Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A Mishmash of Not-So-Random Reading and New Stuff

I am so far behind in writing posts of my recently read books that I'm worried that I'll forget important aspects of the books. Here, then, are succint thoughts on the books I've read in the past month or so:

The Poet Slave of Cuba (chosen for Not-So-Random Shelf: Young Adult Biography)

This was on several awards list several years ago, but I'm just now getting around to it. It's biography in verse, which is pretty unusual. The story of Cuba's Juan Francisco Manzano is told in bold and frank verse, never masking the cruelty of slavery.

The Dead and the Gone (new YA)

I think The Dead and the Gone is even better than its predecessor, Life as We Knew It. In Life as We Knew It, Susan Beth Pfeffer created a world in which a meteor strike on the moon has devastating consequences in a rural town. The Dead and the Gone is a mesmerizing companion novel to Life as We Knew It, but takes place in New York City. 17 year old Alex must keep his sisters (and himself) alive after the meteor strike leaves his mother missing and his father stranded in Puerto Rico. I found this even more compelling than Life as We Knew It (which is an awesome book), because we see the connections and struggles between school, organized religion (the Morales family is Catholic and attends the local church and parochial school), relief agencies, and family connections in the fight to stay alive. As the situation worsens, the characters must consider the new rules of survival. Definitely one that will spark thoughtful discussions.

I Am Not Joey Pigza

In the third installment of the Joey Pigza saga, we find Joey dealing with the reunification of his parents. His father, always awash with grand plans, has designs on a new family business (which, of course, creates more disaster). If you enjoyed the first two Joey books, you'll want to read this one. However, the funny moments that lightened the mood in the previous books are not as numerous in this one.

Gibson Girls and Suffragists

The Images and Issues of Women in the 20th Century series (really, couldn't they have come up with a snappier title?) earned very positive reviews when it was published, and I've had my eye on it for some time. While this probably won't be something that children will seek out or pick up on their own (unless they are interested in women's history), Gibson Girls and Suffragists is a superb examination of women's roles in the 1920s. Considering that this was the age of the "New Woman" and the dawn of the fight for the right to vote, there is a great deal of drama and excitement described in Gibson Girls and Suffragists. Women's fashions and fads are also discussed, which adds levity.

(For a fantastic historical fiction novel situated around the same issues, read The Hope Chest.)

To be continued....

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