Sunday, October 4, 2009

5 More Great Books

Peace, Locomotion by Jacqueline Woodson
Publisher: Putnam, Juvenile
Pages 134

Source: Library
Lonnie Motion, known as Locomotion by his friends, has been separated from his sister since their parent’s death. Both live in separate foster homes. To keep in touch with her he starts writing her a series of letters about their lives since they have been apart. He hopes that he will one day give them to her. If he doesn’t they are a memory for himself. He tells of the days they get to see each other and what they do. He tells her of his memories of their parents. He tells her of his foster family and the son that is off fighting the war. When the son is missing and finally returned minus a limb, he tells her about surviving and healing. This was a wonderful book. It is inspirational for all who read it and one that I believe anyone would enjoy.

Tropical Secrets: Holocaust Refugees in Cuba by Margarita Engle
Publisher: Henry Holt
Pages: 199
Source: Library
This is a historical novel told in poetic form. I enjoyed it as much as I did her book “The Surrender Tree”. I didn’t know this part of history until I had read the book. The story is about Daniel, a Jew from Germany. His parents have taken all of their money and purchased a ticket for him to America. What none of them can know is that America has been denying access to the refuges. The ships are then sent on to Cuba. If Cuba denies them then they are sent back to Europe with the prospect of being sent to a concentration camp. Daniel is one of the lucky ones allowed to disembark in Cuba. He makes friends with Paloma. She discovers her fathers is an evil and crooked Cuban official. She lives in her dovecote with her birds to stay away from him. Daniel meets people along the way who help him learn to live not just survive. He also helps hide people during this time. This is a very emotional book. You feel for Daniel’s parents and realize the depth of their love for him. This is a book that will definitely go on my shelves for my students. I think this should be required reading in History classes.

Anything But Typical by Nora Raleigh Baskin
Publisher: Simon & Shuster
Pages: 195

Source: Library
As I read this book about Jason, an autistic 6th grader I was reminded of students I have had that were autistic. I was able to recognize so many of the signs. Hearing Jason talk about the noise being so loud he had to cover his ears, not being able to stand someone touching him. His in depth ability to write. What a lot of people don’t realize or see in autistic is how brilliant they are in so many ways. I have had one student who could draw things from one look. He had almost a photographic memory but couldn’t stand noise. He could hear the squeal of the air conditioner’s fan belt as it was burning up. Another student couldn’t stand me to walk past him and create any type of breeze that moved his clothing. Yet he could turn out stories that were wonderful. My third experience was with a child that walked the tile lines during lunch because they made him stay in the lunch room. He was adept at playing five instruments without having ever had a lesson. This book gives a realistic view of what an autistic person’s life is like. Jason tells us to look at who we really are and accept ourselves. I loved this book. Maybe I am biased because of my work with autistic children. I believe this book should be read in all schools. It also made me ask myself, “What is normal”?

The Year the Swallows Came Early by Kathryn Fitzmaurice
Publisher: Harper Collins
Pages: 277
Source Library
Groovy Robinson wants to go to cooking school. She plans and cooks all of their meals. Her father is her biggest fan of her cooking. That is until he is hauled off to jail. Groovy runs and tells her mother. She is shocked to find that her mother is the one who called the police. She is more upset to find out the reason why. How could her father steal from her? Frankie lives with his stepbrother Luis and the run Swallows restaurant. Frankie is bitter because his mother left him with out telling him why. Enter old Mr. Tom. He is a homeless sailor that has a lot to teach these two about forgiveness and moving on. The story was not one of my favorites. The characters were very believable and the situations were believable. It seemed like the story drug on and on. I believe the message is a good one. I believe I would have a little bit of trouble getting my students to read this because it goes so slow.

Positively by Courtney Sheinmel
Publisher: Simon & Shuster
Pages: 216
Source Library

This book starts out sad. Emerson Price has just lost her mother to AIDs. She herself is HIV – positive. She knows she could die. She has to go live with her dad and pregnant stepmom. She is tired of being treated differently. Kids at school have always done that. Her best friend Nicole can never understand what her life is like. She can’t understand that Emmy has to eat properly to take all of the medicines she has to take three times a day. She is alone in this now that her mother is gone. What else could be worse? She is being sent to Camp Positive by her dad and step-mom. This is a camp set up for girls like Emmy who are HIV-positive.. This is just one more thing that makes her feel like she is all alone in the world since she has lost her mother. The things Emmy learns about herself might just be the things that help her survive. At first I didn’t like this book. It made me sad and made me cry. I think the reason I didn’t like it at first is that it made me feel helpless for Emmy and others like her. I want to feel like I am in control of situations. I don’t think I would have done a very good job if I had been Emmy. She and so many like her are brave. I would not recommend this to the faint of heart. It is definitely a tear jerker in many ways. I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in seeing what true bravery is.

The opinions expressed in these review are mine alone and do not represent the views of the panel.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the shout-out to POSITIVELY -- it's funny to create a character who I know is braver than I ever could be. Thanks for reading and for your thoughtful review.