Friday, February 26, 2010

Operation YES: Sara Lewis Holmes

This lively book for middle schoolers chronicles the classroom activities and excitement of a group of sixth graders in a school located on an air force base in the US. Their new teacher, Ms. Loupe, uses improvisational drama techniques to stimulate imagination and problem-solving in her students. Once they catch on, classroom energy changes and disinterested students perk up.
When Ms. Loupe's brother is missing in action in Afghanistan and later rescued as a wounded soldier, the class rallies on her behalf, and his. Drama in the classroom and the real life drama ever-present for military kids could be a compelling draw for readers.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice

Do not be fooled--this hefty picture book is not a light read, nor a young child's pleasant accounting of the civil rights era in America. Instead, it is a meaty, well-researched and exciting account of a little known but historically significant act by a teenager in Montgomery, Alabama.

A year before Rosa Parks made her historic stand by refusing to give up her seat on a bus in that city, Claudette Colvin was dragged from a bus when she dared to challenge the segregated seating rules. Although her family and friends supported her, she was dismissed as a potential leader in what was to become the Montgomery bus boycott. Undaunted a year later, she joined a class action suit against the city in what was to become a landmark court case which overturned segregation in tranportation.
Based on extensive interviews with Claudette Colvin and others directly involved, the author presents the first in-depth account of this major, yet little-known civil rights figure. Many chapters are written from Ms. Colvin's perspective. This is a fantastic read for interested teens. The archival photos and newspaper articles give a contemporary feel to the accounting of historic events.

Claudette Colvin was the recipient of the 2009 National Book Award for young adult literature.

Claudette Colvin:


Author Shelley Moore Thomas and photographer Eric Futran have created a picture book that is both simple and profound. Juxtaposed against photos of kids playing, celebrating, engaging in ordinary activities with friends and family, are the words "somewhere today" and a description of what is happening. The book begins with "Somewhere today...someone is being a friend instead of fighting" and ends with "maybe it is you." And great read-aloud for small children and a loving adult or for teachers and group of preschoolers or 5-8 year olds. It will spark lively discussions of other ways kids do peacemaking.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Heart of a Shepherd by Roseanne Parry

Brother is a sensitive kid growing up on a ranch in Eastern Oregon with his dad and four older brothers. Their mom lives in Italy, estranged from her husband and kids.

Dad commands an Army reserve unit that is called up for Iraq, taking with it many of the young men in their part of the state. Brother has to "toughen up" to help Grandpa keep the ranch going. He takes his job very seriously, wanting the ranch to remain just as dad left it, in good hands, including his own. But circumstances and people change and Brother learns to go with the flow. He hopes that whatever he does, his hard work will ensure his dad's safe return.
But life rarely goes according to plan and crises arise.

This book will be of interest to middle school young people, particularly boys who are considering what it means to grow up when parents leave for temporary duty in the military.

(Published by Random House, 2009).

The Enemy: A book about peace by Davide Cali and Serge Bloch

There is a battle field. In the battlefield there are two holes. In each hole is a soldier. They are enemies.
This simple, direct, and powerful story makes a statement about the pointlessness of war--and the humanity of individuals on all sides.
The picture book will be most effective with children ages 8-12. (Published by Random House, 2009).

No! by David McPhail

This is a stunning picture book with only one word--No!--repeated three times. Illustrator and author McPhail follows a little boy as he sets out to deliver an important letter and witnesses acts of war on the way. He dramatizes conflict and alternatives to conflict in a "language" accessible to young and old through his paintings. Although the book will appeal to children preschool ages and up, it is appropriate for all ages. (Published by Roaring Book Press, 2009).