Review of All the Truth That’s in Me, by Julie Berry

February 27th, 2014

All the Truth That’s in Me

by Julie Berry

Viking, 2013. 288 pages.
Starred Review

I read this book simply because it’s in School Library Journal’s Battle of the Books, which commences March 10. I’m not sure what I expected, since I hadn’t heard much about it, but I was blown away and kept reading well into the night.

This is a rare book that’s written in second person voice, addressed to “you.” But the speaker is not addressing the reader. It soon becomes clear that she’s addressing the young man she loves.

Here’s how the book begins, with the heading “Before”:

We came here by ship, you and I.

I was a baby on my mother’s knee, and you were a lisping, curly-headed boy playing at your mother’s feet all through that weary voyage.

Watching us, our mothers got on so well together that our fathers chose adjacent farm plots a mile from town, on the western fringe of a Roswell Station that was much smaller then.

I remember my mother telling tales of the trip when I was young. Now she never speaks of it at all.

She said I spent the whole trip wide-eyed, watching you.

She still watches him. She remembers when he smiled at her, gave her posies. But something terrible happened, and now the whole village barely notices she is there.

We get bits of what happened, all along the way. We find out why she doesn’t speak. She was gone for two years. When she came back, she was out of her head, left for dead, with half her tongue cut out.

Then ships are sighted off the shore, coming toward the town. The Homelanders are bringing war to them, wanting their fertile farms. All the men of the town must fight, even though their arsenal was destroyed, even though they are doomed.

But Judith knows where to find help – only she must confront her own nightmares.

And after she does so, everything changes.

This book is marvelously constructed, revealing bits of the past at a natural pace, as it comes up in the present, finally with mysteries solved at the very end. I find myself wanting to read it all over again, knowing now how it all fits together.

And ultimately, it’s a love story. And a story of healing. And a story of courage. And a story of a wounded girl finding her voice.

julieberrybooks.com
penguin.com

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Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Teens/all_the_truth_thats_in_me.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.

Please use the comments if you’ve read the book and want to discuss spoilers!

Stand-out Author: Diana Peterfreund

February 26th, 2014

I’m featuring authors whose books were 2013 Sonderbooks Stand-outs, and it was not their first appearance as a Stand-out.

Now I’m looking at authors who have Sonderbooks Stand-outs for the fourth time in 2013. One of those, Diana Peterfreund, has had every book of hers I read be listed as a Sonderbooks Stand-out, and what’s more, twice her books have been #1 in Teen Fiction.

Her first book, Rampant, was #1 in Teen Fiction in 2009 Sonderbooks Stand-outs, and this year she did it again with Across a Star-Swept Sea.

Last year, For Darkness Shows the Stars was #2 in Teen Fiction in 2012 Sonderbooks Stand-outs, and her #5 showing in 2010 Sonderbooks Stand-outs with Ascendant was a very low showing by Diana Peterfreund’s standards.

I hope she will have many more books forthcoming. I have a feeling she doesn’t know how to write a book I don’t love.

Review of Peace a Day at a Time, by Karen Casey

February 26th, 2014

Peace

A Day at a Time

365 Meditations for Wisdom and Serenity

by Karen Casey

Conari Press, 2011.
Starred Review

I’ve been a fan of Karen Casey’s writings for several years now. After I went through her daily meditations book, Each Day a New Beginning for a full year and a half, I wanted to start another one.

Peace: A Day at a Time is a collection of meditations from Karen Casey’s other books, so some were, indeed, a repeat from Each Day a New Beginning. But that’s all good! Her writings indeed help you start each day at peace.

Here’s an example of a day’s meditation from early in the year, titled “Unique Journey”:

The more comfortable we are with the knowledge that each of us has a unique journey to make, a specific purpose to fulfill, the easier it is to let other people live their own lives. When family members are in trouble with alcohol or other drugs, it’s terribly difficult to let them have their own journey. Because we love them, we feel compelled to help them get clean and sober. In reality, all we can do is pray for their safety and well-being. Their recovery is up to them and their Higher Power.

For some of us it’s a leap of faith to believe there really is a Divine plan of which we are all a part. And perhaps it’s not even necessary to believe. But we’ll find the hours of every day gentler if we accept that a Higher Power is watching over all of us.

Being able to let others live and learn their own lessons is one of our lessons. The more we master it, the more peaceful we’ll be.

This book is highly recommended for daily thoughts on letting go and living the life you were made to live.

redwheelweiser.com

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Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Nonfiction/peace_a_day_at_a_time.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 my own personal copy, purchased in a physical bookstore. (Believe it or not!)

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.

Review of Africa Is My Home, by Monica Edinger, illustrated by Robert Byrd

February 25th, 2014

Africa Is My Home

A Child of the Amistad

by Monica Edinger

illustrated by Robert Byrd

Candlewick Press, 2013. 60 pages.
Starred Review

I should mention right up front that I’ve met Monica Edinger on a few occasions and had a chance to talk with her and enjoyed the conversation tremendously. She is one of School Library Journal’s Battle Commanders in the Battle of the Books! So I was definitely predisposed to like this book.

But there’s a whole lot to like! This book is based on a true story of Margru, a girl who was on the ship Amistad, where the slaves fought back. She ended up gaining her freedom and going back to Africa in her adulthood as a missionary.

The book is presented as fiction, but the author explains in a note at the back that she researched the book intending to write nonfiction, but because of a lack of material about when Margru was a child, she was able to present the story more effectively writing as fiction, from Margru’s point of view, “giving Margru a voice of her own.” The author says, “The story is still true; those instances where I have imagined her feelings, invented dialogue, or created scenes are based on my research and on firsthand experiences in Sierra Leone.”

And the story is a dramatic one. It covers Margru being sold into slavery, the dramatic revolt on the ship (after they had already landed in Cuba and been sold), and then the long process where the mutineers were put on trial and their fate was decided. During this process, it also describes Margru’s feelings about America (All those clothes! And snow!) and how she went to school, became a Christian, and decided to train to be a teacher to teach her people at home in Africa.

The book is not long, and there are illustrations on every set of pages, so it’s accessible to children who are as young as Margru, nine years old when she was sold into slavery. A powerful story that really happened, this will capture children’s imaginations.

Buy from Amazon.com

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

Please use the comments if you’ve read the book and want to discuss spoilers!

Stand-out Author: Steven Stosny

February 24th, 2014

I’m doing a series on Stand-out Authors, looking at authors with books among my 2013 Sonderbooks Stand-outs who have had books on previous years’ lists.

Steven Stosny is tied for second place with five books that are Sonderbooks Stand-outs. His contribution this year, Living and Loving After Betrayal: How to Heal from Emotional Abuse, Deceit, Infidelity, and Chronic Resentment was #1 in Nonfiction.

The first book I read by Steven Stosny was also #1 in Nonfiction (Personal Growth) on the 2006 Sonderbooks Stand-outs. 2006 was the year my life completely fell apart, and his book You Don’t Have to Take It Anymore was one of the most helpful books I read the whole year.

In 2007, I was reading every Steven Stosny book I could get my hands on, and three more made the 2007 Sonderbooks Stand-outs. However, 2007 was the year I was getting my Master’s in Library and Information Science, and I didn’t ever get those books reviewed. But the other three Sonderbooks Stand-outs were:

#1 in Nonfiction, Relationships: How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It, written with Patricia Love

#2 in Nonfiction, Personal Growth: The Manual of the Core Value Workshop
I got to go to Steven Stosny’s Relationship Boot Camp, and this manual holds much of the information.

And finally, #6 in Nonfiction, Personal Growth: The Powerful Self
All of his books are so affirming, and this one emphasizes that aspect of healing.

You can see why I think of Steven Stosny’s books as a huge part of my healing process! They are all highly recommended.

Review of Whiskers, Tails, and Wings, by Judy Goldman

February 24th, 2014

Whiskers, Tails & Wings

Animal Folktales from Mexico

by Judy Goldman
illustrated by Fabricio VandenBroeck

Charlesbridge, 2013. 58 pages.

This is a nice collection of folktales most children won’t have heard before. Each one comes from a specific region and a specific indigenous people group of Mexico.

After each tale, the people group who tells that tale is described, along with some facts about the region and the featured animals. Spanish and native words are woven seamlessly into the tales, but in case you didn’t catch every detail, there’s a glossary after each story.

As most animal folktales, the ones chosen have an element of playfulness and delight. As the author asks in the Conclusion:

Where else in the world will you find a clever cricket who defeats a puma, a patient turtle who helps create the world, a brave opossum who gives mankind a wonderful gift, a flea who saves humanity, and a frog who, just in time, keeps his heart in his chest?

Only in Mexico!

Yet every culture in the world has tales that are important to its people. Like the stories in this book, all fairy tales and folktales allow people to pass along traditions and knowledge not only among their own community, but also to the world. Through stories we come to understand ourselves as well as the world around us. Perhaps the tales in Whiskers, Tails & Wings will encourage you to share your own stories, discover new tales, and maybe even create your own!

judygoldman.blogspot.com
charlesbridge.com

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

Sonderling Sunday – Stolz und Vorurteil, Kapitel Drei

February 23rd, 2014

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, or, in this case, of an English classic, Pride and Prejudice.

Last time I looked at Stolz und Vorurteil, we covered Chapter Two, so this time we are on Kapitel Drei. This begins on page 8 in my English edition, Seite 12 auf Deutsch.

“assistance of her five daughters” = Unterstützung ihrer fünf Töchter

“satisfactory description” = befriedigende Beschreibung

“barefaced questions” = unverblümten Fragen (“unveiled questions”)

“ingenious suppositions” = raffinierten Spekulationen (“refined speculations”)

“distant surmises” = unbestimmten Vermutungen (“vague conjectures”)

“wonderfully handsome” = erstaunlich gutaussehend

“extremely agreeable” = außerordentlich sympathisch

“easy, unaffected manners” = ungezwungenes, natürliches Wesen (“informal, natural ways”)

“with an air of decided fashion” = mit einem Auftreten von unzweifelhafter Lebensart
(“with an occurrence of undoubtful life-art”)

“noble mien” = vornehme Haltung

“a fine figure of a man” = einen stattlichen Mann (“a stately man”)

“admiration” = Bewunderung

“his manners gave a disgust” = sein Benehmen einen Abscheu hervorrief

“which turned the tide of his popularity” = der das Blatt seiner Beliebtheit wendete
(“which the page of his belovedness turned”)

“forbidding, disagreeable countenance” = abstoßendes, übellauniges Gesicht
(“repulsive, ill-tempered face”)

“unreserved” = freimütig (“free-speaking”)

“scarcity of gentlemen” = Mangel an Herren

“standing about by yourself in this stupid manner”
= so stumpfsinnig allein herumstehen
(“so stupidly alone around-stand”)

“fastidious” = anspruchsvoll (“demanding-full”)

“tolerable” = passabel

“wasting” = verschwendest

“lively, playful disposition” = lebhaftes, spielerisches Naturell

“anything ridiculous” = allen Absurden

“which had raised such splendid expectations”
= das so glänzende Erwartungen geweckt hatte
(“that so shiny expectations waked had”)

“sprained his ankle” = einen Knöchel verstaucht

“any description of finery” = jegliche Beschreibung von Putz

“shocking rudeness” = empörenden Unverschämtheit (“outrageous insolence”)

“so high and so conceited” = so überheblich und eingebildet

And that’s the end of Chapter 3.

There were lots of fun, descriptive words in this section. The next time you see einen stattlichen Mann, who is erstaunlich gutaussehend and außerordentlich sympathisch, for whom you have much Bewunderung, you’ll know how to give a befriedigende Beschreibung!

Review of Cress, by Marissa Meyer

February 23rd, 2014

Cress

The Lunar Chronicles, Book Three

by Marissa Meyer

Feiwel and Friends, New York, 2014. 552 pages.
Starred Review

Cress continues the Lunar Chronicles, begun in Cinder, and continued in Scarlet. All of the books play off a fairy tale, in a science fiction setting, but the story they tell is something wholly new. All of the books do feature a romance for our heroine, and each of those romances is totally different from the others.

I completely loved Cinder, but wasn’t as enthusiastic about Scarlet. I didn’t really buy the creation of wolf-human hybrids, or if they exist that Scarlet would fall in love with one. Cress gets back to the rest of the story, so I again loved this volume.

In case you don’t get the reference, Cress is a version of “Rapunzel,” since that’s essentially what the German word means. Never mind that in this case, “Cress” is short for “Crescent Moon.” Instead of a tower, Cress is imprisoned in a satellite. She’s good at hacking, so she tracks all the Earthen news feeds for the Lunar Queen, and enables them to hide the Lunar ships.

Cress has been ordered to track down Cinder and Thorne, who now have Scarlet and Wolf along with them. But instead of giving them up to the Lunars, she contacts them and convinces them to rescue her. But then the witch — actually, the mind-controlling thaumaturge — returns unexpectedly, and the rescue doesn’t go as planned, separating the team into different groups.

Cress and Thorne are thrown together, trying to survive in the desert. Meanwhile, Cinder needs to make plans. Above all, she needs to stop the wedding of Queen Levana to Emperor Kai.

Marissa Meyer is skilled at keeping us interested in several different plot threads at the same time. She keeps the sections short, but they’re equally packed with action, so we’re never annoyed with her for what she left behind.

Cress is quite different from our earlier two heroines. She’s naïve and given to daydreams, which makes sense for a girl imprisoned in a satellite. Yes, she has long hair. The thaumaturge didn’t allow sharp objects on the satellite. She’s short, and she’s a shell with no mind-control powers, so you might think she wouldn’t help their mission. But her detailed knowledge of Lunar cyberwarfare is exactly what they need.

This book works as a book in a quartet should — it’s got a wonderfully satisfying story on its own, with a beginning, middle, and end. But there’s definitely a bigger story still going on, and Queen Levana still threatens Earth at the end of this book. The next book, Winter, is promised “soon,” and I can hardly wait!

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Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Teens/cress.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.

Please use the comments if you’ve read the book and want to discuss spoilers!

Review of The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp, by Kathi Appelt

February 23rd, 2014

The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp

by Kathi Appelt

Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2013. 327 pages.
2013 Cybils Finalist
2013 Capitol Choices Selection (audiobook)
2013 National Book Award Finalist

Bingo and J’miah are raccoons who live in Sugar Man Swamp, and they are True Blue Scouts. Here is information from the first page of the book:

For as long as raccoons had inhabited the Sugar Man Swamp, which was eons, they had been the Official Scouts, ordained by the Sugar Man himself back in the year Aught One, also known as the Beginning of Time. Of course, Bingo and J’miah would follow the orders. They knew them by heart.

OFFICIAL SUGAR MAN SWAMP SCOUT ORDERS

  • keep your eyes open
  • keep your ears to the ground
  • keep your nose in the air
  • be true and faithful to each other
  • in short, be good

These orders were practical, and the raccoon brothers had no problem following them. Besides, Bingo and J’miah weren’t ordinary Swamp Scouts. They were, in fact, Information Officers, a highly specialized branch of the Scout system. And because of this there were two additional orders:

  • always heed the Voice of Intelligence, and
  • in the event of an emergency, wake up the Sugar Man

The first additional order was easy enough, as we shall soon see, but the second was a different matter. The problem? Nobody really knew exactly where the Sugar Man slept, only that it was somewhere in the deepest, darkest part of the swamp. He hadn’t been seen in many years.

An emergency does come up in the course of the book. And waking up the Sugar Man is indeed a problem.

We also follow the fortunes of Chap Brayburn and his mother, who run Paradise Pies, by the edge of the swamp. Chap’s Grandpa Audie recently died. Grandpa Audie had loved the swamp, just as Chap does.

But now the owner of the swamp, Sonny Boy Beaucoup, is planning to evict them, unless they can come up with a boatload of cash. Then he’s going to pave over the swamp and build The Gator World Wrestling Arena and Theme Park.

So both Chap and the raccoons are facing emergencies. Emergencies that the Sugar Man can solve. But how to find him? And how to wake him up without incurring his wrath? It’s going to take some careful work.

This story is told with a folksy voice, which I found slightly annoying, but could be charming. Our library doesn’t have the audiobook on CD, but in Capitol Choices I’ve heard that this version is completely delightful. There are tall tale elements in the tale and over-the-top characters. The result is a lot of fun and would make great family listening.

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

Please use the comments if you’ve read the book and want to discuss spoilers!

Review of Ann and Nan Are Anagrams, by Mark Shulman and Adam McCauley

February 19th, 2014

Ann and Nan Are Anagrams

A Mixed-Up Word Dilemma

by Mark Shulman
illustrated by Adam McCauley

Chronicle Books, San Francisco, 2013. 32 pages.

This book is terribly silly, but it makes me laugh. Throughout the story, there are words and phrases that are anagrams of one another, set off with the same typeface as the other part of the pair.

Robert (or Bert)’s Grandma Reagan tells him about anagrams. Then she says:

”Anagrams are easy to SPOT
But hard to STOP.
Now take the TOPS
off the POTS
hurry to the POST office,
and bring me your AUNT.
She’s A NUT.”

Robert doesn’t even have an aunt! GRANDMA REAGAN is in ANAGRAM DANGER!

You can tell the story isn’t exactly profound. But, combined with the exuberant pictures and more than 101 anagrams hidden in the book, it’s still a lot of fun.

I like some of the products sitting on the kitchen shelves: Old Nose Noodles, A Mean Noisy Mayonnaise, Mad Scrubber Bread Crumbs, and Eats? Ouch Hot Sauce.

Some of the anagrams are really a stretch, such as Nature’s Rat Restaurant. But it’s all in good fun, and kids will have fun spotting them all.

Of course, when he sees that his sisters’ names are anagrams (using the title phrase), he cries out, “Sister, resist!”

If you like word play, it’s hard to resist this silly book.

chroniclekids.com

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