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Archive for the ‘Tween’ 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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Hughes. L. (2006). Poetry for young people: Langston Hughes A. Rampersad & D. Roessel (Eds.). New York, NY: Sterling Publishing Co., Inc.
This collection includes 26 of Langston Hughes’ poems.  The collection is illustrated by Benny Andrews.  The shorter length of the poems make them approachable for younger readers.

My grade: A+
Editors Arnold Rampersad and David Roessel have put together a really nice edition of Langston Hughes poetry.  They have also included a thorough introduction, which gives biographical details about Hughes.  The inclusion of footnotes explaining various aspects of each poem are also a great touch.  The illustrations fit well with the poems and are beautifully rendered.

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Banks, L. R. (1980). The Indian in the cupboard. New York, NY: Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc.
Omri receives three gifts for his birthday – a second-hand plastic Indian from his friend, a cupboard his brother found and a key to a box that no longer exists – which combine into a magical experience when he realizes that he can bring plastic figures to life.

My grade:  C
It’s a shame Banks didn’t do more research for her story.  There are a few instances in the book where it seemed like she had the opportunity to do something more with her story (i.e. when Little Bear points out that markings on a teepee aren’t correct).  How wonderful would the story have been if when Little Bear (and Boone, as well) was brought to life, he had been an accurate portrayal?  Banks could have used her story to show that Hollywood doesn’t get everything right and that what we see on the screen is often terribly wrong.

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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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