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Monday, November 13, 2017

The Boy on the Wooden Box by Leon Leyson

The Boy on the Wooden BoxThe Boy on the Wooden Box is a memoir which recounts the horrors of living through the Holocaust in WWII Poland.  Leon Leyson's childhood was fairly typical until the Germans invaded his country, and his life was changed forever.  Leon endured hardship after hardship just trying to survive with his family during the war, but things quickly went from bad to worse to horrific when they were evicted from their home and sent to live in the ghetto.  Eventually they were sent to a work camp where the conditions were like living in a never-ending nightmare.  Leon's struggle to find food, keep warm, and simply stay alive from one day to the next was almost impossible until a man named Oskar Schindler saved him and his family.

You may have heard of the film "Schindler's List," the true story of a Nazi businessman who took pity on over 1,200 Jews and saved them from certain death by employing them in his factory.  He convinced the Nazi soldiers that those whose names were on his "list" were essential to running his factory which made ammunition among other things necessary to fight the war, and they must be spared.  Fortunately for Leon, he along with his parents and brother were on the list.  Sadly, Leon lost his two other brothers and every member of his mother's family in the Holocaust.

Leon was eventually freed at the end of the war and made his way to America with his parents.  He never talked about his experiences during the war, and only after the famous movie came out in 1993 did he begin to speak in public about  his childhood.  This eventually led him to write this book which wasn't published until after his death in 2013.

I recommend this book because it tells a true story from a child's perspective about a time in history that everyone should know about. Leon wrote that Oskar Schindler proved that one person can stand up to evil and make a difference.

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Monday, November 06, 2017

Real Friends by Shannon Hale

Real FriendsReal Friends is a graphic memoir by the author of the Princess in Black and Princess Academy series. Shannon is a nervous, kind of awkward girl, and she has a hard time making friends. Her older sister is really mean a lot of the time, and her mom keeps telling her, "You just need one friend." So when Shannon meets Adrienne in Kindergarten, she thinks that this is great! She finally has her one friend. But then, Adrienne wants other friends, too, including Jen, the most popular girl in school. Only Jen wants to be Adrienne's best friend, and her group of friends isn't always very nice to Shannon, despite claiming to be her friends. Dealing with friend-sabotage, games of pretend, and sibling rivalry, Real Friends will resonate with fans of Raina Telgemeier and Sunny Side Up.

Real Friends is an amazing graphic novel -- I read it in one sitting. It perfectly captures the difficulty of being a girl during 4-6th grade, when kids form cliques and have a hard time sharing friends with each other. In addition to touching on bullying, it also examines childhood anxiety and the constant feeling of failure and not being good enough at anything that I definitely remember from being a kid. It's not all seriousness, though! There are a lot of passages that are just Shannon being a really imaginative, fun kid, who does things like pretend to be part of Charlie's Angels, or have superhero adventures, or any number of indications that, while a little awkward, Shannon was probably a great friend.

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Monday, October 30, 2017

Forbidden Passage by Jeff Probst and Chris Tebbetts

Forbidden PassageForbidden Passage is the start of the second trilogy in the Stranded book series.  We meet Carter, Buzz, Jane and Vanessa in this new trilogy plus a new character named Mima.  They get stranded again on an island and meet the Nukula tribe.  Ani, the only Nukula who speaks English, tells the children that the people on the island do not want to be discovered so they hide within the island's jungle cover.  That information doesn't help Carter, Buzz, Jane and Vanessa as they want off the island to be reunited with their parents. The Nukula challenge is getting ready to take place.  It is a  race to become an elder in the tribe and the participants are children within a certain age range.  Lucky for them, the four siblings fall in that age range.  The group must overcome the many challenges that await them in the race and finish in the top 16 if they want to find a way to get off the island, as the current on the other side of the island is less deadly.  There are many disadvantages in front of them, like not knowing the island, the language of the Nukula, or competing against Chizo, who is doing everything possible to make them fail.  But if the brothers and sisters work together, they might just survive and finish the race.  

For those who loved the first Stranded trilogy series by Jeff Probst and Chris Tebbetts, this is the series for you.  It reads just like the Survivor television series as the setting is a remote island with very few resources.  This time around, there are challenges just like in the television series, where players are eliminated or rewarded for their efforts.  There are several themes in the book about working together, looking out for family and competing fairly.  These books are not long and are a perfect fit for a reluctant reader who likes adventure.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Pink and Say by Patricia Polacco

Pink and SayNot all picture books are for preschoolers.  One of my favorite things is to find a good picture book that is appropriate for older kids.  The one I chose this month is Pink and Say by Patricia Polacco.  This wonderful book is an account of two real-life Civil War soldiers, both only about 15 years old, Pinkus Aylee (Pink) who was black, and Sheldon Russell Curtis (Say) who was white.  Both were fighting for the Union, but were in danger of being captured by Southern troops.

The story starts when Pink, who had gotten separated from his company, finds Say, who had been seriously wounded in the leg.  Pink saves Say's life by carrying him home to his mother, Moe Moe Bay, who nurses Say back to health.  The remainder of the story is heartbreaking, and even though I've read this book several times it still brings tears to my eyes.  It does not have the usual happy ending that most picture books have, but it is important because of the lessons it teaches -  hard lessons about war and injustice, but also lessons about love and humanity.

The illustrations are vivid and emotional, which enhance the story and its many messages.

At one point in the story Say tells of how he once shook Abraham Lincoln's hand.  When he and Pink were saying their final good-byes, Pink reaches out to Say and says, "Let me touch the hand that touched Mr. Lincoln, Say, just one last time."  It's a very powerful moment that is explained further on the last page of the story.  I am honored that I'm among the thousands of people who has since "touched the hand that touched the hand that touched the hand....of Mr. Lincoln."

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Monday, October 09, 2017

Space Battle Lunchtime: Lights, Camera, Snacktion! by Natalie Riess

Space Battle Lunchtime: Lights, Camera, Snacktion!Peony is just minding her own business, working at a bakery, when an alien stops in for coffee and asks if she wants to compete to be the best chef in the galaxy! The cooking show, Space Battle Lunchtime, had a chef drop out of the competition at the last minute, and Peony agrees to compete for the 20,000 solarbuck prize. She's not sure what most of the ingredients are, doesn't know much about space TV, and is a little intimidated by her fellow chefs, and definitely wasn't prepared for an intergalactic cutthroat competition. Will Peony be able to master the art of space cooking?

This book was fun, especially for fans of cooking contest. The art is very cute, and I really liked Peony, who was just trying so hard to be good at cooking ingredients she'd never seen before. All in all, a fun graphic novel serving up a slice of friendship and competition!

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Monday, October 02, 2017

Babymouse: Lights, Camera, Middle School! by Jennifer L. Holm

Lights, Camera, Middle SchoolBabymouse is growing up and going to middle school, where she'll face the peer pressure of being popular and the school cafeteria.  Babymouse wants to stand out in middle school, so she has to decide what she will get involved in.  Suddenly it comes to her - she joins Film Club!  Babymouse write a screenplay for an epic adventure and the club begins to film it with Babymouse being the director.  It's not smooth sailing, that's for sure.  Crabby stars, set malfunctions and time constraints all play a factor.  It debuts at school and instead of an epic film, she realizes it was a comedy that got lots of laughs from her peers.

If you like Stick Dog, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, or Dork Diaries, you will enjoy this new format of Babymouse.  It's still filled with lots of great drawings from Matthew Holm, which just add to the story.  I have a feeling this title will be flying off our shelf!


Thursday, September 28, 2017

Books & Popcorn: Whoosh!

On the Same Page - just for kids!
The public libraries in Roselle, Bloomingdale, and Itasca are hosting a series of book discussions, movies, programs and events throughout October just for kids related to Chris Barton's book Whoosh! Lonnie Johnson's Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions.

Join our book discussion group Books 'n' Popcorn for kids in Grades 2 - 5, at Roselle Public Library, 6:30-7:30 p.m., Monday, October 2nd, to discuss Barton's Whoosh! while munching on POPCORN!

Kids must register ahead to provide time to read the book. Copies of the book will be available at the Ask Me desk. Space is limited to 10 participants. Register online, by phone, or at the Library.

Download the "On the Same Page" brochure to see programs and events at all three libraries. Roselle Public Library is located at 40 S. Park St., Roselle, Illinois. For more information, call 630-529-1641, press 2. "On the Same Page" is sponsored by Itasca Bank & Trust, Friends of the Bloomingdale Public Library, Friends of the Roselle Public Library, Rotary Club of Bloomingdale-Roselle, and Salerno's Rosedale Chapels.

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