January 26, 2017

Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , at 5:23 pm by suebe2

wolf-hollowWolf Hollow
by Lauren Wolk
Dutton Children’s Books

Annabelle is growing up in the shadow of two world wars.  In spite of this, life in her small Pennsylvania town is pretty quiet.  For a long time, the only signs of the war that she sees are the stars that represent the local men over sewn on the banner.  Then Betty moves to town.

It’s an open secret that Betty is trouble.  The adults all know it but they hope that a fresh start will do the girl some good.  The grandparents that she lives with are friends of Annabelle’s grandparents so Annabelle is more than willing to give the girl a chance.  But she’s a schoolyard bully who beats people who don’t pay up and soon focuses her attentions on Toby.

Toby doesn’t have a home.  He shelters in an abandoned smoke house.  He carries three rifles everywhere he goes and takes pictures of the outdoors using the camera Annabelle’s mother won in a drawing.  With one scarred hand, people know he fought in the great war but they don’t know much more about him.  Annabelle and her mother leave food for him and try to be what help they can.

But when Betty goes missing, suspicion quickly falls on Toby.

I’m not going to say anything more about the plot because I don’t want to give away all the marvelous twist and turns.  Earlier in the week, this book was named as an honor book for the American Library Association’s Newbery Award.  If this was an honor book, I definitely need to get my hands on the winner.

This is a book that needs to be in all school libraries.  It tells a story about intolerance and prejudice and how people’s suspicions can spiral out of control.  It is also a story about quiet strength and compassion and the fight to bring the truth to light.

We tend to think of the past and childhood as simple and innocent.  This book shines a light into the shadows and shows us how nuanced and multi-layered people of every age, throughout time, truly are.

Read this with your class.  Read it with your child.  It will give you both something to contemplate.


February 23, 2009

The Surrender Tree by Margarita Engle

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , at 7:54 pm by suebe2

surrenderThe Surrender Tree: Poems of Cuba’s Struggle for Freedom (AR 6 . 4 )

by Margarita Engle

Henry Holt

With this book winning the Pura Belpre Author Award and a Newbery Honor, I expected great things.  It exceeded my expectations.

Poet and author Margarita Engle gives young readers a glimpse of the fight for Cuban independence from Spain.  She starts with Cuba solidly under Spanish rule and then moves to the actual rebellion, from the freeing of slaves by Cuban planters to Spanish soldiers who are little more than boys and U.S. involvement.  While there are four point-of-view characters, the main character is Rosa who enters the story as a young slave learning to heal.  Rosa’s life mirrors the story of Cuba as she hides from those who would harm her, helps those who need her whether they are ex-slaves or Spanish soldiers, and struggles to keep all alive with little but hope.

Holt markets the book for ages 12 and up and my library shelves it in the teen section.   The talk of war, battles and concentration camps is straight forward without being graphic.

Although I studied Latin American history in college, I learned a great deal from this book.  For example, I had never heard of concentration camps in Cuba.  Engle includes a list of references and I intend to add several, perhaps even one or two in Spanish, to my shelves.


February 19, 2009

Savvy by Ingrid Law

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , at 4:31 pm by suebe2


Savvy  (AR 6 . 0 )

by Ingrid Law

Dial Books

Named a Newbery Honor this year, Savvy left me wondering just how good the winner must be as well as what wacky Savvy I’d end up with. 

Thirteenth birthdays are tricky things in the Beaumont family because sometime that day each Beaumont discovers his or her Savvy, or special ability.   On Fish’s big day, he called up a hurricane, but boys tend to have more powerful savvies than girls.   Mibs has no idea what her talent will be, she just hopes it is something good.  It had better be because until she learns to control it, she will be home schooled.  Not that she has any friends — living in fear of other people finding out about your family tends to put a damper on friendship. 

The hope for a really good savvy grows stronger when a highway accident lands her father in a coma miles away and her mother leaves to be by his side.  When the Pastor’s wife insists on throwing Mibs a party, the girl realizes she will come into her power among people other than family, people she is afraid to trust.  She stows away on a bus bound for the city where her father is.  Mibs planned to go alone but her brothers and the pastor’s kids follow and the result is a road trip across two states that ends with new found friends and a respect for the abilities, secrets and trust to be found in others.

This book is an excellent choice for fantasy lovers although with a touch of light romance it will probably appeal more to girls than to boys.  Still, both male and female characters are equally strong and equally flawed.  For a slightly older audience than Nitz’s Griffin.  

This is a fast moving, fun and funny story about a girl learning not only who she is but also more than a little something about those around her. 


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