Annemarie and her family live in Copenhagen; they have been living under German occupation for three years now. Annemarie is best friends with Ellen, who is Jewish. One day the synagogues in Copenhagen tell their people that all the Jews are going to be arrested. So Ellen and her family must hid and try to escape from Denmark. Annemarie’s family hides Ellen and then takes her to the coast so she and her parents can escape to Sweden. Annemarie’s uncle pilots the boat that takes them to Sweden. Annemarie and her family have to hide their Jewish friends and trick the German soldiers in order to get them to safety.
This is a great look at a story of the holocaust that is not often told. How many people realize that the Danish people saved almost the entire Jewish population? This is a more hopeful story of that time period than many other works about the Holocaust. It will make readers want to learn more about the Danish resistance and the rescue of the Danish Jews. I truly enjoyed Annemarie’s story and how she reacted to the danger her friend was in.
This is a delightful story of a boy who escaped the killer who murdered his parents when he was just a toddler. He managed to crawl up the hill from his parents’ home to a graveyard. The spirits there felt sorry for him and took him in, sheltering him from the killer, who was convinced to leave and forget his reasons for being there. One couple took over as his parents, providing a snug home for him in the forsaken funeral chapel and a half-way person brought him food and clothing and watched over him when he was big enough to leave the graveyard. Several of the spirits (who appeared real to Bod) taught him math, reading, and understand others. Not knowing his name, they named him Nobody and called him “Bod”. He also learned how to fade into invisibility, go through walls, and see in the dark. Eventually he began to mature and the killer returned for him. By this time Bod was very aware of how to use his powers. I had no ideas before this story how helpful the graveyard souls could be!
The One and Only Ivan, Mighty Silverback is the main attraction at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade, conveniently located off I-95. He has lived at the mall in his “domain” for many, many years. He is content with his life with Stella, the old elephant, Bob, the stray dog that sleeps on his tummy, and George and Julia, who clean the mall. Their keeper Mack is not content however. The mall is losing money and no one is coming to visit anymore. So Mack gets Ruby, a baby elephant, to attract more attention. Stella and Ruby are not content in their cage and soon Stella dies. Ivan makes a promise to her that he will save Ruby, but how is a gorilla supposed to do that?
I usually don’t like books written from an animal’s perspective, but there was something about Ivan that really worked. His voice seemed so much his own and not a person speaking for a gorilla. I loved everything about Ivan, especially his relationships with the others. I really enjoyed how Ivan thought about the problem of Ruby and came up with a solution all on his own. Very inventive! This is one of the few Newberrys in recent years that I have really and truly loved. It was definitely worthy of the medal.
Miyax/Julie is torn between living the eskimo way and living the white man “gussak” way. She has been torn from her father and forced to live with others. She marries Daniel and eventually runs away after he tries to force himself on her. In the Alaskan wilderness she bonds with a wolf pack and is accepted as one of them. The alpha wolf, Amaraq, teaches her how to survive and speak with the wolves. They become the family she no longer has.
Julie is a very strong, independent girl who has a fascinating story. At times I did find her voice a little preachy when she was talking about the eskimo way of life and the wolves. However, her relationship with the wolves was fascinating. I am not so sure about the end of the book. I haven’t read the sequel so I don’t know how George resolves this, but the end was a little unsatisfying. I have to admit that I had tears in my eyes when Amaraq gets killed, which is a sure sign of a good book!
I often wonder about the Newbery committee and if they select the winners because they think the books are great or if they think they are books kids should read. I don’t think a lot of the Newbery winners are books kids will want to read. That doesn’t mean they are horrible books, it just means they don’t have a lot of appeal to the demographic they are supposed to be written for. I think Dead End in Norvelt falls into that category. It isn’t a bad book; I just don’t think it is the best book written for children in the past year. And frankly I don’t think it is going to really appeal to that many pleasure readers.
Dead End in Norvelt is the story of Jack Gantos (yes it is semi-autobiographical) and how he spent his summer. It is full of tales of dead old ladies and writing their obituaries with Mrs. Volker, digging a bomb shelter with dad, getting in trouble with mom, Hells Angels, and nose bleeds. Their is a lot of crazy stuff going on in the town of Norvelt (founded and named for Eleanor Roosevelt) and Jack is in the middle of it all.
I am sure every child has thought of running away from home at some point or another and what better place to run away to than the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art. Much better than the woods or the streets. Claudia Kincaid decides to run away because she is tired of being treated poorly by her parents and she takes her brother Jamie with her because he has more money than her. The Met is a good place to hide for since it provides educational opportunities, a bathing spot (the fountain), additional funds (coins in the fountain), and sleeping spots (beds on display). Claudia and Jamie become fascinated by a new statue on display at the museum. They are determined to discover if Angel is really a lost carving by Michelangelo. The mystery gives their adventure purpose and leads them to Mrs. Frankweiler, who sold the statue to the museum.
This Newbery winner is a great adventure story that while parts of it are dated does seem timeless in its themes. I think kids today will identify with running away from home and wanting to solve the mystery of the statue. Claudia and Jamie are very resourceful and determined in how the manage to escape detection and hide out in the Met for a week. I think they are fabulous characters: Claudia is a great planner and very determined (her grammar correcting does get a bit old however); Jamie is quirky and I love his penny-pinching and gambling habit. Fun book that stands the test of time.