May 27, 2010

The Shepherd’s Granddaughter by Anne Laurel Carter

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , at 10:42 pm by suebe2

The Shepherd’s Granddaughter (AR 4 .1 )

by Anne Laurel Carter

More than anything, Amani wants to be like her grandfather, Seedo.  She wants to be a shepherd on the mountain.  She wants to mirror his calm ways, his loving, peaceful heart.

At first it is her family that stands in the way.  Shepherding is not a job for a proper Palestinian girl.  She should go to school so that she can learn, among other things, English.  Finally, Seedo makes it clear.  Amani will continue her time with him on the mountain, shepherding is clearly in her soul.  There begins her time learning to care for sheep, bringing in a government vet, documenting the introduction of hardier stock.

Unfortunately, Palestine is now part of Israel and as Seedo grows ill and eventually dies, the family is faced with the threat of Israeli settlers with guns and army backing.  As the family weather’s one crisis after another, Amani befriends an Israeli boy who is as in love with the local wildlife as she is.  She also learns that Seedo’s heart was not always as tranquil as she thought and that the world is a complicated, scary place.

Admittedly, I picked up this book because of attempts to ban it in Canada.  As is most often the case, I found the claims of the would-be banners to be inaccurate at best.  Really.  Hint:  Anyone who complains about the scene where a soldier shoots one of Amani’s sheep has not read the book.   Or, if they have, their reading comprehension is shameful.

Yes, the book touches on some very controversial issues — the Israeli occupation of Palestine, their treatment of Palestinians and terrorism. But Carter’s characters, both the Palestinians and the Israelis, are realistic and fairly drawn.

Instead of keeping this book from your child, why not use it as the stepping off point for a thoughtful discussion?  Carter gives you plenty to think about and does it in a very good, age appropriate story.

–SueBE

September 23, 2009

Bones of Faerie by Janni Lee Simner

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , at 9:55 pm by suebe2

simnerBones of Faerie (AR 4 . 4 )

by Janni Lee Simner

RandomHouse

It may take a while for those of you who live in the St. Louis area to recognize your home turf the way Simner describes it – buckled highways, rampaging plants, and potentially explosive geology.  But this is the world humans live in, at least the humans that are left after the war with the faeries.

It is the world Liza has grown up in and she knows just how unforgiving it is.  Children born with any hint of faerie magic are left outside for the animals and any child who shows tendencies later on will be “dealt with.”  For their part, the plants take no prisoners and even shadow plants can inflict damage.  She doesn’t like it but it is the only world Liza knows.

When the dreams Liza has expand into waking visions, she realizes that she too has been touched by magic.  To keep her village safe, Liza ventures into the forest with no plans to return before nightfall comes with all its dangers. Only then does she begin to discover that there might be much more to the world and that in other places there may be space for those who are magically gifted.

Post-apocalyptic, the book does carry some mature themes but it is an excellent choice for the reader who is ready for some mature content but not the weighty length in terms of page numbers (this book weighs in at just under 250 pages).  Suitable for both older grade school readers as well as middle schoolers.  Probably more of a girl book than a boy book, but the principal sidekick is a boy so there will be some appeal.  Keep your eyes open for more from this author!

–SueBE

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