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Archive for the ‘Books for teaching history’ Category

Home Front Girl- A Diary of Love, Literature, and Growing up in Wartime America By Joan Wehlen Morrison

Posted by hollybookscoops on February 8, 2013

Home Front Girl

 

I feel like I have a new friend after reading Home Front Girl. Joan Wehlen was so palpable on the pages of this book, that I wish I had in fact met her and could call her my friend. Full of historical snippets and teenage soliloquys, Home Front Girl is the Yin to Anne Frank’s Yang.

One of my favorite parts is something Joan Wrote at age 17:

“Oh you, my generation! –we were a lovely lot! Sharp minds—arguing all the time and brittle bodies and even more brittle laughter—and all the time knowing that we were growing up to die. Because we weren’t fooled, you know. All through those bright-colored years of adolescence we knew we were growing up to disaster. For at least four years—well, three, before it happened, we knew it was coming. Some sort of inner sense of war lay upon us. We were pretty brave—we joked about it the way we joked about love and about the polio epidemic when we were all scared to death of it.”

Joan, more than anyone I’ve ever heard of at this time, felt the world was small- that all were worthy of brotherhood and peace, and saving and that war for anyone and everyone was wrong. This is illustrated in another one of her quotes, “London is Troy tonight. . . . Berlin is Troy too.” I think in this sense Joan is somewhat unusual for her generation, for most youth of her time were not pacifist. (Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong on that.)

I highly recommend Home Front Girl as a primary source for research and insight into the Greatest Generation as so many have called Joan and her peers. Joan’s writings are full of insight and humor and the every day happenings of a teenage girl. Even though Joan had profound insights, she also struggled with the same thing teenage girls struggle with now- school, boys, parents and knowing what to believe in.

Thanks to Susan Signe Morrison, Joan’s daughter for wading through pages and pages of memories to bring her mother’s diary to light and share it with the rest of us. I received a review copy of this book at no cost to me courtesy of Caitlin Eck, publicist for Independent Publishers Group. The opinions are my own.

Posted in Biography, Books for Girls, Books for teaching history, Non-Fiction, Uncategorized, Young Adult | 3 Comments »

Wrapped by Jennifer Bradbury audio book read by Elissa Steele

Posted by hollybookscoops on December 13, 2012

Wrapped is a great audio book for teen girls- I’m sure it’s great in written form as well, but I listened to it and loved it out loud. Agnes Wilkins is a beautiful young woman about to make her debut on London’s high society. She is invited to a mummy unwrapping party and discovers that she has stumbled upon a mystery when she is chosen to cut into the ancient mummy wrappings.

While standing still for endless hours being fitted for top-secret ball gowns Agnes spouts off Jane Austen quotes in multiple languages, much to the chagrin of her mother. Of course, in keeping with Jane Austen’s most famous decree that every single, wealthy man is in want of a wife, Agnes is expected to be snatched up by her wealthy bachelor neighbor, the dry arrogant Lord Showalter who loves to flaunt his wealth and knowledge (he’s also the host of the unwrapping party). I think my favorite character, next to Agnes, was Caedman, the aspiring Egyptologist who has no means to pursue Agnes and no hope to succeed in winning her because of that.  Wrapped

I would love to read this in written form because sometimes I get distracted when listening to things out loud and I kept having to backtrack when my kids got too noisy. I learned a lot about Napolean and London in this refreshing glimpse into 1815 London. Most novels of this time period completely ignore the political turmoil of the time, and I enjoyed getting a more world-savvy view. I also enjoyed that Agnes defied the social expectations of young women of her day to accomplish some amazing things. If you prefer written words, to audio books, you may want to check this version out:

wrapped2

I have to ask, because the covers are so different- which cover most appeals to you? Or do you like them both?

Posted in Audio Books, Books for Girls, Books for teaching history, Young Adult | 2 Comments »

A Few Things on My Summer Reading List…

Posted by hollybookscoops on July 20, 2011

 

It’s been a very busy summer, as I’m sure you all agree. Cari and I spent our first full week of summer vacation at the WIFYR 2011 Writer’s conference (Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers). Boy did we come home changed! Cari took the YA novel class by Emily Wing Smith and I (Holly) took the Picture Book class by Kristyn Crow. I think my inner creator grew three sizes. At least! So, due to opportunities to submit manuscripts and all the entailing writing and revising, things here at Bookscoops have slowed down. I know, you thought they were already slow. It’s probably a little more honest to say they practically came to a standstill. Sorry about that!

I thought that I would make a quick list of some of the books that I have read and enjoyed this summer. I know, I know. How can I have time for reading, if I have no time for blogging? The key to reading even when you’re busy is having a book every place you might have a moment to read. Even with four kids, there is always a moment to read. Like, that 3 minute time slot when everyone is taking forever to buckle their seatbelt… don’t get mad, read! They’ll get the point eventually, and even if they don’t, you’ll get more reading time :) So, without further ado, here is the list:

Hitch by Jeanette Ingold: I actually re-read this book on accident. Apparently, I had no memory of the original first two chapters. Or the cover. But I did, all of a sudden, have one of those Ah Hah! moments, and it all came rushing back. Despite my questionable memory, I did love this book the first time, and the second time. So, since it was worth the re-read to me, it’s definitely worth a look for you. Did you know that during the Great Depression there was a government funded program that paid young men to work? Most of these young men worked on National Parks and agricultural projects. It was amazing. What a concept- provide jobs, and improve our country, all at the same time. I’m a little curious to know why no one has thought of this during our current recession. I have read multiple times in the news about how difficult it is for young people to get jobs these days. Perhaps we are not yet desperate enough to do this kind of back breaking labor.

Miss Spitfire by Sarah Miller: How many of you have ever thought of the Helen Keller story from the teacher’s perspective? I loved this peak into the life of Annie Sullivan. Amazing, and profound. I can’t believe what she rose above to become Helen Keller’s key to life. Annie and her brother spent time sleeping in the corpse room at a sanatorium after their mother dies and their drunk father abandons them to relative who can’t handle their handicaps or Annie’s spunky attitudes. Defnitely a must-read.

Dark Fire and Fire World by Chris D’Lacey: Books 5&6  in his Dragon series. My soon-to-be 5th grader and I have been fighting over these all summer. I steal the book from him after he goes to sleep and he steals it from me in the morning. All the time in between is a free-for-all. When his friends are over or he’s at swimming lessons, it’s my turn. I just finished Fire World last night. Anyone interested in dragons and who likes fantasy will find these books a fun escape from reality. If you are, or have, a voracious reader that needs something new to read, this series will keep you busy for a good amount of time as each one is three inches thick.  Fire World was quite different than I expected, there definitely will be at least one more book to come. It’s been fun tag-teaming the series with my son, I look forward to the next one- actually, we both do!

Picture Books

The Three Little Gators by Helen Ketteman, illustrated by Will Terry: This is a fun remake of the three little pigs, with gators and a big bottom boar. The author and illustrator are the same as the fun fractured tale of the Little Red Hen: Armadilly Chili (loved this one too!)

Ladybug Girl and Bumblebee Boy by David Soman and Jacky Davis: a husband and wife team. I was tipped off to this book by a friend I met at the WIFYR conference (Thanks Christy!). It’s a fun book about compromise and friendship- the text is honestly a little long for my taste, but the pictures are adorable.

Mudkin by Stephen Gammell: A rolicking tale of fun in the mud, imagination… you get the drift. Perfect for my kids who turned our backyard dirt pile into a mud slide. What’s amazing about this is that there are only around 55 words! The rest is all illustration. Sometimes I wish I had more experience with illustration. I would love to be like Stephen Gammell and be able to tell stories through my art as well as my words. Maybe someday…

My Cat, The Silliest Cat in the World by Gilles Bachelet: Take a look at the cover. No, that is not an elephant, it’s a cat. Really. I’m not kidding. Neither is Gilles Bachelet. We loved this book, over and over and over. There’s just something inherently hilarious about a cat that’s an elephant. The twist at the end, was very satisfying. Your kids will love this book!

Fuddles by Frans Vischer: Fuddles is a spoiled, fat house-cat. Fuddles dreams of adventure, but when he experiences the real thing, he’s not so sure he dreamed the right dream anymore.

Blue Chameleon by Emily Gravett: Physical comedy in a picture book! An adorable chameleon changes color and shape as he tries to match the things he encounters. What he really wants is a friend- someone like him. This is another author-illustrator project, with few words, and lots of laughs.

Owls Backyard Animals by Nick Winnick: A fun non-fiction picture book full of fun information about these varied creatures of the night sky.

These aren’t all the books I’ve read- just some of them. I do read adult books too, which I don’t review here- anywhere, actually. Plus lots of books that are still in the que for special features, coming soon. I went to a few great book signings and I’ve gotten some fun review books in the mail. Stay tuned for more fun reads!

Posted in Books for teaching history, Books for teaching Math and Science, Children's Literature, Fantasy, News, Non-Fiction, Picture Books, Uncategorized, Young Adult Fiction | 3 Comments »

The Black Death- Pivotal Moments in History by Diane Zahler

Posted by hollybookscoops on May 23, 2011

I’ve had a strange fascination with the Black Death since I first heard about it in High School. My parents went on a trip to England when I was a Freshman, and in the search for some old family villages, stumbled upon Eyam, Derbyshire, England- a place where the plague decimated the population in the mid 1600s. Our family came from the survivors. I remember reading about plague parties where people wore masks and danced until everyone succumbed. There was a lot of superstition and fruitless efforts to be saved from this ruthless bacteria. So, imagine my surprise at discovering this plague book when I was researching Zahler’s work in preparation for reviewing her novel, A True Princess a few months back. As soon as I heard about it, I knew I wanted to read it.

Besides the sordid subject, (which in and of itself is riveting!) I found myself enveloped in non-fiction, novelic prose that made this book a great read- I don’t like dry history. My biggest frustration was trying to flip between the story and maps and some of the places I wanted to find weren’t on the maps! Despite this minor frustration I found the book very informative and enjoyable. I know that sounds almost sick to say. What is wrong with me? I think studying the plague is almost as infectious as the plague itself. I emailed Ms. Zahler, and it seems she has been fascinated with the topic in much the same way. Did you know the plague is alive and still rears it’s head in the modern world? Luckily, we have antibiotics, and once an outbreak is identified, we can quickly bring it under wraps- with only a few casualties. A small comfort when we know terrorists are interested in biological warfare!

I think that teachers and schools would greatly benefit from incorporating this book into their curriculum. The pictures are engaging- artistic interpretations of the horrible suffering and gruesome realities of the Black Death. Zahler’s book focuses on the first great plague, not the later one that first peaked my interest. However learning about one is very much like learning about the other, as both times it reared it’s ugly head, things were. . . shall we say, pretty ugly? Yes, quite ugly indeed. I also think that those who, like me, have been  bitten by this ‘plague fascination bug’ would find this book a worthwhile investment in history.

Top lessons I learned: Don’t eat Marmots. Try not to get bitten by fleas or rodents. Clean up rodent messes with masks, gloves and disinfectant. The coolest lesson I learned was that if a Mother doesn’t succumb to the plague, her children have a better chance of surviving. So, Moms, take care of yourselves. Your family is counting on you.

Have you been bitten by the plague fascination bug? Do tell . . .

Posted in Books for teaching history, Non-Fiction | 16 Comments »

The Red Umbrella by Christina Diaz Gonzalez

Posted by hollybookscoops on January 10, 2011

I recently enjoyed this poignant coming of age story about Lucia who grows up during the 1961 Communist Revolution in Cuba. Lucia’s innocent naivete is shredded bit by bit when soldiers come to her small town. Lucia and Frankie believe  their parents are being unreasonable in their demands that their two children stay home where they can be safe from the insanity that seems to have overtaken their beloved country.

Lucia’s best friend Ivette and her family fall hook line and sinker for the propoganda of the new Cuba, and Lucia struggles to find a balance between pleasing her parents and being a normal teenager who wants to hang with her friends and meet boys. Ultimately, Lucia and Frankie’s parents take drastic steps to save their children from the brainwashing that the government is performing on all young minds.

Readers will enjoy learning about this volatile time in Cuba’s history. I was very intrigued by the chapter headlines- each one is taken from a newspaper headline during that time period, adding significance and detail to Gonzalez’s first novel. I am impressed and look forward to what Ms. Gonzalez brings us next!

Posted in Books for Girls, Books for teaching history, Juvenile Fiction | Leave a Comment »

Petals in the Ashes by Mary Hooper

Posted by hollybookscoops on January 25, 2010

petals in the ashes

I read this, the second in a series, without reading the first, “The Sign of the Sugared Plum”. My husband picked some great books up for me at the library when I was sick, and this was one he came home with. Luckily, it is great reading and stands on its own, without the necessity of reading the first book, although now I would really like to read the first one.

Set in England during the ‘Black Plague’ of the mid 1600s, two sisters Hannah and Sarah manage to escape the city of London with a wealthy family’s baby they hope will buy them health and peace in the country. Unfortunately, every city has rules for new occupants to pass health tests and the two sisters must wait out two months in a pest house. A pest house is the place where all the poor and deathly ill are ‘taken care of’ if you can call it that. Living in putrid circumstances, the sisters manage to remain healthy and take care of their charge until they are able to move to the estate that has sponsored their escape.

Amazing historical fiction- I have always been fascinated with stories of the plague. Perhaps knowing some of our relatives survived the plague’s destruction in Eyam, Derbyshire, England, contributes a little to that. Highly informative, this book also includes the Great Fire of 1666 a horrific disaster that burned much of London, and probably helped to cleanse the area of the Plague.

Posted in Books for Girls, Books for teaching history, Uncategorized, Young Adult, Young Adult Fiction | 7 Comments »

Breaking Through by Fransisco Jimenez

Posted by hollybookscoops on November 24, 2009

Breaking Through

Sequel to “The Circuit” (which I haven’t read)

My husband picked out this book for me- and I have to say, I wasn’t exactly attracted to the cover and probably wouldn’t have picked it out for myself, but I’m so glad he picked it, because I really enjoyed reading it. A biographical history of the amazing author of La Mariposa (one of my original reviews), Breaking Through documents the struggles of Fransisco’s family as they are deported and then readmitted to America. The humiliation of being taken out of school by immigration officials and the discomfort of the long journey to the border were palpable.

Jimenez documents his experiences as an immigrant, first illegal and finally legal. Fransisco and his brother face prejudice and hard work with determination. When told that he could easily pass for white, or say he is from Spain and thus escape the difficulties of being treated as a Mexican, Fransisco courageously replies that he is proud to be Mexican and has no reason to hide his heritage. The story reminded me of the stories of many people I met while we lived in Quincy, Washington- a small farming town with a large immigrant-worker population. Jimenez truly broke out of the poverty cycle and has done amazing things for himself, his family, and his friends. Have you ever put off reading a book because of the cover? Thank goodness I can’t resist a good book put right in front of me, because this one is worth the time and effort, even though I don’t like the cover.

Posted in Biography, Books for Boys, Books for teaching history, Non-Fiction, Uncategorized, Young Adult | Leave a Comment »

Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson

Posted by hollybookscoops on October 21, 2009

hattie big skyHattie Brooks is full of hard work and determination. Orphaned at a young age and forced to bounce among relatives, Hattie is surprised when an uncle’s will appears and offers her a new start- on her own in Vida, Montana. Hattie rolls up her sleeves and digs into the dirt to prove up her uncle’s claim. I always love a good pioneer story and this one did not disappoint. I was amazed by the fact that Hattie’s story is based on the author’s own step great grandmother. What an amazing woman!

Well researched and superbly written, Hattie Big Sky is a pleasure to read. What a disappointment to turn the last page and realize the story was over. I found myself wishing that there was a sequel! I’m pretty sure I will be reading this one at least one more time. I didn’t even know it was a Newberry Honor book until I was writing the review- it definitely deserves the recognition! This book would be a great family audio book for a trip, I think I just might get my second reading in that way. . . I’m off to put a hold on the audio. . . yeah!

Posted in Audio Books, Books for Boys, Books for Girls, Books for teaching history, Juvenile Fiction, Newbury, Uncategorized, Young Adult Fiction | 7 Comments »

The Woman in the Moon: A Story from Hawai´i Retold by Jama Kim Rattigan, Pictures by Carla Golembe

Posted by caribookscoops on May 18, 2009

thewomaninthemoon

I first saw this book feature in the fairytales/folktales section of our local library and immediately recognized the name – Jama Rattigan. I was pretty excited to see this book since I have visited Jama’s blog, alphabet soup. Both Holly and I enjoy reading her blog entries. She also wrote a book called Dumpling Soup, which I have not had a chance to check out yet, but hope to soon.

I was definitely intrigued by the idea of a book about the Woman in the Moon, I was familiar with the man in the moon, but this was new story to me. From the book,

On nights when the moon is round and full, some say that man lives in the moon. But in the islands of Hawai’i, where the gentle winds tell stories from ancient times, the children know that it is not a man in the moon. A woman lives there, and her name is Hina.

I just loved this tale about how Hina became the woman in the moon and about her tapa cloth making skills. Tapa for those of you who might not know (I didn’t), is cloth made out of the bark of the mulberry tree.  Tapa is then painted with intricate designs and used as clothing or even wall hangings in some areas.

Hina is Hawai’i’s most talented tapa maker and in high demand. Unfortuntely her husband does not help in the way he is supposed and Hina grows weary of all the demands placed on her to make tapa and provide food for her husband. Rather than live an unhappy life, she decides to search for new home to live in peace and make tapa. Most particularly because she wants to be able to do things that women are not allowed to do like eat fresh coconut, roast pork and golden ripe bananas. Eventually she climbs a moonbow to reach the moon.

I really liked this story and so did my daughter especially the illustrations by Carla Golembe. Golembe’s style of painting is one I particularly like with bold colors and striking scenes. I also liked that while Hina was not happy,  she found her own home and once again was happy. I would recommend this story to anyone who likes folktales as this one is a fascinating story one worth reading over and over again.

What some things that make you happy and or how do we determine our own happiness?

Jama Rattigan’s website and her blog jama rattigan’s alphabet soup

Carla Golembe’s website

This review is part of Cari’s Diversity Rocks! challenge

Posted in Books for Girls, Books for teaching history, Picture Books | 5 Comments »

The Orphan Singer by Emily Arnold McCully

Posted by hollybookscoops on May 13, 2009

the-orphan-singerSet in Venice in the early eighteen hundreds, this book is a piece of history reincarnated. I had no idea that Venice’s musical past had anything to do with orphaned and abandoned girls.

Enter Mama and Papa Dolci, a gifted musical couple who barely had enough food, but sang from morning to night. Their young son, Antonio was also very talented, but Mama and Papa could not afford to send him for training. He was destined to become a basket maker, instead.

When baby Nina joins the family, her parents are ‘trilled’ to hear her giggling and cooing in harmony to Antonio’s singing.  With heavy hearts, Mama and Papa decide that the ospedalo is the best hope their daughter has for training and education. So, one night, they quietly leave Nina in the infant drawer at the ospedalo.

As Catarina (Nina) grows, believing she is an orphan, the Dolci’s visit her and listen to her singing.  A wonderful performer, Caterina gains many fans, but the Dolcis are always dearest to her. One night, only Papa Dolci comes to give a last farewell to ‘Catarina’ from Antonio, who has fallen very ill. Nina sets out to rescue Antonio with the greatest power for good she has at her disposal- her angelic voice.

I really enjoyed this beautifully written and illustrated picture book, as did my children. It reminded me a bit of Cari’s time as a music major and her efforts to study Music therapy. I highly recommend this book! Cari- you should definitely check it out!

Posted in Books for teaching history, Children's Literature, Picture Books | 1 Comment »

 
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