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Archive for the ‘Teen literature’ Category

Barakat, I. (2007). Tasting the sky: A Palestinian childhood. New York, NY: Melanie Kroupa Books.
This memoir follows the author from young childhood during the Six-Day War and onward.  Not only does she discuss the difficulties, she also shows that there were good things to remember, as well.

My grade: A
The writing in this book is beautifully expressive.  The author also includes a list of resources at the back for anyone wanting to learn more.

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Yolen, J. (1988). The devil’s arithmetic. New York, NY: Penguin Group.
Hannah dreads Passover at her grandparent’s house.  She’s tired of remembering and observing all the Jewish traditions.  When she opens the door to Elijah, she’s transported to Nazi Europe where she experiences the Holocaust for herself.

My grade:  A
I am partial to fantasy, so I enjoyed that aspect of this story.  I also like how Hannah gained a new perspective on her Grandfather’s behavior.

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Bruchac, J. (2005). Code talker: A novel about the Navajo marines of world war two. New York, NY: The Penguin Group.
In Code Talker, Bruchac traces Ned Begay’s story from his early days in a Navajo boarding school through his service during WWII and beyond.  Bruchac also relates the story of Navajo code talkers, whose unbreakable code was essential to the war effort.

My grade:  C
I am intrigued by the WWII code talkers and liked learning more.  However, I was disappointed by Bruchac’s stereotypical treatment of the one character from the South.  Why did Georgia Boy have to be illiterate?  And why was he the ONLY character to speak in dialect?  Furthermore, the dialect was not even correct.  I am sure that my reaction is heightened by the fact that I am a native Georgian, but I was turned off from this otherwise good book due to what I have just described.

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Anderson, M. T. (2006). The astonishing life of Octavian Nothing: The pox party. Cambridge: Candlewick Press.
Anderson gives us the story of Octavian, a young slave boy who is an experiment for The College of Lucidity during the Revolutionary War.  The author explains in a note at the end of the book that The College of Lucidity is an “incompetent version” of the American Philosophical Society.  The tale is both horrifying, particularly the treatment of Octavian after he is recaptured following his escape, and beautiful.  Anderson’s style, writing and exquisite details almost give the feel of magical realism even though the central group in this story (The College of Lucidity) is based on extreme logic.

My grade:  A+
My grade for this book is likely influenced by my love of historical fiction.  Anderson has created such a rich story with well-developed characters that are so vivid you can easily picture yourself meeting them.  I look forward to reading more of this series.

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Park, L. S. (2001). A single shard. New York, NY: Random House, Inc.
Life isn’t easy for an orphan named Tree-ear in this historical fiction set in Korea, but he’s happy with his protector, Crane-man.  Tree-ear is fascinated by the work of Min, the greatest potter in the village.  Fate gives Tree-ear the opportunity to realize his dream of creating his own pottery.  Park‘s novel also contains much information about the making of celadon, a type of glazed stoneware.

My grade:  B+

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Perkins, M. (1993). The not-so-star-spangled life of Sunita Sen. New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company.
Being a teenager is hard enough, but Sunita Sen’s life gets even more difficult when her grandparents come to America from India to visit.  Not only can her guy friend, Michael, not hang out at her house, but her mom ditches American clothes for more traditional Indian garb.  Perkins explores Sunita’s conflict between her American life and Indian heritage throughout this novel.

My grade:  B+

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Cisneros, S. (1984). The house on mango street. Houston: Arte Publico Press.
Esperanza hopes for a real house with running water, pipes that work, real stairs, a basement, at least three washrooms, a great big yard and trees around the outside.  What she gets is the house on Mango Street.   This book contains vignettes illustrating life in a predominately Latino neighborhood in Chicago.

My review:  A+

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