Archive for November, 2017

Review of The War I Finally Won, by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

Sunday, November 26th, 2017

The War I Finally Won

by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

Dial Books for Young Readers, 2017. 385 pages.
Starred Review

The War I Finally Won is the sequel to the wonderful award-winning book The War That Saved My Life, by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley. It was my #1 Sonderbooks Stand-out in Children’s Fiction for books I read in 2016. Yes, you should read the first book first.

The book begins with Ada having surgery to fix her clubfoot so she can walk without crutches. But the war is going on, and a lot of people she knows are dying, including her Mam – which means that Susan can become Ada and Jamie’s legal guardian.

Susan’s house was destroyed in the first book – but Lady Thorton gives them a home in a “cottage” on her estate – a bigger place than Susan’s house had been. However, things get smaller when Lady Thorton moves in with them after her stately home is requisitioned by the government. And then Susan is asked to tutor a 16-year-old German Jewish girl named Ruth.

Lady Thorton doesn’t want to have anything to do with a German girl, because her son is in harm’s way fighting the Germans, but she has to give in. Ada only gradually comes to understand that Ruth hates Hitler just as much as they do.

Ada still has the same voice as in the first book. There are still a lot of words she doesn’t understand because she has no experience with them. And she still is prone to emotional outbursts, still has trouble feeling safe.

This book explores many aspects of what it means to be a family. It was marvelous watching Ada’s fragile heart open wider, even while dealing with the hardships and tragedies of wartime.

kimberlybrubakerbradley.com
penguin.com/middle-grade

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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 – Seltsamen Sonderlinge – The Return of the Belgian Prankster!

Sunday, November 26th, 2017

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.

Tonight it’s back to the especially Sonder-book, Der Orden der Seltsamen Sonderlinge, which is the translation of The Order of Odd-fish, by James Kennedy.

Last time, we finished Chapter 23! So now it’s on to Chapter Twenty-Four! [This is out of 28 chapters. My Sonderling Sunday posts are becoming less and less frequent. This is mostly because I’ve become part of a group that plays games on Sunday afternoon. And I just like the sound of “Sonderling Sunday” too much to switch to another day. Theoretically, as the year 2018 progresses, I should spend less time posting and more time reading. So we shall see what happens. But anyway, tonight the gaming hosts are getting home from a holiday weekend with family, so here I am ready to translate!]

The first sentence of Chapter 24 is a perfect sentence for translating. I’m sure you want to know how to say this, should you ever be in Germany!
“The return of the Belgian Prankster sparked a citywide panic.”
= Die Rückkehr des Belgischen Scherzkekses löste in der ganzen Stadt einen wahren Tumult aus.

“breathless and exhausted” = atemlos und erschöpft

“flurry of chaos” = Chaos der Verwirrung

“still others sat numbly on the sidewalk”
= wieder andere saßen wie betäubt auf dem Bürgersteig

It amuses me how much longer this is in German:
“Everybody had the same panicked expression.”
= Die Menschen dort trugen alle denselben panikerfüllten Gesichtsausdruck zur Schau.

“jittery conversations” = nervösen Gesprächen

“headlines” = Schlagzeile (“strike-row”)

“baffling” = verblüffende

“No one dared venture near.”
= Niemand wagte es auch nur, in seine Nähe zu kommen.
(“No one dared it even, in his neighborhood to come.”)

“stern chiding” = scharfe Rüffel

“public ridicule” = öffentlichen Gespött

“poked him” = piksten ihn

This is a great sentence:
“People will put up with being terrified, but no one will tolerate being bored.”
= Die Menschen ertragen es, in Angst und Schrecken zu leben, aber keiner nimmt es hin, gelangweilt zu werden.

“Asylum for the Feeble of Brain” = Asyl für die Geistesschwachen

“Jo drank coffee after coffee”
= Jo trank unablässig Kaffee
(“Jo drank ceaselessly coffee”)

“suicide” = selbstmörderisch

“sticky and sluggish” = stickig und zäh

“Nothing seemed worth doing.”
= Nichts schien der Anstrengung wert zu sein.

“eyes ache” = Augen wehtaten

“writhed” = wälzte

“feeling like she was wrapped in hot wet cotton”
= hatte das Gefühl, sie wäre in heiße, nasse Baumwolllaken eingewickelt

The last sentence of the section about the Belgian Prankster:
“Furious but repulsed, fascinated but terrified, she felt herself pulled toward him.”
Sie war wütend und angewidert, fasziniert und verängstigt und fühlte sich trotz allem zu ihm hingezogen.

Here’s hoping you never have occasion to use that sentence!

That’s all for tonight! Until next time, may you not be terrified or bored!

Review of Simply Enough! by Tim Timmons

Saturday, November 25th, 2017

Simply Enough!

Jesus Plus Nothing

by Tim Timmons

Embers Press, 2013. 239 pages.
Starred Review

Big thanks to my friend who recommended this book to me. In many ways these thoughts were how I was leaning – they seem like a natural outgrowth of universalism – but I’d never seen it articulated quite this way before.

Here are some questions from the Prologue:

What if Jesus alone is really all we need? What if Jesus is the gospel and not the many things we make it?

Could it be that Jesus wasn’t a Christian, wasn’t the founder of Christianity, and isn’t owned by Christianity?

How could Jesus’ simple invitation “Follow me” be his most revolutionary words?

What if God has planted seeds in all the world’s cultures to prepare people for recognizing Jesus as someone special?

What if Jesus never commanded us to convert people to a religious system?

Is there any chance that it might be possible to be a genuine follower of Jesus and still be a Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, animist, or agnostic? Is it possible that Jesus is the name above all names and not limited to any socio-religious community – not even yours?

This book’s premise is that those last questions can be answered with Yes. And the book explains why and what the ramifications are.

That idea alone – that’s what shook me up. The rest of the book wasn’t as striking to me, but it did renew my desire to simply follow Jesus.

Honestly? This book doesn’t motivate me to want to change churches until I find a group who believes exactly the same things I do. I attend a church full of followers of Jesus. I like the songs we sing and the form our worship takes and the sermons preached and the small groups who speak into my life. I don’t agree with every point of theology that the senior pastor makes. But he is a follower of Jesus and encourages me to follow Jesus, and that’s enough.

This book looks at the ways that we forget that Jesus trumps everything, and he needs to be my end game.

Please listen carefully to this statement: Unless Jesus is your end game, then your life amounts to nothing. Jesus said it himself: “Apart from me you can do nothing.” The apostle Paul agreed, saying that his entire life and his accomplishments were a pile of rubbish (actually manure) compared to knowing Jesus. Without Jesus as your end game, your life will be filled with frustrations in your religious experience. You will have disappointments with life’s expectations, anxiety over whether your children will follow in your religious traditions, concern over the lifestyle decisions of your children and grandchildren, fears for your future security, terror over immediate financial concerns, and discouragement with life’s results.

This book encourages me to not try to convert people. Tell them about Jesus, but let them keep their own culture. And to stop expecting other people to jump through hoops to please God.

It’s all lovely and liberating and reminds me what’s actually important.

timtimmons.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 book I purchased via Amazon.com.

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 Baabwaa and Wooliam, by David Elliott, illustrated by Melissa Sweet

Friday, November 24th, 2017

Baabwaa & Wooliam

by David Elliott
illustrated by Melissa Sweet

Candlewick Press, 2017. 36 pages.
Starred Review

This book had me at the introductory spread:

This is Wooliam.
He is a sheep.
You will note that Wooliam is reading.
There are not many sheep who read.
But Wooliam is one of them.

This is Baabwaa, also a sheep.
In this picture, Baabwaa is knitting.
Knitting is a very practical hobby for a sheep.
It’s surprising not more of them do it.
Oh well.

Reading and knitting! These are my kind of sheep!

One day, when Wooliam has been reading about adventures, he suggests that they set out to have an adventure of their own.

It’s not easy to find an adventure in a field with a stone wall around it. But then, they are approached by another sheep.

A sheep with a long, rangy tail.
A sheep with a sharp, whiskered snout.
A sheep with a filthy wool coat.

However, well-read Wooliam recognizes the Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing from his reading.

After some chasing, the wolf wants to find out more. Wooliam has read about him?

Eventually, the sheep develop a friendship with the wolf. Wooliam teaches him to read, and Baabwaa knits him a better sweater. But there’s still a fair amount of chasing. The sheep needed some exercise anyway.

And they decide it was quite an adventure, after all.

This book is quirky, warm, and fun. It even gives a message about the value of reading. Melissa Sweet’s illustrations are also quirky, warm, and fun. As it happens, I was planning on doing a preschool storytime this week about “Adventures,” and this book will fit in perfectly.

Friendship is one of the best adventures of them all.

candlewick.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 Long Way Down, by Jason Reynolds

Tuesday, November 21st, 2017

Long Way Down

by Jason Reynolds

Atheneum, 2017. 306 pages.
Starred Review

Will’s brother Shawn just got shot. And Will is sure he knows who did it.

And there are three rules Shawn taught him:

No crying, no matter what.

No snitching, no matter what.

If someone you love
gets killed,

find the person
who killed

them and
kill them.

So Will takes Shawn’s gun and sets out to kill the person who killed him.

He gets in the elevator on the 8th floor. And on each remaining floor someone new gets on… someone who’s dead.

The first dead person in the elevator is Buck – a brother even older than Shawn. He knew the Rules, too, and taught them to Shawn.

In fact most of the people who show up on this elevator lived by the Rules. The thing is: They’re dead now.

This is a novel in verse (and artistic, well-crafted verse), so it’s quick reading. It does pack a punch.

jasonwritesbooks.com
simonandschuster.com/teen

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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 The Skydiving Beavers: A True Tale, by Susan Wood, illustrated by Gÿsbert van Frankenhuyzen

Sunday, November 19th, 2017

The Skydiving Beavers

A True Tale

by Susan Wood
illustrated by Gÿsbert van Frankenhuyzen

Sleeping Bear Press, 2017. 32 pages.

How’s that for a catchy title? I had to find out about the skydiving beavers!

This nonfiction picture book tells about an effort in 1948 to move beavers from a lake where people had settled to Idaho back country wilderness.

The place where they wanted to relocate the beavers was so wild, it didn’t have any roads or railroads. So how to get the beavers there? Horses or mules wouldn’t be too happy to transport angry beavers, and that would take a long time.

A man named Elmo Heter, who worked for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, came up with a plan. They had plenty of parachutes leftover from World War II, and they decided to use them to transport the beavers.

Elmo designed a box that would automatically open when it landed. But he had to test it to make sure. He caught a beaver and named him Geronimo. He used Geronimo to test his design over and over to make sure it worked. I thought this was funny:

After a while, it seemed Geronimo was growing to like all the skydiving. Each time he touched down and the box sprang open, he’d scurry out . . . then crawl right back in for another go.

Eventually, they used the parachutes and self-opening boxes to transport seventy-six live beavers into the Chamberlain Basin region.

A note at the back gives more details, but also explains that today we try to find ways to live with beavers, because beaver communities are great for the environment. The note tells about a successful such effort in Martinez, California. There’s also a list of surprising facts about beavers.

So even though it will probably never happen again, it was fun to read the true story of the skydiving beavers!

susanwoodbooks.com
hazelridgefarm.com
sleepingbearpress.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 The Woman Who Walked in Sunshine, by Alexander McCall Smith

Friday, November 10th, 2017

The Woman Who Walked in Sunshine

by Alexander McCall Smith
read by Lisette Lecat

Recorded Books, 2015. 9 hours 15 minutes on 8 discs.

This is the 16th book about Precious Ramotswe of the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency in Botswana.

I love these books, especially loving the characters and the relationships that have developed through the series. However, it feels like the action moves more and more slowly each time, so I’ve taken to listening instead of reading, because I tend to be more patient with audiobooks. And the lovely narrator’s voice has finally settled for me the pronunciation of “Mma” and “Rra.”

There were still times when I was annoyed with the slow plot arc, since more than once Mma Ramotswe was thinking long and hard about whether she should talk to Mma Makutsi. But the overall story had the usual one or two interesting cases. This time there was one about a scandal in the past of a late government official as well as the story of a little street boy who vandalizes the tiny white van.

But the overall story is about Mma Ramotswe going on holiday. It’s not her idea – her staff seem to be conspiring to get her to take one. Now that she’s a partner, is Mma Makutsi plotting to take over the agency? However, taking a holiday is more difficult than it would seem.

Truly, a woman with a loving husband is like a woman who walks in sunshine. Listening to this book will bring sunshine into your life.

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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 Beyond the Bright Sea, by Lauren Wolk

Thursday, November 9th, 2017

Beyond the Bright Sea

by Lauren Wolk
read by Jorjeana Marie

Listening Library (Penguin Random House), 2017. 7.5 hours on 6 compact discs.

Beyond the Bright Sea tells the story of a 12-year-old girl living on a small island off the coast of Massachusetts.

Here’s how the book begins:

My name is Crow.

When I was a baby, someone tucked me into an old boat and pushed me out to sea.

I washed up on a tiny island, like a seed riding the tide.

It was Osh who found me and took me in. Who taught me how to put down roots, and thrive on both sun and rain, and understand what it is to bloom….

And then, one night when I was twelve, I saw a fire burning on Penikese, the island where no one ever went, and I decided on my own that it was time to find out where I’d come from and why I’d been sent away.

But I didn’t understand what I was risking until I nearly lost it.

This book is set in the 1920s. The island called Penikese is where about ten years earlier there’d been a leper colony, with the residents kept isolated from any other human beings. Is Crow’s story connected with theirs?

Miss Maggie lives on Cuddyhunk, the next island over. She has helped Osh care for Crow since she first washed up on Osh’s island. Miss Maggie wrote letters to Penikese and several other places, asking about a missing newborn baby, but never got any reply. All the same, the islanders treat her as if she will sprout a dreadful disease at any time.

At first, Crow wants to prove she’s not from Penikese. But the more she finds out, the more that changes.

There’s a surprising amount of adventure in what starts out sounding like a quiet story. Crow’s quest to find her origins ends up involving shipwrecks and pirate treasure, but all with plenty of love from Osh and Miss Maggie.

I wasn’t crazy about the narrator – she read the story almost too calmly and quietly, though to be fair, Crow is a calm and quiet child. There are also some coincidences in the story itself. I was somewhat disturbed by the presence of a purely evil character – I think a little more so because there had also been a purely evil character in Lauren Wolk’s previous book, Wolf Hollow, which was also very good in spite of that. I guess I was willing to overlook it the first time, but the second time that particular objection gets a little stronger.

That said, this audiobook made absorbing listening, and I would love to meet Crow, Osh, Miss Maggie, and their cat named Mouse. Lauren Wolk’s good people feel like real people you’d love to meet, and she makes the world of these 1920s islands come alive.

penguin.com/middle-grade
listeninglibrary.com

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Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Childrens_Fiction/beyond_the_bright_sea.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.

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Review of Dear Fahrenheit 451, by Annie Spence

Wednesday, November 8th, 2017

Dear Fahrenheit 451

Love and Heartbreak in the Stacks

A Librarian’s Love Letters and Breakup Notes to the Books in Her Life

by Annie Spence

Flatiron Books, 2017. 244 pages.
Starred Review

Dear Dear Fahrenheit 451,

You know I have to start my review emulating you, but of course you realize that I won’t do as good a job with it as you did. So basically, you’re giving me a sense of inferiority right from the start. I should probably hate you for that, but instead I feel all fangirly, impressed with your wit and cleverness and knowledge of books.

You asked me (“Dear Reader”) in your last letter a few questions, so the least I can do is continue the correspondence.

Did you make me want to reread a book I broke up with long ago? Well, is it fair to answer that you made me want to watch a movie again? One of my favorite parts in here was your letter to the library in Beauty and the Beast. I love when your author admits: “But the main reason she’s my favorite is you, Library. You’re so golden and glorious, towering over everyone with your endless rows of books. To be Belle for a day!” Oh yes!

But alas! I must admit that your author revealed, in many times and in many ways, that her taste is quite different from mine. Most notable was her letter to The Hobbit, where she explained “We just want different things.” Kind of mind-blowing to reject The Hobbit! But in a backhanded way, yes, that made me want to reread that wonderful book. (Oh! And The Time Traveler’s Wife! Yes, I want to reread that now.)

Did I keep notes of all the reading you suggested and now have a gabazillion books on your list? Well, I did put a couple of books on hold. And checked out Nikki Giovanni’s Love Poems (Wow!). But, see above, I discovered your literary taste is somewhat divergent from mine. Nothing personal. We just want different things. On top of that, I’m about to commence a year of reading children’s books for the Newbery Medal, so I’m trying to pare down my other-books-I-want-to-read list. I honestly don’t have time to let you distract me.

Do I want to know where I can get a copy of The One-Hour Orgasm? No, I do not. But your writing about the things you find on the public library shelves, and the books that need to move on, made me laugh out loud with recognition.

Ah, this perhaps explains why, despite my negative answers to your queries, I thoroughly enjoyed our time together. You reveal your author’s passion for books and let me enjoy her witty book references, clever book flirtations, and observations from a Library Insider.

And I have to say, I soooo agree with you about The Giving Tree! Your author gave it to a boy she loved in high school. I gave it to a boy I loved in college – and married him. As you say, “Do you want to guess how that went, Giving Tree? Want to guess who was the tired old stump at the end of that book?” Would you believe that I actually burned the copy I gave him? You are spot on correct about that one, Dear Fahrenheit 451.

I will make a confession: You were on hold for another reader – and I didn’t turn you back in right away! (I know, shocking behavior in a librarian!) Although I check out far more books than I can ever read, turning in books that someone else wants is something I faithfully do. But I was more than halfway through reading you, and you were just plain fun! So I selfishly kept your company for myself.

And I would very much like to quote you from so many different places. The clever letters of love and of good-by. And the handy-dandy reading lists at the end. So very much fun to read, whether I take the recommendations or not, honestly.

But, as I said, I didn’t turn you in immediately when I should have, and I’m feeling guilty about that. I need to finish this review and send you on to the next reader. But first I will say that anyone who loves books or reading or libraries will find something to love about you.

With Much Affection,

Sondy

flatironbooks.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 Full of Fall, by April Pulley Sayre

Monday, November 6th, 2017

Full of Fall

by April Pulley Sayre

Beach Lane Books (Simon & Schuster), 2017. 40 pages.
Starred Review

I’ve got a new favorite Autumn storytime book.

Full of Fall tells about the changes in a forest in Autumn – with stunning photo illustrations and simple but not trite rhyming verse.

Here’s an example of the text for two spreads, with appropriately shaded brightly colored leaves under these words.

Hello, yellow.
Greetings, gold.
Oh – it’s orange!
Red, be bold.

The book begins with the start of fall as the leaves change –

One leaf,
Another leaf.
Colors surge.
Meet the trees!
Their shapes emerge.

(Had you ever noticed that when a forest of trees change to different colors, it’s now easier to see the shapes of individual trees?)

And ends with leaves fallen, on the forest floor, and geese flying overhead.

As with so many Autumn books, the last page foreshadows the coming of winter – with a photo of snow falling on colored leaves.

The text is simple enough for a baby storytime, but the photos and concepts are interesting enough for a preschool storytime.

The large photos make this book extraordinary – but the well-chosen words make it readable. There are two pages at the back that explain some of the science shown in the pictures, for use even with school age children.

AprilSayre.com
simonandschuster.com/kids

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Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Picture_Books/full_of_fall.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?