When fourteen-year-olds Wren and Darra meet at a Michigan summer camp, both are overwhelmed by memories from six years earlier when Darra’s father stole a car, unaware that Wren was hiding in the back.
This book asks the question I’m sure some people think, what would happen if a child victim ran into someone who may have helped her. And the person who helped wonders what would have happened if she hadn’t? Both girls go through a process of denial, dislike, then a final revelation that as children, neither was in charge of what ultimately happened. A quick read, intense and I enjoyed the different formats the author uses to distinguish the voice of each character throughout the book.
A beautiful collection of poems that paints word pictures so clearly that you can see the battlefield with the civil war soldiers and you can feel the fear and anger of the poet’s family dealing with prejudice in the south. This collection is not only a Pulitzer Prize winner but also by the current U.S. Poet Laurette.
May lives on the Kansas prairie with her family. In order to earn some extra money her family sends her to live with a neighbor for a few months. The Oblingers are newlyweds and the misses does not like life on the prairie. May keeps house for them and does chores. Everything is fine until the day Mrs. Oblinger runs off and Mr. Oblinger follows her. May is left alone in their sod house with little food or fuel and winter approaching. She has to rely on herself to survive.
This is a novel told in verse and that format works really well for May’s story. The sparse poems really help to invoke May’s sense of isolation and loneliness. The novel not only deals with her isolation on the prairie, but also her reading problems. May is very smart, but has dyslexia and has lots of problems reading. One of her teachers was very supportive, but her other does nothing but humiliate her. May wants to be a teacher but how can she if she can’t read.
May is a strong determined young lady who is in an impossible situation. Her story told in verse is engrossing and charming. I would definitely recommend this book to fans of verse and historical fiction.
A new translation of the alliterative poem written in Middle English around 1400 AD originally known as The Alliterative Morte Arthure. Simon Armitage who recently received acclaim for his translation of the classic alliterative poem, Sir Gawain and The Green Knight turns his talent to this classic. He follows King Arthur’s bloody conquests across Europe until his bloody fall, with many of his loyal knights, through a poignantly described burial scene. The language is still lyrical and moving in spite of being a translation.
Wren was accidentally kidnapped when she was 8 years old. She hid in the back of the car when it was stolen. Then she hid in the garage for two days before she escaped. Darra’s dad was the kidnapper. Darra knew Wren was in the garage and helped her as much as she could. When Wren escaped Darra’s dad went to prison. Six years later the two girls end up in the same cabin at camp. Neither wants to acknowledge what happened but slowly they come to terms with it and with each other.
I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about this book. It is told in verse and that doesn’t always work. However, I ended up really loving this book. The two poetry styles work really well for the different narrators. And for the most part it doesn’t read like verse; it seems very narrative and I never felt like I was missing part of the story.
I was disappointed to learn that Darra’s chapters had a second story running through them. We only learn about this in the notes at the end of the book. I was frustrated that I then had to go back and reread all her parts to get this second story. I think the narrative would have been better served if this would have been included in an introduction instead of an epilogue. This second story adds to her narrative.
This is a beautifully told story and well worth the read even with the hidden story.
Last Laughs is gruesome and macabre and truly wonderful. The book is full of short epitaph poems for animals who have met an untimely end. The pictures are awesome but gross. I don’t know if I will ever get the image of the newt or the horse out of my mind! It is very witty, but probably not suitable for all children. You should really know your audience to make sure they will not get upset by some of the images or poems.
Very funny collection of false apology poems with great illustrations. My favorite:
This is Just to Say
While you were buying
I sanded off
your Barbie’s face
This audiobook contained about 20 of Angelou’s readings. I found I had to find the little insert with the titles of the different readings, to help me make sense of the poem/reading. There are some raw depictions of struggle and oppression. I wondered about one of the quotes (paraphrased from memory) – My crime is that I lived to tell the tale – from the poem “My Guilt” , I think she means we are guilty/complicit when we come away from injustice committed unscathed, without having fought enough… I’m Not sure The picture on the cover shows a younger woman than what I’ve seen in the media, so presumably these poems were written/recorded at an earlier time in her life.
Let America Be America Again is a beautiful edition of the classic Langston Hughes poem.
Let America be America again.
Let if be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.
(America never was America to me)
A timely and pertinent poem in our days of the 99% and rousing election speeches, I think it should be required reading for every citizen and perhaps be tattooed on those who use the chorus of “America” to rally us to war, to class and racial divides, and to hate and fear one another. The wood cut illustrations are stark and moving, ideal for the poem, but I found the print to be difficult to read. But even if you must find the poem online or in another anthology, please read it.
This novel written in verse tells the story of Ha and her family as they flee Saigon and come to America. It is a story of survival and struggle. It is beautifully written and the sparseness of the verse makes the story that much more poignant. In Saigon, Ha’s family listens to the bombs fall daily, they wait for a father’s return even though they fear he is gone forever. They are smart and capable people in Saigon. Then one day they decide to leave on a Navy ship as Saigon is falling to the Communists. They arrive in America and are sponsored by a family in Alabama. Life in America is not easy. They do not know the language and are considered dumb; they are teased and taunted by their peers. They had to leave everything they knew behind.
I think the fact that this book is written in verse makes it that much more powerful. I don’t think the story would have resonated as much if it was written in a traditional manner. Lai is able to convey every emotion and heartache of the family’s journey through the verse as well as their hope for their future. It is a powerful book on a powerful subject. This is a very fast read, but you really do want to take your time and pour over the language.
Shaun Tan is extremely talented. His work just blows me away. I thought this collection of stories was very powerful. and the illustrations are magnificent. Tan is like a strange cooky version of Dr. Seuss; he is whimsical and there is just so much going on in the pictures. You want to pour over them for a long while. The three stories in this book are all variations of loss and finding your place in the world. The first “The Red Flower” deals with a girl’s depression and the darkness and loneliness she feels, but there is hope in the end. The second story “the Lost Thing” is my favorite about a lost something that is found by a boy. He wants to take care of it and find it a home and he eventually does find it a place with others of its own kind. This story deals with conformity and pushing things into the dark if they don’t fit in. “The Rabbits” is probably the most obvious allegory tale of the three. It deals with a population being invaded by colonists. It is a perfect story to go with lessons on Native Americans. They are driven from their homes and lands and pretty much decimated by the invaders. Tan’s strength really lies with the illustrations though. They bring the stories to life in their own whimsical way. Very enjoyable book that you want to read over and over.