Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Cybil's Reviews

Return to Sender - Julia Alvarez
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
Pages: 322
Source: Library

Tyler loves his farm. When his father is injured in a farming accident and he realizes they may have to sell the farm, Tyler loses it. His parents hustle him off to his aunt and uncle's house. When he returns his parents inform him they have found a way to save the farm. What they don't tell him is why he can't tell anyone about the Mexicans who are helping his father out. Tyler learns the truth about the three men and three young girls who live in the trailor. He has mixed feelings about harboring illegal aliens, until he gets to meet them. How far will he go to protect and help them? This was a wonderful story. I teach ESOL and figure that not all of the students I teach are probably legal. However, nothing irks me more than to have students look at a Mexican in one of our classes, whether they are Americans or not and make the comment that these illegal immigrants are stealing all of the American's jobs. When I tell that student that maybe we should send them all back and that way people like him would have a job, I wait. I know what will be coming. "Darn right. Then I could work and earn money and my uncle wouldn't be out of work." The statements go on and on. I look at them and smile and when they are finished I smile and say, "Exactly! If we gave those jobs to Americans we could get more off of the welfare roles. After all they are American fields and they should be worked by Americans young and old." You can usually hear a pin drop. "Wait a minute Miss, I ain't gonna work in no field." I usually laugh. "Really what job were you planning on taking over since they would be vacating the position?" "I want to work in an office or something Miss". That is when I usually break the news to them that the very people he wants to send back are the ones that would love to be able to work in an office. They are the ones who are willing to work in the fields to give their families a better life.

Now before anyone gets upset with me I believe that anyone entering our country should go the proper route. I just hate when people open their mouths when they don't really have the whole story. The school I work in, 80% of our students are on free or reduced lunch. Most of them want an easy life without the hard work. I believe this is a book I need to purchase and recommend to students. Not because I want them to take a particular side but because Julia Alvarez presented a side most people don't see or understand. It was put in such a manner that students will be able to understand and sympathize with both sides of the issue.

White Cave Escape - Jennifer McGrath Kent
Publisher: Nimbus
Pages 162
Source: I purchased

Shawn, Craig, Tony and Petra set out for a fun day of golfing along with Hobart, Petra's bear sized Newfoundland. When a fox steals Tony's ball and Tony chases after him, the four young people suddenly find themselves involved in an unexpected and dangerous adventure.

Tumbling into a quarry the teens hear ATV's and watch horrified as a mother deer and her fawn are chased. The mother deer excapes and the fawn is accidently killed. The teens find a smoldering cigarette and crush it out only to realize a while later that the forest they are in is on fire. The three ATV's scream past them and one of them stops and warns them to run. While trying to escape they come upon Colin, one of the boys on the ATV's. He is trapped under his ATV and his "friends" have left him to suffer whatever fate. Rescued but not trusted by Shawn, Craig, Tony and Petra he must use his knowledge about the area to help them all survive.

Full of adventure that kept the reader on the edge of their seat from beginning to end. I thought this was a wonderful book, full of suspense. This is one I will definitely recommend to others.

Boy Trouble - Diana G. Gallagher
Publisher: Stone Arch
Pages 76
Source: Review Copy from publisher

Claudia has a problem. She has liked Brad Turino forever. She just can't talk to him. Then he asks her to help him with his writing assignment. Enter Rusty the new guy. Claudia has befriended him. Whe Rusty asks her to go to the movies with him she is torn between having a first date with Rusty and her true feelings for Brad. Read this book was like watching and listening to the girls in my middle school. I look forward to recommending this book. It is a simple and quick read.

Dog Whisperer - Nicholas Edwards

Publisher: Square Fish
Pages 215
Source: Review copy from publisher

Emily kept having nightmares that she was drowning. She didn't understand it until the night it was storming and the dream returned. When she awoke she was drawn to her window. She saw or sensed something out on the rocks in thew ater. It was as if it was pleading for help. Emily and her parents rescue the dog and take him to the vet. The connection between Emily and Zach are so sstrong she knows what he is thinking and feeling. What do these connections mean? This was an enjoyable book but I had a little bit of a problem with the human/dog psychic connection. All in all I would recommend this book for an easy read.

The Girl Who Threw Butterflies - Mick Cochrane
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
Pages: 177
Source: Copy from Library

Molly Williams was the apple of her father's eye. They played catch together, watched the games on TV together and he came to all of her softball games. He even taught her to throw a knuckle ball. Then the unthinkable happened. Her father is killed in a mysterious car accident. Her mother is handling her grief by withdrawing. Both of them are becoming angry with each other. It is like they just go through the motions of living. Everytime Molly notices something else of her father's is gone she gets angrier. To hold on to her father as long as possible Molly has made a decision. She is going to try out for the boy's baseball team. She doesn't tell her mother. After she makes the team she learns a lot about herself, teamwork and dealing with the issues that plague her relationship with her mother. This was a great book. I would definitely recommend it to any girl having trouble with their relationship with their mother. I believe that any of them could relate to the situations Molly and her mother faces on any level. I can't wait to recommend this to my students.

Wanting Mor - Rukhsana Khan

Publisher: Groundwood Books
Pages: 192
Source: Review Copy from publisher

Wanting Mor is the story of young Jameela who draws strength to carry on through lifes hardships from her memories of her deceased mother. Jameela was born with a cleft palate which caused people to stare at her. Her mother let her know she was loved. She was poor and uneducated. After her mother died she and her father moved to Kabul. Her father becomes addicted to drugs and alcohol, remarries and Jameela's life goes from bad to worse. When her father suddenly remarries she learns what real hate is. She works like a slave for her step-mother until the day her ste-mother demands Jameela be left behind in the market. Her father does as her step-mother demands and Jameela must now rely on total strangers to survive. This could be the story of many young girls living in countries that place no value on the lives or rights of women. The message of relying on friends and faith is a message for everyone. This is a definite must read.

Walking Backward - Catherine Austen
Publisher: Orca
Pages: 167
Source: Review Copy received from publisher

Grief at any age is difficult. Twelve year old Josh has just lost his mother in a car accident. He has no one to show him what he should do next. His younger brother has started sleeping with him. His father has been busy trying to build a time machine. Josh has never felt so alone. At one point Josh wishes he were Jewish because they are organized about death. It is difficult as an adult dealing with death. I've worked with kids as young as five who have lost a parent and it is always tough. There are no set or exact answers to the grieving process. This is what Josh is looking for. I have several friends who will never read this book no matter how good I tell them it is because it is a sad book. However I will definitely recommend this book and especially to those who have lost a loved one.

William S. and the Great Escape - Zilpha Keatley Snyder

Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Pages: 214
Source: Review copy from publisher

Abuse and neglect is a real fact seen every day. Often kids see no way out. This isn't the case for William Baggett. he had decided long ago he didn't want to live like the rest of the Baggetts. He worked odd jobs, saved his money and had a bag packed at all times for when the day was right. He was only twelve so he figured he had a couple of years before he would leave. Things changed the day the twins flushed Jancey's guinea pig Sweetie Pie down the toilet. Jancey had know William's secret for a long time but had said nothing. On this day she met him in their secret meeting place and made it clear that she thought "they" should run away as early as the next day. Not only that but they needed to take Buddy and Trixie, the youngest Baggetts with them. She decided they would run away to their Aunt Fiona's house. After all she had raised Buddy and Trixie for two years. She would still be raising them if their father had not remarried and taken them back so he could collect more welfare money. Along the way they find some unlikely help from someone who admired Williams Shakespearean acting ability. this was a fun read but also had a serious tone. I had to ask myself if I would have had the courage to do what these four children did? I at first wanted to say that this would never happen in real life. Then I realized several things. Children today do things that seem too adult for us all the time. The second thing I noticed was that this book was set during the depression times and children back then had to be more grown up than kids today. They usually had more responsibilities and therefore it is very plausible. Either way I think kids will be able to make a connection to this book and I will highly recommend it.

1 comment:

  1. I am baffled by the hostile attitude so many people seem to have toward Spanish-speaking immigrants -- legal and otherwise. Honestly, I don't even judge those who are here illegally. I think of the abundance of blessings so many of us enjoy in the U.S. Even those of us who are only considered lower middle class, by American standards, often enjoy an embarrassment of riches. And I think about the fact that any person willing to risk the dangers of an illegal border crossing must have suffered a great deal and must be desperate for a better life for themselves and their families.

    I used to work as a school-based counselor, and I worked with many ESL kids from Central or South America. I've never forgotten their stories -- living in crowded rental houses, with many relatives, and visiting church-based food pantries for subsistence. And these children were *grateful* for the lives they had. They were being fed and educated, and they were safe in a country with a stable government. I found it very humbling.