Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Sachiko A Nagasaki Bomb Survivor's Story by Caren Stelson

Those of you who are interested in WWII know that the war ended after the U.S dropped two atomic bombs on Japan--one on the city of Hiroshima and one on the city of Nagasaki.  Sachiko is the true story of a 6-year-old girl who survived the bombing of Nagasaki. I found the book fascinating because I have never read or even heard an atomic bomb survivor story before.

The photographs and maps throughout the book really helped me to understand and appreciate the subject matter. Sections of explanatory facts are mixed in with Sachiko's story so that even those unfamiliar with the details of WWII get necessary background information.

This is more than an interesting book about a fascinating  war; it is a perfect example of why history is critically important. As Sachiko says, "What happens to me must never happen to you."

This book has won numerous awards, one being the coveted Robert F. Sibert Award.  I recommend Sachiko for 5th or 6th graders who like to read non-fiction and are interested in WWII.

Warning: The content is mature and can be, of course, disturbing.

Mrs. N.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Six Dots A Story of Young Louis Braille

One of my favorite book awards is the Schneider Family Book Award, which honors an author or illustrator that creates an expression of the disability experience. This year's winner for young children was the picture book, Six Dots. It is the story of Louis Braille, the inventor of the Braille alphabet which enabled blind people to read. Reading this nonfiction book busted some myths I had erroneously believed: 1) Louis Braille was not born blind. His blindness was caused by an accident that happened to him at age 5. 2) Louis Braille did not invent his alphabet as an adult. He was actually only 15 years old. 3) Braille is not a super complex series of raised dots. Instead, it is a simple code of just 6 raised dots arranged in 2 columns like a domino.

The story is well illustrated, and I especially enjoyed studying the Braille alphabet provided on its cover pages. Reading about the childhood of Louis Braille makes the already amazing invention story even more interesting for students.

I recommend this book to students of all ages who enjoy reading biographies or about the subject of inventions.

Mrs. N.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Aunt Chip and the Great Triple Creek Dam Affair by Patricia Polacco

My older sister, an amazing 4th grade teacher in Virginia, suggested this book to me. Since the Auburn Public Library didn't have a copy, they agreed to order one for me to read. They will not regret the purchase!

Polacco's story is a fantasy about the townspeople of Triple Creek and their complete infatuation with TV. Everyone in town except for Eli's Aunt Chip owns a TV, loves the TV, and never turns the TV off. The library is torn down and, instead of being read, the books are put to practical use as seats, plates, pothole fillers, etc. In protest, Aunt Chip "takes to her bed" and warns the town that there will be consequences for their actions.

Fifty years pass before her warning becomes a reality. One of the most disturbing effects of the constant TV watching is that everyone forgets how to read! This discovery is enough to rouse Aunt Chip from her bed and start her teaching Eli how to read. Soon the other children want to learn and they begin collecting books that had been put to use all over town. Eli's decision to pluck Moby Dick from the town dam literally brings this illiterate town crashing to the realization of the power of books.

I recommend this picture book to people of all ages who love to read. As a librarian, I especially appreciate Polacco's message. If you like this, you might also want to read The Wretched Stone by Chris Van Allsburg, a picture book with a similar theme.

Mrs. N.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Restart by Gordon Korman

I typically review only those print or e-books we have at the South SSES Library. However, Restart is worthy of an exception. It is a new gem from beloved middle grades writer Gordon Korman, and I will be ordering it for us in the very near future!

Restart is about what happens to 13-year-old Chase Ambrose after he falls off the roof of his house. The head injury causes amnesia, which means he has no memory of ANYTHING before the accident. He literally has to, as the titles states, restart his life.

Chase slowly learns who he was from how he is treated by the people around him. For example, he realizes early on that he holds a lot of power at his middle school, but he has no idea why. Some kids are in awe of him; others are terrified of him. Pretty soon it is clear that the old Chase was a bully. The more important question becomes who will the new Chase decide to be?

I highly recommended this book for lovers of realistic fiction grades 3 and up.

Mrs. N.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

You may have heard the saying, "You can't judge a book by its cover." In the case of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, however, you can. The story is just as strange as the cover photograph and title imply, which is exactly why I wanted to read it.

In the aftermath of a family tragedy, 16-year-old Jacob begins a journey into his family's past. He is determined to find out if the bedtime stories and photographs his grandfather shared with him were true. The stories and photographs were of Miss Peregrine, the headmistress of a children's home, and the children who lived there.

I recommend this book to mature readers who enjoy fantasy and elements of horror. Something I found truly fascinating is that the photographs that illustrate the book are from author Ransom Riggs' collection of vintage photographs!

Important to know is that this book is the first in a trilogy. The adventure continues in Hollow City.
Not very important to know is that a movie version of the book was made in which the ending is drastically changed into a ridiculous string of special effect events.  

Warning: A fair amount of profanity is sprinkled throughout the book, mainly from from 16-year-old Jacob.

Mrs. N.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Clayton Byrd Goes Underground by Rita Williams-Garcia

Award-winning author Rita Williams-Garcia's new book is out! As soon as I heard, I zipped over to my local public library and checked it out. The star of the book is Clayton Byrd, a young "blues harp"(harmonica) player who lives to play the blues with the Bluesmen. His grandfather, Cool Papa Byrd, heads the group and is Clayton's mentor. He has taught Clayton everything he knows about blues music and about life.

Early in the story Cool Papa Byrd dies, leaving Clayton alone with his mother who forbids him from playing his beloved blues harp. Distraught over his grandfather's death and desperate to follow his dream to play with the Bluesmen, Clayton runs away and takes a ride on the New York City subway in hopes of finding them. Instead, Clayton finds out that while Cool Papa Byrd taught him a lot, life still has much to teach him.

I recommend this book to kids who have an interest in and appreciation for music. Because the setting is mainly the NYC subways, a little background knowledge of big city life will help with comprehension.

Mrs. N.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, & Jack Thorne

There is nothing like a couple of sick days to grant readers that coveted extra time to read! Thanks to my recent illness (and Natalie C's willingness to share her book with me), I have finished the new Harry Potter!

As many of you have likely heard by now, this 8th book in the Harry Potter series is actually a play...written in play form with stage directions and everything. Don't let the format scare you off, though. You will find that you quickly adjust to it once you start reading.

The story picks up 18 years after the Battle of Hogwarts. Harry, Ron, Hermione, and the gang are married adults with children. The main characters are Albus, Harry's youngest child, and Scorpious, Draco's only child. The boys are best friends and are Slytherins at Hogwarts. The core of the adventure involves Albus and his attempt to come to terms with who he is and what his place is in the wizarding world. A new dark character and a Time Turner machine are forces to be reckoned with throughout the story. However, more than anything else, the new Harry Potter is about the relationship between a father (Harry) and his son (Albus).

Recommended for mid-upper elementary Harry Potter fans.

CAUTION: Frequent backwards time travel and references to Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire as well as other Harry Potter books make knowledge of the Harry Potter series helpful.

By Mrs. N.