Saturday, August 22, 2009
Don't let the illustrations and modest page count fool you. Michael Morpurgo's The Mozart Question is a serious, thoughtful story that will stay with you long after the book is closed. Set today, the story follows a young reporter who is sent to interview a brilliant, world famous violinist notorious for being difficult with reporters. Her candid, fresh approach to him gets him to open up about his up bringing. He decides to tell her about why he has never played the music of Mozart. The story flashes back to his own childhood and then backs up again to his young parents when they were prisoners in a Nazi concentration camp. Michael Foreman's beautiful water colors will transport you so take the time to look at them carefully. Be sure to read the author's note at the end as well. It will help you understand his motivation and inspiration to write this powerful short story.
Saturday, August 8, 2009
A Crooked Kind of Perfect by Linda Urban c2007 is set today in a suburban setting. Witty, determined 5th grader Zoe Elias really wants to learn to play the piano more than anything. She is convinced that she could become a world famous concert pianist. She ends up with the Perfectone D-60, an organ! In short chapters, Zoe takes her readers along as she navigates her year learning to play the organ. Her friends take some unexpected turns (such as unlikely guy Wheeler Diggs) as do her mom, a workaholic accountant and her dad, who takes endless classes from the Living Room University. Every character in the book rings true. You will get to know and care about these people and their triumphs, big and small. This is realistic fiction that works for any reader.
Someone Named Eva by Joan Wolf c2007 is historical fiction set during World War II in Czechoslovakia, Poland and Germany. In 1942, eleven year old Milada's life is changed forever when Nazi soldiers invade her small village of Lidice. Based on real events, Milada's story traces her being separated from her family, sent to a strange school in Poland for nearly two years, and then adopted by a German Nazi officer's family in Furstenburg. Forced to learn and speak only German, taught only the Nazi way of life, Milada/Eva struggles to hold onto her real self and memories of her family. Told from Milada/Eva's point of view, you will experience this little known piece of the war's history through the eyes of someone near your age. Be sure to read the author's note at the end of the book. Joan Wolf gives the background of the real events and what has happened since including the memorial museum and garden that now exist on the site of the old Lidice village in the Czech Republic.
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Shark Girl by Kelly Bingham is set today in southern California. Jane Arrowood, 15, tells her story of surviving a shark attack that leaves her without her right arm and elbow. Told in prose, the story of her relationships with her mom, her brother, her friends, the various hospital workers and one young fellow amputee carry you into her transformed world. Jane is a gifted artist before the attack. How do you cope when what defines you is no longer your talent but a horrific accident?
The White Giraffe by Lauren St. John is set in modern day South Africa. 11 year old Martine Allen is orphaned in a fire and must move from England to be with her maternal grandmother who runs a game preserve in South Africa. Martine tries to fit in at her new school and understand her seemingly cold and strict grandmother. Soon after arriving, Martine hears about the legend of a white giraffe. She is determined to find it. As she begins to put bits of information together, she also begins to realize that the animals on the preserve are in grave danger especially, the white giraffe. The fast paced story mixes suspence with a bit of supernatural while giving the reader wonderful descriptions of the animals, landscapes, foods and climate of South Africa. You will feel like you are right there with Martine and the white giraffe in the South African night.