Tuesday, May 24, 2011

#74 - One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia

2011 Honor book

"Eleven year old Delphine has it together. Even though her mother, Cecile, abandoned here and her younger sisters, Vonetta and Fern, seven years ago. Even though her father and Big Ma will send them from Brooklyn to Oakland, California, to stay with Cecile for the summer. And even though Delphine will have to take care of her sisters, as usual, and learn the truth about the missing pieces of the past.

When the girls arrive in Oakland in the summer of 1968, Cecile wants nothing to do with them. She makes them eat Chinese takeout dinners, forbids them to enter her kitchen, and never explains the strange visitors with Afros and black berets who knock on her door. Rather than spend time with them, Cecile sends Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern to a summer camp sponsored by a revolutionary group, the Black Panthers, where the girls get a radical new education."

I really enjoyed this book, from start to finish. The protagonist, Delphine, is very likeable, and the story was so well-written. I was angry at how Cecile treated her own daughters...but the ending was very nice. I definitely recommend this book!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

#73 - The Fairy Circus by Dorothy Lathrop

1932 Newbery Honor

The copy of the book that I got from my library, was a VERY old copy. This edition was printed in 1931. The pages were brittle, taped together in many places. I couldn't help but wonder exactly how many little hands had held that book and liked it.

The story itself....meh. A bunch of fairies gather animals of the meadow to put on their own circus, after the real one leaves. They run into some troubles but it all comes out okay.

It's a cute story, but it might be difficult to get a child of this generation to read it.

#72 - Millions of Cats by Wanda Ga'g

1929 Newbery Honor

This is an unusual choice for the Newbery as it is actually a picture book. Part of me wonders, "why the Newbery, why not the Caldecott?" Maybe because choices were fewer in the 1920's? Who knows. It is a cute story though. An old man and his wife are lonely, so the wife suggests they get a cat. The man goes out and comes across a hill that is covered by "hundreds of cats, thousands of cats, millions and billions and trillions of cats." He can't decide which one he wants, so he brings them ALL home! Obviously, they can't feed all those cats, so they ask the cats which one of them is the prettiest. Well, they all think that they are the prettiest, and pretty soon they are all fighting. Eventually, they are all gone - except for one scrawny, homely little kitten who was ignored by the others. She becomes the couple's pet, and becomes the prettiest cat they've ever seen.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Willow by Julia Hoban

This is not a Newbery book, but its psychological themes caught my attention...

"Seven months ago on a rainy March night, Willow's parents drank too much wine at dinner and asked her to drive them home. But they never made it - Willow lost control of the car, and both of her parents were killed.

Now seventeen, Willow is living with her older brother, who can barely speak to her. She has left behind her old home, friends, and school. But Willow has found a way to survive, to numb the new reality of her life: She is secretly cutting herself.

And then she meets Guy, a boy as sensitive and complicated as she is. When Guy discovers Willow's secret, he pulls her out of the solitary world she's created for herself, and into a difficult, intense, and potentially life-changing relationship."

Overall, this was a good book. However, I found it painfully slow in some parts, and awkward in others. But then, dealing with this kind of topic with a person that you truly barely know, yet have feelings for, would have to be kind of awkward.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

#71 - Holes by Louis Sachar

1999 Medal Winner

"Stanley Yelnats is under a curse. A curse that began with his no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing great-great-grandfather and has since followed generations of Yelnats. Now Stanley has been unjustly sent to a boys' detention center, Camp Green Lake, where the boys build character by spending all day, every day, digging holes exactly five feet wide and five feet deep. There is no lake at Camp Green Lake. But there are an awful lot of holes.

It doesn't take long for Stanley to realize there's more than character improvement going on at Camp Green Lake. The boys are digging holes because the warden is looking for something. But what could be buried under a dried-up lake? Stanley tries to dig up the truth in this inventive and darkly humorous tale of crime and punishment - and redemption."

This book was completely unexpected to me. I had heard about the movie and knew a LITTLE about the plot based on movie trailers. But it was not what I expected at all! It was a great book with many plot twists that kept me turning the pages. Lots of fun! I am going to have to watch the movie now and hope that it stays true to the book!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

#70 - Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice by Phillip Hoose

2010 Newbery Honor

"That moment came on March 2, 1955, when on her way from school 15-year old Claudette Colvin was arrested for refusing to give up her seat to a white woman on a segregated city bus in Montgomery, Alabama. But instead of being celebrated as Rosa Parks was when she took a similar stand nine months later, Claudette was shut out by her classmates and dismissed by community leaders. Still, her brave, spontaneous act laid the groundwork for the Montgomery bus boycott; and a year later she helped end that boycott by testifying as a key plaintiff in the landmark bus case Browder v. Gayle.

Based on extensive interviews with Claudette Colvin and many others, and many others, Phillip Hoose's National Book Award - winning work is the first in-depth account of a major, but little-known, civin rights figure, a girl who dared to make an early and profound cry for justice."

First - YAY, I reached another milestone number - lol!
Second - This is one thing I love about this project that I've taken on - I am introduced to books I probably would never have discovered or thought about otherwise. I don't read a lot of non-fiction.
Third - This book was a wonderful portrayal of the horrible injustices that our nation's black people experienced. I, personally, am very ashamed of that time in history - that white people could treat people that way simply for the color of their skin. It makes me sick. It was truly eye opening, and a very interesting account.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Firegirl by Tony Abbott

Not a Newbery book, however it is a winner of the Golden Kite Award.

There is...," Mrs. Tracy was saying quietly, "there is something you need to know about Jessica..."

From this moment on, life is never quite the same for Tom and his seventh grade classmates. Despite Jessica's shocking appearance and the fear she evokes in him and most of the class, Tom slowly develops a tentative friendship with Jessica that changes his life. Firegirl is a powerful book that shows readers that even the smallest of gestures can have a profound impact on someone's life."

I agree with the above - It is a book that shows children that the smallest things can make the biggest differences. Like in this case, where Jessica had been ignored by everyone, or jeered at - but Tom took the time to REALLY talk to her, and made her finally feel good about herself. I will be passing this one on to my kids with a lesson about being nice to everyone, no matter their circumstance.