Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card

Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card is book two of the Ender Saga. I struggled through the first two chapters not feeling connected, but I am glad I stuck with it. Yes, Ender is in this book.

Blurb from Goodreads: In the aftermath of his terrible war, Ender Wiggin disappeared, and a powerful voice arose: the Speaker for the Dead, who told of the true story of the Bugger War.

Now long years later, a second alien race has been discovered, but again the aliens’ ways are strange and frightening…again, humans die. And it is only the Speaker for the Dead, who is also Ender Wiggin the Xenocide, who has the courage to confront the mystery…and the truth.

This story takes place 3,000 years after Ender's Game and Ender is now seen as a villain - the person who destroyed an entire species. I liked how Card explores the role of knowledge and our interpretation of history. I like how he shows how our fears come from a lack of understanding. I like that he shows that we can be over-regulated to the point that knowledge can not move forward. I also like that he was able to speak for those who no one cared for in a way that was honest. 

I feel that now more than ever, we must learn to understand each other in order to have peace in our land. 

Read to a child today even if that child is you. 

Link to our NICU book registry if you'd like to donate books to babies in the newborn intensive care unit. We are in need of books at this time as I am taking our last twenty packets to Angie this weekend. They've had a bit of a baby boom. 

Monday, August 21, 2017

The Harper Hall of Pern by Anne McCaffrey

I found The Harper Hall of Pern by Anne McCaffrey before knowing that there are books that come before it. It is one book that contains the entire Harper Hall series: DragonSongDragonSinger, and DragonDrums.  This series can and does stand on it's own, but now I must read the series that came before: The Dragon Riders of Pern

Published in 1976, 1977, and 1979 these three books tell about fire lizards that are small dragons and desirable pets in this story. In Dragon Song, my favorite of the three stories, Menolly is the main character. She is a girl with the desire and talent to be a Harper - a person who sings and teaches music to entire communities. The only problem is that she is a girl and girls are not Harpers. Her parents are awful to the point of abusing her for singing or playing music. 

I found myself cheering her on and wanting her to win. When this book was written, there were many jobs that were considered unsuitable for women based on the fact that they were women. This book shows the danger of limiting the gifts and choices of anyone regardless of their age, gender, or ethnicity. 

Dragonsinger tells more about Menolly and her ability to teach the fire lizards. We get to the know the characters better, and I loved seeing Menolly come out of her shell and shed some of the  issues caused by her parents' abuse. 

Dragondrums includes Menolly but follows Piemur, a young man whose amazing singing voice has just started to crack because of puberty. He is sent to play the signal drums and also act as a spy. This story is quite exciting and fun. 

This series address abuse and bullying and the dangers that go along with them. The magic in this series belongs to the magical creatures. The humans have to rely on their wits, gifts, and talents. I enjoyed this series and am now busily collecting the rest of her works. 

This is the cover of my book, but it has been reprinted and is available at a reasonable price. 

Read to a child today even if that child is you. 

Link to our NICU book registry if you'd like to donate books to babies in the newborn intensive care unit.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Maya Angelou, Letter to My Daughter

When I first saw Letter to My Daughter by Maya Angelou, I thought, "But she doesn't have a daughter."

Then in reading it, I discovered that she wrote it is for all the women in her life: friends, mothers grandmother, and to any woman who feels the need of a mother figure.

I listened to the audio version that is read by Maya Angelou, and I think it made me like the book even more than I would have if I had just read it. Angelou has a wonderful reading voice that is rich and soothing.

This book contains experiences and essays from her own life, and she has had quite the life. I love that she can find joy in the hard times and see the value of her experiences.

I loved her story about meeting the stranger who thought she was a friend, but they discovered that neither of them knew the other, and yet this woman went on to become a friend and play an important role in her life. She said, "I learned that a friend may be waiting behind a stranger's face" (75).

This is a book for women of all ages. She includes experiences from all ages and what she learned from the experience. As always, Angelou is profound and inspiring.

Read to a child today even if that child is you. 

Link to our NICU book registry if you'd like to donate books to babies in the newborn intensive care unit.

Check out these board books that Michelle brought over. Seven of them are Spanish. Hooray and thank you!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Series- On the Run by Gordon Korman

The On the Run series by Gordon Korman is a great series for reluctant readers. The books have larger text size, more white space, and each of the six books have only about 150 pages. The chapters are short and the story is quite fast paced and exciting. The Lexile measure starts at 680 and goes to 790 as the books progress which allows your reader to increase their Lexile measure over the course of the series.

The series begins with Chasing the Falconers. Aiden and Meg Falconer have been placed in a youth correctional facility because their parents were convicted of being spies and sent to prison for life. Aiden and Meg believe their parents have been wrongly convicted, but now that the FBI has sentenced their parents, they won't look at any other evidence.

Aiden and Meg escape from the detention center to try to find a man who they believe can prove their parents' innocence, but in escaping, they find that they are in more danger than ever.

The series takes the pair across the country as they rely on their wits to stay alive and try to find the proof they need to reunite their family.

Students in my classroom enjoyed this series - even those students who hated to read. The fast pace Bourne Identity like difficulties the kids face keep the reader turning pages.

Aiden and Meg are likeable. They make mistakes but keep trying to learn from their actions.  Aiden at times doubts his parents innocence, but Meg believes her parents are blameless. They grow throughout the series, but underneath all the trauma, they are good kids who have to make hard decisions in order to stay free and alive. They have to rely on each other and know that they can't make it alone.

Korman knows how to write for teens. It is exciting to see a kid who didn't enjoy reading, read an entire series because "these are good."

Read to a child today even if that child is you. 

Link to our NICU book registry if you'd like to donate books to babies in the newborn intensive care unit.

Friday, August 4, 2017

The Little Lame Prince by Dinah Maria Mulock

The Little Lame Prince by Dinah Maria Mulock was first published in 1874. I enjoy reading books that were published long ago as they show our progression as people.

I found an illustrated edition of this story published in 1948. This book includes several fairy tales that were written by Miss Mulock.

The title story is about a prince who was dropped as an infant causing his legs to be useless. He is placed in a tower with a nurse and is supposed to stay there for life as his wicked uncle has usurped his throne. His godmother comes and gifts him with a cloak that he uses to travel the world.

This was the best of the stories in the book, but all of them have value. As with much of the literature that was published for children during this time period, there is a moral or lesson to each story.

Children and animals were often treated harshly and violence is included in the stories. I liked The Adventures of a Brownie and would have been delighted with his story as a child.

Some of the illustrations of this edition are a bit creepy, but overall, this is a fun book.

Stories included in this edition: The Little Lame Prince, The Adventures of a Brownie, The Prince with the Nose, Prince Cherry, and The Invisible Prince.

This book is still in print only with a different cover.

Read to a child today even if that child is you. 

Link to our NICU book registry if you'd like to donate books to babies in the newborn intensive care unit. We give each parent a packet of five books that they get to keep to read to their baby while they are in the hospital and later at home.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

The BFG by Roald Dahl

Recently, I've read a few other Roald Dahl books looking for the magic I found as a child in James and the Giant Peach, but not finding it. I listened to the audio version of The BFG read by David Walliams and found that magic.

Late one night, orphaned Sophie accidentally spots a giant who is out giving dreams to children, so he kidnaps her in order to keep himself safe.

The BFG (Big Friendly Giant) is unlike the other giants of his land as they like to eat humans. Sophie and the BFG have a magical journey combined with dreams, royalty, and a friendship. This one will stay in my library.

Read to a child today even if that child is you. 

Link to our NICU book registry if you'd like to donate books to babies in the newborn intensive care unit.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

White Fang by Jack London

White Fang was written by Jack London and published in 1906. I listened to the audio version, and the whole time I was listening wondered if the producers of the first nature shows had read this book and gotten the idea for their shows from this book.

In White Fang, London shows the brutality of nature. The story follows the life of White Fang beginning with his mother before he was born. London is an amazing writer who paints vivid pictures with his words. I could see the beauty, the humor, and the violence of the Alaskan landscape.

We see White Fang as a puppy as he encounters new things for the first time. We also see what happens when he meets his first owner - one who wasn't a very good master, but who also wasn't the worst that White Fang will come upon.

For tenderhearted readers, the violence depicted toward animals in this story may too much for them to handle. London deconstructs the hows and whys of both good pet owners and horrible pet owners.

We see what happens to dogs and their minds when they are subjected to the cruelty of dog fighting and there is no question about how London feels about this despicable practice. He gets so into the mind of White Fang that it seems he becomes this dog.

I loved the ending of this story, but the path to the ending is rough and rocky at times - well written, but dang, I wanted to rescue that dog. In this story we see the progression of White Fang, and I think anyone who reads this book will want to be a better pet owner and spend even more time with their pets.

Read to a child today even if that child is you. 

Link to our NICU book registry if you'd like to donate books to babies in the newborn intensive care unit.