Review of Princess Academy: The Forgotten Sisters, by Shannon Hale

February 25th, 2015

forgotten_sisters_largePrincess Academy

The Forgotten Sisters

by Shannon Hale

Bloomsbury, February 24, 2015. 324 pages.
Starred Review

Look at that! The Forgotten Sisters has been released earlier than the date printed on the Advance Reader Copy. So I need to post my review!

This book is the Advance Reader Copy I was most excited about getting at ALA Midwinter Meeting – and the first one I read, immediately after the conference. This is the third book after Princess Academy and Palace of Stone. I believe readers will enjoy it more who have read the earlier books – and reading those books will be a treat, if you haven’t yet.

Princess Academy is a simple story about Miri and the other girls from her mountain village learning to negotiate and make their way in the world, while one of them will be chosen to be the princess. In Palace of Stone Miri and the other academy graduates go to the capital city in the lowlands – and learn about politics and rumblings of revolution.

In The Forgotten Sisters, the outlook gets yet broader as war comes to Danland.

But the beginning of the book simply has Miri excited about going home, back to Mount Eskel. Then she is summoned by the king moments before the traders who were going to take her home must leave. In the royal breakfast chamber, the king and queen, all thirty-two delegates and three priests of the creator god are assembled.

“Early this morning, traders sailed from the commonwealth of Eris with news,” said the chief delegate. “The kingdom of Stora has invaded Eris. The battle lasted only three days. Eris surrendered.”

Steffan leaned forward to grip a chair back. Britta reached out for Miri’s hand. Stora was the largest kingdom on the continent. Miri imagined its vast army pouring into tiny Eris like all the sands of a beach trying to fill a single jar. And Eris bordered Danland.

“Danland can no longer take for granted our longstanding peace with Stora,” the chief delegate continued. “We must secure an unbreakable alliance. Stora’s King Fader is a widower. The delegation has decided to offer King Fader a royal daughter of Danland as a bride.”. . .

“The highest ranking royal girls are His Majesty’s cousins,” said the chief delegate. “They live in a territory known as Lesser Alva. Three girls. King Fader of Stora will have his pick of them for a bride, if he agrees to our offer.” . . .

“Living in Lesser Alva, I suspect the girls are not very, shall we say, refined,” said the chief delegate. “The priests of the creator god have called for a princess academy to prepare them, and the delegation approved it. We require this girl to go be their tutor.” He gestured toward Miri without looking at her.

Miri doesn’t want to go; she wants to go home to Mount Eskel. But she works out a deal that if she does go, and if she is successful and King Fader marries one of the girls, then the people of Mount Eskel will be given the land where they live (which the king was thinking of selling) and the quarry where they make their livelihood.

However, when Miri arrives in the swamp that is Lesser Alva, she finds things not at all as she expected. The three girls do live in a white house made of linder. But the house is empty, the girls’ mother is dead, and they are destitute. They haven’t seen anything of the allowance supposedly sent to them every month by the king. They don’t have time to learn about being princesses, because they need to go out in the swamp and hunt for food.

We do come to enjoy the three sisters, Astrid, Felissa, and Sus. Here is a scene shortly after Miri has met them.

”Just so you know,” said Felissa, her smile a little timid now, “in Lesser Alva one never, ever enters someone else’s house without being invited.”

“Never,” Sus said, unblinking.

“Never ever,” said Felissa, nodding.

“In fact, we could have killed you on the spot and cut you up for meat,” Astrid said, casually cleaning out her fingernails.

“No one’s ever really done that,” said Sus.

“As far as we know,” said Astrid. “But we could be the first and no one would stop us.”

So first, Miri must win the girls’ trust. But she also needs to learn the ways of the swamp and help in the hunt for food. But it’s also urgent to find out where the girls’ allowance is disappearing – because the same corrupt people are not letting Miri’s letters get out of Lesser Alva.

However, that’s only the beginning. War from Stora does come to the swamp. Miri needs to get the girls to the capital city and King Fader in hopes of sealing that alliance. But none of that is simple, and many things turn out to be different than they seem at first.

I like all the complexities and diplomacy and cleverness that Shannon Hale builds into these books. In each of the books, somebody gets outsmarted. Miri again shows her worth – and this time the Forgotten Sisters get to contribute as well.

And I won’t give anything away, but the Epilogue puts a nice cap on the entire trilogy.

Shannon Hale has done it again! She’s written an absorbing further tale of a simple girl from Mount Eskel who makes things right, and changes the world while doing so.

squeetus.com
bloomsbury.com

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Source: This review is based on an Advance Reader Copy I got at ALA Midwinter Meeting.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?

Review of Winnie: The True Story of the Bear Who Inspired Winnie-the-Pooh, by Sally M. Walker and Jonathan D. Voss

February 23rd, 2015

winnie_largeWinnie

The True Story of the Bear Who Inspired Winnie-the-Pooh

by Sally M. Walker

illustrated by Jonathan D. Voss

Henry Holt and Company, New York, 2015. 36 pages.
Starred Review

It’s books like this that make me wish we had a separate children’s browsing section for Nonfiction, rather than interfiling them with adult books. This is not a book for children looking for the subject of Bears, although that is where it is filed. This is a heart-warming picture book story that happens to be true.

I knew that the name of Winnie-the-Pooh was inspired by a bear Christopher Robin visited at the London Zoo. This book tells the story of that bear.

The bear was born in Canada during World War I. A veterinarian who took care of the horses in the Canadian army saw the bear for sale when his regiment stopped at a train station. The man said he didn’t see the cub until after he’d shot her mother, so Harry Colebourn bought the bear and named her Winnipeg, after his company’s hometown.

Winnipeg, whose name was quickly shortened to Winnie, was friendly and affectionate to the whole troop, but especially to Harry. She traveled with them to training camp in Quebec and then across the Atlantic Ocean.

But when the company was sent to the fighting in France, Harry decided that Winnie would be better off in the London Zoo, which had a new exhibit for bears. Winnie adjusted so well that four years later, when the war ended, Harry decided she should be allowed to stay.

Even though this book has a back story of war, the author and illustrator have made a very readable, light-hearted tale. They show Winnie cuddling and playing with Harry and the other soldiers. I was very surprised that the London zookeepers actually let children ride on Winnie’s back and feed her condensed milk with a spoon. It’s hard to imagine any zookeepers anywhere allowing that today, but perhaps it’s a testament to how gentle Winnie was.

And it’s fitting that the bear who inspired one of the greatest books of children’s literature should now have her own story told. Fans of Winnie-the-Pooh will love hearing the back story, but this story goes beyond that and simply tells a heart-warming story of a young man and a bear who was generous with her affection.

sallymwalker.com
jonathandvoss.com
mackids.com

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Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?

Sonderling Sunday – Jinx und der magische Urwald

February 22nd, 2015

It’s time for Sonderling Sunday! That time of the week when I play with language by looking at the German translation of children’s books.

I have a new book to look at today! I found this German edition of one of my favorites, Jinx, by Sage Blackwood, on Amazon, and I had to order it!

Jinx

You can see that my copy is an Advance Reader’s Edition — hopefully there weren’t too many changes.

You’ll also notice they’ve added to the title. I find I like Jinx und der magische Urwald, “Jinx and the magical Primeval Forest.”

Oh! Surprise! This is one of the few books that is shorter in German. Maybe because of the bigger pages? It’s 360 pages in English, and only 351 in German. Wow. Looking more closely, that’s even with the English Chapter One starting on Page 1, but the German Erstes Kapitel starting on Seite 7.

I’m going to begin with some interesting front matter. The translator’s name is Sylke Hachmeister.

Opposite the title page, we have the author bio:
“Sage Blackwood lives at the edge of a large forest, with thousands of books and a very old dog, and enjoys carpentry, cooking, and walking in the woods of New York State.”

This translates to: Sage Blackwood lebt am Rande eines dunklen Waldes, mit Tausenden von Büchern und einem sehr alten Hund. Sie liebt es, zu tischlern und zu kochen, und macht gerne Spaziergänge durch die Wälder des Bundesstaats New York.

My favorite in that bio is “carpentry” = tishlernen, “table-learning.”

The dedication in English is, “To Jennifer Schwabach because it’s her kind of story.”

It has a lilt in German: Für Jennifer Schwabach weil es eine Geschichte nach ihrem Geschmack ist. (“For Jennifer Schwabach because it a story after her taste is.” But the sound of it rolling off the tongue is what’s especially nice about it.)

Jinx has a classic opening line, so let’s look at that.

“In the Urwald you grow up fast or not at all.”
= Im Urwald wurde man entweder schnell groß oder gar nicht.

Now I’ll mention interesting words and phrases as they come up:

“carefully” = bedächtig

Interesting. “Stepparents” = Stiefeltern (“boot-parents”)

“Inherited” = geerbt

Here are some good-to-know phrases for your next foreign adventure!

“died of werewolves” = von Werwölfen getötet

“was carried off by elves” = von Elfen verschleppt worden war

“a passing firebird” = eines vorüberfliegenden Feuervogels (“an over-flying Firebird”)

“ignited” = angezündet

“Besides” = Zu allem Überfluss (“To all this overflow”)

Something German has a word for:
“the winter would be a hungry one”
= ein Hungerwinter stand bevor
(“a Hungerwinter stood before”)

“calculating eye” = berechnenden Blick (“reckoning glance”)

“surplus children” = überzählige Kinder

“a single bite of his toad porridge”
= nur einen Happen von seinem Krötenbrei
(“only one bite of his toad-brew”)

Again, it actually feels a little smoother in German:
“great trees as big around as cottages”
= gewaltige Bäume mit hausbreiten Stämmen
(“huge trees with house-wide trunks”)

“the front of his coat” = Mantelkragen (“coat collar”)

“doomed” = verdammt

Interesting. This must be where we got the word:
“twilight” = Zwielicht

“disapproval” = Missfallen

“gnarled” = knorrigen

“twisty hair” = zwirbeligen Haaren

“pointed beard” = Spitzbart

Here’s a good phrase:
“the wizard’s nose twitched at the bad smell of the lie.”
die Nase des Zauberers zuckte, als er die Lüge roch

“measly” = mickrigen

“Bergthold drew himself up.” = Bergthold straffte sich.

That’s a good stopping place for now, just before a violent death. I feel like I need to walk in the woods to get good use out of these phrases — which makes me miss living in Germany, where there are always plenty of woods to walk in.

Have a wonderful week! It may be a cold winter, but at least it’s not a Hungerwinter!

Review of The Farmer and the Clown, by Marla Frazee

February 21st, 2015

farmer_and_the_clown_largeThe Farmer and the Clown

by Marla Frazee

Beach Lane Books, New York, 2014. 32 pages.
Starred Review

More than any other, this was the book I was sad to see not represented when the Caldecott Award and Honors were mentioned. I didn’t read it until after 2015 had begun, or I’m sure it would have been a 2014 Sonderbooks Stand-out. (Now it has to wait for the 2015 Stand-outs.)

I’m already a huge fan of Marla Frazee’s art. I became so by reading the Clementine books. You can see her distinctive style in these pages, especially the adorably round kid faces.

This is a wordless picture book. It tells a simple story, but one bursting with life.

An old-fashioned farmer is working in his flat, brown fields, when he sees a circus train go by. Then a small clown child falls off the train. The farmer goes to him and takes him home. The two spend a night and day together before the train comes back. In the process, they become friends. And the way the artist shows that friendship developing is where this book is a work of genius.

Parents who are all about their children practicing reading may not realize how much a wordless picture book can do. They even work wonderfully for storytime. You can ask children what is happening, and you will be amazed at the things they notice and the vocabulary they use to describe it.

What’s more, children who haven’t yet learned to decode letters will be delighted to be able to read this book. And they will learn the sequencing of a book, going from left to right and from front to back. Even for older children, who have mastered reading, this book has so much to offer.

But aside from all that, I challenge anyone to read this book and not be delighted by the story of this unlikely pair and their budding friendship. (I especially like where the little clown tries to teach the farmer to juggle eggs. And the farmer waking the little one up with silly antics.)

marlafrazee.com
simonandschuster.com

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Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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Review of Jedi Academy: Return of the Padawan, by Jeffrey Brown

February 19th, 2015

return_of_the_padawan_largeStar Wars Jedi Academy

Return of the Padawan

by Jeffrey Brown

Scholastic, 2014. 176 pages.

This is the second book in the Star Wars Jedi Academy series. Roan is back, ready and confident for his second year at Jedi Academy.

At last he’ll get to take Jedi pilot training! And he already has friends!

But the pilot instructor doesn’t seem to like Roan after the flight simulator almost blows up on his first flight. And things go wrong with his friends. The girl he likes hardly talks to him.

Basically, he’s got all sorts of regular middle school problems — only they’re happening at Jedi Academy.

And Roan’s a budding cartoonist, so the text never gets long and involved and is always broken up with comics.

I haven’t seen the first volume of this series on the shelf much since it was published (always checked out), and I am sure the same will be true for this one. And at the back, Roan gives tips for making your own comics.

jeffreybrowncomics.blogspot.com

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Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?

Review of Dear Committee Members, by Julie Schumacher

February 18th, 2015

dear_committee_members_largeDear Committee Members

by Julie Schumacher

Doubleday, New York, 180 pages.
Starred Review

Dear Committee Members is a novel told entirely in the form of Letters of Recommendation written by Jason Fitger, an English professor at a small liberal arts college. That may not sound like a way to write a hilarious novel, but trust me, it is.

When my hold on this book came in, I dipped into it – and then had to put it on the top of my to-be-read pile. I finished it the next day, reading it while waiting at a doctor’s office, trying to restrain my laughter.

I don’t think I can describe all the delights and sophisticated humor of this book. I will settle for copying out a few example letters.

Here’s one addressed to the manager of Wexler Foods:

Dear Ms. Ingersol,

This letter is intended to bolster the application to Wexler Foods of my former student John Leszczynski, who completed the Junior/Senior Creative Writing Workshop three months ago. Mr. Leszczynski received a final grade of B, primarily on the basis of an eleven-page short story about an inebriated man who tumbles into a cave and surfaces from an alcoholic stupor to find that a tentacled monster – a sort of fanged and copiously salivating octopus, if memory serves – is gnawing through the flesh of his lower legs, the monster’s spittle burbling ever closer to the victim’s groin. Though chaotic and improbable even within the fantasy/horror genre, the story was solidly constructed: dialogue consisted primarily of agonized groans and screaming; the chronology was relentlessly clear.

Mr. Leszczynski attended class faithfully, arriving on time, and rarely succumbed to the undergraduate impulse to check his cell phone for messages or relentlessly zip and unzip his backpack in the final minutes of class.

Whether punctuality and enthusiasm for flesh-eating cephalopods are the main attributes of the ideal Wexler employee I have no idea, but Mr. Leszczynski is an affable young man, reliable in his habits, and reasonably bright.

His letter to the new Chair of the Department of English introduces some themes that continue throughout the book:

Dear Ted,

Your memo of August 30 requests that we on the English faculty recommend some luckless colleague for the position of director of graduate studies. (You may have been surprised to find this position vacant upon your assumption of the chairship last month – if so, trust me, you will encounter many such surprises here.)

A quick aside, Ted: god knows what enticements were employed during the heat of summer to persuade you – a sociologist! – to accept the position of chair in a department not your own, an academic unit whose reputation for eccentricity and discord has inspired the upper echelon to punish us by withholding favors as if from a six-year-old at a birthday party: No raises or research funds for you, you ungovernable rascals! And no fudge before dinner! Perhaps, as the subject of a sociological study, you will find the problem of our dwindling status intriguing.

To the matter at hand: though English has traditionally been a largish department, you will find there are very few viable candidates capable of assuming the mantle of DGS. In fact, if I were a betting man, I’d wager that only 10 percent of the English instruction list will answer your call for nominations. Why? First, because more than a third of our faculty now consists of temporary (adjunct) instructors who creep into the building under cover of darkness to teach their graveyard shifts of freshman comp; they are not eligible to vote or to serve. Second, because the remaining two-thirds of the faculty, bearing the scars of disenfranchisement and long-term abuse, are busy tending to personal grudges like scraps of carrion on which they gnaw in the gloom of their offices. Long story short: your options aren’t pretty….

Ted, in your memo you referred briefly, also, to the need for faculty forbearance during what we were initially told would be the “remodeling” of the second floor for the benefit of our colleagues in the Economics Department.* I’m not sure that you noticed, but the Econ faculty were, in early August, evacuated from the building – as if they’d been notified, sotto voce, of an oncoming plague. Not so the faculty in English. With the exception of a few individuals both fleet of foot and quick-witted enough to claim status as asthmatics, we have been Left Behind, almost biblically, expected to begin our classes and meet with students while bulldozers snarl at the door. Yesterday afternoon during my Multicultural American Literature class, I watched a wrecking ball swinging like a hypnotist’s watch just past the window. While I am relieved to know that the economists – delicate creatures! – have been safely installed in a wing of the new geology building where their physical comfort and aesthetic needs can be addressed, those of us who remain as castaways here in Willard Hall risk not only deafness but mutation: as of next week we have been instructed to keep our windows tightly closed due to “particulate matter” – but my office window (here’s the amusing part, Ted) no longer shuts. One theory here: the deanery is annoyed with our requests for parity and, weary of waiting for us to retire, has decided to kill us. Let the academic year begin!

Cordially and with a hearty welcome to the madhouse,

Jay

*Under whose aegis was it decided that Economics and English should share a building? Were criteria other than the alphabet considered?

I have to also include this one:

Dear Admissions Committee Members – and Janet:

This letter recommends Melanie deRueda for admission to the law school on the well-heeled side of this campus. I’ve known Ms. deRueda for eleven minutes, ten of which were spent in a fruitless attempt to explain to her that I write letters of recommendation only for students who have signed up for and completed one of my classes. This young woman is certainly tenacious, if that’s what you’re looking for. A transfer student, she appears to be suffering under the delusion that a recommendation from any random faculty member within our august institution will be the key to her application’s success.

Janet: I know your committees aren’t reading these blasted LORs – under the influence of our final martini in August you told me as much. (I wish I had an ex-wife like you in every department; over in the Fellowship Office, the formerly benevolent Carole continues to maintain an icy distance. I should think her decision to quit our relationship would have filled her with a cheerful burst of self-esteem, but she apparently views the end of our three years together in a different light.)

Ms. deRueda claims to be sending her transcripts and LSAT scores at the end of the week. God help you – this is your shot across the bow – should you admit her.

Still affectionately your one-time husband,

Jay

P.S.: I’ve heard a rumor that Eleanor – yes, that Eleanor, from the Seminar – is a finalist for the directorship at Bentham. You got back in touch with her despite her denouncements of me; do you have any intel?

P.P.S.: A correction: you got back in touch with Eleanor because she denounced me. I remember you quoting what she said when I published Transfer of Affection: that I was an egotist prone to repeating his most fatal mistakes. I’ll admit to the egotism – which is undeniable – but I’d like to think that, after fourteen years of marriage, you knew me better than Eleanor did. We were happy for some of those fourteen years, especially before Transfer; why shouldn’t I believe that you were right about me, too?

The themes brought up in these letters toward the beginning of the book continue. Yes, we find out more about Janet, Eleanor, and Carole. We hear more about the fiasco of the building remodeling and inequities of funding between departments. We learn about Jay’s history in “the Seminar,” his publishing history, and his attempts to further the fortunes of some particular students.

Mostly, this is an inside look at academia, and the result is surprisingly funny and enjoyable. Oh, and it’s also fun that the person writing the letters is articulate and insightful. An example of a highly intelligent person who sees the foibles around him and can poke fun with razor-sharp precision.

julieschumacher.com
doubleday.com

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Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?

Review of Sam and Dave Dig a Hole, by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen

February 17th, 2015

sam_and_dave_dig_a_hole_largeSam and Dave Dig a Hole

by Mac Barnett
illustrated by Jon Klassen

Candlewick Press, 2014. 40 pages.
Starred Review
2015 Caledecott Honor

This book is simply genius. So simple. And so much to notice.

The plot is that Sam and Dave dig a hole.

“When should we stop digging?” asked Sam.
“We are on a mission,” said Dave.
“We won’t stop digging until we find something spectacular.”

Their dog goes along with them on their adventure. In each spread, we see the cross-section of the hole — and that they keep just missing a spectacular treasure, in fact, they keep missing treasures that get more and more spectacular.

The dog, however, knows what they’re missing. In every picture, he’s got his nose pointed toward the treasure that the boys are missing. They decide to stop digging downward, to split up, to turn corners — all just before they would have found treasure.

Finally, the boys stop and take a nap. This time, the treasure they have just missed is a bone. That one, the dog is not going to leave be.

But when the dog digs for the bone, the floor of their tunnel collapses and they all fall down. . .

until they landed in the soft dirt.

“Well,” said Sam.
“Well, said Dave.
“That was pretty spectacular.”

And they went inside
for chocolate milk and animal cookies.

At first glance, it looks like they have landed in their own yard, which was pictured at the beginning.

At second glance? Well, something has happened here.

In fact, before our library got this book and I even read it, I read theories about it, thanks to the brilliant Travis Jonker, writer of 100 Scope Notes

Here are his theories about what happened in the book.

And later, he revisits and gives us a link to what Aaron Zenz and his 9-year-old son think happened.

So you see, this is truly a book for all ages. The words and pictures are simple, even iconic. But the details! And the philosophical questions! This is a book that, besides being a joy and delight, will spark conversations.

Absolutely brilliant.

macbarnett.com
burstofbeaden.com
scholastic.com

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Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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Review of Mr. Ferris and His Wheel, by Kathryn Gibbs Davis

February 16th, 2015

mr_ferris_and_his_wheel_largeMr. Ferris and His Wheel

written by Kathryn Gibbs Davis
illustrated by Gilbert Ford

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014. 40 pages.
Starred Review

I love this kind of nonfiction for kids – It’s engaging and simply told, with plenty of facts, but written to be read and enjoyed, not to use as reference for a report.

This is a picture book, and the illustrations are beautiful, evoking the time of the Chicago World’s Fair, when Mr. Ferris built his wheel.

The author tells the tale as a suspenseful story, with supporting facts alongside. Here’s an example page:

Now it was America’s turn to impress the world at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. But what could outshine the famous French tower? And who would build it? A nationwide contest was announced.

Here’s the sidebar on that two-page spread, in a corner and printed in a smaller font:

Before TV and the Internet, people from around the globe gathered at World’s Fairs to share their different ways of life and new technologies. Tasty inventions such as hamburgers and Cracker Jack first appeared there!

It goes on to dramatize George Ferris getting the idea, submitting his plans, and the large technological challenges they faced. One of the pages during the construction phase shows spectators who are critical and skeptical that the thing will stay up, let alone actually work.

The author and illustrator dramatize the completion, and the very first ride, giving us a feeling of the majestic spectacle the wheel made, as well as the sweeping view of Chicago.

All summer, visitors from around the world traveled to the Chicago World’s Fair. It didn’t matter whether one was a senator, a farmer, a boy or girl. Everyone wanted to take a spin on the magnificent wheel. Adventurous couples asked to get married on it! On hot, steamy days, the wheel was the perfect place to escape up, up, up into the cooling breezes. All you needed was fifty cents.

[Sidebar:] During the nineteen weeks the wheel was in operation, 1.5 million passengers rode it. It revolved more than 10,000 times, withstood gale-force winds and storms, and did not need one repair.

Let’s hear it for a book that highlights the heroism and accomplishments of an engineer! This book tells a good story, but it will also capture kids’ imaginations. A page at the back supplies further reading and websites. Who knows? This book may inspire future engineers.

gibbsdavis.com
gilbertford.com
hmhco.com

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Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Childrens_Nonfiction/mr_ferris_and_his_wheel.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?

Sonderling Sunday – Kapitel 18

February 15th, 2015

Hooray! At long last, it’s again time for Sonderling Sunday: That time of the week when I play with language by looking at the German translation of children’s books.

I hardly got to it when I was reading for the Cybils. And then I wanted to catch up on posting reviews. And then I went to ALA Midwinter Meeting. And had a medical scare. (Benign!) And have just been busy.

So tonight I may not be able to go as long as I’d like. But I am going to do it. And since it’s been awhile, I am going to go back to the book that started it all, Der Orden der Seltsamen Sonderlinge, The Order of Odd-fish, by James Kennedy.

Sonderlinge 2

Last time, we actually finished up Chapter 17, so we are on Kapitel 18, which is on page 223 and Seite 281.

It begins with a sentence that’s good to know in any language:

“Jo and Audrey became fast friends.”
= Jo und Audrey freundeten sich rasch an.
(“Jo and Audrey friended themselves rapidly.”)
Apparently “to friend” was a concept in German before Facebook!

Now you know what to call these people:
“a stuttering deliveryman” = den stotternden Lieferanten

“a hapless tourist” = den ahnungslosen Touristen

“seemingly inexhaustible collection” = scheinbar unerschöpfliche Sammlung

And now you know how to ask for this if you’re ever in Germany and need to go undercover:
“false whiskers” = falschen Backenbärten

“fat suits” = Fettpolstern

I like this one:
“furious” = recht ergrimmt

“slightly daunted” = leicht eingeschüchtert zusammen

This is for when you’re describing why you’re going undercover:
“nefarious plans” = ruchlosen Pläne

This is a good word to know:
“nonsense” = Quatsch

“barely restrained contempt” = kaum verhüllter Verachtung

“scrawling notes in the margins” = Notizen in kleine Hefte kritzelte

“constructing bewildering charts of arrows and boxes and labels”
= merkwürdige Tabellen mit Pfeilen, Kästchen und Etiketten anfertigte

Okay, that’s actually a good stopping place — the end of the first section of Chapter 18. Perhaps if I give it a short segment tonight, it will be easier to get around to next week.

And this week I’ll wish you someone with whom you may friend yourselves rapidly!

Review of Small Victories, by Anne Lamott

February 14th, 2015

small_victories_largeSmall Victories

Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace

by Anne Lamott

Riverhead Books, New York, 2014. 286 pages.
Starred Review

I so love Anne Lamott! This book has a notation on the front: “New and Selected Pieces.” I did, in fact, recognize some of the essays from her previous books – but they were so excellent, I didn’t mind at all being reminded of them.

Anne Lamott has such a disarming style. She reminds us that it’s completely okay to be human and that God thinks of us fondly in spite of that. Of course, I love that she’s a left-wing Christian. (There aren’t so many of them writing, but I am one, too.)

She tells true stories from her own life, and she doesn’t shy away from the ways she screws up. She doesn’t hide from us her crummy attitudes and uncharitable thoughts. When she draws lessons from these things, we’re blessed as well. And if she can get through these things, as fully human as she is – well, then maybe we can, too.

Of course, her writing also, unfailingly, makes me laugh. I love her way of looking at things. She always gives me a new, happier perspective.

The best way, though, to understand the awesomeness of Anne Lamott’s writing is to look at examples. Any time I read her books, she starts filling up my Sonderquotes pages. Now, I should mention that if you’re politically right wing, there may be a few of her comments that bother you (which is too bad, but there it is). Take a look at some examples, and then check out or buy this book!

riverheadbooks.com

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Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Nonfiction/small_victories.html

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Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

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What did you think of this book?