Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Southern Festival of Books

If you live in the South and can get to Nashville, TN the second weekend of October...you won't want to miss this!

(Image from http://blaine.org/sevenimpossiblethings/?p=1984)

I am beyond excited for this event!   This is one of my favorite weekends of the year, and when I saw the authors at this year's event...well I was as excited a sixteen year old getting a brand new shiny car for their sweet sixteen.  Just ask the hubs...he was totally making fun of me.

But I don't care!  Just LOOK at this lineup...could it be more spectacular?  Seriously, I am counting the days until October!

Check it out for yourself here...http://www.humanitiestennessee.org/festival/index.php

Monday, August 30, 2010

Clementine, Friend of the Week by Sara Pennypacker

Clementine is excited!  Her name was chosen for Friend of the Week at her school!  She rushes home to share the news with her family and best friend Margaret!  Her family was very excited, but Margaret didn't exhibit the same amount of enthusiasm.  (But if you know Margaret, this isn't that surprising.)

There are other exciting things happening too!  The third and fourth graders are having a bicycle ride on Saturday and Clementine is so excited to decorate her bike with the decorations her father uses to decorate the apartment building....that is until something important gets lost!

What I Thought:
I love Clementine!  This is another great installment in this series by Sara Pennypacker.   Clementine experiences some of the not-so-fun things about growing up...fighting with friends, losing something important to her, and the excitement of being chosen as the "friend of the week' and getting to share exciting things with her class! 

It's encouraging to see Clementine's family there to support her and help her along life's path.  This is a great book to give to kids...I think they would love it! 

Highly recommended.

Want to see more?  Check it out on Amazon: Clementine, Friend of the Week by Sara Pennypacker.

Reviewed from a library copy.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Jackson, Mississippi...1960's.   The Civil Rights movement is in full swing, but Jackson is not buying into the action.  There is still a very strong divide between the people that grips society to the utmost degree.

Meet Aibileen: a maid to a young white family and has raised 17 children...and lost her own in a tragic event.  As she goes to work everyday, to clean after the family, raise their young, and whatever else they see fit Aibileen grows more frustrated at the injustices.  But...she can't do anything about it.  Can she?

Meet Minnie: a strong willed family woman who sometimes lets her mouth get her into trouble.  After being fired for something that she didn't do, she wonders if she will every find another job.  She's tired of it all...what can she do?

Meet Miss Skeeter: a young socialite with a journalism degree from Ole Miss and a desire to become a writer.  She misses Constantine, the maid who practically raised her and was one of her closest friends.  While visiting friends, she begins to see how their help is treated and also seeks the truth about Constantine.  She decides to write a book telling the stories of many of the maids around Jackson, a very dangerous thing for both the maids participating and Miss Skeeter.

There's a lot to lose, but everything to gain.

What I Thought: 
Wow.   I have read several excellent books lately, and this is definitely one of them!  Stockett is an unbelievable story teller.  Through the voices of Aibeleen, Minny, and Miss Skeeter, Stockett gives a clear view of life for high society in 1960 Jackson Mississippi and the African American woman who worked for them.

Readers will get a clear sense of what it is like the women who work for the white families: the interesting love/despise relationship, how the ladies come to adore the children and it is made obvious the feelings are reciprocated; the embarrassment about being called "dirty" or being forced to use a separate facility...it all seems crazy in 2010.    But we all know these things happened every day.

Readers will also cheer for characters who see that this behavior is wrong, and take a stand to make it right...at great costs. 

This is a fantastic novel, entertaining, enlightening, and perhaps most of all...a reminder of past attitudes that should never again resurface.

Very highly recommended. 

Want to see more?  Check it out on Amazon:  The Help by Kathryn Stockett.

Reviewed from a library copy.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Willow Run by Patricia Reilly Giff

It's World War II and Meggie's family is making sacrifices.  Her brother is serving overseas and her family has made the decision to move to Willow Run Michigan so her father can work in a factory that makes B-24 bombers for the war effort.

While they are happy to be helping the war effort, it is difficult to leave their home in Rockaway and the beach to move to a large city and live in a large apartment building with thousands of other factory workers.  What's worse is they are leaving behind their grandfather and close friends.

Life in Willow Run is different.  There are lots of people and the living arrangements are very tight.  Meggie quickly makes friends and discovers what life holds during war times.

What I Thought:
I thought this is a great narrative on what it was like for children living during World War II and helping with the stateside war effort.  This book is the companion to Giff's novel Lily's Crossing where Lily (Meggie's best friend) copes with the war from her home in Rockaway.  I enjoyed reading about this time period from two girls with similar background, but different experiences with the war effort.


Want to see more?  Check it out on Amazon: Willow Run by Patricia Reilly Giff.

Reviewed from a library copy.

Monday, August 02, 2010

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger

Can an origami Yoda puppet really predict the future?  This is what the sixth graders at McQuarrie Middle School want to know.

It all started with Dwight, a rather odd student who created the origami Yoda.  He often just wore it on his finger, but one night at the PTA Night of Fun Yoda made his first prediction.  And it came true!

Time after time, when Yoda was was asked a question, his prophecy came true.  Could it be a fluke, or is Yoda (via Dwight) up to something??

What I Thought:
This is an interesting book.  I love the whole concept of the origami Yoda and how the book is set up as case files with many different students telling their experience with origami Yoda in their own words and commentary from Tommy who started the case file and Harvey who is a die-hard non-believer.

Complete with middle school romance and awkwardness (remember those school dances?) and other shenanigans, this book is great for the middle school crowd. 


Want to see more?  Check it out on Amazon: The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger.

Reviewed from a library copy.