Sunday, July 29, 2012

West to a Land of Plenty

Time's fun when you're having flies!  Whoops, sorry--guess I've been hanging out around the local frogs too much lately :)  I meant to say, Time flies when you're having fun!  Here's this week's review.
Keep reading,

Title:  West to a Land of Plenty:  The Diary of Teresa Angelino Viscardi
Author:  Jim Murphy
Setting:  New York to Idaho Territory, 1883
Target Audience:  Middle School
Approximate Independent Reading Level:  8th

Summary:  Teresa and her family are Italians living in New York with several other Italian families on their street.  "Poppa" has come home and announced that they will be leaving their home in New York to go to Idaho territory, where they will be able to get a large plot of land and farm it.  Also, they will not be looked down on as they are in New York.  Teresa is very upset about leaving her home and her friends, and she writes in her diary at the suggestion of her teacher.  Her younger sister Antoinetta, who goes by Netta, also writes in the diary sometimes.  The trail is long and hard, with many sicknesses and dangers.  Several people decide not to continue or die along the way.  Teresa's (almost) daily story shows how the journey changes her and others.

Review: Another book in the "Dear America" series, this book is again written in a diary format.  Teresa's arguing with Netta is comparable to the sibling rivalry in most families.  Teresa uses a few Italian words, but they are close enough to the American to be determined from context.  Different typesets are used to make it easy to determine whether the writing is Teresa's diary entry or something else (Netta's diary entry or a letter that Teresa pasted into the diary.  I think the book is well-written in Teresa's voice (and others when appropriate), including spelling and grammatical errors.  The use of historical fiction makes this time period in America's interesting.
**** 4 stars

Happy reading, y'all!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Quackadack Duck

Hey, y'all!

Taking a quick break from the Dear America series this week for a short read.  This week flew by, and I can't believe I'm a day late on posting again! 


Title:  Quackadack Duck
Author:  Allen Morgan
Illustrator:  John Beder
Target Audience:  Young children (a read-aloud book)
Approximate (independent) reading level:  3rd grade

Summary:  A troll likes to make mischief and collect pennies.  One day, he comes across a duck egg as it is hatching.  The baby duck thinks the troll is his mother, and begins copying the troll.  At first, the troll is upset and ignores the baby duck; but he soon feels pity for the duck and lets him into his home, naming him Quackadack Duck.  When the duck follows him to the market and is taken by a man with a poultry store, the troll must choose between his treasured pennies and his new friend.

Review:  The story is well-written and the artwork is just as good and also flows well into the story.  The words are rhythmical and sometimes rhyming, which makes it more fun for young children.  The story also teaches a good lesson about the importance of friendship.
**** 4 stars

Saturday, July 14, 2012

My Heart is on the Ground

Hi, folks!
I missed last week AND am late this week--WHOOPS!  I had a couple of family trips over the last two weeks an was unable to finish reading my book in time.  Hope y'all enjoy this review, and I should be back on track next Friday.
God bless,

Title:  My Heart is on the GroundThe Diary of Nannie Little Rose, a Sioux Girl
Author:  Ann Rinaldi
Setting:  Carlisle Indian School, Pennsylvania, 1880
Target Audience:  Upper Elementary-Middle School
Approximate reading level:  6th grade

Summary:  Little Rose lived on a reservation with her family and tribe until her father decided to send her to the school for Indians in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.  There, she was forced to lose her Indian language and customs and take on those of the white people--even being required to take a new name, Nannie.  In her diary, she writes about her first year away from home.  She meets new friends and welcomes old ones and grows in her understanding of "white" customs and language.

Review:  Nannie Little Rose's writing improves while at the school, but may be difficult to understand at times.  There are some controversial elements, such as Nannie's hurting herself in a time of grief, and the Indians being forced to give up their clothes and hair.  These are historically accurate, however, and contribute to the story--not gratuitous at all.
**** 4 stars