Tuesday, November 23, 2010

"Across Five Aprils"

"Across Five Aprils" is another book taking place during the Civil War. It is by Irene Hunt, and is for all ages.  The Newberry Honor book taking place in Illinois is about Jethro Creighton, a young boy; and his family.  It is very informative, and is great for anyone studying the 1860's.  The characters all feel so real, and you find yourself reading page after page, waiting to see what will happen. It has 12 chapters, but all of them are on the longer side. It has 212 pages, and I hate to say this young readers, but it (or at least my copy) does not have any pictures.  Jethro endures many things during the five Aprils the book takes place, and many of them involve sad news. But there is also joy, a letter from the president, and good news regarding his older sister Jenny, and her boyfriend (also the previous school teacher), Shadrach Yale.  I give this book 5 stars, because it was touching, well written, and one of the "Gems". I would recommend it to anyone, boy or girl. It is a wonderful book, and I have a feeling that I will read it many times in the years to come. It is a very inspiring book, and worth a read.
Natalia :)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

"Leaving Gee's Bend"

Hey there, world. Sorry for not posting that much. But here is a new book review (for "big kids"!)

"Leaving Gee's Bend" by Irene Latham is inspired by a true story taking place in a rural "island" in Alabama... Gee's Bend.  The main character is ten year old  Ludelphia Bennett, who does a courageous thing, even though she's blind in one eye. Her mother comes down with pneumonia while delivering her baby daughter, and it seems like she'll never get well again. So Ludelphia decides to do all she can to help. Even if it means leaving Gee's Bend, crossing the river, going to Camden - which is forty miles away, sleeping in a barn, meeting Mrs. Cobb... the lady she was specifically warned not to run into, going to the doctor, writing a letter to the red cross, and secretly riding in a wagon. She learns that Gee's Bend is the place she loves most. This story is very sad. But it has that uplifting feel most melancholy books have.
It portrays the dialect of those living in the south during that time in what I think is a very realistic way (but I wouldn't know, I wasn't living then.) .
It is 230 pages, but has a larger print compared to some books. It has an Author's Note, where Irene Latham explains where the idea came from. It also has acknowledgements. I recommend this for anyone 8 and up, and although anyone can read it, I think of it more as a girl's book. I give this book (which was just published this year, by the way.) 5 stars!


Friday, November 19, 2010

"Earl the Squirrel"

I know that I haven't posted a lot lately, we have been very busy, so there has been less time for reading. Right now I am working on reading a couple different books, but for now, here's a children's book for the youngest ones reading this :)
"Earl the Squirrel" by Don Freeman (the author of "Corduroy") is the sad tale of Earl, who, as you may have guessed, is a squirrel. One night his mother tells him he must go hunt for acorns on his own, with no help at all from her or anyone else. Because his human friend, Jill, is not able to give him an acorn, she gives him a little red scarf to wear. It is good luck for Earl, as one night he goes on a journey to find an acorn. Earl is the cutest hero, and little kids love to ask questions, and laugh at certain parts. It is really cute, and the illustrations are very nice. I say anybody under 8 years old would love this book, but if you want to know a secret... I think I kind of enjoyed it myself. If you have a toddler in your life, I would recommend this book.


Sunday, November 14, 2010

"Because of Winn-Dixie"

"Because of Winn-Dixie" by Kate Dicamillo is one of my favorite books.
India Opal Buloni is one of those characters that you feel is "real", because their story is so touching. While the red haired, freckled face preacher's daughter is certainly a part of the story, so is her dog. It all starts when she goes to the Winn-Dixie grocery store. When she sees that a big, ugly dog is about to be sent to the pound, her heart is broken. She soon finds herself telling a major lie, but that lie entirely changes the course of her Summer. Opal is very lonely in her new town. She hardly knows any kids in town, and her father makes things no better. He is always like a turtle, sticking his head inside a shell, and hiding in it. And Opal has no mother... or at least with her. Her mother left when she was young, and Opal has no idea where she is, but is finding herself thinking more about her mother than ever before.  Because of Winn-Dixie, Opal meets many friends and even finds a job.   Miss Franny, Otis, and Gloria Dump all prove to be wonderful friends, and Opal doesn't care if they're adults. The stories Miss Franny tells keep Opal busy in the morning, the work at the pet shop keeps her busy in the afternoon, and at night, she goes to Gloria's house.  Since Miss Franny is a librarian, Opal asks for a suggestion for a book to read to Gloria - who is blind. She soon starts reading to her, and that's when the idea comes to her. The story comes to a close while they're having a party, and it sort of ties in everything, and sums up the book. This book is sad, sweet, and well written, and the humor comes through at times. Winn-Dixie is a lovable dog, and his charming ways are what make the book so sweet. It even has a Newberry Honor! And if you don't read this book, Kate Dicamillo is a wonderful author, and all of her books are great! But as for "Because of Winn-Dixe", I give it 5 stars and it is 192 pages and could be read by anyone!


Saturday, November 13, 2010

"Turn Homeward, Hannalee"

"Turn Homeward, Hannalee" By Patricia Beatty is a book about a part of the Civil War not as well known.
Hannalee Reed and her family have always worked at the mill in Roswell, Georgia. Their father died a few years before, and Davey, their older brother is at home for a few days... before leaving to go back to the Confederate Army. One day, Hannalee and her younger brother, Jem are taken away from Roswell by Yankee soldiers, and forced to work at a mill in the north, but this time, it's blue cloth they're making. Before they leave, Hannalee promises to "turn homeward", and come back to her pregnant mother as soon as she can. She leaves with the persimmon seed button given to her by her mother as a reminder to come home, the clothes on her back, and Jem. She gets separated from Jem, and Davey's fiance, Rosellen , and is left all alone. But she is brave, and does whatever she can to keep everyone together. She masquerades as a boy, witnesses a battle, and finds out heartbreaking news about Davey.  Certain parts of this books are a bit predictable. Other parts are actually surprising. This book is very sweet, and I love how the importance of family is stressed. This book was very good, but it may only get four stars, and maybe even 3 1/2. Overall, this book (approved for all ages, by the way) tells of the journey of one girl as she finds her way back home. At the end of the 208 page book, there is an Author's Note. I can recommend this to anyone looking for a Civll War easy read.


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

"The Greatest Stories Never Told"

"The Greatest Stories Never Told" by Rick Beyer is a collection of 100 shocking stories beginning in 46 B.C. and going on until 1990 A.D. The stories are all about what REALLY happened during certain events. Leaf Erickson didn't really discover North America.... the pilgrims landed on Plymouth because they ran out of beer.... one of the best baseball players of all time never made it into the major leagues... we had a year with 14 months! These are just a few of the interesting tidbits you will find tucked into this nice book. On one page, you will find a story (and I'll bet you you've never heard 2/3s of them!), and on the page to the right, you will find pictures, photographs and quotes. They are all amazing, and I would definitely recommend it for all students - or at least older students. I wouldn't want to confuse younger children, because the things you read can be a completely different side of the story than what you've always heard.

I really enjoy this extraordinary book, and love that you can read it at just about any pace. I have come back to it over and over again. I hope that you like it as much as me. If you see it somewhere.... buy it or check it out! It is a total "Gem". I give it those 5 stars it deserves! I would recommend this to anyone ages 9 and up.

"Jacob's Rescue"

                                "Jacob's Rescue" by Malka Drucker and Michael Halperin is the touching story of young Jacob Gutgeld, a Jewish  boy taken away from all he's ever known to live with the Roslan family in 1939. This book is so sad yet so inspiring, and the fact that it's based on a true story makes it even more sad and inspiring. Alex Roslan promises him two things
1) He will be safe while living with his family.
2) He is a Jew, and although they are Christian, they will not try to convert him, and let him stay a Jew.
The family does all they can to help the Jews living in Poland, including taking in Jacob's brothers, moving from house to house to protect Jacob's identity and risking their own lives everyday.  This book is definitely a tear-jerker, but is very good, and leaves you thinking about the significant time period Jacob lived through.

This book is good for anyone who truly understands the Holocaust, and reading-wise, shouldn't be too hard for eight year olds and up. I  enjoyed this book and read it in a day. It has 117 pages (and two more with pictures) and I give it 5 stars!

Natalia :-)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

"George Muller: The Guardian of Bristol's Orphans"

"George Muller: The Guardian of Bristol's Orphans" by Janet and Geoffe Benge is a book about none other than... George Muller.
The year is 1821, and a sixteen year old boy is sitting in prison on Christmas day for going to a fancy inn, and leaving without paying.  George is waiting for someone to come and break him out of there, and for the time being it's his father. But George needs someone else in his life to break him out of other situations. Within the next few years, George is saved, and does all he can to be a light for God.
Fifteen years after his Christmas in prison,  George is sitting at the table to eat a Christmas feast with his wife, his partner and 60 orphans.
If I had to pick one word to sum this book up, I would think about it and choose: Inspiring.  Here is a bit of a summary:
The Mullers decide to start an orphanage right in their own community, and pray. Hardly having enough money to feed their own family, they continue to trust God for all their needs. George's simple idea soon becomes a reality to over 10,000 orphans in the years to come. They never fail to pray to God, and never go a night without a meal, without heat, and without a child to look up to them. This book is amazing. I was looking for a book to pick up and read the other day, and chose this one. I remembered this book from reading it in Kindergarten, and I also remembered the impact it left on me. I could hardly stop reading it, and finished it very quickly. It has 205 pages and 17 chapters. Even if you don't read this certain well written book in the "Christian Heroes: Then and Now" series,  I would encourage you to read another miraculous book in the series. They have everyone from Gladys Alward to C.S. Lewis.
But if you do decide to read this one.... good for you! It is a wonderful book, and I hope you will enjoy it as much as I do. I give it 5 stars out of 5, and I think it is appropriate for everyone.

BTW, if anyone is out there.... feel free to leave comments!


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

"The Perilous Road"

War. Gunshots. Hate. The type of book that you would think I would never be reviewing. But I decided to make this blog public, so who knows, maybe there is someone out there wanting to read a review on this book I had to read for school.

"The Perilous Road" is a book about Chris Brabson, a southern boy living during the Civil War. But the book is also about much more.  It tells his story beautifully, but  better than that, it tells everybody's story. There's the North, there's the South, and everyone must pick a side.  Chris hates the "Yankees", and wants nothing to do with  them. I mean, why do they think they know what's best for the South? And if the issue is slavery.... he doesn't own any slaves, and neither does his family!  So Chris is shocked when his brother, Jethro, decides to go join up with the Union.  The family suffers many things the next few weeks.  First, the Yankees (the way Chris refers to them) take all their food. And their plow horse. Chris immediately decides to hate the Union forever. 
The war is soon between two brothers, and Chris is determined to do whatever he can for the Confederacy... even spy for them. There are many other elements to the book, including a friendship with a hunter and spy, Silas; dealing with family, and.... Mules.
At a first glance I was not that thrilled to be reading this book. But I found myself getting into it a bit, and so if you have to read a book about the Civil War, this would be an excellent choice. So often we tend to think of the North as the "Good Guys", and the South as the "Bad Guys". I love how this book tells a Civil War story from the perspective of a southern boy.  It has really given me some insight on the Confederacy side. I think this Newberry Honor book by William O. Steele is appropriate for ages 7+. For the rating, I give it 4 Stars out of 5.

Natalia :-)

"Eight Cousins" By Louisa May Alcott

I have a confession to make. I love "Boring Books". You know, classics written in the 1800's? The ones with no monsters, lava, crashes or vampires? The ones that unfortunately sit in the back of the library looking for bookworms like me to read them?

Well, "Eight Cousins" is a bit like that. Everyone probably knows this author for her heartfelt masterpiece, "Little Women". Although "Eight Cousins" may not be as well known, it should be.

Our main character is Rose, a thirteen year old girl, who was recently orphaned. She is sent to live on Aunt Hill, a place where her six aunts (all having their own ideas on bringing up children) live. She is soon overwhelmed by the chaos - that is, until her Uncle Alec shows up. He thinks the pills the aunts give her do nothing for the unhealthy body, and soon prescribes his own "medicine". Fresh air, light and adventure. The horrified aunts give him one year with Rose to see how much her health improves after his experiment. Rose learns to love the man, as if he was her own father. Meanwhile, she shares all her wonderful adventures with Phoebe, the maid; and her seven male cousins she has just met. She does not like boys, but soon finds them to be the perfect companions. There is Archie, their leader; Charlie, his chum; Mac "The Worm", Jamie, the baby; Steve "The Dandy", and the "Brats".... Will and Geordie, two very mischievous boys.

This book is one of my favorites. It definitely wouldn't take over a month to read, maybe around a couple weeks. Medium length chapters, and a simple and fun plot make for a very enjoyable. I think everyone over the age of eight should read this at some point.
I give it 4 stars out of 5!

Natalia :-)