Showing posts with label Bio/Autobio/Memoir. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bio/Autobio/Memoir. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Child Soldier: When Boys and Girls are Used in War by Jessica Dee Humphreys & Michel Chikwanine

Genre: Middle Grade, Autobiography
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

From Goodreads:
Michel is like many other five-year-olds: he has a loving family and spends his days going to school and playing soccer. But in 1993, the Democratic Republic of Congo, where Michel and his family live, is a country in tumult. One afternoon Michel and his friends are kidnapped by rebel militants and forced to become child soldiers.

My Thoughts:

When Michel Chikwanine was only five years old he was kidnapped from his school by rebel soldiers. The reason? They were recruiting child soldiers.  Because he was feisty and tough acting  to the soldiers, they decided to keep him alive.  Michel made a promise to his father, who was an activist to stop the terrible things the rebels and government were doing against their own people. He ingrained these thoughts into his son. This book is a direct result of those teachings.  Michel wanted to make sure he kept his promise to his father and spreads the word about child soldiers to help prevent and stop this horrific act against humanity.  This is a book that should be read in every history class.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Happy Fourth of July - Dad's War Photos by neal Bertrand

I could think of no better book to review for the Fourth of July than this book here.  After all isn't this what this holiday is about, Celebrating freedom?  Enjoy the review.

Genre: Photo-Biography, WWII, History
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

From Goodreads:
Curtis Bertrand returned home from WWII in the South Pacific with over 600 photos. These never-before-seen pictures from his private collection, along with official battalion journal entries and stories of near-death experiences entail drama, adventure, and depict the reality of war.
Dad's War Photos covers many aspects of Curtis's experiences: leaving the farm in Opelousas, Louisiana, going to boot camp, being sent overseas, and coming back home, all through the lens of his Kodak fold-up camera passed down to him from his parents.
The homecoming and post war life chapters give an intimate view of what many returning soldiers faced. For Curtis it was getting back to work on the farm, meeting his lovely wife, and trying to put bad memories aside.
Two appendices include extensive photo coverage of WWII aircraft nose art and the daily lives of natives in the South Pacific.

My Thoughts:
I am so glad that Neal Bertrand took his father's pictures and journals and put together this book.  This is a fabulous primary source. As a teacher I am please to have it as a resource, although I am sure I will be accosted by upper grade teachers who teach history for my copy.  I believe in sharing.  I loved not only the pictures which gave you a first hand look at what was taking place in the Pacific, but also the military journal entries.  This gave you a first hand look at what else was going on with him and the other's in his battalion during the month.  Another added bonus was the section titled "Elsewhere in the War". This section allowed me to see not only what was happening where he was but also in Japan, Germany and other important places.  Every book I've ever read similar to this deals only with what was going on in that particular area. This book give the reader a wider picture of the war.  I find this beneficial for students who may use this as one of their primary sources when researching.   I would however caution if you are using this as a resource for middle school.  Not all middle schoolers are mature enough for some of the pictures.  Yes I know that shocks you.  There is a picture I found hilarious of a group of men on an outside latrine, naked butts to the camera.  Then there are the pics of the half naked women on the planes, or the Philippine women who are naked from the waste up. This is life, but not all middle schoolers  are mature enough.  I must also caution that some of the pictures are quite graphic of corpses.  All in all this is a book that is not just a photo journal, but a wealth of written information as well.  I am so happy I had the honor of reading and reviewing this book.

About the Author:
Neal Bertrand is a publisher, full-time author, and an avid genealogist and family historia. In 2009, he began scanning his dad's World War II photos. eal had never seen what was written on the backs of the photos because they had bee attached to the pages of three photo albums kep in a cedar chest in the hallway of Neal's childhood home. The photos were put in the albums in no particular order. But once he gifured out the timeline, Neal was able to organize them by coutry, month, ad year. After six months of culling the photos and researching diary entries of his dad's outfit, the 863rd Engineer Aviation Battalion, Neal was able to trace his father's steps from boot camp to war and back home.


Saturday, February 14, 2015

Student Saturday: The Year We Disappeared by Cylin Busby and John Busby

Student Reviewer: Elizabeth B.
Genre: Young Adult, Memoir

From Goodreads:
The extraordinary true story of a family, a brutal shooting, and the year that would change their lives forever.
When Cylin Busby was nine years old, she was obsessed with Izod clothing, the Muppets, and her pet box turtle. Then, in the space of a night, everything changed. Her police officer father, John, was driving to work when someone leveled a shotgun at his window. The blasts that followed left John’s jaw on the passenger seat of his car—literally. Overnight, the Busbys went from being the "family next door" to one under 24-hour armed guard, with police escorts to school, and no contact with friends. Worse, the shooter was still on the loose, and it seemed only a matter of time before he’d come after John—or someone else in the family—again. With their lives unraveling around them, and few choices remaining for a future that could ever be secure, the Busby family left everything and everyone they had ever known…and simply disappeared.
As told by both father and daughter, this is a harrowing, and at times heartbreaking account of a shooting and its aftermath, even as it shows a young girl trying to make sense of the unthinkable, and the triumph of a family’s bravery in the face of crisis.

Student Response:

I liked the book, but it was saddening. I would not recommend this book to people who like adventure. It was about a father who was a police officer, and he got shot in the face. He survived. Now the family has to hide in the shadow, away from the rest of the world.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Leading the Way: Darby's Ranger Noel Dye by A.H. Durshimer III

Genre: Biography, WWII
Source: Purchased a copy

I had the privilege of meeting the author at a summer workshop. We work in the same district. When I overheard him discussing his book, I looked it up online. I immediately did two things. I ordered the book and scheduled it’s review. I then took my card to him and told him what day the review would be posted.  I was that interested in the book.

Art is extremely knowledgeable about the Vietnam War and the World Wars. Through a friend he had the opportunity to meet Noel Dye, who was one of Darby’s Rangers.  I had heard of Darby’s Rangers. I had watched the movie.  I did not know who Noel Dye was.  Art has skillfully taken this man’s story and told it in a way that you feel like you are sitting in on the interviews.  For me that is important.  I have limited knowledge of wars.  When some part or some person in a war peaks my interest then I dig deeper and learn more.  This book has once again set me on that path and made it easier for me because it included a bibliography.  With all of the facts I was afraid it would read like a list of battle facts.  This is so far from the truth.  I was very impressed with not only the story, but the writing of the story.

Noel is a very down to earth person.  One thing that was obvious as he was telling the story to the author was how vivid his memories were.  My mother and I were discussing this. Her father fought in WWI.  She said the one thing that haunted him was sitting in a fox hole with his buddy having a conversation. When his buddy didn’t answer he looked over and saw his head had been blown off.  She remarked that he had said it just so matter-of-fact.  This is how Noel talks of his injuries and losing his buddies.  These are memories that never leave you.  Hopefully the soldier finds a way to deal with them so they no longer haunt them.

Two other things I loved about this book.  There are a collection of letters that Noel’s family had saved for him. In this way we see what was going through his mind, and how little he was able to relay to his family.  The other thing was the pictures he graciously allowed the author to put into the book. I am very pleased I overheard his conversation mentioning his book.  The funny thing in all of this is that you would think that with such a love of history that Art would teach that subject.  He teaches English.  In my book this makes his students extremely lucky.  When he has to find extra reading materials, be it books, essays, letters, etc. to go with his lesson, he is in a position to do so. He has a wealth of knowledge in his hands. Any parent would be lucky to have him for a teacher. He is currently working on another book. I look forward to reading it when he has it finished.


About the Author

Art Durshimer is a high-school English and journalism teacher in Bradenton, FL. He is married and the father of three children. Durshimer, 56, spent 25 years in various newsrooms as a reporter and editor. He began teaching 11 years ago, fulfilling a longtime goal of working with young people. His wife, Meg, also is a former journalist who now teaches elementary school. Durshimer is a lifelong history buff, a habit he indulges through historical re-enactments and presentations of World War II and the Vietnam War era. He, his wife and children all are Florida natives; his sons Ben, 18, and Jake, 20, are the fourth generation of his family born in the state. Durshimer’s daughter, Amy, and his three grandchildren live near Athens, Ga. His hobbies include historical re-enactments, reading (favorite author is Pat Conroy), writing and beachcombing with his wife on Florida’s gulf and Atlantic beaches.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Slimy by Karen Arnpriester

Pages: 86
Genre:  Middle Grade, Young Adult, Autobiography
Source: Review copy in exchange for my honest opinion

From Goodreads 
Slimy is the painful account of my experiences as a bullied, isolated and humiliated child. My journey of abuse began in the fifth grade and continued through the ninth. I chose to share my story so that others will understand how bullying can damage and alter a child’s self- image. How we learn to tolerate injustice and mistreatment as if we do not deserve anything better. A belief that can alter a lifetime. My story is sad and filled with powerful memories that affected who I became, but my story is not unique, many children are targeted and suffer quietly without an escape. Every school has bullies, children that are angry, hurtful people who are allowed to control and determine who has value and who does not. I believe that a solution to the rampant epidemic of bullying will need the involvement of parents and teachers, but the most effective resolve for this growing threat will require a student body that chooses not to tolerate bullies and the pain they inflict. The true power belongs to the students who passively watch. These students empower the bullies through their silence and apathy. I hope to encourage the bullied child, inspire the student body to make a difference and expose the fear that bullies operate through.

My Thoughts
 I had the privilege of reading this book before it was published. It was absolutely spot on as far as the message about bullying. As a teacher I felt anger at what the main character had gone through. I felt ashamed that a teacher did not stand up for her. I felt her pain. I realize that bullying comes in all forms. There was so much I could identify with. I've seen kids bullied like this at school and do my best to stop it. Unfortunately, so many of them experience the bullying and never tell an adult. We can't stop what we don't see. I looked at myself and asked if I was doing all I could at school to make sure my students were not being bullied. Was I really as observant as I could be? Was I observant with my children? With a suicide of a young girl here in Florida so fresh on every one's mind I realized that this is important to have in schools everywhere. Students need to know they don't have to be alone or feel afraid to tell someone. As parents we want what is best for our children and grandchildren. This made me ask myself if I was always doing what was best or if I thought my actions would make them stronger. I can't recommend this book strong enough.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Coming in 2014 and a Review

Wishing all of you a Happy New Year!  I hope you have a wonderful new year.  May 2014 be the year that your reach all of your dreams.  I am changing things up this year.  I recently went back over the books I still have to review and realized I am way behind.  I am leaving five days available for new requests each month until I catch up all of my review.  There are just too many I need to catch up on. My plan is to read and schedule reviews a week at a time so I can then have time to write and handle my school load.

This will be a year of many changes.  Some I will decide on as I get into the new year.  Some will be happening whether I want them to or not.  My daughter and grandchildren will be moving away from me the day after New Years.  They will only be one hour away.  However, it is not the same as having them just down the street. It is best for everyone involved.  It just hurts knowing I now have no grandchildren real close.  I do have one about thirty minutes away.  We only get to see her when my son comes down from Georgia and picks her up and brings her to my house.  Divorce does things like that to grandparents and grandchildren.  Haylee and Jacob will be moving with their mother an hour away since my daughter was transferred.  We both need to break from each other for many reasons. I think, (I hope), it will make my visits with my grandchildren more special.  I fear the youngest of only three will forget me if he doesn't get to see me as often.  That is just my own fear. I will miss my time writing with my granddaughter.
Another change this year is my commitment to losing weight.  I don't know how quickly I'll be able to take it off.  I am facing another surgery in the new year which will hamper some of the weight loss.  I need to get more exercise and so I am making a commitment to get more in 2014.  That is one of the reasons for scheduling reviews in advance.  I don't want any excuses for not exercising.  Now, to my very first review of the new year.

Another Forgotten Child by Cathy Glass
Pages: 304
Genre: Memoir
Source: I won a copy from LibraryThing
Disclosure: The opinions expressed here are my own.  I have been compensated in no way for my honest opinion.

From Goodreads:
Eight-year-old Aimee was on the child protection register at birth. Her five older siblings were taken into care many years ago. So no one can understand why she was left at home to suffer for so long. It seems Aimee was forgotten.

The social services are looking for a very experienced foster carer to look after Aimee and, when she reads the referral, Cathy understands why. Despite her reservations, Cathy agrees to Aimee on – there is something about her that reminds Cathy of Jodie (the subject of ‘Damaged’ and the most disturbed child Cathy has cared for), and reading the report instantly tugs at her heart strings.

When she arrives, Aimee is angry. And she has every right to be. She has spent the first eight years of her life living with her drug-dependent mother in a flat that the social worker described as ‘not fit for human habitation’. Aimee is so grateful as she snuggles into her bed at Cathy’s house on the first night that it brings Cathy to tears.

Aimee’s aggressive mother is constantly causing trouble at contact, and makes sweeping allegations against Cathy and her family in front of her daughter as well. It is a trying time for Cathy, and it makes it difficult for Aimee to settle. But as Aimee begins to trust Cathy, she starts to open up. And the more Cathy learns about Aimee’s life before she came into care, the more horrified she becomes.

It’s clear that Aimee should have been rescued much sooner and as her journey seems to be coming to a happy end, Cathy can’t help but reflect on all the other ‘forgotten children’ that are still suffering…

My Thoughts
This is not a story for the faint of heart.  It is the story of a foster parent who takes in a child that most would never touch.  Aimee is eight years old and unlike her five older siblings, she was left with her mother instead of being removed.  Eight years she suffers abuse at the hands of her mother and many others.  No child should have to experience the things Aimee experiences.  The book was frustrating at times because at one point in my life I worked for children and family services in my state.  The things that you learn about happening to children is horrible.  Cathy has done a wonderful job of letting the reader  be an observer yet feel like they are right there.  I have never been a foster parent.  I have seen so much through my job as a teacher.  Sometimes the things we learn from our students are just as heart wrenching and makes us wonder how someone could let something happen to a child for so long and do nothing.  I have great admiration for people like Cathy.  As a matter of fact a friend of mine, an author by the name of Karen Arnpriester is one of those angels who takes in kids.  I have the highest respect for people like them.  I believe that books like this should be read to bring attention to, and open the eyes of people who might not want to see what is going on around them.  I highly recommend this book.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Fruit of My Spirit - Deanna Nowadnick

Publisher:  Rhododendron Books
Pages:  114
Source:  Review copy from author
Genre:  Christian Inspirational Memoir

From Goodreads:
Fruit of My Spirit is a memoir of missteps and misdeeds in which Deanna Nowadnick writes of the hugeness of God’s love and faithfulness. Reframing life in God’s grace, she discovers an indescribable, indefinable, inexplicable love that has encircled her without fail throughout life.  Fruit of My Spirit is for anyone who’s ever questioned God’s ability to love and forgive, who’s ever wondered about their place in God’s family or God’s place in theirs. Deanna offers hope for those who dare to question, who secretly wonder, and who fear to ask. Through stories of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, you will experience the enormity of god, too.

My Thoughts:
Deanna has written a book that gives us a lot to think about.  Through her stories of how God has walked with her and develop her spiritual gifts, we get to look at our own lives and see how God has helped us. 
She shows us that God doesn’t promise us we will have no struggles. She shows us that God can use any situation or struggle we have to help us grow.  Her life lessons learned through raising her children show us how God often uses our own children. 

As I have gone through several financial and physical challenges this year I have had that rebellious side of me that complained often and questioned God, asking “why me”?  After reading this book I have to ask, “why not me”?  This book is both a lesson and inspiring.  I hope Deanna continues to write.  I feel that God will use her to inspire and bless those of us who read her books.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Student Saturday: Martin Luther King - Amy Pastan

Publisher:  DK Publisher
Pages:  128
Genre:  Biography
Student Reviewer:  Sophonie

The book I'm reading is Martin Luther King.  It is mostly about how Martin Luther King lived and what happened throughout his life.  This book talks about when King was young and he was an amazing reader and was the best baseball player in his neighborhood.  When Kind grew up he wanted to be a preacher just like his father, but instead he became the leader of African American rights.  When he grew up he went to Morehouse college.  He worked on Intercollegiate Council.  That means he works with a group to achieve racial justice.  He used to hate whites but his anger went away when he saw how well he worked with them.  This book goes on to when Rosa Park went ot jail and when King gave his speech.

I would probably recommend this book so the people who believe in peace also to people who has big dreams in life.  This book reminds me of when I was watching a video about a man that thinks he is useless but later on he became the richest man alive.  My opinion of this book is that this book is filled with loveand war at the same time.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Irena's Jars of Secrets - Marcia Vaughan

Publisher: Lee & Low Books

Pages: 35
Genre: Children, Picture Book, Autobiography, Biography, & History

Source: Review copy from Netgalley

Irena Sendler, born to a Polish Catholic family, was raised to respect people of all backgrounds and to help those in need. She became a social worker; and after the German army occupied Poland during World War II, Irena knew she had to help the sick and starving Jews who were imprisoned in the Warsaw Ghetto. She began by smuggling food, clothing, and medicine into the ghetto, then turned to smuggling children out of the ghetto. Using false papers and creative means of escape, and at great personal risk, Irena helped rescue Jewish children and hide them in safe surroundings. Hoping to reunite the children with their families after the war, Irena kept secret lists of the children's identities.

Motivated by conscience and armed with compassion and a belief in human dignity, Irena Sendler confronted an enormous moral challenge and proved to the world that an ordinary person can accomplish deeds of extraordinary courage.

My Thoughts

This was a wonderful story. This is a book I will definitely recommend to my history department at school. It is beautifully and simply written yet the message is so powerful. It is the story of a woman, one of many selfless people, willing to put their own safety on the line to save as many Jewish children as possible from the Warsaw Ghetto. The Holocaust happened so many years ago that our children know very little about it. This is one way to start an inquiry based lesson on the Holocaust. This is an excellent book and one that needs to be on the shelves of all schools.

Love Twelve Miles Long - Glenda Armand

Illustrated by: Colin Bootman

Publisher: lee & Low Books
Source: Netgalley
Genre: Children's Biography/Autobiography & History

Synopsis from Publisher:
It's late at night, and Frederick's mother has traveled twelve miles to visit him. When Frederick asks Mama how she can walk so far, Mama recounts her journey mile by mile. Every step of the way is special, as it brings them closer together; and Mama passes the time by remembering, listening, praying, singing, and more.
Set on a plantation in 1820s Maryland, this story based on the life of young Frederick Douglass shows the power of his mother's love. The faith she has in her son puts him on a path to escape enslavement and to become a champion of human rights, an influential writer and speaker, and an unforgettable leader.
Expressive, candlelit paintings illuminate the bond between parent and child in this heartfelt story. Love Twelve Miles Long will resonate with children of all backgrounds who cherish the tender moments they share with those they love.

My Thoughts:This was a beautiful book. It is the story of young Frederick Douglas. His mother lived twelve miles away and walked to visit him. He asked her about each mile. She tells him the first mile is for forgetting, the second is for remembering, the third is for listening. The fourth mile is for looking up, the fifth is for wondering, the sixth is for praying, the seventh is for singing, the eighth is for smiling, the ninth is for giving thanks. The tenth mile is for hoping, the eleventh is for dreaming and the twelfth is for love.

If you want to know what exactly they are dreaming and remembering and forgetting then read the book. It is no wonder Frederick Douglas grew up to be the man he was. With a mother with such high hopes and dreams for her son he could do nothing less.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Student Saturday: Soul Surfer - Bethany Hamilton

Student Reviewer:  Lucretia
Publisher:  MTV Books
Pages:  240
Genre:  Young Adult, Biography

This book was a book about Bethany Hamilton.  Bethany Hamilton is a famous surfer that had her arm bitten off by a shark while she was surfing.  Bethany had written this story in her own words which made it fun to read her own opinions.

Bethany Hamilton was the main character.  She has two brothers named Noah and Timmy.  Her parents are Tom and Cheri.  Alana was Bethany’s best friend and Ginger was her first pet.  The setting took place in many places.  Bethany lives in Hawaii and that is where the book started.  It followed her wherever she went, so when she went to New York for shows and interviews we went there.  When the family was in New York they decided to visit family in New Jersey.

The only connections I got from Bethany were when she surfed.  I felt the waves splash in my face almost, and felt the joy when she got to surf a wave in.  I loved this book.  Well, I think it’s because I love Bethany Hamilton.  This book was so well written it actually felt like you were there.  You can feel her feelings and I loved how I could agree with her opinions.

This book is definitely not for anyone.  The book talks about surfing all the time and there is a lot of surf talk.  Bethany is a Christian and all she does is look at the Christian side.  She respects everyone.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Dreamer - Pam Munoz Ryan and Peter Sis

Publisher:  Scholastic Press
Pages:  384
Source:  Purchased
Genre:  Middle Grade Biography

This is the story of Neftali Reyes Known to the world as thepoet Pablo Neruda.  As a young boy, Neftali's mind wandered and he questioned everything around him.  His domineering father considered him "absentminded", "dim-witted", and "idiot"  He dictated what he expected his sons to become.  Somehow Neftali finds his own way.  As he grows older he takes on, through his writing the cause of the Mapuche people.  The Indigenous people of Chile.  The words flow throughout this book creating an image in the mind that is enhanced  by the drawings by Pepter Sis.  This is a book that you not only read, you feel it.

(The opinions expressed here are mine and not those of the other panalists)

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Heart of a Samurai by Margi Preus

Publisher:  Amulet Books
Pages:  320
Source:  Library
Genre:  Middle Grade Historical Fiction/Biography

Manjiro was only fourteen years old and working on a fishing boat when a freak storm cause them to be marooned on an island.  This is where I learned something interesting.  The law of that time siad anyone leaving the country and returning would be put to death.  Manjiro is reminded of this.  Later they are rescued and taken to Hawaii.  The captain takes a liking to Manjiro and takes him home with him.  Manjiro finds out first hand about prejudice.  However, he doesn't let it get in his way.  Later on he goes to California for the Gold Rush.  He makes enough money to buy his own ship and sails back to Japan where his is captured and imprisoned.  About this same time the Americans start entering  the Japanese ports and Manjiro plays an important role in bringing the two countries together.  I was so amazed to find this was a true story.  This would make a wonderful addition to my book shelves at school.

(The opinions expressed here are mine and not those of the other panalists)

Thursday, July 29, 2010

My Life in Dog Years by Gary Paulsen

Publisher:  Yearling, 1998
Pages:  137
Source:  My shelves
Genre:  Middle Grade Autobiography

All opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Gary Paulsen has always written books that show us his love of all things nature.  Here we have a look at the dogs that have helped shape his life.  He dedicates the book to Cookie the sled dog who saved his life.  He tells us the story of Snowball, a dog he convinced his mom to purchase for him while they lived in the Philippine Islands.  He was trying to save it because the villagers ate dogs.  Ike was a dog that befriended him when he most needed a friend.  Dirk was a stray that became his protector.  He speaks of his experiences with Rex the farm dog, Caesar the giant, Fred who befriended a pig, Quincy small in stature but big in heart.  He ends his story with Josh the "smartest dog in the world". 

I loved this book because it was a realistic look at his relationship with his favorite pet, dogs.  I can't say I am a great dog lover.  I grew up on a farm.  We had several dogs which included a cocker spaniel and a collie.  My aunt gave us a German shepherd which had been abused by kids.  She figured he would do well at our house.  Flash was very quick and very protective.  However, screams while playing tag or any other childhood game set him on end and he would attack.  A bite from him created my fear of dogs.  He finally had to be put down when he bit my baby sister through the eye lid. To try to calm my fears my aunt gave us a cockapoo.  This yappy little dog was fun but still scared me.  Years later my father brought home a German shepherd.  He handed me the leash and told me to walk him.  I was terrified and the dog seemed to sense this.  He made a point of approaching me slowly.  One night while walking back to my house from the neighbors someone came around our house running for me.  I knew I would not be able to defend myself with a my leg in a cast and this dog heard me scream, came through the screen on the door and stood between me and my attacker allowing me to enter the house.  That was the beginning of my losing my fear of dogs.  Years later my husband wanted a rottweiler.  I knew how big they were and was terrified.  He took me to the house and had me sit on the ground.  The owners put a large pan of dog food in front of me and let the rottweiler puppies out.  One in particular plopped down in the middle of the pan and all the others had to eat around her.  She then stood up, untied my shoelace and then plopped in my lap like she belonged.  She was with us only only two years before she was murdered by a neighbor.  It is our dream to have some land where we can get another rottweiler.  Until that time I will be happy with my favorite pet "the worlds smartest" cat.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Kindertransport by Olga Levy Drucker

Publisher:  Henry Holt and company, 1992
Pages:  146
Source:  Purchased
Genre:  MG Autobiography/WWI

Olga Levy Drucker was one of teh thousand children who were rescued from Nazi  Germany.  They were sent across the ocean to safety.  From the beginning descriptions in the book, one can tell that Olga's parents had money.  Then enter Hitler.  Jews everywhere lost their rights.  Many lost their lives.  This book is the true story of Olga's survival and the hardships she faced.  It is a story of perseverance and hope.  I am glad this is one of the books listed on our curriculum's reading circle list.  I will highly recommend it.  Maybe some of my students will look into this fascinating event that saved so many lives.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Facing Terror by Carrie McDonnall

Publisher:  Thomas Nelson, 2005
Pages:  235
Source:  Loaned to me by my mother

My mother has been after me to read this book ever since she first got it.  Every day she would tell me something new.  Thursday evening she laid the book on my stand and said she was finished.  I picked it up last night and began to read it and could hardly put it down.  Carrie McDonnall had visited my mother's church and that is where my mother purchased her copy.  Carrie started her life as a journeyman missionary in Israel.  Her husband David started his life as a journeyman missionary in Sudan.  They met in Israel and their relationship slowly built from their.  This book is not just about their life together, although that was short.  It is not just about the tragedy that took David and three of her friends from her.  This is the story of living her life for Christ in all its fullness.  It made me ask myself if I was doing all I could in my faith and walk with God.  Could I stand in her shoes and handle things the way she has?  I was not called to do that.  I have not been asked to serve in another country but in schools right here in America.  These at times are just as dangerous as the countries Carrie and David served in.    Many will hear her story and declare them nuts or even suicidal for going to Iraq after 9/11.  You go where you are called.  This story was one of true love.  Love of the purest kind for God and each other, but more importantly the love and devotion they gave to the people in other countries.  Their jobs were not to go out and preach.  Carrie cleaned toilets and scrubbed floors for two years for an orphanage.  Her home for those two years was the front 1/3 of a shipping container.  The next time I meet someone who does not believe like I do or has different cultural ideals I will try to look at them through their eyes and with a little more love.  This was an awesome book.  I am so glad my mother allowed me to read it and I definitely recommend it to others.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Ponga Boy - Phil Lebherz & Philip Reed

Publisher: Epic Press, 2009
Pages: 180
Source: Review copy received in exchange for review

I have to say the reason I agreed to read and review this book is because I have many students who love soccer.  Many of them are from Mexico, Brazil, and Haiti where the one thing they have in common is soccer.  I teach reading and I also teach English to non-English speaking students.  They are constantly trying to read my books on my shelves.  The problem is that many of them can find nothing they relate to.  I believe they will be able to relate to this book on many levels.

Ponga Boy is the story of a young boy named Pichu.  He lives in the small fishing village of Los Barriles.  His father operates a ponga boat.  Pichu loves fishing with his father.  However, times are touch because the fish are not always there.  He usually arrives early and can be found on the beach juggling a soccer ball or doing some other fantastic athletic feat.  It is early one morning when two coaches from American happen upon him and see his ability.  They offer him a dream.  Come to America, go to college and play soccer.  Pichu makes the tough decision to leave his parents and Angelina behind to reach his dream.  However, he realizes that often times others do not have his dream in mind when they help make decisions for him.  He has to decide for himself what he really wants before he completely loses who he is and was.  He has to decide what his dream is and what he has to do to obtain it. 

I liked this book a lot because it really portrayed the world of sports the way it is.  It showed there are consequences, good or bad, for each decision we make.  It showed that sometimes to reach our dreams we have to make the toughest decisions of all.  I can't wait to take this book to school and offer it up to my students.  I know I will have so many who will be interested in it.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Secret Holocaust Diaries

Author: Nonna Bannister
Publisher: Tyndale House, 2009
Pages: 299
ISBN: 978-1-4143-2546-0
Source: Giveaway

Nonna Bannister grew up in a Christian home in Russia during the time of Stalin and Hitler. This story was originally written on scraps of paper in five different languages and hidden in a small pillow she kept tied around her waist while she was in the labor camp. She didn't share this story with anyone, not even after she came to the United States and got married. She slowly translated her diaries into English. A few years before her death she took her husband by the hand and led him up the stairs into the attic. There she unlocked the trunks she had hidden her most precious secrets in and handed her husband her translated diaries. Her only request was that he not do anything with them until she was gone. He kept that promise.
The secret holocaust diaries tells of her life in Russia. It reminded me of Anne Frank's diaries and of Corrie ten Booms book "The Hiding Place". All three of these women chose to look at the bright side and not hold grudges or hate those who had imprisoned them. Nonna tells delightful stories of her family and her grandmother. She also writes of the terrible things she witnessed. There were parts of the story where I cried and yet she showed her innocence at times and I just laughed. Her is an example of an event that made me crack up. In this excerpt we find Nonna along with her mother and all of her aunts, uncles, and cousins visiting their grandmother. She wakes up in the morning and sees her youngest cousin wandering around. To make sure he doesn't get hurt or into trouble she follows him around the house. She discovers that every room has a religious icon. She and her cousin, Aljoscha wander into the pantry where they discover a pitcher of heavy breakfast cream and a jar of raspberry preserves, her favorite. Her cousin starts yelling for some so she quickly dips her finger in the preserves and the cream and places it in his mouth. She then takes a taste for herself. Here is the excerpt that followed from page 66.
"Just as we were enjoying 'our breakfast,' I looked up, and there in the corner--yes, in the pantry--was an icon. He was looking straight at me, as though He was saying, 'I saw that!' I knew that I had committed one of the 'worst' sins--which was to get into something without someones permission. I had to think quickly. There, near the bottom of the shelf, was a stool. Dipping my finger back into the preserves and into the cream, I stood on the stool; and, barely reaching the icon, I smeared Jesus' lips with it. Now that He had some, surely He would 'forgive me'."
The only problems I had with this book were the editor's comments to clarify things which came in the middle of the page. I felt they should have been placed at the bottom of the book and the lack of pictures. We are told throughout the book that there were pictures she brought back with her. There are two shown on the back of the book and that is it. Since this was an ARC maybe they put some in the finished book. No matter, I would recommend this book to anyone interested in this period in history.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Every Breath You Take by Ann Rule

Title: Every Breath You Take
Author: Ann Rule
Publisher: The Free Press, 20021
Pages: 446
Source: My shelves

Every Breath You Take is the story of the life and death of Sheila Bellush and the road to bring those responsible for her murder to justice. Sheila had a tumultuous marriage to Allen Blackthorne. Violent and controlling, she finally found the courage to leave him. After her divorce to him he proceeded to create trouble for her and their two daughters Stevie and Daryl. Long after Sheila had married Jamie Bellush and they had quadruplets, Allen did his best to disrupt their lives. He used her neighbors and his children to create havoc. After his oldest daughter refused to visit him any longer he turned up the heat with his youngest daughter. He encouraged her to accuse her mother of child abuse. After one particular event it was decided they had to get away from Allen and do it secretly.
Jamie and Sheila moved to Sarasota, Florida after Jamie’s boss transferred him to Sarasota. Sheila’s youngest daughter was still in Texas. After flying back to get her and take care of legal issues, Sheila brought Daryl back and she was put in a youth camp. Problems prevented them from taking her home with them. Daryl through manipulation managed to give her father enough information for him to find them. This set in motion that wheels that led up to Sheila’s death. On November 7, 1997 while at home with her four youngest children Sheila was brutally attacked and killed.
Ann Rule did an excellent job of taking the reader through the troubles that plagued Sheila until her death. She then takes you down the heart wrenching path of the day Stevie finds her mother’s body and the all of the law enforcement officers that eventually brought the people responsible for her death to justice. This is a 5 out of 5. I read the book in 4 ½ hours.