Saturday, December 20, 2008

Have You Had Enough Yet?

Too bad! I'm not done yet! I've been sitting on some of these reviews for two months!

Little Otter’s Big Journey (The Not-So-Random Shelf: Picture Book)

It’s a rare child who hasn’t felt lost or feared being lost. Little Otter’s Big Journey explores this universal feeling in an understanding and gentle way. Little Otter accompanies his mother to look for food, but he manages to get separated from his mother. The friendly sea creatures seek his mother, but he just feels even more abandoned. Of course, mother comes back, all is well, and Little Otter has learned his lesson. Very sweet read aloud.

Mary Cassatt (the Not-So-Random Shelf: Biography)

Mary Cassatt’s intriguing life is serviced well in this children’s biography by Robyn Turner. Plenty of examples of Cassatt’s art are scattered throughout the book, complemented with good annotations.

Roberto Clemente (The Not-So-Random Shelf: Biography)

Roberto Clemente’s inspiring life is celebrated in this excellent biography of the Latino baseball player. A great pick for Hispanic Heritage Month.

What Every Girl (Except Me) Knows (The Not-So-Random Shelf: Chapter Book)

This is a sweet and believable story about a young girl yearning for a mother. Gabby is pleased that her father is remarrying, but everything changes when her stepmother gets cold feet. Gabby remembers little about her mother, so she searches for the last place she remembers seeing her mother alive. Although some may call the ending pat, this is a very good read for preteens.

The Journal of Douglas Allen Deeds

After seeing this title appear on several local schools’s Accelerated Reader lists, I became curious enough to pick up the book for a quick read. I remember learning about the tragic Donner Party in elementary school, and I wondered how a children’s novel would treat the more controversial aspects of the story.

Written in diary form (as are all the books in the My Name is America series), The Journal of Douglas Allen Deeds traces the story of a fifteen year old orphan member of the Donner Party. Through Douglas, we learn of the party’s optimism, their fatal mistake, the unbearable thirst and hunger, and the extraordinary decisions members made to save themselves. The book doesn’t dwell on the extraordinary decisions, but the trauma is well felt (so don't read this during your lunch break).

The Journal of Douglas Allen Deeds would be a sensitive springboard for further discussion on the Donner Party and on topics of what would a person do when faced with extreme hunger/thirst and facing winter in the wilderness, before the age of cell phones and GPS devices.

Only a few more posts left in the year...

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