Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Picture This

Coral Reefs by Jason Chin
The title page shows a young girl taking a book called Coral Reefs off the library shelf. Beginning to read about the structure of corals, the girl wanders around the library while coral reefs spring up behind her leaving pools of water on the table. Soon ocean water is pouring in the windows and the girl is swimming in the reef. At the end of the book, the girl leaves the library. With wet hair and dripping flip-flops, she runs over to share the book with her friends.

Titanic: Eyewitness Books by Simon Adams
We only have Mary Pope Osborne to blame. After listening to Tonight on the Titanic, the kids had a million more questions about the great ship. This book has plenty of graphics, photographs, and informative captions to read multiple times. Days later, E. is still reminding us that the ship was the length of 22 buses. And he is convinced that he would have definitely had one of the first-class tickets.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Flora by Gail Godwin

It's the summer of 1945 and Helen is ten. Her father is spending the summer overseeing construction for the war effort in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Helen is less than thrilled to find out her mother's cousin Flora will be spending the summer with her. To make matters worse, Helen's best friend contracts polio, and Helen and Flora must spend the remainder of the summer quarantined. They quickly befriend the young man who delivers their groceries, plying him with lemonade and cheese straws. Finn in turn starts showing up daily to give Flora driving lessons.  
The peaceful routine of the summer is shattered in August when the household discovers an atomic bomb has been dropped on Hiroshima and Helen's father's work at Oak Ridge is somehow involved. That same night Helen's discovery of Finn's true feelings for her "simple-minded" cousin triggers a series of events that will have devastating consequences for everyone in the family.

Godwin's story, narrated by Helen, looks back with nostalgia and retrospection to that lonely summer of radio plays, daydreams, and a temptingly unread packet of her grandmother's letters. Helen discovers that what at first appears to be simple-minded in Flora's teaching is actually simple-hearted. And it is a distinction that the reader will also take to heart.