Saved by the Boats by Julie Gassman is a picture book about September 11, 2001 and the ways the boats in New York Harbor came to the rescue of thousands of stranded New Yorkers. For me the most striking aspect of this book is the illustrations, as they so nicely capture the sense of togetherness that occurred during the tragedy.Continue Reading
Somewhere Among by Annie Donwerth-Chikamatsu is a novel in poetry about the effect of September 11, 2001 about a Japanese-American girl living in Japan. As Ema prepares in her grandparent’s home for the arrival of a new sibling, she struggles with bullying in her school, as the other students tease her and she adjusts to a very Japanese school in a new neighborhood.
Then, in shock, she hears of the unfolding of the terrorist attacks in the USA. Now she is even more torn between her identity as a biracial and bi-national girl in her school, and she struggles with the relationship with her grandparents as well. Is there any hope for the world if the USA goes down? How can she go to school as if nothing has happened? And how can she handle the bully she must face when she does return to class?Continue Reading
Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan is a powerful story about a rich and spoiled Mexican girl whose sudden impoverishment in the 1930s takes her in to the migrant worker camps of California. It teaches much about the Great Depression as well as discrimination during that period. Continue Reading
In The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate (HarperCollins, 2012), a mall circus gorilla, Ivan, comes to view his life in captivity differently when a baby elephant, recently kidnapped from her home in Africa, joins the mall circus. With a poignant and distinct voice, The One and Only Ivan was a book that touched me deeply, and I cried with Ivan as I longed for a happy ending! Ivan is about friendship, hope, and forgiveness. In so many ways, Ivan is well deserving of its 2013 Newbery Award.