Showing posts with label Biography. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Biography. Show all posts

Saturday, June 15, 2024

Student Saturday: Guts by Raina Telgemeier

Genre: Middle Grade, Biography, Graphic Novel
Student Reviewer: Zoey L.

The book I read this month was called Guts. This book is about a young girl named Raina. She always did great in school and never had a problem with anything. Until, one night she wakes up with a terrible stomachache. Later, she returns to school with normal school days, drama, and bullying with the other stuff too. Although everything is back to normal, Raina is not. She can't take her mind off her stomach bug. She just keeps thinking about it. Now it is starting to get into the way of everything. Will Raina be able to fix this problem? Overall, I like this book. I have read similar books by this author. They are always fun to read. I relate to this book because I get stomach aches too. I would recommend this book to my little brother because he likes comics. I give this book a 10/10 and I would definitely read it again. 

Saturday, April 27, 2024

Student Saturday: “Captured by Alvin Townley


Genre:  Young Adult, Biography

Student Reviewer:  Camden P.  

The book, “Captured”, by Alvin Townley, is a true story about the main character named Jeremiah Denton, who tells about his experience during the Vietnam War. The story takes place in a prison in North Vietnam. I can connect this book to other true stories I have heard from my friends and family members about peoples’ experiences during the war. I would recommend this book to my dad, or anyone who likes learning about wars and history, since he watches movies based on true stories from soldiers in the war. I enjoyed reading this book and it exceeded my expectations greatly.

Tuesday, September 5, 2023

When Stars are Scattered by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed


Genre:  Middle Grade, Biography

Source:  I purchased a copy. The opinions expressed here are my own.


This is the second graphic novel I have read that has greatly touched me. Omar and his brother Hassan are victims of the civil war in their country of Somalia. Omar witnesses his father's death. He runs to tell his mother. She thrusts Hassan into his arms and tells him to run. He joins thousands of others running from soldiers. He and his brother end up in a refuge camp in Kenya. Fatuma is their legal guardian, since they have no adults.  This story tells of his life in the refugee camp. The struggles of raising a younger brother who can't speak and has medical issues. It tells of his dream of going to school and making a better life. It tells of the dreams of everyone in the camp, dreaming of leaving the camps one day.  This is not an easy book to read. One of my students told me I HAD to read it. Before I could check it in and take it home another kids said, "I want to read it." So, I did what every good teacher would do, who wants to make readers of their students, I checked it out to him. I purchased my own copy to read this weekend. I am glad I did. We who live here in the land of the free have no right to complain when we read books like this. Our lives are so easy compared to the many refugees in camps all over the world.  This is a definite must read.

Friday, March 24, 2023

Alias Anna by Susan Hood

Gene:  Middle Grade, Biography
Source: I own a copy

I knew I couldn’t get through Spring Break without reading at least one Holocaust book. I had five selected. This is the one I got to. We learn that this book came about when Zhanna’s granddaughter had to write about her grandparent’s history and any major thing that had happened in their life. The story is co-written by her son Greg Dawson, whose daughter sent the letter.

Zhanna Arshanskaya was a child when she, her sister, mother and father and grandparents were sent on a death march. Her father was a candymaker and played violin. He helped his daughters Zhanna and Frina develop a love of music, playing the family’s piano. They were sent to a music conservatory until Jews were no longer welcome.  Their father offers a bribe to one of the guards while on the march to look away so his daughter Zhanna can step out of the line. A while later she was joined by her sister. They changed their names to better blend in. Zhanna became Anna and Frina became Marina.  The help from a Christian family, an orphanage and believe it or not the Nazis themselves helped them to survive. This is a story that must be read and recommended to students everywhere. I strongly recommend it.

Make sure you check out all of the resources at the end of the story. There are websites, books, etc to help you learn more.

Monday, February 6, 2023

47 Days Annette Oppenlander


Genre: Middle School, Young Adult, Biography
Source: I purchased a copy.

 Near the end of World War II, Hitler knew he was losing. This did not stop him from continuing the fight. When man power was dwindling, he reached out and drafted the Hitler Youth. These were young school boys. Helmet and Günter were best friends. They receive their draft notice in school and are required to report within one week to Marburg. They were told there would be no transportation and they would need to find their own way there. Günter goes to find Helmut. He tells him he doesn't plan to go. Helmut agrees. If they are caught they will be shot on the spot as traitors. Günter's father went to ward almost five years earlier and his brother left last year. This will leave his mother and younger brother all alone. Günter and Helmut start walking, slowly, deciding they will hide out in hopes the war will end before they actually get there.

     This story is the true story lived by the author's grandfather Günter and his best friend Helmut. It is a quick read, yet a hold-your-breath type of read. I worried the entire time I was reading about what they were going through.  I hear our youth today complain about such simple things when kids like Günter and Helmut had to worry about war, being killed, starving, freezing to death. It made me think about what was going on in Ukraine right now and how those children are living something similar. This should be in every middle school classroom. This is a definite must read

Monday, July 18, 2022

Andrew Jackson by Terri Kanefield


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

Teri Kanefield does an excellent job of giving us a well rounded view of Andrew Jackson. As a teacher I know that a lot of what is taught in our history classes is a glorified view of men and their actions. We don’t always get the whole picture. We see him in one case going against the supreme court because he thought that his opinion and his decisions as the president were worth more than the judgement of the supreme court. He managed to create an environment in Georgia whereby their actions eventually drove the Cherokee people out of Georgia. He is presented as a passionate family man. He definitely had trust issues when it came to government. However, the author provided a lot of information to entice you to do further research. This is a book that should be in every school library.

Saturday, January 15, 2022

Witness: Lessons from Elie Wiesel’s Classroom by Ariel Berger

Genre: Adult, Biography
Source: I purchased a copy

The conversation started like this, “I was reading the most wonderful book last night and I finished it in class today. I will let you borrow it if you like.”  Any time someone starts a conversation like this I know it will be a book I must read.  This statement was made by my co-worker. Together we teach a holocaust unit on different grade levels. We have both taught “Night”. Had it not been for her I never would have known about this book. 

 The author, Ariel Burger was a student and friend of Elie Wiesel. The book is written from notes, conversations and lessons he had learned over the years from this man. This book is a look at life, faith, doubt and so much more as seen through Elie’s eyes and through the lens of the lessons learn through the holocaust. In this book we see how the past affects and shapes the future.  It makes us question our beliefs no matter what our religious beliefs. It is through questioning that I believe we learn more about ourselves and about our beliefs. This book made me do exactly what I tell my students I want them to do. It made me think about the past and make connections to the present and to the future. It made me question my religious beliefs. So many times I had students tell me they don’t know what they believe. I never understood that until I read this book. I don’t think they were saying they didn’t know, so much as they didn’t really understand their beliefs.  One of the questions asked in the book was whether faith and doubt could co-exist. I thought about Thomas in the Bible. He was called doubting Thomas because of his doubt, yet his faith was strong.  No matter what your religious beliefs I believe this is an excellent book to read and I definitely recommend it, especially for  those who have read Elie Wiesel’s books.

Saturday, July 3, 2021

Hey, Kiddo by Jarret J. Krosoczka

Genre: Young Adult, Graphic, Biography

Source: I purchased a copy


This was a tough book to read as I  lost my niece to heroin a year ago. She left behind four kids. This is a book I want my nephews to read and later their sisters. My sister did her best to raise the kids  but had her own issues.  They were eventually put in foster care until other arrangements could be made. I think they will be able to identify quite a bit with the author and I believe it may actually show them that no matter what happens in your past, you can always move ahead in life. This is a book I will definitely recommend to my students.  As a teacher I hear stories from my students like this all the time. I am so happy the author decided to share his story and how his past shaped his present. This is such an important message.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

The Cat with the Yellow Star: Coming of Age in Terezin by Susan Goldman Rubin

Genre: Children, Biography, Holocaust
Source: I own a copy

When Ela Stein was a young child she and many other family members were shipped to Terazin. This was a Czech ghetto.  Shortly before they were shipped to Terazin her father was taken away for expressing his opinion about Hitler. That was the last that Ela saw of her father. In the ghetto her mother made a hard choice to send Ela and her sister to a barrack that was specifically for girls around her age. The living conditions were somewhat better and they received a little more food. The girls in room 28 formed a tight group. Soon someone decided they were going to present an opera. They practiced and practiced.  At one point the Nazis used their production for propaganda.  This book is a book that shows us what friendship and music can do to help people survive. It was a ray of hope in their lives.   This is a short book to read, but filled with so much information and lots of pictures to help understand.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Death March Escape: The Remarkable Story of a Man Who Twice Escaped the Nazi Holocaust by Jack J. Hersch

Genre: Nonfiction, Biography, Memoir
Source: I received an advanced copy from Netgalley. The opinions expressed here are my own.

I have never been able to read a book about Holocaust survivors without getting emotional. As an eighth grade English teacher we have a unit that touches on the Holocaust. When I taught ninth grade English we read Night and other stories about the Holocaust. I have over the years met only one survivor. The only part of her story that stuck with me was the death march she was taken on. To me this is more terrifying than the camps. You may wonder why. In this case the author’s father had the realization that they would soon be freed by the allies. How many of them lost all hope when they were removed from the camp and taken on these long death marches?
The author’s father was like many survivors who talked about their imprisonment, treatment and survival while leaving out so much. I have always wondered why they did this. Were they trying to spare their family the pain that they still felt?
After learning from a relative that a picture of his father at a  death camp was up on a website, Jack sets off on a journey to fill in the blanks of his father’s life.  He eventually walked the same path his father took. He wanted to understand his father’s experiences. It is my opinion that you can walk the path your parent’s took and learn so much more than you  originally knew. I also believe that unless you were actually there that there is no way you can completely understand the horrors.  This is a non-fiction story that I highly recommend. We need more voices to tell these stories as the survivors are all beginning to die off. Who will be left to speak for all those who lost their lives during these horrible year?

Monday, June 5, 2017

Adunni Dares to Dream by Taiwo I Ajao

Genre: Children, Historical Fiction
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

Write Now Literary is pleased to announce Adunni Dares to Dream by Taiwo I Ajao, Virtual Book Tour, June 5-30, 2017.

My Review:
This was a wonderful book, full of hope and faith. This is the true story of a young girl who with the help of her family and friends realized her dream of going to school.  Throughout the book, we see how God worked in her life to bring her dream to reality.  We also see how God worked in the life of a young man who loved her for so many years. Both of them realize their dreams. This is a book I would willingly put on the shelves of my middle-grade classes.  It is a simple biography, historical fiction, yet has a message every child should hear. If you really want something, then you need to reach for the stars and let nothing stand in your way.

Author/Illustrator Bio
The Dr. Ajaos are a husband-wife, doctor-nurse team who have a joint passion for health literacy, preventative healthcare, and education for at-risk groups in the Global setting. Mrs. Taiwo I Ajao, the Author, is a Registered Nurse with a Master’s in Public Health in Maternal and Child Health, while Dr. ‘Wale Ajao, the Illustrator, is an internationally-trained medical doctor with a Master's of Arts in Communications & Producing for Film and Video. Together, The DrAjaos intend to address health literacy via it’s most fundamental forms: using the arts of writing, entertainment, and communication to educate children and their parents. Adunni Dares to Dream is the beginning of a beautiful merger of not just a celebration of educational achievement, but also of Faith, Hope, Love and Miracles.
About The Book
Adunni Dares to Dream is the true tale of a poor African girl who just wanted to go to school. Although she was a part of a very hardworking family, Adunni just could not have the finer things in life, like school, books, & literacy. In her culture, girls were just expected to look pretty, get married and have children. But Adunni wished for something more.
As Adunni dares to dream , she inspires many others to dream too, including a handsome young man who couldn't stop dreaming about her! So Adunni has choices to make. Does she give in to her society's expectations? Does she chose the status quo? What are Adunni's dreams and where do her dreams take her?
Whenever Adunni brought up the idea of school, somehow Mama found a way to end it. Despite the fact that she was illiterate, Mama was sharp, hardworking and very resourceful with money. Mama had married young, as was common in the culture, and she started to bear children as a teenager. It was unfortunate, however, that she experienced the loss of many of those children during childbirth. Only Adunni and her sister had survived, and Adunni wondered often about what she could have done to save those who hadn't made it. Adunni was tearful as she remembered how her mother had nearly died last year during childbirth. Was every girl expected to get married and have children, even if it killed her? Adunni didn’t want to be like other girls: she wanted to be great! Adunni believed that to be great, she must be smart and be able to read, and learn great things. 
Amazon Link 
Tour hosted by Write Now Literary

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Alexander Hamilton: How the Vision of One Man Helped Shape Modern America by Teri Kanefield

Genre: Middle Grade, Biography
Source: I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

I love history. It amazes me how much I really do not know, especially about American History. Teri Kanefield has once again done an exceptional job of bringing history to life. Her book about Alexander Hamilton opened my eyes to a man I realized I really knew nothing about.  He starts off life in another country, poor, abandoned and making his own way in life. When given the opportunity to come to America he jumps at the chance.  His mind for learning amazed me.  I had no idea how much influence he had in shaping what we now call the United States of America.   He married a woman who came from a wealthy family with the understanding that he was poor and would probably always be that way. She loved the man he was and agreed to the marriage.  He put so much into this country. Through reading this book you get a well-rounded picture of the man and his love for this country. You get a first-hand look at how much he was willing to sacrifice for it.  I learned what an elegant writer he was.  For the history lover, this is a must read book. This is a book that will definitely go on my shelves. It is a book that I want my students to read. It is a book I will recommend to our History department as a valuable resource.  Teri has included some of his writings in the back of the book. More importantly was the timeline and endnotes she included.  Such a valuable resource, yet it held my attention and I read it in one sitting.  This is a must read book. This book will be published in March of 2017.
I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.