Monday, March 9, 2009

What I have read this week...

is two fabulous historical fiction books for middle grade and YA. I read first A thousand Never Evers by Shana Burg, which was great, great, great and I am thinking of ordering it for my elementary library because it is very readable and has such a strong female main character. I think I have a few higher level readers that would enjoy it as well as a great read-aloud for teachers. The story is set in the South and the author uses Medgar Evers' and Emmitt Till's death as well as the Birmingham church bombing, killing 4 young Sunday School attendee's as a backdrop. I have been fascinated with this part of our American history for years and love Mildred D. Taylor's books for their honest portrayal and great characters. Addie Ann reminded me a great deal of Cassie, thoughful, wanting to make the right choices but not always knowing which path to take. I highly recommend this book to anyone who would like to get caught up in an era when we, as a country, were not at our best, but that many used as a time to stand up and demand justice everywhere including their own backyards as this story proves.
Chains by Laurie Halse Andersen is the second historical fiction (I have about 3 chapters left) and I am riveted to the tale of Isabel and her sister, Ruth. My husband can attest that as I read this story I am disgusted with how this slave at this time in history (backdrop is the American Revolution) is treated. You really get, as a reader, that deep understanding of slaves mattering no more than furniture that a vacuum cleaner, (well could be furniture it some homes?otherwise known as an appliance:)). There is such intensity to this book. I continue to be shocked along Isabel's journey at what befalls this brave young heroine. It always makes me incredibly sad, even when I read in a historical picture book to students nonetheless, when I read about families ripped apart and sold away from each other. Teary-eyes during story time is not always a bad thing for students to witness. As a mama I can't imagine anything worse than having my sweet children sold from me!!! Henry's Freedom Box describes this heart-wrenching practice by slave owners to further keep slaves feeling less than human. In Chains Isabel's sister Ruth suffers from perhaps epilepsy, which of course causes trauma in the household and Isabel discovers she cannot, no matter how hard she tries, protect her sister. Isabel is a great character, with tough choices to make, constantly thinking of how to get out of her place in life. She expects to work hard but it is her ability to see herself as human and thus unable to make her own choices that drive this character forward to the hope of freedom. It seems so much has been taken away from Isabel yet her soul stays strong.

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