Thursday, August 3, 2017

We Will Not Be Silent: The White Rose Student Resistance Movement That Defied Adolf Hitler by Russell Freedman

I chose to read We Will Not Be Silent because it is written by renowned nonfiction author Russell Freedman and because it won the Robert F. Sibert Honor for nonfiction this year. Thanks to Mr. Freedman and the many historic photographs he included in this book, I learned a great deal about an aspect of WWII that I can never remember being taught.

Have you ever stopped to wonder if all Germans agreed with Adolf Hitler and his Nazi regime?  They most certainly did not! This is the true story of a group of German students who were brave enough to organize an effective movement against Hitler. Theirs is a fascinating story.

Because the subject matter of this book is intense and includes real violence, I only recommend this book to mature 5th or 6th graders with background knowledge of WWII. It is most definitely a disturbing, albeit important, read.

Mrs. N.

Giant Squid by Candace Fleming

What is as big as a bus yet has rarely ever been seen? The Giant Squid! Despite the fact that this creature is largely unknown, author Candace Fleming does a magnificent job of describing fascinating facts about the Giant Squid. For example, I never knew that the squid's tentacle suckers are lined with teeth or that the squid has a beak like a parrot in between all those tentacles! This book peaked my desire to find out more about these mysterious creatures of the deep, and I hungrily read the extra information provided at the end of the book. Website recommendations are included!

Artist Eric Rohman does a great job with the book's illustrations, giving close-ups of the parts of the squid that Fleming is describing while maintaining a dark velvety blue background that communicates its deep water home.

I highly recommend this award winning picture book to students of all ages, especially those with an interest in ocean life.

Mrs. N.

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.