Friday, June 19, 2015

Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko

Al Capone Does My Shirts is a story set in the 1930's on Alcatraz Island outside of San Francisco, California. The island is home to Alcatraz, the infamous maximum-security prison that was once located there. Moose's Dad gets a job at the prison so that his sister Natalie, who has severe autism, can go to a special school in San Francisco that will meet her needs. His family moves to the island while the famous American gangster Al Capone is incarcerated there. As Moose and Natalie adjust to their new life, they have adventures with several other children who live on the island and eventually with Al Capone himself!

While the story is fiction, Ms. Choldenko did extensive research on life on Alcatraz Island before writing this book. She even interviewed people who lived there during the setting of her story. This makes the plot believable. For that reason, I recommend this book to students who enjoy realistic fiction. Also, students who have a sibling with special needs will enjoy relating to Moose and Natalie's relationship.

P.S. My family listened to this book on CD while traveling on vacation. If you haven't tried an audiobook before, it really helps pass the time on long trips!

By Mrs. N.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Jefferson's Sons by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

Hooked on historical fiction and excited to read another book by this Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, I read Jefferson's Sons next. This book is about Thomas Jefferson's secret children, the ones whose mother was Sally Hemings, a slave at Monticello. The story is told from the perspective of three different slave children, including two of his own sons. (I love when children narrate!) The subject matter of this book fascinated me, and I found myself wanting to know more about this part of Jefferson's life. I really appreciated the amount of research the author put into writing this story; she based as much of it on fact as possible. If you are interested in getting a glimpse into the lives and minds of slaves whose father was the president of the United States, read this book.

 Kimberly Brubaker Bradley books bring important historical time periods alive and make them personal for the reader. I highly recommend this author to upper grade readers who like historical fiction and maybe even those who don't think they do.

By Mrs. N.

The War that Saved my Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

Summertime and the living is easy! I am loving having the time to read great books for children (and adults)!

For fans of historical fiction, I have discovered a wonderful author...Kimberly Brubaker Bradley. I read The War that Saved my Life first; it is the story of what happens to10-year-old Ada and her younger brother Jamie when they are sent away from London during Germany's attack on England in WWII. While their Mam's abuse and neglect is appalling, the love and acceptance they find once they leave the city is heartwarming and so well-deserved. The book expanded my definition of family and reminded me of how important it is to be loved and valued for exactly who you are. It also included just enough adventure and suspense to keep me reading to the end!

Mrs. N.