Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Bibliography of Book Reviews

AND THE GREEN GRASS GREW ALL AROUND: FOLK POETRY FROM EVERYONE. ed. Alvin Schwartz and Sue Truesdell (ill). Harper Collins Publishers. 1992. ISBN 0060227575

Cummings, Pat. TALKING WITH ARTISTS, ed Pat Cummings. New York: Bradbury Press. 1992. ISBN 0027242455

Gerstein, Mordicai. THE MAN WHO WALKED BETWEEN THE TOWERS. Connecticut: Roaring Brook Press, 2003. ISBN 0761328688

Jenkins, Steve. ACTUAL SIZE. 2002. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 157171414

Jurmain, Suzanne. THE FORBIDDEN SCHOOLHOUSE. 2005. New York: Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 0618473025

Ketteman, Helen and James Warhola (ill.) BUBBA THE COWBOY PRINCE. New York: Scholastic Press. 1997. ISBN 0590255061

Lowry, Lois. THE GIVER. 1993. New York: Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 03395645662

Myers, Walter Dean and Christopher Myers (Ill.). MONSTER. 1999. New York. HarperCollinsPublishers. ISBN 0060280778.

Park, Linda Sue. SEESAW GIRL. 1990. New York: Four Winds Press. ISBN 027868109

Pearsall, Shelley. TROUBLE DON’T LAST. 2002. New York: Random House Inc. Dell Yearling Book. ISBN 0440418119

Perkins, Lynne Rae. CRISS CROSS. Danielle Ferland. 2006. New York: HarperChildrensAudio; Unabridged edition (May 2, 2006) ISBN 978-0061161193

Simon, Seymour. KILLER WHALES. 2002. New York: SeaStar Books. ISBN 157171414

Sones, Sonya. 1999, 2001. STOP PRETENDING: WHAT HAPPENED WHEN MY BIG SISTER WENT CRAZY. New York: Harper Collins: Harpertemptest. ISBN 0060283874

Stanley, Diane and Peter Vennema. GOOD QUEEN BESS: THE STORY OF ELIZABETH I OF ENGLAND. 1990. New York: Four Winds Press. ISBN 027868109

THE LEGEND OF THE INDIAN PAINTBRUSH. ed. Tomie dePaola. New York: The Putnam and Grosset Group. Paperstar. 1988. ISBN 0698113608

Williams, Mo. KNUFFLE BUNNY. New York: Hyperion Books for Children, 2004.
ISBN 0786818700
by Walter Dean Myers

1. Bibliography:
Myers, Walter Dean and Christopher Myers (Ill.). MONSTER. 1999. New York. HarperCollinsPublishers. ISBN 0060280778.

Walter Dean Myers began writing as a child and has been publishing since 1969. He has received many awards for his fiction, nonfiction, and poetry in young adult literature. He lives in Jersey City, New Jersey, is married, and has 3 grown children.

Christopher Myers is the son of acclaimed author Walter Dean Myers. He is an award-winning illustrator who credits his appreciation of the importance of images to observing the objects and photographs his parents would bring home from auctions and flea markets.

2. Plot Summary
"Monster" is what the prosecutor called 16-year-old Steve Harmon for his supposed role in the fatal shooting of a convenience-store owner. But was Steve really the lookout who gave the "all clear" to the murderer, or was he just in the wrong place at the wrong time? In this innovative novel by Walter Dean Myers, the reader becomes both juror and witness during the trial of Steve's life. To calm his nerves as he sits in the courtroom, aspiring filmmaker Steve chronicles the proceedings in movie script format. Interspersed throughout his screenplay are journal writings that provide insight into Steve's life before the murder and his feelings about being held in prison during the trial. "They take away your shoelaces and your belt so you can't kill yourself no matter how bad it is. I guess making you live is part of the punishment."
Myers, known for the inner-city classic Motown and Didi (first published in 1984), proves with Monster that he has kept up with both the struggles and the lingo of today's teens. Steve is an adolescent caught up in the violent circumstances of an adult world--a situation most teens can relate to on some level. Readers will no doubt be attracted to the novel's handwriting-style typeface, emphasis on dialogue, and fast-paced courtroom action. By weaving together Steve's journal entries and his script, Myers has given the first-person voice a new twist and added yet another worthy volume to his already admirable body of work. (Ages 12 and older) --Jennifer Hubert --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

3. Critical Analysis
The book received the Richard Printz Award and the Coretta Scott King Award. It is contemporary realistic fiction that is realistically depicted as a movie screenplay that zooms in and out on the court room scene as well as the scenes taking place in the prison and community. This book is wonderfully written and keeps the reader engaged in the suspense of the story. The author writes from the point of view of Steve Harmon the 16 year old teen accomplice to a robbery and murder crime scene. This book reveals the emotions and fears of prison life and losing one’s freedom. The text is easy to read and well written for the teen to adult. Inside the front cover, the following is written to engage the reader in the story: “sometimes I feel like I have walked into the middle of a movie. Maybe I can make my own movie. The film will be the story of my life. No, not my life, but of this experience. I’ll call it what the lady who is the prosecutor called me. Monster” The story ends with Steve’s innocence and the text then rolls up the page as
A STEVE HARMON FILM. Five months later, Steve writes of his experience, his family and in his mind, wonders “when Miss O’Brien looked at me, after we had won the case, what did she see that caused her to turn away? What did she see?” This statement allows the reader to form their own opinion of Steve…was he a monster or not??

The illustrations are black and white photographs that are realistic to a crime scene and prison life. These illustrations are wonderfully created to support the storyline and text to create a realistic account of the crime.

4. Review Excerpts

"Chilling and engrossing"
-The New York Times Book Review
"The sheer authenticity of the novel and its presentation are disquieting - and totally riveting"

-Boston Globe -Horn Book
"A riveting courtroom drama that will leave a powerful, haunting impression on young minds."
-Publishers Weekly

From School Library Journal
Grade 7 Up-Steve Harmon, 16, is accused of serving as a lookout for a robbery of a Harlem drugstore. The owner was shot and killed, and now Steve is in prison awaiting trial for murder. From there, he tells about his case and his incarceration. Many elements of this story are familiar, but Myers keeps it fresh and alive by telling it from an unusual perspective. Steve, an amateur filmmaker, recounts his experiences in the form of a movie screenplay. His striking scene-by-scene narrative of how his life has dramatically changed is riveting. Interspersed within the script are diary entries in which the teen vividly describes the nightmarish conditions of his confinement. Myers expertly presents the many facets of his protagonist's character and readers will find themselves feeling both sympathy and repugnance for him. Steve searches deep within his soul to prove to himself that he is not the "monster" the prosecutor presented him as to the jury. Ultimately, he reconnects with his humanity and regains a moral awareness that he had lost. Christopher Myers's superfluous black-and-white drawings are less successful. Their grainy, unfocused look complements the cinematic quality of the text, but they do little to enhance the story. Monster will challenge readers with difficult questions, to which there are no definitive answers. In some respects, the novel is reminiscent of Virginia Walter's Making Up Megaboy (DK Ink, 1998), another book enriched by its ambiguity. Like it, Monster lends itself well to classroom or group discussion. It's an emotionally charged story that readers will find compelling and disturbing.
Edward Sullivan, New York Public Library
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Library Binding edition.

Connections: Read the book to teens and discuss the characters and the emotions they are coping with as the book progresses. Discuss prison life, fear, values, integrity, honesty, and unfortunate happenings that can change the life of an individual because of circumstances and poor choices. The book is a script that can be used as a reader’s theatre. Try videoing the reader’s theatre, using the camera techniques mentioned in the book.

Additional works by Walter Dean Myers include:

by Lynne Rae Perkins

1. Bibliography:
Perkins, Lynne Rae. CRISS CROSS. Danielle Ferland. 2006. New York: HarperChildrensAudio; Unabridged edition (May 2, 2006) ISBN 978-0061161193

Lynne Rae Perkins is the author of several novels, including her most recent Newberry Award winning book, Criss Cross. She enjoys working in her studio, being with friends, watching her kids grow, and watching her husband, Bill, chase their dog around town.(PerkinsP

2. Plot Summary
The story does not have a plot but it is about teens and their daily lives in the summer in a small town. The story is narrated from Debbie’s point of view as well as Hector’s point of view, with very little action or drama. A group of teen’s paths cross with one another and they also interact with others who live in the town. They listen to the radio, Debbie learns to drive from her friend Phillip who is Grossie’s Grandson. Questions arise about the opposite sex and about themselves. They hang out, talk, grow a little, change a bit, come to a few understandings they didn't have before. Hector is fourteen and he is inspired by a college coffeehouse to take some guitar lessons in the basement of the church and writes songs with humorous lyrics. Debbie is fourteen and she volunteers to help out an elderly German woman named Grossie. Paths cross, connections are made, or missed.
3. Critical Analysis
The book received the John Newberry Medal and it is written for children grades 6 - 9. The audio tape is read as the book is written and the slipcase is a replica of the book cover. There are 5 CD’s that consisted of chapters and it is unabridged. The audiobook was 5 ½ hours of reading. The text was clear in the pronunciation of words and could be easily understood. Danielle Ferland, a female adult, narrated the story and would attempt to change her expressions or tone of voice as she read the thoughts and conversations of the teens. The CD’s do not begin with an introduction but end with information from HarperChildren’s Audio hoping that the story was enjoyed and how to locate additional information on Harper Children’s Audio Publishing.
There were no sound effects or musical soundtracks but the descriptive vocabulary of sounds such as a “train” or “vacuum” gave me a visual image of the object being described. The vocabulary was very descriptive throughout the story, helping me to relate to the teens and their life’s experiences.
The story would be more enjoyable to listen to if an adult narrated the story and teens read their parts to avoid the mono-toned voice of a single reader. I was slow to engage in areas of the story and often had to rewind to stay focused on the reading. It was difficult to capture my attention and maintain it. Portions of the story depicted teen humor such as Debbie learning to drive and Hector playing his guitar and singing the songs he had written. Grossie, Phillip’s Grandmother spoke German which added to the reality of the story and a diverse society. Hector attempted to cross the street in flip-flops as he was dressed for his first show at a luau. One flip flop came off in the street and a car ran over it. When he picked up the flip flop, he found Debbie’s necklace smashed in the asphalt. The necklace had been passed to different teens in the story. I definitely related to real life experience of my own as two of my children are teens and the third will soon be one also. The book did not provide depth or breadth with a strong storyline but teens would enjoy the audiobook and relating it to their own experiences and friendships.

4. Review Excerpts

From School Library Journal
Starred Review. Grade 6-9–The author of the popular All Alone in the Universe (HarperCollins, 1999) returns with another character study involving those moments that occur in everyone's life–moments when a decision is made that sends a person along one path instead of another. Debbie, who wishes that something would happen so she'll be a different person, and Hector, who feels he is unfinished, narrate most of the novel. Both are 14 years old. Hector is a fabulous character with a wry humor and an appealing sense of self-awareness. A secondary story involving Debbie's locket that goes missing in the beginning of the tale and is passed around by a number of characters emphasizes the theme of the book. The descriptive, measured writing includes poems, prose, haiku, and question-and-answer formats. There is a great deal of humor in this gentle story about a group of childhood friends facing the crossroads of life and how they wish to live it. Young teens will certainly relate to the self-consciousnesses and uncertainty of all of the characters, each of whom is straining toward clarity and awareness. The book is profusely illustrated with Perkins's amusing drawings and some photographs.–B. Allison Gray, John Jermain Library, Sag Harbor, NY
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From AudioFile
Perkins's novel, a thoughtful, subtle character study in which paths cross in unexpected ways, is told through vignettes from mostly teen points of view. Perkins's humorous and poignant observations about Debbie, who wants something to happen, and Hector, who learns to play guitar, are compelling. Danielle Ferland remembers her own youth well or has hung out with teenagers recently. Her portrayal of their budding self-awareness bordering on self-consciousness is especially sharp, and she perfectly mimics the questions? teens ask when talking? in addition to their sarcastic downturns and flat tones. Ferland also easily navigates the potentially treacherous waters of Perkins's sometimes- experimental prose, which includes haiku, poetry, and Q & A formats. J.C.G. © AudioFile 2006, Portland, Maine-- Copyright © AudioFile, Portland, Maine

From The Horn Book

Like a lazy summer day, the novel induces that exhilarating feeling that one has all the time in the world.

From ALA Booklist

Perkins writes with subtle, wry humor about perceptive moments that will speak directly to readers.

Connections: Play the Audio tape a few chapters at a time to teens. Discuss the lives of each character and how their paths cross during the story. Create a reader’s theatre using the characters and a narrator in the script. Introduce the children to the book and encourage reading the book to compare to the Audio tape.

Additional works by Lynne Rae Perkins include:

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

by Lois Lowry

1. Bibliography:
Lowry, Lois. THE GIVER. 1993. New York: Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 03395645662

Lois Lowry was born in Hawii. She became interested in writing as a young girl and continued to follow her dreams to become a successful author. She was also the photographer for the cover of THE GIVER.

2. Plot Summary
In a world with no poverty, no crime, no sickness and no unemployment, and where every family is happy, 12-year-old Jonas is chosen to be the community's Receiver of Memories. Under the tutelage of the Elders and an old man known as the Giver, he discovers the disturbing truth about his utopian world and struggles against the weight of its hypocrisy. With echoes of Brave New World, in this 1994 Newbery Medal winner, Lowry examines the idea that people might freely choose to give up their humanity in order to create a more stable society. Gradually Jonas learns just how costly this ordered and pain-free society can be, and boldly decides he cannot pay the price. (

3. Critical Analysis

THE GIVER, GATHERING BLUE and MESSENGER is a trilogy that speaks of the concern of “the vital need of people to be aware of their interdependence, not only with each other, but with the world and its environment” Characters of the GIVER and GATHERING BLUE meet in the MESSENGER. (Lowry) with each other, but

The book is a well written, in-depth and easy to read science-fiction novel. The writing is clear, captivating and exciting, providing visual images of the community and the controlling atmosphere of the community. There is no independence or free choice while living there. Families are limited to two children that they must apply for and birth mothers deliver the children and the nurturers take care of the children until they are a year old and then they are numbered and named before being given to a family. The story is of a community that has blocked out emotions, seeing color, family connections, divorce, heartache, and hardship while building the community around sameness. There is no love or affection. People within the community are destined with a purpose in life that is determined by the Elders. As the children progress in age, a ceremony instructs the children on what they can do. They are not allowed to ride a bike until they turn nine. Those who do so, will be breaking the rules and be punished. Toddlers who do no speak clearly will be punished with a whipping stick as will the old who do not behave. “December is the time of the annual Ceremony at which each twelve year old receives a life assignment determined by the Elders.” These assignments include jobs such as Caretaker of the Old, Assistant Director of Recreation, Nuturer of newborns, Landscape Workers, Food Delivery people, Childcare Center Workers, Street Cleaners, Birthmothers, Laborers, and Collection Crew. There is also one Receiver who holds the memories that have been transmitted down for generations to the new Receiver. Whenever a new Receiver has been selected, the current Receiver who transmits the memories is called the Giver. Jonas was selected to be the new Receiver and he must bear the pain, suffering and emotions that have been blocked from the community. During his training, he realizes that this is not a normal community and is shocked when he understands the concept of being “released” as euthanasia when the subject is discussed with the Giver. Jonas said “I was only asking about release because my father is releasing a new child today. A twin. He has to select one and release the other one. They do it by weight.” Jonas is shocked and the story unfolds as he takes a young child named Gabriel from his home because Gabriel will be released the next morning. Jonas had the ability to see things and pass portions of his memories and experiences he had received from the Giver, down to Gabriel. He takes his father’s bike and escapes searching for a Utopia. The Giver has helped Jonas experience a sled ride in the snow and seeing family and Christmas lights. Once Jonas has reached the location he has experienced, the story ends with Jonas and Gabriel traveling down a hill on a sled seeing the Christmas scene below. Now that Jonas has escaped, the community he left behind will experience the memories and emotions that were blocked out when the Receiver held all of these things.

The illustrations is a photograph of an elderly man on the front cover. This photo was taken by the author and depicts the Giver.

4. Review Excerpts

From Publishers Weekly
In the "ideal" world into which Jonas was born, everybody has sensibly agreed that well-matched married couples will raise exactly two offspring, one boy and one girl. These children's adolescent sexual impulses will be stifled with specially prescribed drugs; at age 12 they will receive an appropriate career assignment, sensibly chosen by the community's Elders. This is a world in which the old live in group homes and are "released"--to great celebration--at the proper time; the few infants who do not develop according to schedule are also "released," but with no fanfare. Lowry's development of this civilization is so deft that her readers, like the community's citizens, will be easily seduced by the chimera of this ordered, pain-free society. Until the time that Jonah begins training for his job assignment--the rigorous and prestigious position of Receiver of Memory--he, too, is a complacent model citizen. But as his near-mystical training progresses, and he is weighed down and enriched with society's collective memories of a world as stimulating as it was flawed, Jonas grows increasingly aware of the hypocrisy that rules his world. With a storyline that hints at Christian allegory and an eerie futuristic setting, this intriguing novel calls to mind John Christopher's Tripods trilogy and Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Match Girl. Lowry is once again in top form--raising many questions while answering few, and unwinding a tale fit for the most adventurous readers. Ages 12-14.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Kirkus Reviews with Pointers

"Wrought with admirable skill -- the emptiness and menace underlying this Utopia emerge step by inexorable step: a richly provocative novel."

Horn Book Guide
"In a departure from her well-known and favorably regarded realistic works, Lowry has written a fascinating, thoughtful science-fiction novel. The story takes place in a nameless, utopian community, at an unidentified future time. Although life seems perfect -- there is no hunger, no disease, no pollution, no fear -- the reader becomes uneasily aware that all is not well. The story is skillfully written; the air of disquiet is delicately insinuated; and the theme of balancing the values of freedom and security is beautifully presented."

ALA Best Book for Young Adults
ALA Notable Book for Children
Booklist Editors' Choice
Horn Book Fanfare Selection
IRA/CBC Children's Choice
1994 Newbery Medal Book
School Library Journal, Best Books of the Year
1997 Heartland Award for Excellence
1997 Buckeye Children's Book Award (OH)

Connections: Read the story to the children, a few chapters at a time. Discuss the diversity of cultures within the classroom and the community. Compare these cultural characteristics to the cultures within the book. Openly discuss the expectations of everyone who lives within the community. Discuss on a comparative note the ceremonies of age and what children are allowed to do at each age level. Encourage group discussion on how the rules are perceived by the students and their reaction to the expectations of the community. Continue the trilogy by reading aloud GATHERING BLUE and then MESSENGER to the class, discussing these works in comparison to the characters in THE GIVER.

Additional works by Lois Lowry include:

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

by Shelley Pearsall

1. Bibliography:
Pearsall, Shelley. TROUBLE DON’T LAST. 2002. New York: Random House Inc. Dell Yearling Book. ISBN 0440418119

Shelley Pearsall was “born in Ohio, Shelley Pearsall has enjoyed writing and history since childhood. Her first novel, Trouble Don't Last, was published in 2002. It received the 2003 Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction among other honors. Her second novel, Crooked River, was named a Junior Library Guild selection in 2005. Shelley's newest novel, All of the Above (Little, Brown & Company, 2006) is an ALA Notable book for 2007.”

2. Plot Summary
TROUBLE DON’T LAST is historical fiction story of an eleven year old slave boy named Samuel who lived in Kentucky during the time of 1859. He is alone because his mother was sold by his Master Hackler and two slaves named Lilly and Harrison have taken care of the boy. The boy drops a china plate and his punishment is sleeping in the kitchen on the cold floor without blankets and he could not have any supper. Harrison decides to escape from the Master and takes Samuel with him and the suspenseful journey begins as they encounter a variety of individuals who are willing to help them, some cannot be trusted and other’s are strange and frightening. The man and boy are forced to hide, run, they must live in continuous fear, face hardships and hunger, danger as they travel from Kentucky, across Ohio to freedom in Canada by foot and the Underground Railroad. The boy learns many things of Harrison on their journey. Harrison has a secret that is revealed. Harrison’s birth momma was sold, his father was “whipped to death”, one little sister was sold, another little sister was a “wedding gift” and his three brothers were “all put in irons and sold south” while Harrison was sold “north”. The story ends with the slaves reaching their freedom in Canada. “Samuel,” Harrison said, grinning at me. “We done it.” as they look up at the “beautiful free sky.”

3. Critical Analysis

The book received the following awards:

2003 Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction
2003 Ohioana Library Book Award, Juvenile Fiction
2003 Best Children's Book of the Year (age 9-12) with asterisk for Outstanding Merit, Bank Street College of Education
2002 Editor's Choice by Booklist
2003 Jefferson Cup Honor Book
New York Public Library selection in "Children's Books 2002: 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing"
Top Ten First Novels by Booklist
Lasting Connections book by Book Links
Top Ten Historical Fiction for Youth by Booklist

The illustration included in the book displays a map of Samuel and Harrison’s escape and journey from Blue Ash Kentucky, across Ohio to freedom in Chatham Canada.

The text is written with the language used during that time in reference to African Americans such as “colored” and “Negro” and the white slave owners were called “Master” and others were “white folks” The text engages the reader in the setting and time as the slaves run for their freedom. The book is well written and suspenseful from the beginning until the end. It is suggested for ages 9 - 12 older children and adults would also enjoy the book. The description of the transportation and areas they encounter are authentic for the time and setting. The author is passionate in delivering a story that strengthens and makes the reader aware of slavery.

A selected bibliography is included with additional works of slavery and the Underground Railroad of Ohio. A table of contents is included and acknowledgements to the Ohio Arts Council and individuals who assisted in creating the book.

The author’s notes provide clarification of the facts associated with the historical information of slavery and the Underground Railroad. The runaway slaves were forced to hide, ride the railroad, run, cross the river by ferry and additional ways to find freedom. The slaves often carried a supply of food and clothing for the escape. The author includes “I am often asked whether other parts of the novel are factual. The baby buried below the church floor?” A baby whose slave mother brought her to the “whitefolks church” but she could not be saved so she was buried under the floor of the church. “Lung fever?” “Guides named Ham and Eggs?” (Names from records of the Underground Railroad)
“The answer is yes. Most of the events and names used in this novel are real, but they come from many different sources.”

In my opinion, the book is very powerful revealing the cruelty, fear and will to escape and survive slavery. Samuel remembers the stories he has been told of the slaves being lashed with leather and then the open wounds would have salt poured on them and he has seen the scars on Harrison’s back.

4. Review Excerpts
From Publishers Weekly
This action-packed, tautly plotted first novel presents a quest for freedom on the Underground Railroad that realistically blends kindness and cruelty. "Trouble follows me like a shadow," begins 11-year-old narrator Samuel. When Harrison, one of the elderly slaves who raised him after the master sold off the boy's mother, decides to run away, Samuel must go with him. "Truth is," Samuel confesses, "even the thought of going straight to Hell didn't scare me as much as the thought of running away." His fears prove justified. Samuel and Harrison's journey thrusts them into uncertainty and peril, and introduces an imaginatively and poignantly rendered cast. Characters include a black man who helps them cross the Ohio River, all the while threatening them with a pistol and a knife if they don't do exactly as he says (he abandons a less cooperative fugitive to certain capture) and a creepy young white widow who converses with her husband's ghost. Throughout, Pearsall seamlessly refers to Samuel's and Harrison's hardships under slavery, creating a sense of lives that extend past the confines of the book. This memorable portrayal of their haphazard, serendipitous and dangerous escape to freedom proves gripping from beginning to end, Ages 9-12.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal
Grade 5-8-Strong characters and an inventive, suspenseful plot distinguish Pearsall's first novel, a story of the Underground Railroad in 1859. Samuel, the 11-year-old slave who narrates the story, is awakened by 70-year-old Harrison, who has decided to flee their tyrannical Kentucky master. The questions that immediately flood the boy's mind provide the tension that propels the novel: What has precipitated the old man's sudden desire for freedom? Why would he risk taking Samuel along? Harrison is mindful of the dangers and wary of trusting even the strangers who might offer help. Samuel, an impulsive boy who seems prone to trouble, is grudgingly accustomed to his life of servitude and reluctant to leave it. As days of hiding and nights of stealthy movement take them farther away from their former lives, Harrison and Samuel forge a bond that strengthens their resolve. Faith, luck, and perseverance see the man and boy safely into Canada, where a new journey-one of self-discovery and self-healing-begins. Pearsall's extensive research is deftly woven into each scene, providing insight into plantation life, 19th-century social mores, religious and cultural norms, and the political turmoil in the years preceding the Civil War. Samuel's narrative preserves the dialect, the innocence, the hope, and even the superstitions of slaves like Harrison and himself, whose path to freedom is filled with kindness and compassion as well as humiliation and scorn. This is a compelling story that will expand young readers' understanding of the Underground Railroad and the individual acts of courage it embraced.
William McLoughlin, Brookside School, Worthington, OH
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Library Binding edition.

Connections: Read the book to the class as an extended unit. Study and discuss slavery and the Underground Railroad. Display maps that show additional areas that Underground Railroads were located. Help the students to understand that there was not one but many of these Railroads that helped many slaves reach freedom. Research and discuss people who helped the slaves and locate additional books on the subject.

Additional works by Shelley Pearsall include:

by Linda Sue Park

1. Bibliography:
Park, Linda Sue. SEESAW GIRL. 1990. New York: Four Winds Press. ISBN 027868109

Linda Sue Park was born in Urbana, Illinois on March 25, 1960, and grew up outside Chicago. The daughter of Korean immigrants, she has been writing poems and stories since she was four years old, and her favorite thing to do as a child was read.

Jean and Mou-Sien Tseng came to the United States from Taiwan and have illustrated many children’s books.

2. Plot Summary
SEESAW GIRL is historical fiction chapter book that tells of a Jade Blossom who is a young girl age twelve who lives with her wealthy family and relatives within the inner walls of their home and courtyard. The walls are too high for those inside to see anything that is outside of the walls. The setting is 17th Century in Korea and this young Korean girl is forced to stay within the walls and do the daily chores that women and girls are expected to do so they may one day marry and live within the inner walls of their husband’s home along with his family. Jade is curious of life outside the walls and is determined to see her young aunt Willow who was her best friend and playmate until she marries and moves to her husband’s home. Jade goes beyond the walls by sneaking out and hiding in a basket on a cart that is being sent to market. Traveling to Willow’s house, she sees the Dutchmen who are prisoners because they have landed in Korea. Jade continues to her aunt Willow’s house, she refuses to see Jade as it will be disrespectful to her new family so she sends her away. The outside world surrounds Jade and she is able to view the beautiful mountains where the men travel to pay respect to the Ancestors. She also encounters women and girls who are out in public because they are poor and must work. Jade is sad and confused because Willow refuses to see her. She walks back to the cart at the market to go home and the worker who is driving the cart is shocked and immediately covers her face to take her home. This will make it impossible for the people to see her face. This man is fired because of Jade’s plan to see her aunt.
Returning home, her mother and father are disappointed with her actions. She understands that it is best for her to stay in the Inner Circle. It is now time for Jade to create her first panel with an embroidery scene. She chooses to do the beautiful mountains but is unable to remember them. Her brother tries to help her with art pictures of the mountains and she attempts to sneak the paint and re-create the mountains on paper to see while she is embroidering.
Jade has an idea and creates the seesaw. She agrees to give her cousin a ball that was a gift from her father if the boy would help her by jumping on the end of the board to bounce her up on the other end of the board. This idea helped Jade to see the mountains so she could create her panel. Jade learned that she should be satisfied living within the Inner Circle of her home while abiding by her cultures and traditions.

3. Critical Analysis
The book received the Texas Bluebonnet Award for 2001-02. The book is well written and easy to read with Korean words included in the text to depict the culture being presented in the book. The writing is clear and exciting as the young girl explores areas outside of the walls that are off limits to young Korean girls and women who are wealthy. The text is vague on describing many of its characters including those who live with Jade. The clothing and setting are also limited in description that would give the reader a mental note of the people and their surroundings. The book is written for children ages 4 - 8 but I would recommend it for older children through young adult. Children will have the opportunity to see the world from a different point of view and the Korean cultures of the time and the restrictions of the culture.

The book provides a table of contents and a bibliography. The author’s notes provide the historical information of this time and makes the reader aware of the Dutch explorers who became prisoner’s who would possibly be put to death for entering Korea. This was a time during the sixteenth century in Korea when they were following a policy of isolationism. This extended for nearly three hundred years with contact being was maintained only with China and, at times with Japan. Korea was named “The Hermit Kingdom”.

Information is also provided by the author of the seesaw that was used as a game for children. They would play on the seesaw by standing and jumping on it raising one in the air while the other went down. The seesaw was used in Korea for hundreds of years before WWII.

The illustrations are black and white paintings that are wonderfully created to give the reader a visual image of the story’s setting and the historical time of the story. This chapter book has limited illustrations but each flows well with the text it is describing.

The text is well written and helps the reader understand the Korean culture and traditions. It is very evident that the girls and women of the inner wall were expected to tend to the chores and household while not being seen by the outside world. The men worked to provide for the family, traveled to market and were educated. Women who married and moved to their spouse’s home within his inner wall were no longer part of their family but became part of their spouse’s family and his relatives. The reader connects with the young girl as she plots her practical jokes on the young boys. Jade and Willow covered the boy's art brushes with soot as a joke and this soot was all over the boys including their clothes. The girls had a good laugh but “The next day, however, the laundry was no laughing matter. The boys’ soot-soiled clothing all had to be laundered. . . Jade and Willow were ordered to help.” To launder the clothes, they were ripped apart to be flat, laundered, the wrinkles were beaten out with a stick and then the clothes were re-sewn.

4. Review Excerpts

From Publishers Weekly
This first novel set in 17th-century Korea centers on 12-year-old Jade Blossom, daughter of one of the king's advisers. With all the temerity of a 1990s girl, Jade plays tricks on her brother (with the help of her cousin Willow), and her yearning to see the world outside of her family's walled household ultimately leads her into trouble. She conceals herself in a basket on market day and catches her first glimpse of the mountains as well as a group of imprisoned Dutch sailors, whom she describes as wearing what looks like "yellow or brown sheep's wool on their cheeks and chins." Park manages to get across many of society's restrictions on girls and women, but often relies on telling rather than showing. For example, Jade says how much her view of the mountains affects her, yet she never describes what it is about the vista that moves her. Readers gain little insight into Jade's relationship with other members of her household or her daily routine. Though the novel glosses over the meaning of the Dutch sailors' appearance, a closing author's note helps to put it into context. Fortunately, Jean and Mou-sien Tseng's animated black-and-white drawings fill in many details missing in the text concerning dress and setting. Ages 8-12. (Aug.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From School Library Journal
Grade 4-6-Life in 17th-century Korea is not easy for a girl, even for the daughter of a wealthy family. Jade Blossom must learn to do the laundry, sew the clothes back together after each washing, help in the kitchen, and embroider flawlessly. Her world is circumscribed by the walls of the Inner Court where she will spend her life until she marries and then will be confined to the Inner Court of her husband's household. However, when her aunt and best friend since childhood gets married, Jade is determined to see her again. Park maintains a fine tension between the spirited girl's curiosity and her very limited sphere. Certainly Jade looks for opportunities to expand her horizons, but after her first disastrous foray to see Willow, she learns that those chances have to come within the walls of her own home. The story is full of lively action and vivid descriptions, enhanced by appealing black-and-white paintings, to give a clear sense of the period and reveal the world as Jade sees it. Even the minor characters have substance. The girl's parents are understanding but not indulgent. Her father is a thoughtful man, distant from the family, but looking at the possibilities for the future of his country. Her mother recognizes Jade's longings and shows her that it is possible to be content with her life. Like Jade's stand-up seesaw, Park's novel offers readers a brief but enticing glimpse at another time and place.
Barbara Scotto, Michael Driscoll School, Brookline, MA
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Connections: Read the story to the children, a few chapters at a time. Discuss the cultures of the classroom and compare them to the cultures within the book. Openly discuss the actions and consequences of Jade and the Dutchmen. Seek out additional books that discuss the Korean cultures of today and compare these to the book.

Additional works by Linda Sue Park include:
GOOD QUEEN BESS: The Story of Elizabeth I of England
by Diane Stanley and Peter Vennema

1. Bibliography:
Stanley, Diane and Peter Vennema. GOOD QUEEN BESS: THE STORY OF ELIZABETH I OF ENGLAND. 1990. New York: Four Winds Press. ISBN 027868109

Diane Stanley is Diane Stanley is the “recipient of the Washington Post / Children's Book Guild Nonfiction Award and the 2008 Mazza Medallion Award for the body of her work.”( She and her husband Peter Vennema created this book and Diane creatively illustrated the pictures.

2. Plot Summary
GOOD QUEEN BESS is a picture book biography that is the story of Queen Elizabeth and her reign as the Queen of England. The story is set in England during the 1500 - 1600’s and it focuses on the issues that evolved during the religious movement known as the “Reformation” of the Catholics and Protestants.
King Henry VIII of England was their father and he was obsessed with having a son to take the throne after his death. His first wife had one daughter so he enforced divorce by forming the Church of England and he was the head of the church. During King Henry VIII lifetime, he was married six times. fAfter the death of their father, Elizabeth’s brother Edward VI became king at the age of nine but he died at age fifteen. The next in line for the throne was Princess Mary, Elizabeth’s half sister became Queen and the people were afraid for their country. Three hundred of the people of Protestant faith were burned for heresy. The people nicknamed her “Bloody Mary”
On November 17, 1558 Mary died and Elizabeth became queen at the age of twenty-five. She was good to her people and did not enforce a religious belief. She was an excellent ruler who could manipulate the people around her kingdom and those in foreign countries while often playing one side against the other to get the results she was seeking. Elizabeth was well educated by university scholars. She worked hard, was intelligent, had a strong memory, studied Latin, Greek, Italian, Spanish, Spanish, music and her handwriting was beautiful. The story ends with the death of Queen Elizabeth on March 24, 1603 which ended her “45th year of her reign”. Her successor was Mary’s son James VI of Scotland. This historical time was name after the Queen as the “Elizabethan Age after the remarkable queen who loved her people so dearly and ruled them so well.”

3. Critical Analysis

The book was a 1992 - 1993 Bluebonnet Nominee and it is a powerful account of Queen Elizabeth I and the life she lived. The facts throughout the book are delivered in a significant and accurate manner by the author who is well recognized for her works in non fiction. The supporting bibliographies located at the end of the book directs the reader to additional information of Queen Elizabeth and the historical context of the 1500 -1600’s. Three additional bibliographies are provided as suggestions for young readers. A map of the Holy Crusade and the Spanish Armada that set sail to attack England is included in the book to help the reader follow the voyage and understand the geographical location of the attack.

The book is intended for children ages 4 - 8 with historical and factual information that would be educational and moving to older children as well. The book reveals the difficulties and hardships of this time. Women were not equal to men and her father felt that a son would be more appropriate to rule the kingdom but Elizabeth was a strong and powerful woman who loved her country and the people. “Through clever and subtle manipulation, she managed to keep England out of war for twenty-seven years.”
Elizabeth lived her life alone and many decisions she made were very difficult such as the signing of death warrants. The lifestyles were feasts, jewels, immaculate clothing, tournaments, festivals, and dances with the mention of small pox, the plague and no sanitary plumbing to engage the reader in what it would be like to live during this historical time.

The illustrations are colorful paintings that realistically set the time of Queen Elizabeth and the royal clothing, and animals are lifelike in detail. The paintings are detailed showing painted and wooden ceilings, tiled floors, wall paper, stone walls, furniture, and glass windows.

The text is written to assist the reader connecting with Queen Elizabeth as a real life individual who had trials and tribulations just as the reader may encounter. “She didn’t mind throwing a temper tantrum now and again if that would gain time, change the subject or win her point.”

In my opinion, the book had a very powerful and well written to provide insight and educational information for the reader in connection with the Elizabethan Age.

4. Review Excerpts

From Publishers Weekly
Once again available from the husband-and-wife team behind Bard of Avon: The Story of William Shakespeare, here is another biography from the Elizabethan Age: Good Queen Bess: The Story of Elizabeth I of England (1990) by Diane Stanley and Peter Vennema, illus. by Stanley. Describing the conflict between Catholics and Protestants, the authors lay the groundwork for Queen Elizabeth's greatest challenges: stopping the bloodshed and uniting her country under one faith, and keeping the peace with the rest of Europe. Intricate artwork conveys the delicate lace and accoutrements of court dress, patterned ceilings and cobblestone streets.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal
Grade 5 Up-- That most wise and wily queen of England, Elizabeth I, is the subject of this picture biography. The handsome illustrations, exemplified by the visualization of those small English boats set afire and launched to face the Spanish Armada, are worthy of their subject. Although the format suggests a picture-book audience, this biography needs to be introduced to older readers who have the background to appreciate and understand this woman who dominated and named an age, and of whom the authors write, "When it came to a clash of wills, the two houses of Parliament and all her councellors were no match for Elizabeth." The text is clearly written, explaining the main events and key decisions of Elizabeth's life and reign. For readers wanting more depth, a short bibliography of mostly adult titles ends the book. --Amy Kellman, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Connections: Read the story to the children displaying the pictures, while pointing out the landscape, clothing, furniture, decorations, rooms and animals. Discuss comparatively the transportation, plumbing, illness and additional topics throughout the book to how we live today.

Additional works by Diane Stanley and Peter Vennema include: