Tuesday, June 28, 2011

#82 - 26 Fairmount Avenue by Tomie dePaola

2000 Honor Book

"The 'Big Hurricane of 1938' roars into town...the first day of school takes an unexpected turn for Tomie...so does Mr. Walt Disney's Snow White, the movie everyone had been waiting to see.

All of these events (and more) happened to young Tomie dePaola during the year his family went through the ups-and-downs of building their house at 26 Fairmount Avenue. Adventures with the neighborhood kids and his wonderfully funny extended family will have young readers ready for a first chapter book racing from one episode to the next..."

This was a short, but sweet, book that is a true story of the author's childhood. When you read it, it feels like he is right there telling you his story. My favorite part was when he talked about how he took some "chocolates" from his downstairs Nana and shared them with his upstairs Nana...they weren't chocolate - they were laxatives! lol

Saturday, June 25, 2011

#81 - The View From Saturday by E.L. Konigsburg

1997 Medal Winner

"Meet the Souls:

Noah, who quite by accident was best man at the wedding of Ethan's grandmother and Nadia's grandfatherItalic

Nadia, a hybrid with a halo of red hair, a dog that's a genius, and a fondness for baby turtles

Ethan, the silent second son of one of Epiphany's oldest families, who discovers he likes halos

Julian, the strangest person on the school bus, who starts everything by inviting the others to a tea party

How did Mrs. Olinski, returning to teaching ten years after being paralyzed in an automobile accident, choose these four to be her sixth grade Academic Bowl team? And how did this unlikely foursome become even unlikelier champions, in far more than just the state middle school competition? The View From Saturday is a rich and rewarding journey that answers these questions and raises many more."

I really liked all the characters in this book; they were very colorful. The story was good, but the writing was rather disjointed. It didn't flow very well, in my opinion. I don't know, there was just something missing. I was a little disappointed because Konigsberg's From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler was one of my childhood favorites.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

#80 - Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor

1977 Newbery Medal

"With the land to hold them together, nothing can tear the Logans apart. Why is the land so important to Cassie's family? It takes the events of one turbulent year - the year of the night riders and the burnings, the year a white girl humiliates Cassie in public simply because she is black - to show Cassie that having a place of their own is the Logan family's lifeblood. It is the land that gives the Logans their courage and pride - no matter how others may degrade them, the Logans possess something no one can take away."

I really, really enjoyed this book. Reading about how black people were treated years ago always makes me sad and angry, but the way that families, like the Logans, handled it - with strength, grace, and determination - is extremely inspiring.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

#79 - Nothing but the Truth by Avi

1992 Honor Book

"Ninth grader Philip Malloy has one thing on his mind: running. When a failing English grade keeps him from joining the track team, he believes his teacher, Miss Narwin, has it in for him. One morning during announcements, he disregards the school's policy of observing "The Star Spangled Banner" in respectful silence and hums along, hoping to get transferred out of her class. Little does he know that his minor infraction will make him the subject of national media attention. What truly happened that morning in Miss Narwin's class? Examine the events and reach your own conclusion. But - can you swear to tell the truth and nothing but the truth."

This book was written with the purpose of having the reader examine every side of this story from a legal viewpoint and decide what really happened and whose case would win if brought to court. My 7th grade daughter said that her class did this, and she enjoyed it. I think it is a really interesting idea for a book. This would be MY conclusion: I think that Philip did what he did not out of patriotism, but with the purpose of annoying his teacher so that he could get out of her class. When things didn't go the way he planned, he claimed that his rights to express patriotism were violated. Things kind of blew up from there. What happened on the very last page of this book puzzled me though, and I truly don't understand how it fits into the story...

I do recommend this book - very interesting!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

#78 - Abel's Island by William Steig

1977 Honor Book

"With inimitable style, Steig tells the story of a mouse, Abelard Hassam di Chirico Flint, who gets swept away in a driving rainstorm while rescuing his wife's scarf and winds up stranded on a river island for a year. Abel isn't just any mouse. He's a fastidious Edwardian dandy whose inherited wealth ensures the leisurely comforts he takes such pleasure in. But Abel's high-toned life of leisure conceals a soul full of true grit: once faced with the necessity of surviving. Abel rises to the challenge."

Yawn....another survival story...seems this is a popular theme for Newberys. Some of them, like Hatchet, I really like because they are written in an engaging way. This one...not so much. Although I was able to start and finish it on the same day, I found it very hard to stay focused on it.

There was a part in this book that really amused me. Hee hee, ok, so it's really immature...but, here goes...

"This time he proceeded to methodically, not in nervous haste. He went first to defecate, behind a rock, though no one was watching."

Hee hee, defecate. First, the word is funny....especially in a kids book. We all know it means poop - yet he uses the word defecate. Second, it just kinda comes out of nowhere - not something necessary to the story line. Lol, stuff like this stands out to me when I find the story boring, I guess.

Kids who love animal stories might enjoy this book - my ten year old for example - but I'm not a big fan.

Monday, June 6, 2011

#77 - Getting Near to Baby by Audrey Coloumbis

2000 Honor Book

"Willa Jo is up on the roof at Aunt Patty's house. She went up there to see the sunrise, and Little Sister followed her, like she always does. But by mid-morning, Willa Jo is still up on that roof, and she knows it wasn't just the sunrise that brought her there.

The trouble is, once she climbs up, Willa Jo can't seem to come down. Coming down would mean she'd have to explain. And how can she explain?"

This was a really sad, but good, book about grief. Willa Jo, Little Sister (JoAnne), and their mom are grieving over the loss of Joy, otherwise known as Baby, Willa Jo's baby sister. Their mom is so overcome with grief that she can't properly care for Willa Jo and Little Sister. So, their Aunt Patty takes them in. Aunt Patty means well, but does not understand their ways of coping.

Although it was sad, it was also very sweet. And the ending is one that warms your heart. Highly recommend this one!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

#76 - Magic Maize by Mary and Conrad Buff

1954 Honor Book

"Fabian, and Indian boy of Guatemala, grew up in the old Mayan beliefs. He shared his father's fear of the new, and the ways of the gringo (white man).

Every spring, he and his father spent the entire night praying to their Gods of Nature before burning last year's dry brush from their field. Every spring before planting seed, they offered hot corn mush to their Gods hoping their field might become fruitful. So did many other Indians in Guatemala.

Yet, this boy had the courage to secretly plant twenty kernels of maize (corn) which his brother had given him. It was a new maize, developed by the feared gringo.

While planting, Fabian uncovers a rare jade earplug of the Ancients. On his way home he is frightened as he watches the moon go into an eclipse, thinking the Gods are angry at him for his deed.

But the earplug and the magic maize lead to adventures so unusual that even Fabian's stubborn father is convinced the old and the new can live in peace."

I really don't have much to say about this book. It was nicely written, but didn't really hold my interest.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

#75 - Honk the Moose by Phil Stong

1936 Honor book

"Two small boys had been huntingon the outskirts of a little Minnesota town one cold winter's day. They skied back to the livery stable where Ivar's father boarded horses and mules, and Waino pinged his air rifle at a fence. 'I wish,' he said dreamily, 'that had been a good old moose I shot.' Ivar then fired his air gun down the corridor between the stalls to show what he would have done. All at once there was a very sad sound. It went 'Haawwnnk-hawnk-hawnk-haawwnnkk!' The two boys dropped everything.

'What do you think that is?' Ivar asked. 'Maybe it was a moose,' Waino replied softly.

And it was a moose - though it was a while before Ivar's father or Mr. Ryan, the policeman, or the Mayor or any of the townspeople believed it.But what do you do with a moose?What can you do with a moose? Honk was hungry. He ate about a ton of Ivar's father's expensive hay. Then he went to sleep. Something had to be done, but Honk was naturally such a sad moose, you couldn't help feeling sorry for him."

It is interesting to me the changes throughout the years of what makes an award winning book. More recent award winners tackle a lot of really tough topics. But books like this were so simple and innocent! Cute story. My son actually read it before me, and he really liked it too! I guess the simple books can still appeal to today's kids!