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Malala: Activist for Girls’ Education
by Raphaële Frier
illustrated by Aurélia Fronty
The youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize earned this award and world-wide acclaim through her activism in support of girls’ rights to education. Starting at age eleven, she began a courageous public battle against the Taliban and their destruction of girls’ schools in Pakistan. Malala: Activist for Girls’ Education, depicts Malala’s background and family support, her bravery in the face of Taliban violence, and her continuing efforts to bring light on rights’ issues for girls and women in particular, but including all downtrodden people.
The artwork is an essential part of this book, providing colorful symbolic images. At the end of the book there is a helpful timeline of events in Malala’s life as well as photographs of her. There is an added useful feature for parents and teachers who want to extend the study with information on Pakistan, education in Pakistan and the world, and Malala’s religion and inspiration. There are also brief discussions of other peacemakers: Gandhi, Mandela, and King. This section includes quotes from Malala as well as a listing of other sources of information about Malala including links to various important speeches she has made.
Teachers will find Malala: Activist for Girls’ Education a valuable teaching resource. It empowers both children and women to stand up for what is right and summarizes the religious and historical context in a way that is understandable and appropriate for children. This book could be used as an integral tool in many curricular units as well as to provoke thoughtful discussion by itself.
I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Charlesbridge Publishing for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Category: Younger Readers, Biography
Notes: recommended for ages 6-9
10 inches X 10 inches
originally published in French
Publication: Charlesbridge Publishing–February 7, 2017
One child, one teacher, one pen, and one book can change the world.
“Dear sisters and brothers, we realize the importance of light when we see darkness. We realize the importance of our voice when we are silenced. In the same way, when we were in Swat, the north of Pakistan, we realized the importance of pens and books when we saw the guns.”–Malala
“The extremists are afraid of books and pens. With guns you can kill terrorists; with education you can kill terrorism.”–Malala
Dolly Parton has helped make readers one book at a time. Read this reblogged post if you do not know the story of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, her importance to the economy of Tennessee, or her generosity in the wake of the terrible fires.
I’ll be honest. I used to think you were a bimbo. I used to think you flaunted your big boobs, teased hair, tiny waist, and your syrupy-sweet southern accent to sell yourself and your brand as a country singer. Granted, I was raised in the Midwest and lived as an adult for many years in the Northeast. I didn’t get you, much less the South.
For example, I’d heard about your origins as a poor girl from the hills of East Tennessee, and when I learned you’d created a theme park in your native Sevier County I rolled my eyes. “Really, a theme park?” I thought. “As if rollercoasters will really help the people of rural Appalachia. Why not create something truly useful to give back to your community, like a library.”
You have created a library, actually, and possibly in a bigger and more magical…
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Part teacher, part book lover, part entertainer–a true friend to homeless children!
For the last eight years, Colbert Nembhard has been bringing books (and smiles) to homeless children in The Bronx, New York.
Mr Nembhard, a librarian who’s been the manager of the Morrisania branch of the New York Public Library for 25 years, has been on a mission to making literacy a constant in their wandering and ever changing lives.
The New York Times reports:
“It’s a pleasure to come in here,” Mr. Nembhard began on that Wednesday, never removing his jacket during a presentation that was just short of a Mr. Rogers routine.
He began to sing, “Good morning to you,” and followed with “Wheels on the Bus.” The children joined in with a chorus of “round and round, round and round.”
Toddlers, fidgeting in their chairs or in their mothers’ arms, suddenly became fixated. They could not wait to flip open “Dear Zoo,” by Rod Campbell, a lift-a-flap book…
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Here’s a thoughtful way for book lovers to help teachers and their students.
We know teachers are the lifeblood of our education system. However, each year they must spend more out of their own pockets for classroom supplies they cannot get from schools’ depleting budgets. In the past, I’ve given teachers gift cards to office supply stores to help, but last week I found another way I’d never thought of before. Our small town has a wonderful and thoughtful used bookstore. I turned in a bunch of books and received an $80 credit for my efforts–but I’m not going to buy any books. Instead, I’ve turned over my credit to any of the county’s teachers who’ve signed up to receive children’s fiction books for their classrooms.
So, rather than refilling my bookshelves, my credit will help fill classroom libraries for students instead. I can’t think of a better way to promote reading for young people. Yes, I could have bought books and donated…
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Little Chickies/Los Pollitos
by Susie Jaramillo
Susie Jaramillo is a bilingual mother and artist who grew up in Venezuela and in the United States. In working with her own young children, she found a need for bilingual books to share traditional Latin American nursery rhymes in Spanish with a translation into English which maintains the original meaning without sacrificing the beauty of language. To this end she founded Canticos and has published the first book, Little Chickies/Los Pollitos. She has written and illustrated two more bilingual books which are available for preorder.
The art work in Little Chickies/Los Pollitos is very appealing. The simple storyline is that of a mother hen taking care of her babies. It is the kind of book children would love to read and sing over and over again.
One thing that makes Little Chickies/Los Pollitos valuable in working with preschoolers, in presenting an alternate language, is the accordion fold format. You read the story all the way through in one language and then from the back you can go forward again reading in the other language with no disruption of the story or words that don’t match up with the voice. Jaramillo added other features that make it special as well. The rhymes are put to music so children can sing the book. They are interactive with spinning wheels and flaps that lift. An app can be purchased as an extension of the book. There are free videos of it on Vimeo and more information is available at canticosworld.com.
I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to the publisher Encantos for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Escaping the Nazis on the Kindertransport
by Emma Carlson Berne
Many books have been written for middle school students about the Jews in Nazi Germany. In Escaping the Nazis on the Kindertransport, Emma Carlson Berne shares a piece of their story with children aged 8-12. As a teacher I could certainly see this book also being used as a resource for older students who are reading below grade level as it has an interest level appropriate to them as well.
The physical book is designed with the look and feel of an aging family picture album. There are seven chapters that focus on individual children who were part of the 10,000 children rescued from Nazi controlled areas and relocated to the United Kingdom prior to the beginning of World War II. Their story is told in the third person but from the child’s perspective.
The first chapter begins with a poem “The Leather Suitcase” written by Tom Berman who was saved as a 5 year old child by a Kindertransport. Some background is given as it describes what it must have been like for such a young boy to be separated from his parents for a long trip to an unfamiliar country with a different language, not knowing if he would ever see them again. This chapter captures the reader’s interest immediately.
The next chapter, “From Kristallnacht to Kindertransport,” gives more historical details about the increasing persecution of the Jews and their limited options for survival. Then the book returns to the stories of individual children, ending with a chapter that briefly recounts what happened to each child after the Kindertransport. It might be specifics of their time living with another family, further emigration, or an ultimate career, depending on their circumstances and the source documents available. There is also general statistical information about the 10,000 children of the Kindertransport.
There are study resources at the end of the book. The “Timeline” integrates important historical dates of the war with major events related to the Kindertransport and the seven children whose rescues are detailed in the book. The “Glossary,” of course, defines unfamiliar terms such as “haftarah” and “pogrom” which are used in the book. Next is a page which explains The Kindertransport Association (KTA), whose president was a consultant for the book. The KTA is comprised of the rescued Kinders, as they call themselves, and their descendants. “Read More” lists three more books on the topic for young readers. There is a page of discussion questions to evoke higher level thinking and several pages devoted to bibliography, source notes, and an index.
Escaping the Nazis on the Kindertransport is a valuable teaching resource, drawing from original sources. The length of the chapters is appropriate for this age level as well as for typical time periods in the school day. It could be used for independent reading or group study, but because of the difficult nature of the subject matter and the age of the intended reader, I definitely suggest adult support. The author handles the ugly reality of Nazi Germany with restraint without hiding the brutal truths of beatings, interments, and death. Being drawn into their stories will be troubling for some youngsters, especially those for whom this is their introduction to Holocaust studies.
I highly recommend Escaping the Nazis on the Kindertransport as an integrative teaching tool combining reading with social studies, especially history and geography. It abounds with possibilities for discussions to stretch young thinkers to make make new connections and offers opportunities for deep enrichment of vocabulary. Even as an adult, I found the book well written, interesting, and a source of new learning.
This book is scheduled for publication on February 1, 2017.
I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Capstone Press for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
A Real Justice Thriller Series, Book 1
by Dennis Ricci
Perilous Judgment is the first book in Dennis Ricci’s Real Justice Thriller Series. I don’t know what Mr. Ricci’s plans for future books in this series are. I can envision his successfully either creating more tales revolving around his main character, Judge Edward Lamport, or departing from the characters in his first book to write more thrillers continuing to focus on the theme of real justice. Is justice achieved only through the law or can individuals define it as something found in a higher good, a morality above and beyond human created systems of rules?
Perilous Judgment is a story of federal laws, political struggles for power and money, and international narcotics cartels. The main characters have made mistakes in their pasts for which there are consequences. They have decisions to make which affect others and through prayer they try to decipher the will of God in their unique situations. Following the “real justice” theme, many tough but ethical people have to decide at what point there is a higher law to follow.
As a current resident of Mexico, I find reading about the violence of drug cartels difficult because their actions are at such odds with the individuals I have met in the general population. They are kind, friendly and eager to help others. They too dislike corruption in the government and fear the kidnapping and cruelty of gangs. Then as I look back to my home country, I wonder if we are so very different. The political corruption north of the border is more sophisticated and subtle, but is widespread. Large cities are racked with high violent crime rates. I look forward to Mr. Ricci’s next thriller and wonder if his search for real justice will have its focal point solely in the U.S. or if he will once again cross international borders.
I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to the publisher Waterfall Press for allowing me to read Perilous Judgment in exchange for an unbiased review.
The Ghost of Africa
by Don Brobst
Don Brobst has created a fast paced adventure set in Africa. Although The Ghost of Africa is fiction, Don Brobst’s background lends a definite authenticity to the story. Like his protagonist, Dr. Paul Branson, the author is a medical doctor who travels to Africa frequently to provide medical assistance. The reader can assume the comparison ends there as the fictional doctor becomes entangled in a deadly struggle over oil between local forces in North Sudan and South Sudan.
Although Waterfall Press publishes Christian fiction, this novel does not fall anywhere near the category of historical romantic fiction that can be so typical of fictional works from a Christian publishing house. The author has obviously thoroughly researched special forces and military equipment. The result is a very detailed and physical fight for survival with a ruthless antagonist. There is a Christian theme as Dr. Branson is viewed by the natives as The Chosen One, a label he struggles with and tries to put into perspective for the native population.
I strongly recommend The Ghost of Africa. It does have a strong element of violence, but it is not gratuitous. This book stands up well with other action adventures. It also provides a realistic look at life in Africa for the innocents who are caught up in others’ struggles for wealth and power.
I want to extend thanks to netgalley.com and Waterfall Press for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an unbiased review.
Saving My Assassin
by Virginia Prodan
Virginia Prodan has written a riveting memoir Saving My Assassin. It was difficult to read many parts of this book because of its troubling, torturous content, but the triumphant spirit of this tiny powerhouse of a woman kept me returning to discover how God could possibly use the evil that surrounded her for His greater purpose.
Virginia Prodan was formerly a lawyer during the cruel Communist dictatorship of Romanian leader Nicolae Ceausescu. Currently she is an international lawyer residing in the U.S. where she continues her work representing Christians who find themselves in legal difficulties because of their stand for Christ.
Saving My Assassin begins with a brief glimpse at a pivotal moment in Prodan’s life. That part of the story ends abruptly, but is repeated and continued later in the appropriate time sequence. This is a technique which could be annoying, but is used here to skillfully draw the reader into the critical nature of the happenings in Prodan’s life. Next we learn of mysteries and events in her younger years which help us understand how she became such a determined adult. She endured a cruel childhood which left her determined to discover the truth on all levels. Why was she so mistreated by her own family? Why did she look so different from them? Why were people in Romania not allowed to worship God when their laws said they could? What motivated the cold violence of the Securitate, the Communist government agents who stalked her, interrogated her, and threatened the lives of her and her children? Why were they so willing to torture and kill their own citizens, innocent of crimes, many of whom apparently disappeared into the night?
Although this book is written for adults, I think mature high school students would appreciate it as well. I taught high school English in a Christian school before I became an elementary public school teacher. This is the kind of book I would have used with my seniors. It would be particularly appropriate for reading in conjunction with a history or civics class as it deals with a Communist dictatorship during the Reagan era and shows the power and influence the U.S. can choose to wield in supporting Christians around the world. Because Saving My Assassin has a strong Biblical message, I assume it could not be assigned for reading in a public school setting, but I would be interested in feedback from teachers with more recent public high school experience than I have.
Saving My Assassin has a proposed publication date of June 7, 2016. I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to the publisher Tyndale House for allowing me to read and review this book in exchange for an unbiased review.
As a teacher of early learners, K-2 in particular, I was always on the lookout for useful books for the classroom. I have found one that is great for students to read at home and at school. I am not a fan of the “guided reading” programs currently pushed in many school districts. A large number of the book selections are frankly boring. Reading should be fun! Pedro, First Grade Hero is a book young readers will enjoy. Its anticipated release date by Capstone Press is September 1, 2016, and I highly recommend it! I personally would use it in reading groups and then send it home for kids to enjoy there as well.
Pedro, First Grade Hero
by Fran Manuskin
Pedro, First Grade Hero, is a delightful “chapter book” for early readers. Children usually want to read chapter books like their teacher models for them. Unfortunately most chapter books are just too difficult for them to read independently. Pedro, First Grade Hero, however, comes to the rescue for the beginning reader. It is actually a collection of four stories, all about Pedro. The readability level, length of the stories, and interest level is perfect for first graders as is the focus of each story.
Pedro is a very likable little boy. In the first story, “Pedro Goes Buggy,” Pedro has to find a bug to write about in school. Discussions about the best bug ensue in the classroom and at home. Even his little brother Paco gets involved in the fun. The story has a nice resolution and ends on a humorous note. For the teacher who likes to integrate learning strands, language arts, math and science provide easy tie-ins.
“Pedro’s Big Goal” draws in boys and girls who love soccer. This chapter has “bigger is not always better” as well as “keep trying” as its themes. Children will enjoy the ending and teachers can help them appreciate the play on words.
Most people love a good mystery as do Pedro and his friends who form a mystery club in the third story, trying to find a missing locket and cell phone. Good vocabulary words include sparkle, locket, and chirping.
The final story, “Pedro for President,” teaches Pedro and his friend Katie Woo what is involved in being class president. As they ponder what they have to offer the class, little brother Paco “helps” with the election poster and Pedro creatively turns that effort into a positive. Pedro, who always encourages his classmates and promotes fairness in the election, is the obvious favorite for president.
The illustrations by Tammie Lyon are colorful, appealing, and depict well the characters’ emotions and reactions. Teachers interested in promoting multi-cultural cohesiveness in their classrooms will appreciate the inclusion of children of various backgrounds. At the end of this book are four pages of jokes in the riddle format that will delight first graders.
I would like to thank netgalley.com and the publisher, Capstone Press, for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an unbiased review.