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Category Archives: fiction

The Snow Queen

snow queen

After watching the Hillsdale College Classic Children’s Literature lesson on The Snow Queen, I had to read the story for myself. I got a version of this Hans Christian Anderson story, which was illustrated by Yana Sedova. The pictures were sumptuous with lots of icy blues to capture the world of the story.

After watching the lecture, I noticed so many facets of this tale and its theme of reason vs. imagination (a false dichotomy if ever there was one). I don’t remember ever reading The Snow Queen though I had a vague familiarity with its plot. I liked it’s depiction of friendship and loyalty as well as its emphasis on friendship.

 
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Posted by on August 18, 2020 in book review, Children's Lit, fiction

 

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Hate That Cat

hate cat

Sharon Creech’s Hate that Cat is a super quick read, perfect if you have a book report due tomorrow and hadn’t started a book. Though Creech’s Walk Two Moons is among my favorite novels for children, Hate that Cat didn’t grab me.

Evidently, Hate that Cat is the second book in a series. The hero writes letters to his favorite teacher and shares all his thoughts about poetry, cats, dogs, and writing with the teacher. The book introduces young readers to poets like William Carlos Williams and Edgar Allen Poe. The most interesting facet of the book was that the narrator’s mother is deaf and he can sign ASL.

For a mature reader, there isn’t much in the theme that isn’t well worn ground. The book doesn’t delight readers of all ages, which is a hallmark of the best of children’s literature. The narrator seemed like a cookie cutter Creech hero, but one who shares little of his personality or background.

 
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Posted by on August 16, 2020 in book review, Children's Lit, fiction

 

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Coming Soon on the Book Club

Next on Prager U’s Book Club, Brave New World. I’ve ordered it from the library so I can reread it.

 
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Posted by on August 11, 2020 in fiction

 

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Silent Sunday

Yesterday was National Book Lovers’ Day. How did I miss that?

Ruined for Life: Phoenix Edition

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Posted by on August 9, 2020 in fiction

 

The Worry Book

My newest cousin, Katrina of the Park City Library, shares picture books with kids during the lockdown.

 
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Posted by on August 8, 2020 in Children's Lit, fiction

 

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Hereville: How Mirka Caught a Fish

hereville fish

Another Mirka story by Barry Deutsche, Hereville: How Mirka Caught a Fish takes us back into the world of an Orthodox Jewish teen named Mirka. Smart and feisty, Mirka clashes with her stepmom. When she’s made to babysit her young half-sister, Mirka defies the rule that she shouldn’t go into the forest. She longs to experience the adventures her stepmother had as a girl. This adventure-seeker soon encounters trouble through a magic, or rather cursed talking fish, who soon kidnaps the little girl, making Mirka the “worst babysitter ever.”

The story is fun and wise. I enjoyed Mirka’s spirt and learning of the stepmom’s history. Surprising Furma, the stepmom grew up with a very modern mother, who’s something of a 1960’s hippy type.

The dialog is fresh and I like how authentic the story felt, in spite of a cursed fish that kept growing. I loved the glimpse into a different culture and all the Yiddish sprinkled into the dialog. (Deutsche provides definitions at the bottom of the page.) The stepmom isn’t perfect, but I liked how she spars with Mirka and makes the teen increase her understanding. Yes, the older generation has wisdom even feisty teens can’t refute. It would be easy to just show Mirka as always right and the rules of her community outdated. Instead, Deutsch points out how there’s wisdom in them.

 
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Posted by on July 29, 2020 in fiction, graphic novel, teen lit

 

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Dangerous Jane

Dangerous-Jane-263x300With muted watercolor illustrations,Suzanne Slade’s  Dangerous Jane offers a biography of Jane Addams that teaches children of Addams childhood and her main accomplishments including her European travels, her bringing the idea of a settlement house to Chicago where she opened Hull House, to her speaking up for peace and winning the Nobel Peace Prize. Alice Ratterree’s illustrations convey a gentle past era, which doesn’t quite jive with the dire poverty and horrors of WWI, but it’s a children’s book so I understand the choice..

This short biography will acquaint children with a great woman.

Good for ages 4 to 7

 
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Posted by on July 27, 2020 in abuse, Children's Lit, fiction, non-fiction

 

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Knowles & Rubin: 1984

This month’s Prager U Book Club takes on George Orwell’s 1984. It’s fascinating whether you’ve read the book or not. It made me want to reread 1984, a book I’ve read probably 10 times.

 
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Posted by on July 24, 2020 in Book club, fiction

 

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Hillsdale’s Children’s Literature Course

I’m relishing this online course.

It’s free!

 
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Posted by on July 20, 2020 in Children's Lit, fiction

 

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El Deafo

eldeafo

Cece Bell’s graphic novel El Deafo is a charming, insightful memoir that I didn’t want to end. El Deafo chronicles Bell’s early life from healthy infant, through her getting meningitis and navigating school and friendship after she became deaf. I learned a lot about the options in terms of hearing devices and how they were worn and how they made Bell feel awkward. I enjoyed all her memories of TV shows like x and y, slumber parties, and riding the school bus.

Friendship is a major theme in El Deafo and I could feel for Bell who had a hard time making friends. When she does find a friend, Laura, she’s put off by how bossy she is. Yet Laura doesn’t make a big deal out of Cece being deaf. Still the bossiness is hard to take. Later Cece meets Ginny, who loves all the same TV shows like Little House on the Prairie and The Waltons,

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The title El Deafo comes from a superhero name Cece gives herself once she gets a new hearing device that lets her hear her teacher wherever she is in the building — in class, in the teachers’ lounge, in the restroom and this super power changes Cece’s status forever.

The story captures what it’s like to strive to find a friend in a challenging social landscape and enlightens readers on what it was like to experience hearing loss all of a sudden and how complicated it is to learn to cope with it. I highly recommend El Deafo as a book for all ages.

 
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Posted by on July 8, 2020 in Children's Lit, fiction, graphic memoir

 

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