Archive for September, 2017

Review of Stormy Seas, by Mary Beth Leatherdale

Wednesday, September 6th, 2017

Stormy Seas

Stories of Young Boat Refugees

by Mary Beth Leatherdale
illustrated and designed by Eleanor Shakespeare

Annick Press, 2017. 64 pages.

Stormy Seas is in large picture book format – but the large amount of text on each page presents information for upper elementary age children. There are striking illustrations on each page, usually incorporating photographs – getting the information across with charts and maps as well as text.

This book tells the individual true stories of five young people who were refugees and traveled by boat: Ruth, 18 years old in 1939, leaving Germany; Phu, 14 years old in 1979, leaving Vietnam; José , 13 years old in 1980, leaving Cuba; Najeeba, 11 years old in 2000, leaving Afghanistan; and Mohamed, 13 years old in 2006, leaving Ivory Coast.

For each young person, the book describes their journey, explaining why they were desperate enough to leave, the frightful conditions of their boat journey, and each story ends up with what happened to them after their journey. All of the journeys were much longer than I ever would have realized – the narrative includes the time they had to spend to get on the boat in the first place.

Most of the journeys didn’t have a happy result when they landed, either. Ruth’s ship of German Jewish refugees got turned away from Cuba and had to sail back to Europe. Phu and his family got put in a refugee camp. José and his family were shocked by the neighborhood in New York City with its poverty and drugs. Najeeba was held in a detention center in Australia for 45 days. Mohamed ended up homeless in a train station in Rome for awhile.

There’s nothing like stories and faces to give you empathy. This book does provide numbers of refugees and gives statistics. But the individual stories put faces to those numbers in a way that will stick with the reader.

Buy from Amazon.com

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

Review of Yours Sincerely, Giraffe, by Megumi Iwasa

Tuesday, September 5th, 2017

Yours Sincerely, Giraffe

by Megumi Iwasa
illustrated by Jun Takabatake

Gecko Press, 2017. First published in New Zealand in 2016. 102 pages.

Yours Sincerely, Giraffe is a light-hearted chapter book perfect for beginning readers.

Giraffe is bored. When he finds a bored pelican who is starting a delivery service, Giraffe decides to write a letter. He tells Pelican to give it to the first animal you meet on the other side of the horizon. That turns out to be very far away.

But Pelican finds a seal who delivers mail to Penguin. So Giraffe and Penguin start a correspondence.

They don’t understand each other terribly well. But how can you expect a penguin whose only companion is a whale to understand what a long neck is?

Giraffe decides that he’s going to try to dress up like penguin. He takes all penguin’s descriptions and does his best – with very funny results.

This story is good, sweet fun.

geckopress.com

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Childrens_Fiction/yours_sincerely_giraffe.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 – The Festival Interrupted

Sunday, September 3rd, 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 I’m going 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, I left off in the middle of Chapter 23, page 314, in English, Seite 399 auf Deutsch.

Here’s the sentence that begins the section:
“The sun sank behind the trees, and the sky darkened, but the festival went on.”
= Die Sonne versank hinter den Bäumen und es wurde dunkel, aber das Fest ging weiter.

“A sweaty man by nature”
= Der Ritter neigte ohnehin zu Schweißausbrüchen
(“The knight tended anyway to sweat-outbreaks”)

“particularly damp” = besonders verschwitzt

“golden swimsuit” = goldfarbenen Badeanzug

“Stroke him, reassure him.” = Streichelt ihn, beruhigt ihn.

“pinching” = zwackt

A good sentence to know:
“Now you’re just being silly.”
= Jetzt sind Sie aber wirklich albern.

And you thought we’d never learn how to say this!
“ridiculous farts and burps” = alberne Fürze und Rülpser

Ha! I caught a mistake in the translation! The English says:
“It was difficult to believe the music was grunts and snorts forced out of a giant worm.”

But the translation says:
dass es schwer zu glauben war, diese Musik würde aus Grunzen, Schnauben, Fürzen und Rülpsern eines gigantischen Wurms bestehen.

See what they’ve done? Although when Sir Alasdair began playing the Urk-Ack by climbing inside it and pinching its organs at first all that came out was farts and burps. Now he has progressed and is giving a lovely concert – but the translator put the farts and burps back in! Oops!

“like a blob of pink putty” = wie ein rosafarbener Gummiball

You should be able to say this:
“This is my moment of triumph!”
= Das ist mein Augenblick des Triumphes!

“explosive” = Sprengstoff

“roguishly” = schelmisch

“candy wrappers” = Bonbonpapier

“reckless zeal” = rücksichtslosem Eifer

“The audience was booing.” = Die Zuschauer buhten.

“caterwauling” = jaulenden

“adoring fans” = hingebungsvollen Anhänger

“jeers” = die höhnischen Zwischenrufe (“the sneery calls”)

“the stage” = der Bühne

“savior” = Retter

“pusillanimous” = kleinkarierten

“Consarn it” = Sapperlot

“handyman” = Faktotum

“tousling” = verwuselte

“whirlwind” = Wirbelwind

“parachutes” = Fallschirmen

“conductor” = Dirigenten

“shoved aside” = beseitegeschoben worden

Here’s a good sentence to know:
“I expect you to solve all my problems!”
= Ich erwarte, dass Sie alle meine Probleme lösen!

“waved” = wedelte

“crumpled papers” = zerknüllter Blätter

“cameo” = Nebenrolle

“unbutton” = aufzuknüpfen

“grunting and grinning” = grunzend und grinsend

“footlights” = Rampenlichter

“waggled his hips” = wackelte mit seinen Hüften

“a throbbing, squirming mass of blubber and muscle”
= eine pulsierende, wabernde Masse von Speck und Muskeln

And that brings us to the end of Chapter 23!

I think it’s fun how little these phrases give away the plot – I hope they tantalize the reader to want to know the details!

Bis bald!

Review of Arabella of Mars, by David D. Levine

Saturday, September 2nd, 2017

Arabella of Mars

by David D. Levine

Tor, Tom Doherty Associates, 2016. 350 pages.
Starred Review

It was a year ago now that my sister Becky recommended this book to me – and in fact I’d had it checked out to read – but then I became a Cybils judge and needed to focus on reading Young Adult Speculative Fiction. I’m not completely sure why this particular book is marketed to adults rather than young adults, since Arabella is 17 years old – but since it’s fiction for grown-ups, I had to put it aside – and just managed to read it before I start reading for the 2019 Newbery Award.

Like my sister told me, this book is simply good fun. The premise is that instead of seeing an apple fall, Isaac Newton watched a bubble rise from his bathtub – and discovered flight. In the 1810s world of the novel, space ships are very like sailing ships, navigating the atmosphere and currents between the planets for interplanetary travel. How this could actually work is rather murky to me – but the implications of this world are a lot of fun.

The book starts with Arabella, who has grown up on Mars, being trained, along with her brother, by her Martian nanny in hunting and fighting and strategic thinking. But alas! A small accident results in a bloody cut on her head, and all is revealed to her mother, who uses this to finally convince Arabella’s father that Mrs. Ashby and her three daughters should go home to England.

Not long after arriving in England, they receive the sad news of Arabella’s father’s death. Then when she is visiting her cousin Simon, she unwittingly gives the cousin the information that at this time the passage to Mars would be at its quickest – so he is going to go to Mars, win her brother’s trust, and kill him for the inheritance of the family plantation, which is entailed on the oldest male heir.

He and his wife lock Arabella in a closet, but she didn’t receive all that training from her Martian nanny for nothing. When she escapes, though, she reasons that she must find passage to Mars and get there before Simon so she can warn her brother. But how to book passage without money? That’s when Arabella decides to disguise herself as a boy, and she gets a position as captain’s boy – because of her skill in working with automata, a passion she shared with her father. The ship she serves on has a mechanical navigator, and she is trained on how it works.

And so her adventures begin. The voyage isn’t at all uneventful. There were times I forgot it was a spaceship, the descriptions were so like a seagoing vessel. She must learn the ropes (literally) and about navigation. Along the way they deal with attack by French corsairs and mutiny, and there are new challenges when they finally land.

Like I said, the science is very iffy, but the story is told with enough confidence, you don’t often notice. I’m skeptical of the automaton acquiring sentience, but the atmosphere and currents between the planets was merely interesting.

This story is a whole lot of fun, and the advantage to being so slow to getting around to reading it is that now I can pick up the sequel.

tor-forge.com

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Fiction/arabella_of_mars.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?