My son’s favorite phrase this month is “That’s not fair!” I’ve made an extra effort to try to help him understand why we have certain rules. And after reading this young adult nonfiction account of some people who said “No! This is not fair!”, I felt like I have some solid examples I can give him of just what truly is “not fair” in the world.
In People Who Said No (Annick Press, 2013), Laura Scandiffio outlines a few of the people in history who made a difference by standing up for what was wrong. Some chapters felt like miniature biographies of people I’d heard of but never before studied in depth. Included were Hans and Sophie, two young adults who took a stand against Hitler’s rise; Helen Suzman, the lone politician in South Africa who spoke out against Apartheid; the people of Egypt who mounted a mostly peaceful protest against their leader; and many more. (more…)
Although I’m on the panel for Fiction Picture Books for this year’s Cybils, one thing I’m really enjoying is reading a smattering of historical fiction and books based on true stories as well. Below are some I’ve really enjoyed. There are, of course, far more books based on true stories on the nominations list that I haven’t written about, but this may get you started.
In 1948, hundreds of Segenalese railway workers along the main rail line left work in a strike against the French colonist’s repression of the native’s way of life and status as employees of the railway. In God’s Bits of Wood, Sembene Ousmane tells their story.
Ousmane’s writing was impressive. Although I’ve never been to Senegal, I could picture the setting. He also did a wonderful job of capturing the people in action. It was not a comfortable read given the subject matter, and it was not a novel to be rushed. It was, ultimately, rewarding.
I took a creative writing class in tenth grade. While I can’t say any of my output was remarkable, the best aspects of the class were the samples my teacher gave us of good quality stories and poetry. I hadn’t yet learned to appreciate poetry (it took two more years before that happened), yet I have always remembered one poem we read in class. I decided to go and find it.
The collected volume of Nikki Giovanni’s poetry was more than I anticipated reading. The volume has more than 350 pages of poetry and extensive endnotes (another 100 pages). As I mentioned the other day, I read poetry for feeling, sound, and enjoyment factor. As it was, I only skimmed about half of the poems and I ignored the notes. I would read a poem in full if something about it caught my attention. (more…)
I was a skeptic. I had heard the hype and still I avoided The Help by Kathryn Stockett. My book club decided to discuss it this month and I grudgingly put a hold for it at the library. The hold came in and I let it sit on my TBR shelf for a week before I finally picked it up one night at 10 p.m., with a sigh, and began to read. I figured I’d read until I got bored or fell asleep.
And then I read until an embarrassingly late hour. I couldn’t put it down. The next day, I persuaded my toddler to take a nap. Then, instead of taking a needed nap myself, I finished the book. This was a book I wanted to keep reading. I wanted to see what happened.
The Help has flaws. It is not a perfect novel in any way. But I really enjoyed reading it, and the themes it addresses and the way it is written (for the most part) all work together to bring me into it and make it a page-turner.