Thursday, February 16, 2017
reviews of 2 new books at the Book Fair 2.16.17
A couple of new books are being featured as part of our February Scholastic Book Fair. Here are some books you may want to pick up:
Making Bombs for Hitler
by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch
In Stolen Child, Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch introduced readers to Larissa, a victim of Hitler’s largely unknown Lebensborn program. In this companion novel, readers will learn the fate of Lida, her sister, who was also kidnapped by the Germans and forced into slave labour — an Osterbeiter.
In addition to her other tasks, Lida's small hands make her the perfect candidate to handle delicate munitions work, so she is sent to a factory that makes bombs. The gruelling work and conditions leave her severely malnourished and emotionally traumatized, but overriding all of this is her concern and determination to find out what happened to her vulnerable younger sister.
With rumours of the Allies turning the tide in the war, Lida and her friends conspire to sabotage the bombs to help block the Nazis’ war effort. When her work camp is finally liberated, she is able to begin her search to learn the fate of her sister.
In this exceptional novel Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch delivers a powerful story of hope and courage in the face of incredible odds.
My quick thoughts:
Seeing as this book was placed in our book fair, which should be the elementary selection, I wanted to check it out since the title itself is a little harsh for elementary readers. Our main character is being taken to a Nazi war camp in the first chapter and the atrocities of war are seen immediately - lice, harsh living conditions, a bucket available for the multitudes to relieve themselves in a public place/no privacy, a bucket of turnip soup with no utensils, untended wounds, death of young characters. We follow Lida as she works to survive at this camp and others, her resilience truly tested.
The plight of Ukrainian people is only recently coming to light, so this is a time period that needs to be taught and discussed. Due to the more graphic nature, this is not a book I would place in the hands of a 3rd or 4th grader. I recommend it for mature 5th-7th grade readers.
The Harlem Charade
by Natasha Tarpley
WATCHER. SHADOW. FUGITIVE.
Harlem is home to all kinds of kids. Jin sees life passing her by from the window of her family's bodega. Alex wants to help the needy one shelter at a time, but can't tell anyone who she really is. Elvin's living on Harlem's cold, lonely streets, surviving on his own after his grandfather was mysteriously attacked.
When these three strangers join forces to find out what happened to Elvin's grandfather, their digging leads them to an enigmatic artist whose missing masterpieces are worth a fortune-one that might save the neighborhood from development by an ambitious politician who wants to turn it into Harlem World, a ludicrous historic theme park. But if they don't find the paintings soon, nothing in their beloved
neighborhood will ever be the same . . .
In this remarkable tale of daring and danger, debut novelist Natasha Tarpley explores the way a community defines itself, the power of art to show truth, and what it really means to be home.
My quick thoughts:
This is a well thought mystery that continuously puts pieces together, but it's not until the end do you realize how everything comes together. It's also a story of unlikely friendship - 3 kids come together under these strange circumstances and end up forming a friendship, that probably never would have happened otherwise. Throw in some great history of Harlem and the amazing culture that has come from that area, and you even get a little history lesson.
Readers do need to be able to follow multiple story lines and be able to put old and new information together in order for the story to make sense. Even though it is a complex story, the need to solve the mystery will keep the pages turning!
Have fun shopping at your book fair!