Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes

May 24, 2012

In this truly heartwarming-- and heartbreaking-- story by Eleanor Coerr, a young Japanese girl awakes one morning to find all her dreams crushed because of the terrifying atom bomb disease, leukemia. Her hopes of becoming a track star on the junior high school's running team are in ruins-- but out of this misery there arises a fresh new hope: If only Sadako could fold one thousand paper cranes, all would be well.

It was her best friend, Chizuko, who had first brought news-- and hope, with the arrival of the first crane. Just the year before, Sadako had been frightened by the grotesque faces of the atom bomb victims. She had not known that hardly a year later, she would belong to a class of them: victims of the "aftereffects" of the atom bomb-- victims of leukemia. Sadako tried hard to believe in the cranes, but when a little boy, a fellow leukemia victim, Kenji, dies, her hope began to waver.

The hardest race of Sadako's life... the race against time.
As literary critic Anita Silvey put it,
This slim book of 80 pages, written in very simple language, presents [Sadako's] heart-wrenching story...A three-handkerchief story, it will always work for those readers who request a sad book. By showing the effect of a war on the life of a vibrant and attractive child, Eleanor Coerr wrote a powerful book that advocates for peace."
Eleanor CoerrI recently read an article that made me very sad. Eleanor Coerr, the author of this much-loved book, passed away in 2010, two years ago. If she had been alive, this year she would have celebrated her 90th birthday, just like Mrs. White in the popular series The Cobble Street Cousins by Cynthia Rylant. Anyway, I leave you with this thought.

Oh, river (from Moon over Manifest), Dana

In Aunt Lucy's Kitchen

I am sorry to say that this post will be short because of the book's length. However, it is a wonderful series for young girls. I adored Lily, because she was a poet, and I aspired to become a writer. I am not sure about Lily's beautiful sister Rosie's character, because she enjoys a seemingly wide variety of things-- from stained glass to paper dolls to a little cottage with flowers by the door. However, there is no doubt that all three girls, including the two girls' outgoing cousin, Tess, are very sweet and kind.

As a child, I fantasized about living a grand life like Lily. Her wicker bed and long lacy yellow curtains were beautiful and glamorous to me. However, it is not like I do not have any "Tess" genes, for in fact, I do. I enjoy singing and dancing a lot, and am very fond of acting.

Lily, Rosie, and Tess are nine years old. Since there is nothing to do over the summer, they decide to start a cookie company. They sell Cinnamon Crinkle and other kinds of various cookies.
They deliver fresh-baked cookies and meet a customer who has a crush on Aunt Lucy. But he's too shy to tell her. How will these two ever get together? It's up to the cousins to make romance bloom on Cobble Street!
If you're new to the series, you probably have a head full of questions by now, so I will further explain. Aunt Lucy is the relative that the three girl cousins are staying with since they did not want to go to boarding school while their parents traveled around the world on a tour with the ballet. Aunt Lucy owned a flower shop nearby her home on Cobble Street. And just in case you were wondering, that old, old, lady on the cover page with almost zinc white hair is called Mrs. White. The girls had met her because she had ordered cookies to celebrate her 90th birthday. Later, she was invited to the girls' "A Collection of Classics by Comely Cousins" show.

The drawings are absolutely precious, especially the detailed flowered stenciling on the edges of the covers! They simply radiate a kind of childlike whimsy, a kind of charm that any girl is sure to fall in love with.

Cheers, Dana.

Shakespeare's Secret

May 18, 2012

Twelve year old Hero Netherfield and popular 8th grader Danny Cordova are on a mission to find the missing Murphy Diamond. The Murphy Diamond is a 17 Karat pendant in a necklace that traces back to the English nobility. All of the police believe it is hidden in Hero's house! On the way to finding the diamond, they befriended Mrs. Roth, who was Arthur Murphy's ex-wife. Arthur Murphy's second wife is the woman who inherited the diamond. Therefore making it known as the Murphy Diamond.

There is a really interesting point that I really enjoyed. It is a bit of a coincidence, however, and it contains a completely happy ending. However, the next paragraph will contain spoilers, and you will seriously regret it if you read the next paragraph-- that is, if you plan on reading the book, and enjoying it. 

Interesting points: Mrs. Roth has a daughter named Anna, who ran away when she was 17. Once, Anna sent Mrs. Roth a postcard to say that she had married and had a baby. Danny Cordova's mother ran away when he was 5. When Danny went to Mrs. Roth's house, he saw a picture of his mother and Mrs. Roth. It was then that Danny and his grandmother were reunited.

All of my friends who have read this agree this was an interesting read. I have read it more than once.

At Emma Clark Library's system, you can grade the books out of 5 "bookmarks", or stars. Because of its popularity and plot, I give this book 5 out of 5 bookmarks!

Tara's Essay

May 16, 2012

I'm getting kind of worried that I won't be able to write the Thirteen Gifts review in time before I have to return them. So, I'm going to share my favorite selection of quotes from Tara, the main character. I had really high hopes for this one because the plot was very good. Unfortunately, I ended up disappointed because it became "modernized" and there are several references to texting which I highly dislike. It could've been wonderful. Instead, it was written to sell. That said, I did not purposely tell you this so you wouldn't buy it, I loved it. It's such a thick novel that there's a generous amount of room for error. Lovely, just lovely.

I have learned that doing something for the wrong reason will likely backfire on you. It may also backfire on you if you do it for the right reason.

Thanks to Google I have learned that even though a hawk can fly over 250 miles a day, it's not fast enough to beat a train.

I have learned that some people love math because either the equation works or it doesn't. There is no gray area. If everything in life was clearly wrong or clearly right, I would be much happier.

I have learned that there are some towns where special forces are at work, and you can't tell if you live in one of these towns until strange things start to happen to you.

I've learned that the universe doesn't care what our motives are, only our actions. So we should do things that will bring about good, even if there is an element of selfishness involved. Like the kids at my school might join Key Club or Future Business Leaders of America, because it's a social thing and looks good on their record, not because they really want to volunteer at the nursing home. But the people at the nursing home still benefit from it, so it's better that the kids do it than not do it. And if they never did it, then they wouldn't find out that they actually liked it.

I have learned that almost anyone will help you if you ask for it.

I have learned that everyone should be allowed to keep their secrets. But if they eat away at you with guilt, or make you move your family to a different town every year, you should not keep them.

I've learned that if you wait long enough, you might get a second chance at something you gave up on. And sometimes you'll be the one to give the second chance to someone else.

I've learned that everyone can do their part to repair the world, and that the more you look for them, the easier it becomes to spot all the little pieces.

And most of all, I've learned that the sidelines may be safer, but life is played on the field.

When You Reach Me

Author: Rebecca Stead
Rating: 5
When You Reach Me is an amazing book. I bought it when the Scholastic Book Order came around and there it was, on the front page: Rebecca Stead's Newbery-Award winning book!

It was such a good buy I absolutely could not put it down until I finished it. All I have to say is good work Newbery Commitee! This was last last year's book (2011's books was the illustrious Moon Over Manifest, and this year's was Dead End in Norvelt, not as good as I had expected, since over the past two years I have been spoiled into thinking all years have good Newbery winners!) and I was absolutely thrilled with it.

 It's so good that if you haven't read it yet, you're really missing out! It's really gripping and has a really neat twist, not to mention a really confused-mysterious tone (as opposed to a suspense-mysterious tone, e.g. a genie comes out and says, spookily, "You will die!")

It's about a girl named Miranda who receives mysterious notes that say things no one should know. Her best friend since kindergarten, Sal, is completely ignoring her after a kid punched him on the street. It's a little confusing, and it all gets wrapped up in the end. However, it's REALLY gripping. This is the main reason I liked it--- it's confusing!

This book seems like realistic fiction (one of my personal favorites), but it's science fiction-- it's not really clear until the end. That's okay, for me it set two personal records-- "Read a science fiction book and enjoyed it THOROUGHLY" (Madame L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time didn't impress me much when I read, I being much too small to understand anything..) and "Reread and reread again a science fiction book".

As Gram in Walk Two Moons would say, "Huzzah, huzzah!"

If you've already read it, I'd like to know your personal thoughts and opinions on this book (very much obliged, sir!). This is a very complicated, jumbled-up book, and it may take a couple of rereads to fully understand the story. That's okay, we have all the time in the world! :) But my favorite chapter, if I had to name one, would be the one titled "Magic Thread".

The whole book is very abstract, depending on scientific theory and things like that. I'm not really into that but now I have some questions about time travel that I'd like any Julias out there to be able to explain to me.

 1) Say every single point in time is happening at the same time, like Marcus explains it, "like a drawer full of pictures." Okay. Bob from 2080 AD went back in time to, say, 2056 AD, during his childhood which took place in wartime. Now let's suppose that while he was in 2056 AD, adult Bob was able to change something really significant. Like prevent a war or something. When he went back to 2080 AD, what would happen? Did he prevent the war or not? Because it really happened, but then it didn't. Or is this the exact reason why time travel isn't possible, as of now?

Very sorry that the above is confusing.

Hope you read it and like it!

John Philip Duck

May 3, 2012

By Patricia Polacco

Edward Pembroke is a little African-American boy with big dreams of days when he can wear a shiny uniform and march to John Philip Sousa's music. For now, though, he's only a small-town farmboy who works with his father at the strictly-run Peabody Hotel. One day, Edward finds a small duckling at the edge of the bullrushes by the pond and convinces his parents to let him keep his newfound friend as a pet and bring him to work at the hotel.
"Well, I guess we could give it a try, but you have to keep him hidden or we could both lose our jobs," Pa said.
Find out what happens to Edward's pet, John Philip Duck, when the strict but fair manager of the hotel finds out his secret!

In America, teachers are big fans of read-alouds, and do them often, although it is different in South Africa as well as Canada. This is partly (or shall I say mainly?) due to the fact that in Canada and S. Africa, teachers expect you to be able to do this kind of reading individually. Yes, however, it is true; that kids everywhere enjoy a good story read-aloud. And Patricia Polacco book is super-duper suitable for this purpose alone, and it might appear that this book is for younger children, grades kindergarten through third.

But however fluently a child can read the words upon the pages of this and another, Chicken Sunday, he cannot decipher the deeper, hidden meaning of these seemingly few words. That will not come until later, unless the child in question is a precocious one.