A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park

A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park is a fictionalized version of two related stories in the recent history of Sudan. It tells two parallel stories, one in the 1980s and the other just a few years ago.

In the early story, a young boy caught in the crossfires of the Southern Sudan Civil War.The other story parallel story told in alternating chapters is about a young Sudanese girl in 2009 whose job is to walk from her village to the water at the somewhat nearby pond and walk home again, twice each day. With an interesting twist, the two stories are able to come together.Continue Reading

Titanic: Voices from the Disaster by Deborah Hopkinson

Titanic: Voices from the Disaster by Deborah Hopkinson (originally published 2012) is an amazing nonfiction account of the Titanic disaster, drawn directly from first-hand accounts written by the survivors of the Titanic crash, as well as the letters and notes of those who did not survive.

What most impressed me by Ms Hopkinson’s account was the amazing readibility of the story. She quoted from first-hand accounts throughout, but it never felt dry. Instead, she provided a clear framework for why the ship was so incredible, the events leading up to the crash, the crash itself, and the aftermath of the disaster. The people who’s stories she shared became real. I could not help becoming emotional as I imagined the moments of realization among the passengers and crew as they realized the painful fact: the ship was going down. Continue Reading

The Great Depression for Kids

The easily accessible text and the fun related activities make The Great Depression for Kids by Carol Mullenbach (Chicago Review Press, July 2015) a fantastic choice for the young student in upper elementary school or older that is interested in learning more about the era in our history. The text covers life before the Great Depression, the causes of the Great Depression, and then life during the Great Depression, both in cities and rural areas. It ends as it talks about how the nation recovered at the start of Word War II. Each chapter in The Great Depression for Kids covered a lot of information, but I felt it easily accessible to the younger reader.

This volume includes 21 activities related to the things happening in the text. For example, there is an explanation on how to “play the stock market” when the text talks about the stock market crash. Paper airplane making is the activity as kids learn about the new developments during the era. An erosion experiment is the activity during the chapter about the dust bowl. In all, the activities seem like simple but engaging ones for upper elementary students to enjoy doing!

As a personal note, I found myself wishing I’d asked my grandparents more about the era before they passed away. The book contained lots of details about life during the era, but I know my grandparent’s stories were unique. It’s interesting how this definitive historical era is now so distant from children’s lives today, even though it was only three generations ago.

Note: I read a digital copy of this book from the publisher for review consideration.

 

Stuffocation by James Wallman

Stuffocation by James Wallman (Spiegel and Wrau, March 2015) is an interesting analysis of the problem with materialism and a discussion of how seeking out experiences is more rewarding and fulfilling than buying things. I certainly appreciated the analysis of the problems of materialism (many of which I feel on a daily basis!) and I found the argument for experiences to be intriguing. But I also found the book as a whole seemed to drag through the points it made. I felt it could have held it’s own as a chapter in another book, without having to give all the examples that were so abundant.

That is not to say I cannot recommend it. I can! For those even more overwhelmed with things in their lives than I am, I suggest reading through the examples of how to simply and minimize the clutter of our homes. It is provides ample examples that can help those struggling to find balance.

Further, I certainly hope my loved ones don’t mind if I switch my gift giving to more “experiential” gifts versus the materialistic gifts as I’ve done in the past! I dislike the thought of things sitting around or cluttering already crowded homes, but I love the idea of giving a  memorable time to those I love!

Note: I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher for review consideration.