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

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Free to Be Ruth Bader Ginsburg: The Story of Women and Law by Teri Kanefield

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

Ruth Bader Ginsberg was born into a Jewish family where she learned many of the same things the males learned. She was very smart, yet kept that part somewhat hidden. She won scholarships to send her to college. She was known to her family as Kiki, a nickname her older sister had given her. Her older sister was only six or seven when she died. Kiki lost her mother the day before her high school graduations.

This book is not just about Ruth Ginsberg’s journey. The history of women before her who helped pave the way is also told. It’s amazing how little I know, and how much I learned about women’s rights in the 1600 – early 1900s. I am glad I was born when I was. Ruth not only faced the issue of her gender and what it came to was: Ruth not only faced the issue of her gender when it came to getting a job at a law firm, but was banned because she was a mother and a Jew. Reading this book shows that she didn’t let much stand in her way of what she wanted. You don’t have to be her fan to learn so much about her and to enjoy the book. I learned so much about this woman and what she did for equality for everyone.  It was definitely well research, which is a trademark of this author. You can pick up any of her books and know that she has spent hours making sure everything is accurate. This is another reason to read this book. Yes, I would say that I would recommend this book to my readers. It is quite clearly one of the best written books I have read this year.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Borrowed Names by Jeannine Atkins

Genre: Middle Grade, Young Adult Biography
Source: I purchased a copy. The opinions expressed here are my own.

From Goodreads:
As a child, Laura Ingalls Wilder traveled across the prairie in a covered wagon. Her daughter, Rose, thought those stories might make a good book, and the two created the beloved Little House series.

Sara Breedlove, the daughter of former slaves, wanted everything to be different for her own daughter, A'Lelia. Together they built a million-dollar beauty empire for women of color. Marie Curie became the first person in history to win two Nobel prizes in science. Inspired by her mother, Irène too became a scientist and Nobel prize winner.

Borrowed Names is the story of these extraordinary mothers and daughters. 
From Goodreads:

My Thoughts:

Borrowed Names is a very unique book in many ways. First it is written in verse. I loved that. Many of my students have learned that they like books written in verse. There are three biographies  of three women and their children. The first is of Laura Ingalls Wilder and her daughter. The second is Madam C.J. Walker and her daughter A’Lelia Walker. Finally we learn about Marie Curie and her daughter Irene Joliet-Curie.  Each of these biographies shoes how their relationships with their daughters were formed and developed over time. I found in all three, there was usually one particular thing that drew them together. They inspired each other in so many ways.  I loved learning so much about all of them and will definitely recommend this book to my students.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Two Wonderful Books by E.E. Smith

Boardinghouse Stew by E.E. Smith

Genre: Adult, Memoir
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

I love memoirs. For me they are a peek into the way of life during a time period in which I did not live. E.E. Smith has taken her memories and fictionalized them by changing the names of those involved. What comes out is a look at life, hers in particular, sprinkled with lots of humor. During World War II many women worked in the munitions factories. Food was rationed and life was difficult. Eileen, an eleven year old didn’t want to work in the fields so she lied about her age, saying she was thirteen,  in hopes of being hired as a cook and maid in a boarding house. This would be a daunting job for an adult, but because of Eileen’s age the book is fun to read. This is not just a book about Eileen. This book is about all of the people who live at the boarding house and how they interact with each other. For me personally, a book that can touch my memories and emotions is a great book. Having said that, I will have to admit this was a great book.  I found myself so irritated that the gardener, like so many other Japanese was placed in an internment camp. The reactions toward him were appalling to me.  I loved how caring the doctor was.  Mrs. Mumsford is a personality I could not nail down. I found her quirky habit of setting a place at the table for her deceased husband, and talking to his picture quite humorous, but at the same time it was sad. It was a reminder for me that she was having trouble moving on.  For anyone familiar with stories of that time you will recognize several things that indicate what the time period was like. There were ration books, which made feeding so many very difficult. It also meant when a recipe went really wrong, you ate it anyway. We see people creating victory gardens which helped provide food when there was such a shortage. I couldn’t imagine the blackout curtains and the air raid drills.  Eileen had to grow up so fast. Growing up on a farm in the sixties I could relate to the amount of work that was required of me compared to my cousins who lived in town. I would not trade that for anything.

This was originally written as a play. I believe I would have enjoyed it no matter how it was written. The author took things a step further by including pictures that really help with the visualization of that time period.  The title was very fitting for the book. The mixture of different people, their beliefs, jobs, habits and political ideas all mixed together the same way a cook would mix different ingredients to form a stew. Each character added their own “flavor” to the book. What came from this was a great dish worth reading.

Times Like These
Genre: Memoir
Source: I purchased a copy

The year was 1943, midway through World War II, when no oe kew what would happen next.  Two years later, the times are even less predictable for the young heroine of Times Like These, on her way to a new home and an uncertain future with her volatile parents.
The war rages on in the Pacific, amid heavy casualties. Harry Truman is now president and secretly cosidering the use of a horrific new weapon to foce Japan to surrender. What would happen next?

My Thoughts:
Like her characters in Boarding House Stew, the characters don't disappoint. You can feel the pain Evelyn goes through with a father who is an alcoholic. One she loves so much she is willing to lie for him when he is drunk so often. However, as a child she can do only so much. When her father's drinking causes a train crash and her mom runs off with another man, Evelyn is sent to another state to live with another family. One thing is for sure, you realize real fast that Evelyn is a survivor. That doesn't mean she always makes the right decisions. This book will hopefully be followed by a third book very soon.  This is an author you really need to look out for

Thursday, November 26, 2015

The Plain Choice by Sherry Gore

The Plain Choice
Genre: Adult, Autobiography
Source: I received a copy from Netgalleyto facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

Not all Amish or Mennonite people grew up as a plain person. There are people like Sherry Gore who were looking for meaning to life and stumbled upon the lifestyle. Sherry grew up in California and Florida. When her parents split she chose to live with her father in California. She grew up in an affluent area, yet she was lonely inside. She had been exposed to the love of Jesus through several family members. Because of several bad choices in her life, Sherry was sent from her father's house to her mother's in Florida. Here she lived as a homeless person for six months before eventually getting married, having two children, and moving back to California. Sherry was still looking for something but didn't know what when she and her first husband divorced.  After being a single parent raising her daughter's the best she could, she met and married her second husband. Toby loved her and her girls. He gave Sherry the only son she had. This marriage did not last once Sherry found what she was looking for, life lived the way the Bible speaks. A Plain Life.  However, her divorce did not mean the end of her relationship to her husband. Sherry leans on her faith as she learns about her oldest daughter's life threatening diseases. I will interject here and say that I live about a mile and a half from Sherry's house. Because I shop in the Pinecraft area, I became familiar with her and her cookbooks. I followed along and prayed for her daughter Jacinda, until her passing this last spring.  Although it is not in the book, she remained friends with her ex-husband Toby, whom she lost last month. If nothing else,  this book shows that God can take someone who is so messed up and use them for good. Through her book she shows that God doesn't judge who you are or were as a condition of his acceptance of you. There are many who will say she is not truly Amish or Mennonite. To this I say, unless you live in the area and see and understand that there are many different types of Amish/Mennonite, just like there are many different types of Baptists, you should not judge. Besides, God won't separate us when we get to heaven so why should we worry about it here on earth? This story is her journey to become a "plain" woman, not about what the Amish are all about

Check out Sherry's other books:
Simply Delicious Amish Cooking: Recipes and Stories from the Amish of Sarasota, Florida
Me, Myself, and Pie
Taste of Pinecreaft: Glimpses of Sarasota, Florida's Aish Culture and Kitchens
Made with Love (Pinecraft Pie Shop #1) with Tricia Goyer
Planted with Hope (Pinecreaft Pie Shop #2) with Tricia Goyer  (Coming March 2016)

Find her on:    Facebook                        Twitter

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.


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Two Great Fire Fighting Reads

Blood Sweat Tears and Prayers by Gary Ludwig

Genre: Biography
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

This is a must read for anyone who is thinking about going into the service of an EMT/Paramedic or firefighter.  As I read this book I was reminded of one of my best friends and former co-workers at school.  Before becoming a tech person in our school district, he had retired from the Chicago Fire Department. My husband had been a firefighter way before we married.  When these two would get together they would start talking about "the good old days of fire fighting". I noticed a major difference in their stories. When it was just me with them I got a watered down version of the incident. When the two of them got together and I sat and listened they talked about things like waiting for the police to show up before they were allowed in because the site had to be secured.  They would talk in gruesome detail about the things they had seen and the smelled.  These were things they could never forget that changed them in some way.  If you talk to most fire fighters you get the basic details from them and nothing more.

Reading this book was like sitting down with my husband and Ron.  Chief Ludwig laid everything out bare. You heard the good, the bad, and the ugly.  You heard of the triumphs and the rewards of a profession that most people didn't think about until after 9/11.  I have never ever wanted to be a fire fighter. I have a terrible fear of fire that goes back to several incidents on our farm. One was growing up and trying to put out a grass fire that occurred when wind blew trash out and caught a field on fire. I remember using wet gunny sacks to beat back the flames until the fire department finally got out to our farm.  I remember the pain of trying to peel off nylon socks that had gotten so hot they had started to melt to my legs.  The second incident occurred while we were at church. My uncle actually interrupted the Wednesday service to tell us our farm was on fire.  An arsonist had set the barn on fire that caught several other buildings on fire.  I remember sitting on the roof of the house all night watching, afraid the fire would spread.  I remember the kind words of the firemen telling us it would be okay and that they would come back the next day to check for hot spots.

As Chief Ludwig demonstrated in his book, firefighting goes way beyond putting out a fire or rescuing someone.  It takes your complete mind, body and soul and leaves its on scars and imprints upon it.  If can be a very heart wrenching job and at the same time a very fulfilling job.  Read this book so that you can have a greater appreciation for those men and women who put their lives on the line daily.  I definitely recommend this book.

Heroes and Giants by Douglas B. Ashby

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

This book gives us another look at the profession of a fire fighter.  We see once again the toll it takes on the physical, mental and spiritual well being of that person.  This book also gave us a look at the type of person best suited for this job as well as the type of person best suited to be their spouse.  The pressure and sights forced upon these men and women is tremendous.  They often withdraw into themselves.  A spouse needs to know that there will be times when they just want quite solitude to process what they have had to deal with that day.  There will be times when they need to just sit and cry or talk.  This is not a job for every one.  These people must be dedicated.

Their experiences also help shape the way that they deal with their family. They are often overly protective.  This is because sometimes the things they see are so terrible that they want to hug their family and thank God for what they have at home.  They have to learn how to balance their work and their home life and not let one intrude upon the other.  Once again I would recommend this to anyone who is considering going into this field. I would also recommend this to those who are just curious about what goes on in the life of a fire fighter.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Close Encounters With My Lord by Nancy Lee Hurley

Genre:  Adult, Biography

Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinons expressed here are my own.

From Goodreads:

When encountering a whirlwind of emotions, it is often difficult to know just what to do. When facing difficult situations, whom do you turn to? And in times of extreme happiness, do you first thank the one who is responsible for that joy? Nancy Hurley learned at a young age that turning to God in every circumstance is the only way to make it through the tough times. When faced with the threat of a sexual predator, Nancy Hurley turned to God. When she was repeatedly put down and belittled by family members, Nancy turned to God. When she married her husband, Ron, and gave birth to her two sons, Nancy turned to God. Nancy's conversations with her Lord have been a constant in her life from the time she had to have her tonsils removed. When she was frightened, lost, sad, and overjoyed, Nancy knew the Lord would see her safely through. You will find comfort in the heartfelt prayers Nancy lifts up to God in times of need and times of joy and will be inspired by the intimate relationship Nancy shares with the one who has been her strength through thick and thin in Close Encounters with My Lord.

My Thoughts:

This is an excellent book.  We are given a look at the life of this Godly woman. Her story shows how God worked through her life. While in labor awaiting the birth of her first child the doctor had plans to go to the opera. She was praying for the labor to be over. As the doctor prepared to leave another of his patients was brought in farther along. Knowing the doctor wasn't leaving she relaxed allowing her labor to progress.  She constantly called out to God for what a lot of people would consider piddly things.  However, no prayer is too small for God. A look at her life shows that it is important that we have daily conversations with God, not only when we need him, but when we don't need him.  This book is not a miracle book like you often find that paints God as someone who answers all of your prayers if you are considered godly. He always answers prayers but not always the way we want. This is demonstrated when she talks about placing her father in a home. She didn't wait for God to handle it, she stepped in the way. Once things fell apart and she let go and let God handle it, he worked things out.  That isn't to say things always went smoothly.  I liked this book because my mother lives with us and I was able to draw parallels between some of the things she has gone through and what we are going through.  I have seen how things have not worked out because I keep trying to "help" God do things.  I would highly recommend this book to everyone.
I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

Monday, March 30, 2015

The Pacesetter by Jerry M. Fisher

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

I requested this book when I found out about it for several reasons. The first is that I've always had a love of racing, thanks to my father. I was born and raised most of my young life in Indiana. I've been on the track at the Indianapolis Speedway. It was one of the most terrifying and exhilarating times of my life. According to my mom, my dad worked the pits in Indianapolis and Kokomo. Another reason I wanted to read the book was because I had just learned that I had a distant cousin, Harry Knight ,who was part of the early racing in Indianapolis, racing in the first two Indy 500 races. He sadly lost his life in 1913 during a race in Ohio. These were the initial reasons I wanted to read the book. However there were so many more reasons to read this wonderful book.

I learned so much about the early years of the Indy 500 and the speedway just from reading this book.  Carl G. Fisher was a name I had never heard associated with it.  I am so glad I read the book.  He started out as a very poor boy.  He was considered stupid by many. He quit school at the age of six.  The problem wasn't that he was stupid, it was that he couldn't see.  This is something that was discovered later in his life. Not only did he create the Indy 500, but he was responsible for two major highways. The Transcontinental highway that crossed the United States East and West and the Dixie Highway went from Indianapolis to Miami.  He began to build up Miami.  Fisher Island is actually named after him. The more I read his book the more I became convinced that although he made a lot of money, it seemed to be more about the adventure, getting somewhere with his ideas.

Although all of these adventures were thrilling to read about,  nothing touched me like the story of an accident that caused him to fight for civil rights. One of his black workers fell into a vat of boiling tar. Carl himself drove the man in his personal car to the hospital.  He was told that they didn't treat "his kind" at that hospital. As he drove his worker to the other hospital, the worker died.  This was the fuel needed to make him work hard for equal rights.    This man made a lot of contributions to our country yet we know very little about him.  I think it is time we get the word out.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

I'm a Different Type of Apple by Kevin D. Elliott, Sr.

Genre: Young Adult, Adult Memoir
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

It is my belief that every teen should read this book. This memoir lays it on the line. Kevin Elliott, Sr. was headed down the same path his father had walked. The major difference is he made a choice to walk a different path. He constantly did an attitude check and then adjusted his attitude and thought process. The process was like stopping and analyzing what wasn't working and making a conscious decision to change it. He makes it clear that negative thinking can only take you deeper down the wrong path. This is a definite must read book.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Determined: The Story of Holocaust Survivor Avraham Perlmutter

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

Avraham (Av) Perlmutter is an amazing man. As a young man his mother put him and his sister on a train, part of the Kindertransport, and sent them to the Netherlands.  It was the last time he would ever see his mother.  He and his sister were shipped from one refuge camp to another. Eventually they would be separated.  What is so amazing about this man is his attitude.  He was determined to survive like so many other Jews.  He lived life to the fullest. This book is his story of survival, perseverance, ad hope.  Multiple times Av had run into Germans. Most of them were with the Nazis. Many were caught up in something they wanted no part of, but had no choice in. As Av moved from one safe house to another he found may Christians who were willing to put their own lives on the line for the welfare of the Jews.  In this book he speaks highly of those people. He tells of how they hid him.  I was amazed at how much he thirsted for knowledge.  In one instance he asked the man hiding him to get him textbooks where he taught himself English, French and Spanish.  After being liberated he wanted to do more. He fought in the war that created the State of Israel. He was reunited with his sister who had survived a death march.  He wanted to further his education so he moved to the United States. He was not satisfied with just one degree.  He holds multiple degrees as do his children.  This man has done more for mankind.  I found it interesting that one of his goals was for he and some of his friends to meet Albert Einstein.  He set out to reach that goal and actually accomplished it.

Want an inspiring book to read?  This is definitely the book you must read. It is quick, only taking me two hours to complete. This is not only a great book for adults and for the classroom shelf, it makes a great resource for students.  This one I highly recommend.

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.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

In the Cleft:Joy Comes in the Mourning by Dana Goodman

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

Dana Goodman is definitely a courageous woman.  I say this ot because she has had to handle the death of three family members  such a short time, but because of how she handled it. God does't promise hid children a life of eas. He promises to walk with us continually through these dark valleys. This raw look at Dana and her grief was not sugar coated.  It was not full of only the great things God helped her through.  This was full of reality. Her true thoughts and feelings.  Feelings that God was a puny God who could not help her.  Anyone who has lost someone to a slow diseas has the feelings. Not everyone will admit it.  That doesn't mean as Christians that we don't have them. It means when those feelings hit us, we rely on God to walk with us, and if need be to carry us for awhile. This book was hard to read because at this moment I have a friend who is walking this same path.  Her daughter has been sick for such a long time and now her brain cancer is ravishing her body.  It is painful to watch my friend go through this.  Like Dana, she is such an inspiration as has her daughter been to us.  She has leaned on God and let us know how tough it is.  She is not walking this valley alone but with Jesus at her side.  This is a book I think everyone should read whether they are or have gone through anything like this.  I will definitely recommend this to family and friends. I am sharing this with my other who teaches a Grief Share class at church and has since shortly after losing my father and my sister.  You can find other grief resources on Dana's site.

Where you  can find Dana: 

Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Girl from the Tar Paper School by Teri Kanefield

Genre: All Ages, Biography
Source: I received a copy for my classroom from the author

I received a copy from the author for my classroom.  I am always looking for quality books for my middle school classroom.  This is a book I am proud to put on my shelves. This is the story of Barbara Rose Johns.  She was a courage, young black girl, growing up in segregated America.  She chose to make a difference.  She didn't listen when people said no, or you can't do anything.  So why had I not heard of her before?  Barbara chose not to stay in the limelight once she set things in motion. There is so much I don't know about the Civil Rights Movement.  As a teacher I am well aware that back in the 1950's black and white schools were not equal.  They didn't receive the same quality buildings, books or other necessities.  Growing up white in a family that never mentioned skin color, I was oblivious to the issues of racism.  I grew up in the country, but the town where we shopped was very prejudiced.  I remember the fountains on the sidewalk and being pulled away because of signs on them my mother refused to let me read. Her response was, you don't need a drink right now, we are going to get a treat and have a soda.  That was something I got once or twice a year when on vacation. I didn't understand what racism was until my sister went away to college and her dorms were caught in the middle of a race riot.  It wasn't taught in my school.  I'd never gone to school with a black kid until I moved to Florida in my sophomore year.  I didn't understand what the big deal was that my best friend was black.  I was lucky in many ways.  My mind was not poisoned.
Barbara Johns saw the inequality because her school, unlike the white school were just wooden structures covered with heavy paper and coated with tar. They were leaky and very cold. When Barbara decided to make the issue known, she didn't get the results she thought she would. She managed to call an assembly where she dismissed the adults because she didn't want them to get in trouble.  When she wrote to the NAACP for help they refused to help them get a new school built.  Instead they wanted total integration.  This was not what she had started out trying to accomplish. I became so enraged with the attitudes of the whites within the pages of this book.  I guess if you never grew up hating a race of people it is often hard to believe that others could be so ignorant.  I am sure there are many that would read this review and be angered at me.  But, that is okay. I am proud to share and promote this book to my students.  Barbara's strike took place before we ever heard of Martin Luther King.  It is important that ALL students learn that there were other people out there just as important as MLK.  Most importantly it is very important that they learn that no matter how young they are, they can make a difference in the world.  They need to learn they can't do it by sitting by watching and keeping their mouth closed.  This is the second book I have read by this author and I love her work.  I am proud to promote her work.  Look for more reviews of her books by me.

Monday, December 22, 2014

She is Mine: A War Orphan's Incredible Journey of Survival - Stefanie Fast

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

This is such a heartwrenching story, and yet it is so full of hope.  No one knows the path many in this world walk or have walked. Very few could walk and survive the path Stefanie Fast walked. I am not real familiar with the Korean War since it was many, many years before my time. However, I remember hearing similar stories after the Vietnam War. An American soldier fathers a child with a Korean mother. It is bad enough the mother is left pregnant and unwed, but the baby is mixed which is an absolute taboo.  When she is four years old the family has had enough.  Her mother takes her to the train station and abandons her.  She spends years looking for her mother.  The abuse and atrocities she goes through make it a miracle she survived.  God looked down on her and had great plans for her.  She did survive.  This is one of those books you will start and continue to read until you have finished it.  You will need your tissues as this will break your heart and the warm it.  It made me hurt for every child today who goes through hardships.  It makes me appreciate my years growing up and the love I had.  I highly recommend this book.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Through a Daughter's Eyes: The Samuel "Dock" Pollard Story by Sharran Pollard

Genre: Adult, Memoir
Source: I purchased a copy

I work with the author. I realize I really never knew her.  I've worked with her for six and a half years.  During those years, until her father passed away, I knew very little about her dad.  I knew he was a pastor and that she adored him.  I guess you could say she worshipped the ground he walked on.  I had no idea he was such an awesome businessman. It explains a lot about the author.  After reading the book you can definitely say she is her fathers daughter.  Sharran gives us an open and honest look at her father and what it was like growing up in his household.  I don't think she could sing his praises enough.  From her book he was a very fair person, even when it came to discipline.  I loved her story of missing curfew by two minutes and losing her car for a month. He didn't give in.  Her mother stood behind her husband.  Sharran remembers the lessons learned.  I have to say that knowing only one side of her, the teacher, I can now see her father's influence in her classroom management.

Her father showed how strong his faith was as he leaned on God through multiple medical conditions.  He showed grace to those who sought to oust him from the very church he had started.  He is the standard by which we want others to judge Christians.  We want to be that person who wears their Christian faith on their sleeve for all to see.  We want to be that person that will one day be able to stand before God and hear him say, "Well done my good and faithful servant."  I have no doubt that these were the first words Samuel "Dock" Pollard heard as he entered through those heavenly gates.

About the Author
Sharran Pollard always enjoyed reading and writing as a child. She became an educator in the manatee County School System. She went on to forward her education in Ed. Leadership from the University of Central florida in Orlando, Florida.
Through a Daughter's Eyes is her first memoir that tells the story of her father's hardships throughout his lifetime and how he overcame these struggles to become a prominent successful baptist pastor of Mt. Raymond full gospel baptist Church, one of the largest African American churches in Southwest Florida. this story tells how his vision became his reality. When Sharran is not in somebody's mall shopping, she's most likely mentoring children or spendng family time with her mother Versia, her "special" friend Des, and their spoiled dogs. Sa'Jia and Diego. Sharran currenly resides in Palmetto, FL

Monday, October 27, 2014

Suitcase Filled With Nails: Lessons Learned From Teaching Art in Kuwait by Yvonne Wakefield

Genre:  Adult, Memoir
Source: I received a copy to help facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

From the back cover:
Artist and arts educator Yvonne Wakefield leaves a secure career and home life in the Pacific Northwest, so opposite to the climate and landscape she finds when she moves to the little desert state of Kuwait. For six years she will teach art there, to university aged Muslim women, and negotiate tribal and misogynistic land mines set by detractors who are threatened by anyone, especially a spirited American woman, who encourages freedom of expression. More than a good read, Suitcase Filled with Nails is filled with insights on working, living, and coping in a culture that transcends prevalent Middle East stereotypes.

My Thoughts:

I’m surprised by all that I read, and then to realize that after all she went through she continued to go back year after year. I feel I got a better look into life in Kuwait, even if it was told just from her side of it.  I believe there is more than one perspective to any story, and this is hers told from her experiences.One thing I admire is that no matter what happened she continued to fight for those she taught.  I know, even though I am an educator, I would not have the guts to go where she went and do what she do.  I believe that not only did she enrich their lives but they enriched hers.

I received a copy to help facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.