This graphic novel is a very moving portrayal of a child’s perspective on the Holocaust that ripped through Nazi-controlled Europe in the early 1940s. This tale centers on a grandmother and her granddaughter. The granddaughter hears her grandmother crying in the night and goes in to comfort her. They talk to each other about their dreams, and the grandmother tells the story of her childhood in France.
At the time, France was under Nazi control. While this book is written for children and is told from a child’s perspective, there are moments that will certainly require some discussion with an adult. There is a very brief (not even one page) discussion over a boy who is made to “prove” that he is Jewish, but it is not at all graphic. The tale of a child who goes into hiding in the countryside is told with tenderness–the story is never overtly scary, but there are some disturbing moments and times that a reader may get emotional.
Some parents may be unsure over whether their child is “ready” to read this type of material, and while the subject matter is tragic, there are also moments of light and joy throughout the novel. The love between the grandmother and granddaughter is palpable, and the story does have happy moments. The truth is that children of all ages were (and are still) forced to live under deplorable conditions all over the world. Material like this may help children understand and relate to their peers (and their grandparents) in a whole new way.
The Imaginary reminds me of a good old Roald Dahl tale: imaginary friends, real villains, and the merging of two worlds. Amanda is a “real” girl in the sense that you and I understand. Her best friend’s name is Rudger (not Roger!) and he is invisible to everyone except Amanda. Amanda’s imagination is so vivid that she’s able to create the most wonderful adventures for them. They have a great deal of fun until something happens to Amanda and Rudger begins to Fade. Rudger is saved by a sly cat named Zinzan who brings him to a place where imaginaries wait for their next child. But, Rudger doesn’t want anyone but Amanda. And so the tale continues with a great deal of adventure, mystery, and imagination. I loved the ending–bittersweet but perfect. Recommended for kids who enjoy books by Roald Dahl and Edward Eager, or those who love to use their imaginations!
What do animals at the Statford Zoo do at night? Check this book out of the library to see their after-hours production of Shakespeare’s Macbeth up-close and personal. With a suitable amount of death and gore (and lots and lots of ketchup!), this version of the Bard’s classic is fresh and engaging. Macbeth is played by a lion who eats his way to the top, and the rest of the cast is filled out by a host of other animals, including a stork Macduff, a hyena Banksy (you’ll remember him as Banquo), and an adorable owl king. Though the ending has been changed to a happy one, the main plot points are all there, from the three weird sisters to the spots on Lady Macbeth (a jaguar) that just won’t come out. In short, it’s an entertaining introduction to Shakespeare’s Macbeth and recommended for kids who enjoy graphic novels, suspense, and animals.
Title: The Stratford Zoo Midnight Revue Presents: Macbeth
Author: Ian Lendler, Illustrator: Zack Giallongo
Favorite quote: “Is this silverware I see before me?”
This enchanting story begins within the whimsical walls of Castle Glower, a magical castle that is home to the king, queen and their four children. The castle has the power to create walls, rooms, and stairways wherever and whenever it pleases and is particularly fond of Princess Celie, the youngest of the Glower children. All is well at the castle until Celie’s parents leave by coach to attend her brother’s graduation from the school of wizardry. Along the way the coach is ambushed, and the King, Queen, and Bran disappear without a trace. The children soon learn of an evil plot to overtake the castle and work feverishly to protect themselves and their beloved home. Castle Glower has a will of its own and does what it can to help Celie and her siblings. The story is a great adventure filled with humor, intrigue and mystery and one I highly recommend. For boys and girls ages 9-12.
Heap House is a strange, strange book…and I loved every bit of it! London, 1875. Clod Iremonger lives in Heap House with his large family on the outskirts of London. Naturally, Heap House sits among the Heaps – pile upon pile of discarded items in which people have been known to disappear. Outside the house, neglected items deteriorate while inside, items are treated with the utmost respect. You see, each new family member is given a Birth Object: an item chosen specifically for that person by the family matriarch. Birth Objects must be kept with their owners and protected at all times.
Clod is odd, even for an Iremonger, for Birth Objects speak to him, whispering names and sometimes phrases. Yet even Clod does not know why Birth Objects exist; only that it is family tradition. When a new servant, Lucy Pennant, arrives and objects start acting strangely, Clod begins to uncover some of the mystery of his family’s history. The large, looming house and its inhabitants hold many secrets – only some of which are revealed to the reader, ultimately leaving one longing for the next installment in The Iremonger Trilogy. Carey’s black-and-white Edward Gorey-esque illustrations enhance the book’s creepiness factor and give readers a distinct visual reference for the book’s numerous characters.
Notes: This is definitely a book for sophisticated readers. Carey’s attempt to mimic the writing style of the time period in which the book is set can at times be confusing (so many commas!). Additionally, some mild language use and romantic situations might not be appropriate for younger readers. All that being said, this book is sure to delight upper middle-grade and young teen readers with a penchant for the peculiar!
Kaia is frozen. Not cold frozen, or winter chill frozen. But stuck-in-one-place frozen. She has been unable to live the life of a sprouting young girl since the day she found her brother’s dead body in his bedroom.
His suicide has kept her from living, and kept her mother from living. Kaia just goes day to day, from home to school to home again wondering when she will ever thaw. At school, kids who were once her friends call her a “freak”; at home, her mom finds solace in drinking and sleeping. Kaia feels very alone. Until one day a boy arrives at school who is more of a freak than she is! He is mute, wild and wears torn clothes. No one pays him any attention, but Kaia feels an immediate connection to him. Even without talking they communicate and a friendship emerges. Over time, he helps her thaw. A story that is riddled with tragedy and sadness suddenly turns toward hope and renewal. This book connects the reader with Kaia on a spiritual level, where we see her heal and grow with the gifts her brother gives her after he is gone.
This 60-page novel is packed with big ideas. It’s perfect for readers that are mature enough for “deeper” content but are still working on their reading skills. The Soldier tells the story of Leyla, a young girl living in a village in the Middle East, who lives with the constant threat of war. American soldiers patrol her town to keep the peace, but her father and brothers disapprove of this type of American intervention. One day, violence erupts and Leyla is confronted with an American GI–not only an “enemy” but also a woman–and she makes a difficult decision that saves the woman’s life. Readers will enjoy the action and suspense, while parents and teachers will appreciate the larger implications. Ultimately, The Soldier is a book that will ask readers to dig deep and search for their own definition of what it means to be human today.