Monday, March 28, 2011

#64 - The Light at Tern Rock by Julia Sauer

1952 Newbery Honor

"Ronnie and his aunt are tending the Tern Rock lighthouse for 2 weeks in December while its keeper takes a much-needed vacation. Ronnie learns to love the slap of the waves against the Rock, sleeping in a bunk, climbing the winding staircase, and lighting the great lamp each night.

When the lighthouse keeper doesn't return on the appointed day to take them home, Ronnie and his aunt are surprised but patient. But it doesn't take long before they realize the lighthouse keeper is not going to return in time for Christmas. Ronnie's love for the Rock soon turns to hate. After all, how can anyone have a merry Christmas in such a barren place?"

This was a short (62 page), but sweet Christmas story. It never did say if they got off the Rock though...

Annexed by Sharon Dogar

"The powerful story of the boy who loved Anne Frank"

"I look out the window into the street...I'm meant to be at Mr. Frank's workplace in a few hours. We're arriving separately, all of us. We'll walk into the building just like it was any other visit - only this time we'll never walk out again.

What was it like hiding in the Annex with Anne Frank? To be with Anne every day while she wrote so passionately in her diary? To be in a secret world within a world at war - alive on the inside, everything dying on the outside? Peter Van Pels and his family have lost their country, their home, and their freedom, and now they are fighting desperately to remain alive. Look through Peter's eyes.

He has a story to tell, too.

Are you listening?"

I originally started this blog to only keep track of my ongoing Newbery project progress. But, I DO read OTHER books too, and sometimes I just HAVE to say something about them. Sometimes they touch me in some way. This was one of them. I read The Diary of Anne Frank a LONG time ago. This book grabbed my attention, since it is the same story but from a different point of view. It IS a work of fiction - something to keep in mind - but it is an interesting idea of what might have happened. The Holocaust was such a HORRIBLE time in history - I just can't even begin to imagine. The last part of the book is not for the faint of heart - just a warning. I was in tears.

This book is meant for older teens, fyi. My 10 year old daughter read Anne Frank last year, and loved it, so when I first saw this on the YA shelf, I thought "ooh, Emily might enjoy this!" No. It is definitely not appropriate for her age group. I would say 14 and up.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Jerk, California by Jonathan Friesen

This is not a Newbery title, but...well, I don't like to go too long without posting, lol. Just haven't had that much free time this week, so this is the only book I've read this week!
"Twitch, Jerk, Freak...Sam Carrier has been called them all. Because of his Tourette Syndrome, Sam is in near constant motion with tics and twitches and verbal outbursts. So, of course, high school is nothing but torment. Forget friends, forget even hoping that beautiful, perfect Naomi will look his way. And home isn't much better with his domineering stepfather reminding him that the only person who was more useless than Sam was his dead father, James. But then an unexpected turn of events unearths the truth about his father. And suddenly Sam doesn't know who he is , or even where he'll go next. What he does know is that the only girl in the world who can make him happy and nervous at the same time is everywhere he turns...and he'd give anything to just be still."
This book started off kinda slow. I even considered stopping and going on to something else. But after about page 100 or so, it got much more exciting. It's basically a story of self - discovery. Something interesting is that the author has Tourette's and so part of himself is written into the character of Sam.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

#63 - Hatchet by Gary Paulsen

1988 Honor Book
"Thirteen-year-old Brian Robeson is on his way to visit his father when the single engine plane in which he is flying crashes. Suddenly, Brian finds himself alone in the Canadian wilderness with nothing but his clothing, a tattered windbreaker, and the hatchet his mother has given him as a present - and the dreadful secret that has been tearing him apart ever since his parents' divorce. But now Brian has no time for anger, self-pity or despair - it will take all his know-how and determination, and more courage than he knew he possessed, to survive."
My almost 10-year-old daughter read this book last year and she loved it. The whole survival theme is not usually her cup of tea as far as reading materials (nor is it mine), so I thought, if she liked it, it must be good! I pushed it to the front of my reading queue because on March 30th, the author of this book - Gary Paulsen - is coming to one of our local libraries for a book signing!! I am taking the kids (Emily was so excited when I told her, she ran to her room and pulled the 3 books of his that we own off the shelf and put them by the front door, so we can remember to bring them for him to sign!). I am even more excited to meet him after reading this book! I could really care less about meeting movie stars and music stars - authors are MY kind of celebrity!!
Ahem, got off on a tangent there...Hatchet WAS a very good book. I started it last night, and basically couldn't put it down. Full of nail biting adventure. Paulsen says that everything that happened in this book has happened to him at one time or another - just not all at once. There are 2 more books in this series (and we have them), so I will be reading those eventually!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

#62 - Kira-Kira by Cynthia Kadohata

2005 Medal Winner
"Kira-kira (kee ra kee ra): glittering; shining
Glittering. That's how Katie Takeshima's sister, Lynn, makes everything seem. The sky is kira-kira because its color is deep but see-through at the same time. The sea is kira-kira for the same reason. And so are people's eyes. When Katie and her family move from a Japanese community in Iowa to the Deep South of Georgia, it's Lynn who explains to her why people stop on the street to stare. And it's Lynn who, with her special way of viewing the world, teaches Katie to look beyond tomorrow. But when Lynn becomes desperately ill, and the whole family begins to fall apart, it is up to Katie to find a way to remind them all that there is always something glittering - kira-kira - in the future."
I think this is one of my favorites so far, quite honestly. Lynn and Katie's relationship is so sweet and special, it reminds me why I always wanted a sister. The parents are extremely hard-working despite the adversities and prejudice they encounter being minorities in the South in the 1950's. I'm not going to give away the ending...I'll just say that it is equally heart-warming and heart-wrenching. Definitely keep a box of tissues nearby!

Friday, March 11, 2011

#61 - Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

1992 Medal Winner

"When Marty Preston comes across a young beagle in the hills behind his home, it's love at first sight - and also big trouble. It turns out the dog, which Marty names Shiloh, belongs to Judd Travers, who drinks too much and has a gun - and abuses his dogs. So when Shiloh runs away from Judd to Marty, Marty just has to hide him and protect him from Judd. But Marty's secret becomes too big for him to keep to himself, and it exposes his entire family to Judd's anger. How far will Marty have to go to make Shiloh his?"

Loved it! Marty has a huge heart, especially for this beagle, and will do anything for him to keep him safe. His determination pays off! Very heartwarming story!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

#60 - The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly

2010 Honor Book
"The summer of 1899 is hot in Calpurnia's sleepy Texas town, and there aren't a lot of good ways to stay cool. Her mother has a new wind machine from town, but Callie might just have to resort to stealthily cutting off her hair, one sneaky inch at a time. She also spendsa lot of time at the river with her grandfather, an avid naturalist. It turns out that every drop of river water is teeming with life - all you have to do is look through a microscope! As Callie explores the natural world around her, she develops a close relationship with her grandfather, navigates the dangers of living with six brothers, and learns just what it means to be a girl at the turn of the century."
What a sweet book! What was most sweet was the relationship that developed between Callie and her grandpa, because they had a mutual love of science. He was the only one in her family who truly understood her and appreciated her for who she was. Being that this was the turn of the century, her parents expected her to spend her time knitting, embroidering, cooking, etc - none of which interested her. She wanted to be a scientist! Her grandfather was the only one that encouraged her and told her that she could do anything she set her mind to!