Friday, February 06, 2009

Quick Reviews

Soon, I will have more time for longer reviews!

If you are looking for a unique historical fiction, try Jane Yolen's Children of the Wolf. Based upon the true story of two young feral girls in early twentieth century India, Children of the Wolf is a fascinating and thought-provoking novel that can inspire discussions about culture clashes and basic human needs.

Think you've suffered through a few cold days? That's nothing compared to what Pam Flowers experienced with her solo dog sled adventure in 1992. Flowers became the first female and first American to successfully recreate a 1923-24 expedition across the entire North American Arctic coast. Her story is an inspiring and exciting one, complete with a nearly deadly encounter with a polar bear and her cub and the temporary disappearance of her lead dog. Flowers writes about her dogs with great love and concern, and it's obvious that their needs were paramount during the journey. Sidebars give great tidbits about camping during a blizzard and the positions and personalities of the dogs, among other things. If you love dog stories and/or true adventure stories, you don't want to miss Alone Across the Arctic.

If you've read books by Laurence Yep, you know that he often writes about the struggles of Chinese-Americans caught between the China of their elders and the America of their birth. Although this is not an uncommon thread running throughout the work of Chinese-American authors (or many authors of other ethnicities), Yep's childhood and family heritage (growing up in a predominately African-American neighborhood and attending Catholic school) gives him a unique perspective. A lack of Chinese made him out of place in visits to Chinatown, while his ethnic features and name made him "apart" from the largely non-Chinese world in which he lived. Self-discovery of one's ethnicity/culture is certainly not unique to adult nonfiction, but making it the focus of your memoir for children/young adults is unique. The Lost Garden is an enlightening look at a young boy growing up in a time in which ethnicity or difference was something to overcome, and not celebrate.

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