May 2011

These are the books the Children's Area staff reviewed in May 2011. Click on the "check the catalog" link to see if the book is available. If it isn't, ask a librarian to put it on hold for you.

Scroll past these book reviews to see an archive of all of the previous book reviews.

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Esperanza rising

This is the coming-of-age story of a young Mexican girl who must leave her home and her privileged life behind after a terrible family tragedy and travel to America with her mother to start a new life. This 2002 Pura Belpre Award winner for narrative is beautifully written and captivates the reader - I couldn't put the book down! I laughed and I cried, and then I cried again. Through Esperanza's story, Ryan describes the hardships of immigrant workers, and the struggles and emotions of being considered a second-class citizen in the land of opportunity. Highly recommend.

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Cool Melons - Turn to Frogs! The Life and Poems of Issa.

Gollub's simple text detailing Issa's life is inter-woven with the poet's haiku, which is also represented in Japanese calligraphy on the outer margins of each page. The beautiful illustrations are done by Kazuko G. Stone and the calligraphy by Keiko Smith. The author's note explains that the poems in the collection were selected "for both their inherent charm and for the light they shed on Issa's life." Although Issa's original poems do follow the five - seven - five rules of haiku, the English translations do not hold true to the 17-syllable format. Rather than complicate the intended message, simple translations were used to preserve the original meaning. The biographical text, the haiku poetry, and the Japanese calligraphy make it especially interesting as a teaching tool. Highly recommend.

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Moon Over Manifest

In the era of the dustbowl, Abilene and her father Gideon are drifters. Abilene adores her father and feels lost when he sends her to an old friend named Shady. In the little town of Manifest, Abilene uncovers treasures which are keys to the town's past, and more importantly, to her father's past. Abilene searches through time to the year of 1918 when the mining town of Manifest was in the midst of WWI. Abilene sifts through old newspapers and letters, and with the help of the towns gypsy, unravels the past about her father and his friends. Set in two time-periods simultaneously, Moon over Manifest weaves a well crafted story about life ,love, humor and heartbreak. Moon Over Manifest is well deserving of the Newbery Award it received for the year of 2010.

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