Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Tuesday Roundup, Part Deux

"I've just decided to switch
our Friday schedule to Monday, which means that the test we
take each Friday on what we learned during the week will now
take place on Monday before we've learned it. But since
today is Tuesday, it doesn't matter in the slightest."

(Tuesday roundup, Part Deux will be published on Wednesday. Even though the date stamp says Tuesday.)

And now for something completely different: books that I finished.

The Surrender Tree

As you may already know, The Surrender Tree is a 2009 Newbery Honor book. I have chronic verse novel fatigue, so it's always a pleasure when I actually enjoy reading a verse novel. Perhaps enjoy is not the right term here, because this is quite a moving and mature read. If you're like me, you don't know very much about Cuba prior to the Castro revolution. Cuba's struggle for independence from Spain is not something that comes up regularly in children's/young adult literature. Told from the perspective of multiple narrators (another device that I normally don't warm to), The Surrender Tree is a slim novel with a strong punch. Highly recommended.

Parvana's Journey

Deborah Ellis's Breadwinner trilogy is an affecting and outstanding look at a young girl's life under the Taliban regime. Parvana is a smart, resourceful, and inspiring character that you'll not soon forget.

A Dog Called Kitty

Don't be misled by the title and cute cover. This is an unflinching story about a young boy's struggle to overcome his fear of dogs. There is quite a bit of violence (animal and human) in the story. If you can get past that, it's worth a read.

Piper Reed: The Great Gypsy

Kimberly Willis Holt is one of my favorite authors, and I'm delighted about her new(ish) series, Piper Reed. A terrific new easy chapter book series is always a good thing. What makes this series special, other than its immediate child appeal, is that Piper is a "Navy brat." The effects of military life on a family is not something commonly found in beginning chapter books. Mr. Reed's deployment is dealt with in a realistic yet nonthreatening way, as the majority of the book deals with Piper's day to day delights and concerns. If your reader is not quite ready for the Ramona books, try the Piper Reed series.


Harriet Tubman has long been a perennial biography assignment favorite, even before Black History Month assignments became standard. Like other long-lionized historical people, her accomplishments are so well known and such a part of our country's collective memory that it's easy to get blase about her life story. Minty brings us back to her amazing life story by focusing on her childhood as a slave in Maryland's Eastern Shore. With mesmerizing illustrations and a text suitable for a classroom read aloud, Minty stands up to the best in picture book biographies.

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