Photo Challenge #38 / Bookish

20210719ma_2317“Old Books” / Theme: Bookish

A little about this photo…

This is a shot I took over the summer at Fort Carlton. When I visit historical sites, I find I’m drawn to whatever old books they have on display. (It’s like old books are a magnet pulling me in!)

I love how in this fort, out in the middle of nowhere, there are books because … well, they’re in the middle of nowhere. If I were in this place, and I had to spend the winter here, I’d want to make sure I had some books with me as well.

 

 


THIS 2021 WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE – For more information about the list of prompt, click on this link. And join me in posting your own photos every Saturday with #2021picoftheweek

Newbery Verdict: Night Diary

20210907ma_3309Book: Night Diary (2018)
Author: Veera Hiranandani
Publisher: Kokila
Genre: MG, Historical (1947)
Newbery Honor Book (2019)

Opening Lines of the Book…
Dear Mama, I know you know what happened today at 6:00 a.m., twelve years ago. How could you not? It was the day we came and you left, but I don’t want to be sad today. I want to be happy and tell you everything. I’ll start at the beginning.

MY THOUGHTS…

This story is about a family who lives through the partition of India in 1947. While I was aware of this (the reason we have Pakistan vs. India), I found this book helped me understand this in a more real way! THIS is why we have historical fiction. And this book did an amazing job in bringing us to this historical event.

The story is told through Nisha’s diary, in letters to her dead mother, a mother she never knew. Nisha and her twin brother Amil have a Muslim mother and a Hindu father. But as the events of 1947 unfold, that doesn’t help them. The leaders in India have decided to split India into two: Muslim Pakistan and Hindu India. Because of their Hindu father, they must leave their home. Suddenly, fear has turned neighbor against neighbor.

After a hard goodbye to their Muslim cook, Nisha and her family set out on a journey to their new home in the new India.

The desert journey was quite moving … so very sad. The family, at one point, runs out of water. You can just FEEL the desperation. And I love how the author brings in Gandhi, not as a character, but as a glimmer of hope for the future; that the whole world hasn’t gone crazy.

So, what did I think about the book as a whole?

NEWBERY VERDICT…

I really enjoyed this Newbery Honor book. In fact, I loved it! And while I also very much enjoyed Merci Suarez (Newbery Winner that year), if it had been up to me, I might have voted for this one … probably because of the historical element to the story. I LOVE history!

P.S. That cover is haunting!

YOUR TURN…

Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments!


Newbery Verdict Reading Challenge: This is a personal challenge for me to read books that have either won the Newbery Medal or are a Newbery Honor book. The Newbery is named for eighteenth-century British bookseller John Newbery. Since 1922, this annual award has given to the author of the “most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.” A Newbery Honor book is given to the runners-up.

Note: I’m posting this for Greg Pattridge’s Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday

Photo Challenge #37 / Hero Shot

20180927ma_5083“Survivor” / Theme: Hero Shot

A little about this photo…

I don’t usually post an older photo of mine, but today I’m making an exception. Today marks the 20th Anniversary of September 11th. I lived in New York City at the time of the attacks back in 2001 (I lived and worked in Queens at the time), so this day always brings back a flood of memories and emotions.

This photo is from a trip back in 2018. It shows One World Trade Center (otherwise known as the Freedom Tower). In front, on the right-hand side, is the Survivor Tree.

What is the Survivor Tree? It’s a pear tree that was there on the day of the attacks back in 2001. It was the one tree that survived. They took it and nursed it back to health, replanting it here in this location. What I love about this photo (and about the tree) is that it reminds me that there is hope in this world. Terrible things can happen and still, there is hope.

 

20180927ma_5074

 


THIS 2021 WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE – For more information about the list of prompt, click on this link. And join me in posting your own photos every Saturday with #2021picoftheweek

Review / Ambassador of Nowhere Texas

20210815ma_2847Book: Ambassador of Nowhere Texas (2021)
Author: Kimberly Willis Holt
Genre: MG, Near Historical (2001)
Companion Book to: When Zachary Beaver Came to Town

Opening lines from the book …
My grandmother told me she once watched an abandoned house fold inside itself. The roof had caved in, leaving a hollow shell. “A house needs people, Rylee,” she claimed, “or it will die.”

WHAT I LIKED ABOUT THIS BOOK…

1) I like how this book is connected to another book by the same author. While, I have never read When Zachary Beaver Came to Town, I didn’t feel like I was missing out on anything. (That book seems to be about Rylee’s dad, Toby.)

2) I really enjoyed Rylee’s enthusiasm. I love that they had a snow cone stand! Joe could be a little surly and mysterious at times, but it works with the story. I like how they team up!

3) And then there’s Twig. She’s Rylee’s friend who decides to take a break from friendship with Rylee. I felt for both girls and I did like how the story brings them together by the end.

4) I love how the title worked into the story. Joe is not particularly friendly in the story, especially when he first arrives. Being from New York City, he looks down on “Nowhere” Texas and he asks if Rylee is the town’s ambassador. I love how Rylee decides that, yes, she can indeed be the ambassador for her town!

5) I like that they referred to the attacks as “September 11th”, which is how we tended to do it back then. Later on in the book, it switches to 9/11, which again did seem authentic to me.

THINGS THAT BOTHERED ME…

1) For most of the time when I was reading, I didn’t FEEL like I was back in 2001. I’m not sure she captured the time period. There were hints every now and then (like references to dial-up internet). I wish it had been more consistent.

FINAL THOUGHTS

I lived in New York City during the attacks on 9/11, so I knew I had to read one of the many books that came out this year to mark the 20th anniversary. This one got my attention. (And it does make me want to read the companion book!)

 


YOUR TURN…

Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Note: I’m posting this for Greg Pattridge’s Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday

Photo Challenge #36 / Mellow Yellow

“Yellow Sunflowers” / Theme: Mellow Yellow

A little about this photo…

I was in the garden one morning before work when I saw this shot. I ducked and dipped, trying to get that sunburst in the shot. I’m happy with the results!

 


THIS 2021 WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE – For more information about the list of prompt, click on this link. And join me in posting your own photos every Saturday with #2021picoftheweek

Review / War and Millie McGonigle

20210815ma_2849Book: War and Millie McGonigle (2021)
Author: Karen Cushman
Genre: MG, Historical (WWII)

Opening lines from the book …
George lifted the slimy creature to his mouth and bit it right between the eyes. I had seen him and the other Portuguese octopus fishermen do that a hundred times, but it still made me shudder. “Doesn’t that taste muddy and disgusting?”

WHAT I LIKED ABOUT THIS BOOK…

1) Millie is not a particularly likeable child at the beginning of the story. However, she does have a character arc and I really liked watching her grow. I loved the little reference to the Secret Garden and how Mary Lennox isn’t the most likeable character at the start of her story!

2) I did like that the story did follow various relationships Millie has… with her younger brother and sister, with her mother, and with a new friend.

3) I love the library scenes! Millie is obsessed with finding books about dying and death, but the librarian won’t let her take out adult books yet. So, she decides to get her older friend to get a library card. The best scene is when Millie gets introduced to a very wonderful book! (“What’s a hobbit, anyway?”)

4) McGonigle is such a fun name to say! One of Millie’s quirks is that she writes her last name in the sand or the mud. And each time she did this, I’d get to say the name McGonigle in my head. 🙂

5) I like that the book doesn’t end in 1945. Most books about World War II think they have to take us to the end of the war. I’m glad this one didn’t. It takes place in 1941-42 and the story wraps up very nicely in its own way. (At least, that’s what I remember. I don’t think the book took us beyond 1942.)

THINGS THAT BOTHERED ME…

1) The neighbor-lady (mother of Icky) kind of bothered me. I felt she (and pretty much all of her family, with the exception of the niece) were portrayed in a very one-dimensional way. At one point, they demonstrate their evilness by their prejudice against the Japanese. While I agree that such prejudice was NOT a good thing (and the ensuing camps were an atrocity!), these attitudes were a very real part of history following Pearl Harbor. There were “good” and “bad” people who held these views (due to fear, etc.) I think a more nuanced approach would have been stronger. I would have been more interested in seeing Millie struggle with neighbors she actually liked and admired for having these prejudices. What would Millie do? Stand up for what she believes in? Could she say something that might change the character’s mind? So many possibilities.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Overall, I didn’t love this one as much as I think I normally like these books. However, I was satisfied when I finished the book. I like how everything is wrapped up, AND that it didn’t have to include the end of the war.

 


YOUR TURN…

Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Note: I’m posting this for Greg Pattridge’s Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday

Photo Challenge #35 / Wheels

20210722ma_2656“Penny-Farthing” / Theme: Wheels

A little about this photo…


I love the word penny-farthing. I mean, is there a better word out there? Maybe. But this has got to top the list of my favorite words. Another word for this set of wheels is velocipede. Another very cool word!

Whatever you call it, this set of wheels is just awesome!

But … how do you ride it?

 


THIS 2021 WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE – For more information about the list of prompt, click on this link. And join me in posting your own photos every Saturday with #2021picoftheweek

Review / Blackbird Girls

20210808ma_2823Book: Blackbird Girls (2020)
Author: Anne Blankman
Genre: MG, Historical (1986/1941)

Opening lines from the book …
Valentina wondered where the birds had gone. They weren’t waiting on the sill when she went to the sitting room window that morning.

WHAT I LIKED ABOUT THIS BOOK…

1) This book is set in the Soviet Union and goes back and forth between 1986 and 1941. Of course, at one point, the characters in each time period merge. I really enjoyed seeing that happen. I know quite a bit about life in the Soviet Union as my grandmother grew up there. The parts set in 1986 were less known to me, but I found them equally as interesting.

2) This book is about Chernobyl. (Can’t you tell from that cover?) I’m fascinated by this topic, although this is the first book I’ve read about the disaster that occurred in 1986. The opening chapters deal with what happened. I was riveted! The author did a wonderful job in pulling us in, especially with regards to all the lies that were being told (or not told) in the wake of the nuclear disaster. The Soviet Union was a place where fear reigned. From the whisper-campaign of neighbors against neighbors to the ever-present threat of the secret police, I felt this story got that right. 

3) I love how the two main characters, Valentina and Oksana, are not at all friends at the beginning of this story. It sets us up for some wonderful conflict between the two. I love the uneasy-alliances trope in books. The book also flashbacks to 1941 where we meet Rifka. She’s Jewish and must escape the arrival of the Nazi army as it invades the Soviet Union. Of course, at one point all three of them come together.

4) The title was quite interesting. I was interested to see how it developed. It has to do with how the two girls end up standing up for one another.

5) I loved the author’s note at the end of the book explaining how this is story is based in part on a friend’s experiences. I usually like authors’ notes, and this one did not disappoint!

FINAL THOUGHTS

There are not so many books about the Soviet Union. Because of my grandmother, I definitely am drawn to them. But I think this is history that we need to know, whether or not we have a connection.

 


YOUR TURN…

Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Note: I’m posting this for Greg Pattridge’s Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday