis feels the need to go fight and moves the family to their summer home in the mountain city of Sagrado, New Mexico where they will be safe. While in Sagrado Josh finds himself in a different society than his is used to and he struggles to learn their way of life. He makes friends and enemies quickly. He gets chased by Chango holding a knife and The Cloyd sisters holding up their skirts all in the same week. Josh also learns to deal with his mother’s racism and his mother’s depression because of his father’s long absence.
In the end Josh and his Mother have both learned some important lessons about the strength they each posses. Josh becomes an anchor for his mother and friends. After a mine killed his father he joined the Navy to follow in his footsteps and to do his duty. Mrs. Arnold learned that hired help can be more than that and came to treat them as friends rather than servants. She also learned how to stand on her own feet and that she doesn’t have to be in Mobile to be surrounded by good people and have a good time.

Personal Notes: As I mentioned in the summary Mrs. Arnold had some racial problems throughout the book and some people have cited these as a reason not to read it. I think it puts it into perspective a little and makes her change more drastic at the end. She does have some low points and some of her comments made me uncomfortable but it reminded me of talking to my grandmother who at times said things that are no longer politically correct but were not frowned upon when she was younger.
I think this book would be best for boys because it is written from a boy’s point of view and is more geared toward them. I certainly enjoyed it but not in the same way that I like reading a Meg Cabot novel. It’s a different kind of read. However, it is a very well-written and engaging book.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Cleary

dear-mr-henshaw.jpgDear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Cleary

Genre: Preteen fiction

Publication Date: 1983 by Avon Books

Recommended Age Group: 10 and over

Summary: The Newbery Winning story of Leigh Botts through letters and a journal. The book starts with a piece of fan mail to Leigh’s new favorite author, Mr. Henshaw. They read one of his books in class and Leigh decided to write him. As the book progresses so do the letters. We see Leigh grow up and things around him change. He is quite persistent in writing and eventually Mr. Henshaw writes Leigh back. Leigh’s letters become so prolific that Mr. Henshaw suggests that he write a journal instead. Though all this writing Leigh decides that he likes it and wants to be a writer. He enters and contest and doesn’t win but get an Honorable Mention. Leigh is excited by this and devotes more time to his writing. Meanwhile his family life is changed, his parents divorced and his Dad moved out Leigh has to deal with this and all the other uncertainties of a growing boy.

Personal Notes: Beautifully written. Cleary captures the essence of a young boy so well that the reader seems to be engulfed in actual letters. She also makes Leigh quite a round character with many problems that children today can relate to. I was a little disappointed by the ending. The parents had a chance to make up and get back together but Leigh’s mother chose not too. I guess it is more of the realistic that I appreciate through the rest of the novel and yet sometimes it’s nice to have an all-around happy ending.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

The Giver by Lois Lowry

giver.jpgThe Giver by Lois Lowry

Genre: Young Adult Fiction

Publication Date: First published in 1993 this edition published by Dell Laurel-Leaf in 2002

Recommended Age Group: Ages 10 and up

Summary: The Giver is about a society that seems at first glance to be perfect. Everyone get along, there are no poor or needy, and there is no foul language used. People are studied and given jobs that match their strengths. Jonas is an eleven-year-old boy when he is chosen to be the next memory keeper. At first he doesn't understand the job and the meaning but he is soon able to. The Giver is the one who had the job before him. He gives him the memories of the past. These memories and knowledge in general are kept from the population at large in an attempt to make them happier. Jonas experiences pain for the first time and it is horrible but he is also able to see color, like red (no one else can) and he is able to experience the joys of snow. Jonas lives with his family but their relationships are nothing like those in the memories he has been given. When they take in troubled baby Gabriel Jonas is able to feel the love of family relationships. When Gabriel's life is threatened Jonas take him and runs away with him. It is not clear in the end if they reach safety but they have sure left immediate danger.

Personal Notes: A wonderfully written book that really makes you think. It takes place in a city where people are blind to more than color and it bares a striking resemblance to our day. People just move along and go through the motions. We live in a fine society most of the time but there are those moments when people and their problems are overlooked. Jonas really takes the time to help Gabriel. He reaches out where other's wouldn't. We can learn from his example and do the same in our lives and the lives of those we know.

Brittany by Jack Weyland

brittany.jpgBrittany by Jack Weyland

Genre: Rape Survival Story

Publication Date: Published by Deseret Book in 1997

Recommended Age Group: Ages 16 and up

Summary: Brittney is about this good LDS girl named Brittney and when the book starts out all she wants is to be married in the temple to someone who loves her. In the beginning we learn that she has recently moved from Grace, Idaho where she had lived for her whole life. She didn’t have a lot of friends in Utah yet but was hopeful. Then the Drama Coach calls her and tells her that the lead role for My Fair Lady was open and hers if she wanted it and of course she did and this changed her life. While in the play she worked closely with Craig who played the male lead. They became really good friends and he contemplated breaking up with his girlfriend for her. Then Derek came into the picture and changed everything. Derek sat next to her in Biology class and flirted with her a lot. She was promoting the play and said he should go. He made a deal that he would go if she would go on a date with him afterward. She told him she would do it. She felt a few misgivings and didn’t really want to go but decided to anyway. They went to a movie first and he kept hitting on her and she tried to get him to stop but he was not interested. After the movie they went back to his house and their double Chad and Holly were upstairs watching another movie and they went downstairs to play a video game. It was during the game that Derek starting hitting on her and eventually date-raped her. The book then goes on to talk about her battle in dealing with the problem and how she felt about herself. They had a trial and investigation but he just got probation and not much else. Brittany struggled with forgiveness and had problems feeling that she was pure because of what happened. She also did not think she was worthy anymore and it talks about her struggle with that. She had a counselor and talked to the bishop too and they helped her get through it all. Brittany ended up going to Ricks (back when it was Ricks) just like she wanted to but it took a little effort to get in because her grades had suffered. Craig got home from his mission and wanted to date her. At first she was uncomfortable because she felt defiled but eventually she did get over that and in the end agreed that that was a good idea too.

Personal Notes: I really appreciated the way they treated this subject. They included all that went up to the rape but they did not include the act itself. The book focused more on what happened to lead up to it and what happened to Brittany because of it and I think that is the most important part. I liked the way it focused on the effects and how she handled it. Brittney did not hide in a closet; she decided to use what happened to her to help other people. This helped because it had a point and wasn’t just about rape. It showed her determination to make the best of what life gave her and we can all learn from them whether or not this terrible act has occurred in our lives. A fantastic book that I think every dating person should read so they know of the dangers they may face and so they can prevent them.

Other reviews available:

Nicole by Jack Weyland

Megan by Jack Weyland

My Name is Sus5an Smith. The Five is Silent. by Louise Plummer

sus5an-smith.jpgMy Name is Sus5an Smith. The Five is Silent. by Louise Plummer

Genre: Young Adult Fiction

Publication Date: First published in 1991 this edition published by Dell Publishing in 1993

Recommended Age Group: Ages 15 and up

Summary: My Name is Sus5an Smith. The Five is Silent. is about a girl named Susan who is from Springville Utah. She does not like where she lives and cannot wait to get out. She is a painter who likes to paint new and interesting things, however, her paintings often upset her family who think they are upsetting and weird. To make life and herself a bit more interesting she adds a 5 to her name making her Sus5an. She thinks that this is cool and is making a statement. The book starts out when she is seven with her Uncle Willy swinging her by her wrist and ankle in the backyard. She adores her Uncle and thinks he is the best guy around. That however, really is not true and he ends up abandoning her Aunt Marianne and steals all her plates and silverware. For the next ten years all the family thinks that he is slime while Susan still keeps up her odd fascination. When Susan is in high school she wins a couple of really good awards for her painting and decides that she wants to paint for a living. Her family doesn’t see it her way and they think that she should try to be a teacher. Then Susan paints a family portrait but with her dead grandparents in it as well as they would look if mummified. Everyone is a bit freaked out by it and think that she is weird. It really upsets Susan’s mother and she won’t even talk to her for a couple of days. Susan’s Aunt Libby comes into town because her other Aunt, Marianne the one Willy was married to, is getting married again. While she is there her and Susan decide that it would be a great idea for Susan to stay with her in Boston for the summer. Susan is really excited and can’t wait to leave boring Springville behind. When she gets to Boston she gets a job selling candy at a movie theater and gets her paintings put in an art gallery. While at the open house for the gallery she meets Thomas Roode who is about her age and a fellow painter. They seem to hit it off right away but he is going to Italy for the summer and they promise to write, which they do. However, while in Boston Susan runs into and starts to date her Uncle Willy. Who, in the end she realizes is a really bad guy because he steals all her Aunts stuff and a couple of Susan’s most prized possessions. At the end of the book Susan decides that she is not made out for Utah and decides to live in Boston and end up going to school there and she is still friends with Thomas when he gets back.

Personal Notes: Some of the stuff in the book was a little weird to read, like the part where she starts to date her ex-uncle. However, I am grateful that they never do anything but kiss. It seems to be a great book about a girl finding out who she really is and what she wants to be. It talks a lot about evaluating your life and what your family wants for you verses what you want for yourself. I found it to be a really interesting and fun book to read and would easily recommend it to anyone.

Holes by Louis Sachar

holes.jpgHoles by Louis Sachar

Genre: Young Adult Fiction

Publication Date: Published by Dell Yearling in 2000

Recommended Age Group: Ages 10 and up

Summary: Holes is a book about a boy named Stanley Yelnats who gets arrested for stealing some shoes when he swears he didn’t do it. Stanley is not really liked and often picked on at school. One day he gets into a fight with one of the bullies who throws his notebook in the toilet. Stanley fishes it out and by the time he gets to the front of the school he has missed the bus. On his walk home some shoes come off an overpass and hit him in the head. He thinks that it is destiny and a miracle; you see his father is working on a way to recycle old tennis shoes and Stanley wants to help. He takes the shoes and starts to run home with them when he is stopped by a police officer and then arrested for stealing the shoes. Apparently these shoes were once the shoes of a famous baseball player Clyde Livingston and they were to be sold to raise money for a homeless shelter. Stanley is put on trial for the theft and in convicted. He gets the choice of jail or Camp Green Lake. His parents choose Camp Green Lake. Now when Stanley arrives at this camp he notices that there is no green and no lake. It is full of delinquent boys who are to dig one whole a day five feet deep and five feet in every direction. Stanley soon comes to the conclusion that they are looking for something but he doesn’t know what. He makes friends with a boy named Zero and begins to teach him how to read and write. In exchange for this service Zero digs a bit of Stanley’s hole everyday. One day Zero who’s real name we learn at this point is Hector Zeroni, decides that he does not want to dig any more holes and he goes out into the dessert and is presumed dead within a couple of days. Stanley keeps thinking to himself that he should go after him but keeps putting it off. The camp tries to erase Zero’s existence rather than dealing with the paperwork and quickly replaces him. One day Stanley decides he’s had enough too and tries to steal the water truck to go and find Zero. He ends up putting the water truck in a whole and goes off without it. He eventually does find Zero still alive under a boat and they share some of what Zero calls sploosh, some type of peach mixture. They climb up a hill and Zero almost doesn’t make it but in the end they find some onions and water and are able to stay alive. They go back to the holes and find some treasure that belongs to Stanley’s great grandfather and the family ends up being rich and Stanley’s father invents some substance to get rid of foot odor that reminds everyone of peaches. They eventually end up calling it sploosh. All along the story we also flip back to the story of Kate and Sam who fill in some of the details and give us a bit more information, but the main story is about Stanley.

Personal Notes: Holes had the underlined themes of facing up to the consequences of your actions and how to be a good person no matter what the circumstances. The boys at the camp also tried to make the best of a bad situation. They were survivors at heart and in a bizarre way they gave one another support. Stanley was an amazing example of what it means to be a friend when he went after Zero in the desert. Overall well-written and an amazing book.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis

lion-witch-and-wardrobe.jpgThe Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis

Genre: Fantasy

Publication Date: First published in 1950 this edition published by Harper Collins Publishers in 2002

Recommended Age Group: Ages 10 and up

Summary: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is the second book in the Chronicles of Narnia. It takes place when the characters in the first book have aged and moved on with their lives. This books main characters are four children all siblings, Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy. They stay with Digory Kirke when he is an old man and go exploring around his house one day. Lucy goes into the wardrobe first because she sees the fur coats and wants to go in and feel them. While she is in there she notices that there is no back to the closet and that it goes on into a wood. She meets Mr. Tumnus who is a faun, half beast and half man. They have a nice encounter and they have tea together but then Mr. Tumnus starts to cry and tells Lucy that he promised that he would turn any humans in if he found them. However, he and Lucy decided to keep it secret. Edmund is the next to enter the Wardrobe and he does it during a game of hide and seek. When he goes through however, he meets the White Witch. She is the Queen from the first book. The White Witch bribes Edmund with treats to tell her things. She tells him to bring his brother and sisters back to her castle next time they enter Narnia. Eventually they do all go in together and they learn of Mr. Tumnus being captured and the evil of the White Witch. They meet up with a He-Beaver and follow him to his home where he tells them all about the problems of Narnia and the curse that the queen, the White Witch, has put on the land. He tells them that only Aslan, a great Lion, will be able to break this curse. Meanwhile Edmund sneaks off to go and tell the White Witch that he is back with his siblings. She is upset that he hasn’t brought them with him and treats him quite poorly. Edmund then decides that he has made the wrong choice in choosing to betray his family. He is saved when Aslan comes and learns of his captivity and sends a rescue team. The Witch feels betrayed and demands to be able to slay Edmund for his actions. Aslan agrees to trade his life for Edmunds knowing that an innocent life given for another would save Narnia and break the White Witch’s curse. There is a great battle, which Peter leads, that ensures the White Witch’s removal. The four children reign in Narnia for many years and one day go back by the forest with the lamppost and back through the wardrobe and are once again children.

Personal Notes: I liked this book just as much as I did the first one. A lot of people think that this one is supposed to be first and The Magician’s Nephew is second but this is not the way Lewis intended it. Plus I think they make a lot more sense this way because you find out what Narnia is, how it was made and the origins of everything. I would recommend this book to anyone. It was a fun read. They have recently made it into a movie but I really find that you miss something and have a different experience when watching a movie verses reading the book.

Other reviews available:

The Magician's Nephew by C. S. Lewis

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

a-wrinkle-in-time.jpegA Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy

Publication Date: First published 1962 this edition published by Dell in 1997

Recommended Age Group: Ages 12 and up

Summary: A Wrinkle in Time is about three children, Meg and Charles Wallace Murry and Calvin O’Keefe, who go on a mission to save the Murry’s father. The story starts out describing Meg who thinks of herself as pretty average and is really smart but is distracted so she isn’t doing very well in school. Her distraction comes from home. Her father who is a scientist who works for the government has been missing for quite some time and there are rumors that he ran off with another woman. These rumors upset the whole family and Meg finds herself unable to concentrate on what she needs to. Charles Wallace is a five-year-old boy who is anything but normal. He has the ability to read what people are thinking and feeling without asking them. He has some interesting friends that live in the woods. These friends go by the names of Mrs. Who Whatsit and Which. We find out later that they were stars who are able to transform themselves into different things (people, centaurs, etc.) and they are also able to Tesser and time travel. Tesser is a way of travel that instead of going from point to point they make things closer by bending space. In the book they explain it as a wrinkle, if an ant were to walk all the way along a piece of fabric it would take him a long time. However, if that same piece of fabric was wrinkled up the ant would not have as far to go. These three women help the children to go find the Murry’s father on a distant planet and they help fight an evil call IT that has taken over the planet. IT is a big brain that has the ability to get into people’s minds and control them. Charles Wallace lets the brain take him over because he thinks he can defeat it that way and losses control. While he is under IT’s control he takes Meg and Calvin to where their father is and eventually they are able to free him. Once they are free Charles Wallace takes them to IT and he almost gets them all under his control when Mr. Murry tessers and frees them from it, but he is unable to take Charles Wallace along. They go to a planet full of giants who do not have eyes and therefore cannot see. These giants help Meg to recover who had a bad experience with the last tesser where she was frozen nearly solid. After they cure her she is sent back to the planet with IT on it and tries to get Charles Wallace back. She tries many ways of fighting IT but they all seem to fail until she remembers the hint that Mrs. Whatsit gave her before she left. Use the one thing he doesn’t have and remember love. She kept telling Charles Wallace how much she loved him and eventually she broke through IT’s powers and they were able to travel home with the help of the three women. The book ends with a happy family reunion and Mr. and Mrs. Murry seeing each other again after a long separation.

Personal Notes: This was a great book for someone who already like Sci-fi/fantasy type books. I think it would be too involved for someone who didn’t really know anything about this genre because it is a really involved book and if you weren’t already thinking without limits some of the contents would be hard to accept and get by. Other than that I thought it was a really good book. I read it when I was in seventh grade and I really enjoyed it a lot more now. I was able to understand a lot more and to appreciate the writing style. However, I do not think it would be too hard for a seventh grader to understand if they were used to reading these types of books.

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

fahrenheit-451.jpgFahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Genre: Science Fiction

Publication Date: First published 1953 this edition published by Del Ray in 2003

Recommended Age Group: Ages 14 and up

Summary: Guy Montag is a fireman that starts fires rather than putting them out. They burn books. This all started because it apparently makes people more comfortable to have an equal society. They don’t like to feel stupid because they haven’t read something or don’t know as much as someone else. So, to keep the peace, the firemen are there to find those people with book and to burn the books. In the end Montag has some books of his own and tries to figure out what is so good about them. He is discovered and after killing his fire Captain he is forced to run and go into hiding. While in hiding he meets a bunch of other people that have decided to keep there love for books alive by memorizing different ones and together they make a substantial library.

Personal Notes: Amazing book with obvious ties to todays world. Fabulous for discussion groups of any kind. Bradbury took an interesting approach here by twisting some of the fundamentals in our society and putting them in a different light. For instance the firefighters that burn books rather than put out fires. The tv becoming an all consuming source of entertainment with reality shows on every channel. He was writing way before his time and saw our society today. The earpieces made me think of ipods and everyone's obsession with noise. It seems like people can't just sit in a quiet room anymore, something always needs to be happening around them. A good book to make you think and to help reevaluate life and priorities.

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

enders-game.jpgEnder’s Game by Orson Scott Card

Genre: Science Fiction

Publication Date: First published 1977 this edition published by Starscape in 2002

Recommended Age Group: Ages 10 and up

Summary: Ender’s Game is about a boy named Andrew Wiggin who calls himself Ender. The story starts out when he is six and in a special program for really smart kids who, if they advance, will go to school to become an astronaut. These astronauts fight the “buggers” who tried to destroy humans and colonize earth quite some time before. He has two older siblings, something that only happens when it is approved by the government because of population regulations. Ender’s two older siblings Peter and Valentine, were in the program too but got kicked out for various reasons. Apparently they are monitored from a very young age and it is a disgrace to get the monitor removed because this means that you are kicked out of the program. They remove Ender’s and he gets into a fight at school because of it and ends up killing the ringleader, but he doesn’t know it at the time. Ender gets accepted to the school and does very well despite the teachers trying to make it hard for him all along the way. In their minds they think they are helping him to grow by isolating him and making it hard for him to get friends. Near the end of Battle School Ender gets into a fight with some pretty bad kids and ends up killing this guy too, although he doesn’t know it then either. He is chosen to advance many different times in school making the other kids jealous and dislike him. Eventually he becomes the commander of a battle group and he wins every match that they ever play which happens once or twice a day. In the end he is chosen for Command school and is sent to train there. Although before he goes he is aloud to return to earth and learn to appreciate what he would be saving if he would fight for it. He plays in what he thinks are games and wins every time destroying the enemy at seemingly impossible battles. In the end he destroys their world and they all die. Then he finds out what he has done with the battles, that they were real, and what he did to those two boys he got into fights with. He wants to change and have a peaceful life. Meanwhile his siblings are doing a lot of work at home. Peter is trying to take over the world thought the net and a person he created called Locke. His sister Valentine is forced to help him and becomes Demosthenes who changes the way people think about the world. There is a civil war and Peter, as Locke forms a treaty and slowly gains power. In the end Ender and Valentine go to colonize one of the old bugger worlds and he becomes governor. Then they fly around from planet to planet inspecting other colonies and meeting the people there who worship Ender because he saved all their lives.

Personal Notes: I liked this book. It was kind of hard to get into at first and I don’t think I would recommend it to anyone who didn’t already like and read science fiction. But it was good for those who had some sort of background. I liked the way Ender kept trying even when it was hard, it is a good message for young people. However, I did not like the way Card seemed to make every bad thing he did good because it was for a greater cause. I think this may have a bad influence on some of the kids who read it. Overall though I thought it was a great book and that it had a great message. A fun and exciting read.

The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary

138.jpgThe Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary

Genre: Fantasy

Publication Date: First Published in 1965 This edition by Harper Trophy in 2000

Recommended Age Group: Ages 10 and up

Summary: The Mouse and the Motorcycle is about a mouse named Ralph who lives in a hotel in California with his family. They enjoy messy people because they leave crumbs and food for him and his family to eat. Ralph is an adventurous mouse who wants to go out and see his world, the hotel, but he can’t because he is kept in check by the housekeepers who want to keep the place clean and mice free. Then Keith and his family arrive. Keith has many fun toys but most importantly he has a motorcycle, beautiful shiny and red. When Keith and his family step out of the room Ralph goes to see this motorcycle and take a look to see if Keith left any food behind. When he comes up to the motorcycle he notices that it is the perfect size for him and while trying to ride it he falls off the table where it was and lands in a garbage can. He was afraid because he didn’t want to get thrown out with the trash and he didn’t want someone who didn’t like mice to find him there. Luckily Keith comes back and finds him there and likes mice. He even teaches him how to ride his motorcycle and lets Ralph ride around in it at night. Then the crisis comes, Keith and his family are out for the day and Ralph wants to ride the motorcycle, he almost gets sucked into the vacuum and ends up riding into a bunch of sheets that he later has to chew his way out of and leave the motorcycle behind. The hotel finds they have mice and the maids are to keep an extra close watch and try to get rid of any mice they see. Thus Ralph and his family are forced into hiding but lucky for them Keith brings them food. One night Keith gets sick and needs an aspirin and his parents can’t find one. So Ralph goes on a mission to find the aspirin and almost gets caught several times. In the end he uses Keith’s toy Ambulance to get him to the elevator and down to the first floor to pick up the aspirin he found there and to bring it back. Ralph saves the day and in the end he gets to keep Keith’s motorcycle forever.

Personal Notes: This was a really fun and easy book to read. It was at a lower level than some of the other things I have read but not all kids of one age group are at the same level so I think it is good to have some that are for the lower level kids that are still fun to read. I enjoyed it also because of the lessons it teaches. It teaches respect for others and also that we should do what we can to repay the kindness that other show us.

The Magician’s Nephew by C. S. Lewis

magicians-nephew.jpgThe Magician’s Nephew by C. S. Lewis

Genre: Fantasy

Publication Date: First published by C.S. Lewis Pte. Ltd., 1955

Recommended Age Group: Ages 10 and up

Summary: The Magician’s Nephew is a book about a group of people from London who, through magic, are able to witness the birth of a country and have many interesting experiences led up to it. In the beginning Digory, the main male character, and his next door neighbor and friend Polly set out on an adventure in the attic and end up in Digory’s Uncle’s study and get tricked into using magic to go to another world. They appear in the wood between the worlds and have to figure out how to use the magic rings and go from one world to another. They appear in Charn, a world at the end of its life and they meet Jaris, the Queen of that world who destroyed her world instead of giving up her place as Queen. This witch tries to scare Digory and Polly with her powers and when the children try to escape she ends up going back with them and makes a mess of their world and London. While she is making a mess Digory had a plan to take her back to her world but they end up in Narnia. They consisting of Digory, Polly, Digory’s Uncle Andrew, the horse named Strawberry, the Cabby of the horse and the Queen. When they get to Narnia the Queen runs off from fear and it is said she will end up being the evil power in Narnia. The Cabby that ends up becoming the King of Narnia and his wife is retrieved from Earth to be his queen. The horse has his name changed to Fledge and he got wings. With these wings he Polly and Digory went on an adventure to get a special apple which would protect Narnia from the evil Queen. Digory gets an apple to heal his mother and he Polly and his Uncle Andrew return to their world. Digory gives the apple to his mother and she is healed from her illness. Digory and Polly buried the rings and the apple. The apple was later made into a wardrobe which will play some significance in later books. Uncle Andrew never uses magic again and becomes a much happier person.

Personal Notes: I really liked this book and I liked the way that it was easy to read but not so easy that I felt stupid for picking up the book. I really appreciate reading something different for a change. I really appreciate things like Jane Austen novels and that sort of thing. I don’t read a lot of science fiction; I have started to like fantasy recently. I picked up a Harry Potter book for a class my senior year and that was my first introduction to a book with magic in it. I would have to say I think I like the Narnia books better than the Harry Potter ones because they seem to focus less on the magic side of it and more on the good lessons of life. Overall an absolutely engaging book.

Other reviews available:

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis

The BFG by Roald Dahl

bfg.jpgThe BFG by Roald Dahl

Genre: Fantasy

Publication Date: First published in Great Britain by Jonathan Cape Ltd., 1982

Recommended Age Group: Ages 10 and up

Summary: The BFG is a book about a little girl from an orphanage named Sophie who is lying awake in bed one night and sees a giant walking the streets. She tries to hide once she has seen him but it is too late. He takes her out of her room and runs back to his cave. At first she is worried that he is going to eat her but he is not that type of giant. He is known as the Big Friendly Giant and eats disgusting vegetables that taste like rotting frogs. His main idea of fun is catching dreams and blowing the happy ones into children’s bedrooms at night. The other nine giants however are man eating giants and they go to different countries every night to eat people. They take them from their homes while they are sleeping and eat them. Sophie thinks these other giants need to be stopped but they are a lot bigger and meaner than the BFG. In the end she does come up with a plan to mix up a dream to tell the queen of England what is going on with these giants. Sophie and the BFG create a dream that tells the queen all about the bad giants and what they do at night and about her and the good giant. When the queen awakes Sophie is on her windowsill to confirm the dream and to help create a plan of action. After a very interesting breakfast during which the BFG is sitting on a piano piled with other things for his chair and a ping pong table on top of four grandfather clocks for his table then the queen invites the heads of the military in to create a plan. They decide to catch the giants while they are sleeping and carry them off with helicopters. In the end the bad giants are forced to stay in a huge pit and they are fed the disgusting vegetables that the BFG was forced to eat before. The BFG gets a nice huge house next to the castle and Sophie gets a little cottage next to him and the BFG writes a book about his experiences, which as we find out in the end is the BFG, the book we just read.

Personal Notes: This is a really fun and quick book. Easy to read and grabs the reader's attention. I really liked the parts where Dahl makes up new words for things. I think it creates a sense of wonder in the children. I remember when I used to read his books and they included words that weren’t really words that this was fun. I never mistook them for real words or used them in school, that might make me look funny, but I loved the way he used them just the same. I think that is very applicable in a book about things that don’t really exist, man eating giants, it helps the reader appreciate that these things aren’t real and adds imagination to it.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J. K. Rowling

hpcos1.jpgHarry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J. K. Rowling

Genre: Fantasy

Publication Date: 1999 by Scholastic Press, a division of Scholastic Inc.

Recommended Age Group: 12 and Up

Summary: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets starts out with Harry in the summer between his first and second year at Hogwarts. It is about the time of his twelfth birthday. Dobby, the house elf, comes to warn him of the impending danger of going to school that year because there is a plot against him. When it comes time to ride the train to school they can’t get onto the platform and Harry and his friend Ron use Ron’s Dad’s flying car to get to school and land in the whomping willow, a tree that smashes everything that gets in it’s path. When they escape from the whomping willow they are chastised for what they did to the tree and get in trouble for not getting on the train, not that they could have if they wanted to. When they start classes they meet their new teacher, Gilderoy Lockhart, who is a real ladies man who has written many popular books but seems to have no idea how to use magic. They boys can see right though this guy and are irritated at the girls reaction. Next the Gryffindor Quidditch team receives quite the surprise when they see the Slytherin team come up with new brooms and a new player, Draco Malfoy, Harry’s nemesis. While Harry Ron and Hermione are coming back from Sir Nicholas’s Deathday Party they find a cat frozen on the wall with a message that reads, “The Chamber of Secrets has been opened. Enemies of the Heir, beware.” This starts many roomers that Harry is the heir of slytherin and that he intends to take over the school and kill everyone. We learn later that it is really Lord Voldemort who has gained power through an enchanted journal and is taking over Ginny Weasley to do his dirty work. In the end the path to the camber is through a sink in an abandoned girl’s restroom. Harry fights and defeats the heir and the Basilisk, a giant snake that Lord Voldemort is controlling. Ginny is saved from Lord Voldemort’s power and all ends well.

Personal Notes: I loved this book for the same reasons I appreciated the first one. There is a lot of magic in it, which may be bad in the opinions of some, but I don’t think it really encourages magic, I think that the main idea here is to be a hero and to look out for other people. I don’t think that this is a message that anyone, if they had really read the book would object to. I also think this is a fun and easy book for people who aren’t really good readers. This one, I think more than the first, keeps the readers attention and creates a feeling of suspense. A fabulous addition to the Harry Potter collection.

Other reviews available:

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J. K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling

Krik? Krak! by Edwidge Danticat

krikkrak.jpgKrik? Krak! by Edwidge Danticat

Genre: Short Story Collection

Publication Date: 1991

Recommended Age Group: 15 and Up

Summary: Krik? Krak! Is another good collection of short stories by Edwidge Dandicat. It deals with the life and cultures of Haitians either in Haiti or in the U.S. “Children of the Sea” is about these two people who are writing to each other in notebooks that they will trade when they are able to see each other again. One is a boy on a boat to America and the other is a girl who is forced to stay in Haiti. “Nineteen Thirty-Seven” is about this woman who goes to see her mother who is in prison and it talks about their visits and how the daughter has a hard time talking to her mother while she is locked up. “A Wall of Fire Rising” is about a man who doesn’t see a way out of his poverty and life. He eventually steals a hot air balloon and commits suicide by jumping out of it. “Night Women” is about this prostitute who is trying to get money so that her and her son can survive, she lies to her son to keep him innocent and hides what she is really doing. “Between the Pool and the Gardenias” is about a woman who is unable to have children but finds one on the street only to realize later that it is dead. “The Missing Peace” is a story about a woman who comes from another country looking for her mother and suspects that she is dead. She takes a native girl with her and they are confronted by soldiers in the middle of their search and are forced to give it up. “Seeing things Simply” is about a native girl, Princesse, and Catherine, a painter from Guadeloupe and their interactions together. The painter tries to catch the essence of Princesse’s people by painting her. “New York Day Women” is about a woman and her mother who have come to New York from Haiti and the daughter is following her mother around to find out what she does with her time. “Caroline’s Wedding” is about a girl who marries someone who isn’t Haitian and the story of her trying to win over her mother’s approval because of who he is. The epilogue ties all of the stories together and tells us why Danticat chose to write and what it means to her.

Personal Notes: I loved this book; I liked the way that all the stories tied in together. I think this says something about Haitian culture as Danticat says in the epilogue everyone is tied to where they came from and to their family. Her goal in writing is to help them speak out and to let other people know what the people of Haiti are like and why. I think it was a very telling set of stories and it taught me a lot about Haiti, something I didn’t know very much about previously and got me interested to learn more.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Jump and Other Stories by Nadine Gordimer

Jump and Other Stories by Nadine Gordimer

Genre: Short Story Collection

Publication Date: 1991

Recommended Age Group: 16 and Up

Summary: Jump and Other Stories is a collection of sixteen rather entertaining and enjoyable stories. Each one has a message to share about a culture and adds insight into what people of these places are like. Most of them seem to add messages too, some a little buried and some more prominent. The settings range from suburban London, to Mozambique, then a mythical island, and finally South Africa. “Jump” the first story in the collection, is about a man who was involved in military operations in Africa until he found out what was really going on and how the people were being treated. Then he went to the other side to tell them his side’s secrets and to tell the news people what was going on. He tries to get the images out of his head but they won’t seem to go away. In the end of the story he is considering jumping out of a window but he doesn’t think it is the time. “One Upon a Time” is a story about a family in Africa who is trying to protect their family. They keep getting a more and more involved fence until it has barbed wire on the top and is impossible to get across. Their son, while playing, gets tangled in the barbed wire and is severely injured. “The Ultimate Safari” is about a family who comes from Mozambique and crosses the country in search of a better place to live, one that is not so terrorized, and it discusses what happens to them along the way. “A Find” is about a man who has almost given up on women until he finds a ring on the beach and in an effort to find the owner finds a new companion in life. “My Father Leaves Home” is the story of a family trying to “make a go of it” in a foreign country and all the problems that go along with this. “Some Are Born to Sweet Delight” this is a story about how a girl falls in love with a foreigner who is staying with her parents and ends up as the carrier for a bomb in an act of international terrorism. There were many other stories but I thought these were the best and most affective.

Personal Notes: I really enjoyed this book, but not the same way that I would enjoy something like Harry Potter. I liked the way Gordimer used a short of shock value style of writing to get her readers attention. She made her point very nicely. I think this would be a very good book to get people talking about government and different problems that are facing the world. They place these problems right in front of you and it isn’t possible to turn the other way and pretend that they aren’t there. Because of some of the material contained in it I think this book would be mainly for the more mature reader. I wrote they should be juniors or seniors in high school but this doesn’t mean they are mature. I think a class or person should be considered carefully before they are given this book because these issues aren’t something that should be treated lightly or just passed over.

Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede

Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede

Genre: Fantasy

Publication Date: 1990

Recommended Age Group: Ages 10 and up

Summary: Dealing with Dragons was a really entertaining book. It starts out with Princess Cimorene who is anything but a normal Princess. She doesn’t like her classes that are teaching her how to be the perfect little lady. She tries to take other classes that deal with magic and fencing but as soon as her parents find out they make her quite because it just isn’t done. Her parents are worried about how she will end up and about the fact that no Prince will want her as a Princess if she keeps this tomboy behavior up for much longer. So they take her off to get married. Princess Cimorene is not at all interested in the guy they try to set her up with so she runs off and eventually becomes the Princess for a Dragon named Kazul. While she is serving him she is able to brush up on her Latin and her cooking skills. She also organizes his treasure and library. She is very happy working for him and tries to tell this to the many Princes who come to rescue her but they don’t seem to believe her. Eventually she sends them off to rescue the other Princesses who do not wish to stay and would be much better off with a Prince than a Dragon. While she is working for Kazul she discovers a plot to over throw the King and to rig the contest that would find the new King. She, with the help of Princess Alianora, a stone Prince and a witch manage to stop the plot and help the rightful King come to power, which ends up being Kazul. In the end the Stone Prince is able to take away Princess Alianora and they live happily ever after while Cimorene and Kazul begin the long process of moving and reorganizing the Kings new place.

Personal Notes: I really liked this book I borrowed it from a friend and read it in a day. I just couldn’t put it down until I finished it, which may be a good or a bad thing since I had a lot of other things I was supposed to be doing. It was recommended for girls who aren’t into the Baby-Sitters club books and all that kind of stuff and I would really agree. It is very woman empowering but it isn’t too strong that a boy wouldn’t like to read it. I don’t think it is too in depth that anyone new to sci-fi would have a problem with it. I would recommend it to anyone as a good fast read and as far as I could tell it didn’t have any problems except maybe making fun of the Princes who came to rescue her, some people could be touchy about that sort of thing

Anne Frank and Me by Cherie Bennet and Jeff Gottesfeld

anne-frank-and-me.jpgAnne Frank and Me by Cherie Bennet and Jeff Gottesfeld

Genre: Historical Fiction

Publication Date: 2001 published adaptation of a play Anne Frank and Me from 1997

Recommended Age Group: 14 and Up

Summary: A modern twist on the Anne Frank story. Anne Frank and Me is a wonderful story about a girl named Nicole who goes back in time to experience what it was like to be in occupied France during World War II. As the book starts out Nicole is not really concerned with anything but herself and the boy she likes, Jack. They have a guest speaker in class who talks to them about the Holocaust but Nicole pretty much tunes her out and is paying attention to nothing but Jack. The next day they go to the Anne Frank museum and while they are at the museum there is a big riot and in the pandemonium Nicole bumps her head. When she wakes up she is in Paris in 1942 and she is Jewish. She then goes on to live her life as a Jew, when she went back in time she took the place of a young Jewish girl who was exactly like her, with her friends and even the same sister. As the book progresses she begins to think that her life in America in the future was just a dream and she has belonged here her entire life. It goes on to tell us about her life as a Jew and the things she had to deal with. In the end she is on a train to a concentration camp which is where she encounters Anne Frank and they have a little talk about her diary and her life. They also talk about their future and how they will end up. At the concentration camp Nicole gets gassed with a bunch of other Jews and then she wakes up back at the Anne Frank museum in the middle of the riots. This experience changed her life and the way she thinks about things like the Holocaust.

Personal Notes: I really liked this book. Think more Meg Cabot and less historical required reading. It was a fast and good read, I just couldn’t put it down, and eating was a chore because my husband and I don’t read at the table. So I had to eat my dinner quickly so I could get back to the book. I think this would be a great book for anyone. It was very modern in its style and kept my attention. It dealt with very difficult issues but it did not treat them lightly which might be expected of a book with such a modern style. An interesting twist, Nicole, instead of writing in a journal makes entries on her website and keeps it updated. This also might create interest in the reader because it is something that even if we haven’t done we can relate to. Overall it was a very good book and has the potential to create interest in the Holocaust where interest might not be before.

Friday, July 20, 2007

The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline B. Cooney

face on the milk cartonThe Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline B. Cooney

Genre: Mystery

Publication Date: 1990

Recommended Age Group: 14 and Up

Summary: Janie Johnson was a regular sophomore in high school until one day a little mik carton changed her life. Eating lunch with her friends in school she looked down at a milk carton and saw her face as a little girl twelve years before. This book takes the reader along her journey of guilt and courage to find the truth behind the milk carton. Along the way she finds out that her seemingly perfect family has its secrets just like everyone else. She also falls in love with the boy next door (literally) and finds out a thing or two about herself and those around her.

Personal Notes: This book is another of my favorites. I love the way the author relates the struggle that Janie has after she sees the milk carton. The struggle consumes her and the reader at the same time. I was eagerly turning the page to find out what happened. One would think a subject like this would tend toward depressing but the author focuses not only on the Janie's struggle but also on her life of fun and happiness outside of the struggle. The end was a little too loose for my tastes but since there is a sequel "Whatever Happened to Janie" I'm sure it all gets wrapped up there. Overall a great book and a fun read.

Other reviews available:

Whatever Happened to Janie? by Caroline B. Cooney

The Voice on the Radio by Caroline B. Cooney

What Janie Found by Caroline B. Cooney

Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl

annefrank.jpgThe Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

Genre: Diary, non-fiction

Publication Date: 1947, this copy in 1993

Recommended Age Group: 12 and Up

Summary: The Diary of a Young Girl is the story of Anne Frank and her family as written by Anne herself. This Diary starts before the family goes into hiding and talks about the normal life and desires of Anne, a young girl in Holland, during the beginning of the war. Near the beginning of the book Anne and her family are forced to go into hiding because they are Jews and this was the time of the Holocaust and when Hitler was in power during WWII. While she is in hiding she writes about the daily life of what it is like to be a young Jew in hiding. She tells about the problems that she is having with the other people that are in hiding with her family and the problems she is having with her family. There are two families and a single man in hiding with them in the Secret Annex, which is the name of where they are. The Frank family, consisting of Anne’s parents and her sister Margot; the van Daans which consist of a husband and wife and their son Peter, and Albert Drussel, the single man. It talks about their life together in hiding and what they did on a day to day basis. Eventually Anne begins to spend a lot of time with Peter and they start to like each other. When the book ends they are still uncertain of their relationship but they are good friends and trust each other.

Personal Notes: I loved this book. I have wanted to read it for a long time but I have never taken the chance. It is interesting to me to see what it was like to be in hiding from the perspective of a young girl in Holland. I would defiantly recommend this book to anyone who shows even the slightest interest in World War II and the events that took place along with it. I would also recommend it to anyone who wanted to know what young girls think about. I thought it was a very accurate description and I remember thinking many of those same things when I was her age. I would not however, recommend it to young boys because it talks about feminine things and for the boys I know that would make them a bit uncomfortable and may ruin their experience with the book. If a boy shows the desire to read it I would certainly not hold him back I would just make sure that he understood everything that happened in the book so he didn’t come upon it as a surprise. Other than that I didn’t think the book had any problems and the good things about it far out way the problems it might have.

Annie John by Jamaica Kincaid

anniejohn.jpgAnnie John by Jamaica Kincaid

Genre: Coming of Age

Publication Date: 1985

Recommended Age Group: 14 and Up
Summary: Annie John is a story of a girl growing up in Antigua by Jamaica Kincaid. The girls name is Annie (just like the title) and it talks about her struggles growing up as she tries to make friends and build a better relationship with her mother. The story starts out when Annie is younger (somewhere before the age of 12) and it tells how when she wasn’t at school she spent a lot of time with her mother. However, as she enters puberty her mother starts to treat her different and expects more of her without telling Annie exactly what or why. This is the start of problems between her and her mother and is also the beginning of their drifting apart. It also talks of Annie’s life and school and her making friends. She is always the best in her class and this inspires awe and kindness in some and envy and meanness in others. The book talks about her struggles with these problems while she struggles with becoming a woman and all the uncertainty that accompanies that. Annie is also quite sick in the book, I’m not sure what with, it never really said, but she was confined to bed for a couple of months with this illness. It seemed to have quite the affect on her life. The book ends when she decides to go to England to study to be a nurse and is leaving her family behind. She is excited to begin something new but is afraid to leave what she knows.

Personal Notes: I think because of the way it talks about certain things that happen when girls reach puberty this would not be appropriate for boys. I think however this would be wonderful for girls of that age because they will be able to read about someone they can identify with and know that they are not alone in their problems. It is also interesting the way that she says she does not get along with her mother and yet in many instances in the book she emulates her actions and will only speak kindly of her to her friends in hope that she will always appear in the best light. I enjoyed the fact that this girl was from Antigua but had many of the same problems that I experienced when I was a young girl growing up in America. It crosses bounds and teaches us that no matter where we are some things are always the same.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling

sorcerors-stone.jpgHarry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

Genre: Adventure/Fantasy

Publication Date: 1997

Recommended Age Group: Anyone 12 and Up

Summary: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is the first in what is to be a set of seven books by J.K. Rowling. This book starts out when Harry is an eleven-year-old boy living with his aunt and uncle. We learn later that his parents were killed by an evil wizard name Lord Voldemort who now wishes to kill Harry because he is the only one who had survived his spell of death. In the beginning Harry is unaware of all of this and thinks he is an ordinary boy. His aunt and uncle did not want him to know anything about his parents or their death. On his birthday he receives a visitor named Hagrid who tells him of his background and that he is to go to a famous wizarding school named Hogwarts. This is the beginning of his adventures that he shares with his two best friends Ron and Hermione. The battle many things, including Lord Voldemort in a weakened state and they overcome them all.

Personal Notes: I think this is a wonderful book especially for those who were not previously readers and who have not, as yet, been able to enjoy reading. As a big reader myself I find it hard to find books to recommend to people who don’t like reading because most of the books I read are quite long and wordy. It is always refreshing when I find a good and easy book that I like as well. It gives me a break from the other reading and it gives me something to recommend to others.
Some people might have problems with this book because of its magical content but I don’t think that is really the point of this set of novels. While they do contain magic it is not the main focus. When Harry in the end defeats Lord Voldemort he doesn’t do it with magic. He uses his brains and he is true to what he knows is right and protects what he chooses as such. I think these books would be just as great and have just as good of a message if there was no magic. But the magical elements make it more fun to read and more entertaining.

Other reviews available:

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J. K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling

Deathwatch by Rob White

deathwatch.jpgDeathwatch by Robb White

Genre: Suspense/adventure

Publication Date: 1972

Recommended Age Group: Anyone but especially 12-14 year-old boys

Summary: Ben is a college student home for the summer trying to earn a bit more money to go back to school. He is studying geology and would like to work for a big oil company in the end. However, for the moment he is acting as a guide for a guy named Madec whose main goal in life is to shoot a great big horn and have it on display in his office. Madec is a really crazy president of some company from Los Angeles. He is a very shrewd businessman, who always gets what he wants, but that isn’t enough, the other guy has to get hurt in the process. While they are out on the hunt Madec ends up shooting some old prospector thinking that he is a big horn. He lies to Ben about it and when Ben finds out Madec tries to strike a deal that Ben will be sure to make his testimony appear like the shooting was an accident. Ben says he’ll do what he can but he isn’t going to lie for Madec, at which point he is told to remove all his clothing and is forced to fight for his life in a dying struggle against the elements. Ben is quite ingenious and ends up beating Madec at his own game in the end.

Personal Notes: I loved this book; it was such a refreshing read especially after all of the other books that I was forced to read for various reasons. It was very exciting, there was always something going on. Even in the beginning it doesn’t start out with a long description of people and places but it goes right into a conversation between the characters only later to tell us who they are and why they are there. I loved this; it grabbed my attention very quickly. In my opinion, there is nothing worse than a book that has the first couple of pages dedicated strictly to explaining who people are and where they live and only then getting into what they are going to do and how they interact with others.
I think I would recommend this book to anyone but in the Adolescent literature book we are reading for this class it suggests that this book be used for 12-14 year-old boys. I do think this is a good suggestion but I don’t think it has to be limited to just these people. I think anyone would enjoy reading it. I know I did as a 21 year-old girl.
I would definitely recommend this book to a teacher who was looking for something great that the entire class would enjoy. It is inventive and fast passed. It would keep anyone’s attention. Also it has a lot of elements that lend itself well to discussion.

The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger

catcher-in-the-rye.jpgThe Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger

Genre: Autobiographical Fiction

Publication Date: First published in a book form in 1951 by Little, Brown and Company

Recommended Age Group: 16 and Up

Summary: The main character in The Catcher in the Rye is Holden Caulfield, a sixteen-year-old who attends Pencey, a private school in the Northeast. He is a troubled boy who has been in and out of many schools because he does not apply himself to his learning and either fails and is kicked out or misbehaves and is kicked out. He is subsequently kicked out of Pencey for failing all of his classes but one, English. Right before the semester ends for Christmas break and he is to go home Holden decided to leave school early and have an adventure in New York. He spends most of his time drinking and spending all his money on frivolous things like drinks and dates with people he cares nothing for (one of them being a prostitute). He also spends a lot of his time wanting to call and talk to people he likes but ends up calling those he doesn’t like and has a lousy time with them in every instance. In the end Holden decides he wants to run away to the west and tells his sister so she can later inform the family. She decides to go with him and it is as a result of this decision that he decides to stay home and commit himself to school. Holden realizes the affect that his choices have on others and then decides to make better ones.

Personal Notes: I think I would be quite hesitant to use this book in a class setting. I was curious enough that I wanted to read it myself because of all that I had heard about it but as I started to read I was shocked and amazed at the use of foul language. I am not one who would swear and I have worked hard to keep those words out of my vocabulary, but while I was reading this book to myself I often had those words running through my head. I do not wish to impose that on anyone else. However, if I knew of someone who did not have a problem with strong language and could look past that I would quickly suggest this book for its other elements.
Something that I found quite interesting about this book is how Holden was always permitted to say exactly what he thought with all honesty. This gave me great insight into the mind of a sixteen-year-old boy and how they think and work. I was also surprised at how kind hearted he was. He would often give the outward appearance of toughness and disinterestedness while express kind or near kind thoughts of the person in his mind.
I think, other than a few too often repeated words, that this is a good book. It gives great insight into the mind of a young adult male. It helps the reader to appreciate the good things in life and to not worry about the rest through its ending in which Holden finally realizes the value of good choices and chooses to be a good example for his sister.

Matilda by Roald Dahl

matilda.jpgMatilda by Roald Dahl

Genre: Humorous School Fiction

Publication Date: 1988 by the Penguin Group

Recommended Age Group: 10 and Up

Summary: Matilda was a genius child who taught herself to read by the age of three. She learned by studying newspapers and magazines around the house. Then she discovered the local library and read all of the books there. When she started school she encountered “The Trunchbull.” This was the headmistress of the school who was more horrible than anyone could imagine. Matilda, bored in her classes because she was so much more advanced than the other students, learned how to move things with her mind. She eventually devised and carried out a plan that scared the Trunchbull off and restored her school and her teacher to previously known respectable standing.

Personal Notes: This books has many great points, some of which include: the way it encourages young people to read by creating a heroine who enjoys doing just that and how it teaches us that nothing is hopeless and we should look out for others who are less fortunate or who have fewer abilities than we do. I remember a teacher in sixth grade who would read to the class as we all gathered round. After each days reading we would talk about what we read, the good and the bad points. I think that would be a marvelous way to teach this book to others. Speaking of bad points, it is interesting that she takes matters into her own hands so to speak. She thinks she has the right to punish parents or elders for things that she perceives that they do wrong. I do not think that this is a good thing to impress upon children. Thus while teaching this book we should also teach the children about what they can and cannot do when they feel they are wronged by grown ups while making sure they if they do seriously have a problem that we will be there to come to their aid.