Monday, March 26, 2012

Module 10: Henry's Freedom Box

Citation: Levine, E. (2007). Henry’s freedom box. New York, NY: Scholastic Press.

Summary: An informative, historical story about a slave named Henry Brown.  Born a slave, Henry doesn’t know his birthday because slave birthdays are not considered important and no one keeps track of that type of information.  After he marries and has children, something tragic occurs to his family and now even more than before, Henry desires to be free.  He decides to mail himself to Philadelphia in order to finally reach his dream and although he doesn’t get to see his loved ones, he now has a birthday which is the day he became free.

Impression: Peace, Love and a Definite Read!
This book is one of my faves because Henry does get his freedom he deserves.  It’s a little heartbreaking because of the trials he goes through because he is a slave. It does bring a peaceful feeling because he gets his wish to be free and I think it is a definite must read for everyone. I even read it aloud to three of my fellow co-workers because I thought it was such a great story.

Reviews: In a true story that is both heartbreaking and joyful, Levine recounts the history of Henry “Box” Brown, born into slavery. Henry works in a tobacco factory, marries another slave, and fathers three children; but then his family is sold, and Henry realizes he will never see them again. With nothing to lose, Henry persuades his friend James and a sympathetic white man to mail him in a wooden box to Philadelphia and freedom. Levine maintains a dignified, measured tone, telling her powerful story through direct, simple language. A note at the end explains the historical basis for the fictionalized story. Accompanying Levine’s fine, controlled telling are pencil, watercolor, and oil paint illustrations by Kadir Nelson that resonate with beauty and sorrow. When Henry’s mother holds him as a child on her lap, they gaze out at bright autumn leaves, and the tenderness is palpable, even as she calls to his attention the leaves that “are torn from the trees like slave children are torn from their families.” There is no sugarcoating here, and Henry is not miraculously reunited with his wife and children; however, the conclusion, as Henry celebrates his new freedom, is moving and satisfying.

Lempke, S. (2007). Henry's Freedom Box. Horn Book Magazine, 83(2), 186-187.

Gr 2-5Inspired by an actual 1830s lithograph, this beautifully crafted picture book briefly relates the story of Henry "Box" Brown's daring escape from slavery. Torn from his mother as a child, and then forcibly separated from his wife and children as an adult, a heartsick and desperate Brown conspired with abolitionists and successfully traveled north to Philadelphia in a packing crate. His journey took just over one full day, (hiring which he was often sideways or upside down in a wooden crate large enough to hold him, but small enough not to betray its contents. The story ends with a reimagining of the lithograph that inspired it, in which Henry Brown emerges from his unhappy confinement — in every sense of the word — and smiles upon his arrival in a comfortable Pennsylvania parlor. Particularly considering the broad scope of Levine's otherwise well-written story, some of the ancillary "facts" related in her text are unnecessarily dubious; reports vary, for instance, as to whether the man who sealed Henry into the crate was a doctor or a cobbler. And, while the text places Henry's arrival on March 30, other sources claim March 24 or 25. Nelson's illustrations, always powerful and nuanced, depict the evolution of a self-possessed child into a determined and fearless young man. While some of the specifies are unfortunately questionable, this book solidly conveys the generalities of Henry Brown's story.
Threadgill, C. (2007). Henry's freedom box: A true story. School Library Journal, 53(3), 176. 

Use in Library: -Pair this book with a theme unit of the slave time period which could lead into further research about other famous slaves and their successes after they gained freedom.  This could also be used as a read aloud to introduce a history lesson or read aloud during African-American history month.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Module 9: The Top Secret Files of Mother Goose!

Citation: Gosling, G. (2004). The top secret files of Mother Goose. Milwaukee, WI: Gareth Stevens Publishing.

Summary: The Queen of Hearts has a problem and Detective Mother Goose is who she calls to help her.  Her strawberry tarts are missing and with some clues Detective Mother Goose begins her investigation to discover who the culprit is.  She questions various suspects: Mary Contrary, Little Miss Muffet, Bo Diddle and many more until she finally figures out who’s initialed HM hankie got left at the scene of the crime.

Impression: Peace and A Kid-Friendly Read!
I can’t say that I love this one, L sorry. But I will say that it is a peaceful and cute mystery that reminds you of many fairy tale characters and their traits. Of course more of that peaceful feeling comes on when you reach the end of the story and the mystery is solved. This kid-friendly read is sure to please when the guilt one is forced to write lines on a chalkboard stating “I will not steal the Queen’s tarts”.

Reviews: K-Gr 4-- When the Queen of Hearts discovers her strawberry tarts missing, she calls in Mother Goose, "Chief Detective of Nursery Rhyme Crime." The clues include a trail of crumbs, a dish and a spoon, and a hankie with the initials HM. As Mother Goose questions each suspect, a full-page illustration of that individual appears opposite the text, which is printed on a manila-folder background. A handwritten note with humorous details about that particular character appears to be paper clipped to the file. Readers may question the detective's technique as she chases down alleged perpetrators who do not have the correct initials. However, logic aside, the comical rewording of familiar facts will appeal to those who are conversant with nursery rhymes. The vibrant cartoons pop off the pages, and the witty details will have youngsters studying the pictures with interest. Serving as a foil for the boisterous cast of characters, Mother Goose appears almost too charming and sweet to be pitted against this wild and wacky lineup of possible criminals, but that only adds to the comedy. With its retro artwork and imitation of hard-boiled detective speech, this text-heavy mystery is more appropriate for older children, but the story and its solution may be a bit too simplistic to hold their attention. Fans of Jon Scieszka's humor seem the most likely audience for this book's campy art and puns.

Edwards, L., & Mandell, P. (2004). The top secret files of mother goose! (Book). School Library Journal, 50(5), 112.

The Top Secret Files of Mother Goose belongs with Jon Scieszka's The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs and Rosalind Alchin's The Frog Princess as another excellent example of the fractured fairy tale. As a bonus, this slim picture book also contains the features of an adult detective novel: a crime, a number of clues, numerous suspects with motives, and a sleuth who ultimately deduces the perpetrator's identity. The crime in question is the theft of the Queen of Hearts' breakfast tarts, and, because of his previous criminal record, suspicion immediately falls on the Knave of Hearts. To solve the theft, the Queen enlists the assistance of Mother Goose, Chief Detective of Nursery Rhyme Crime, who narrates the rest of the book. Mother Goose can immediately eliminate the Knave for he has a solid alibi; he's on holidays in Hawaii; however, the Knave suggests that "Mary Contrary might have some information." As Mother Goose follows up on each individual, that person either suggests yet someone else who may be connected to the crime or Mother Goose simply follows the trail of crumbs which leads to yet another suspect. In addition to the Knave and Mary Contrary, Mother Goose questions Miss Muffet, Bo Diddle, Little Boy Blue, Miss Bo Peep, Patrick "Patty Cake" Buttermore, Peter Peter and Humpty Dumpty before recognizing the true significance of one of the clues which points to the real culprit's identity. Banks even follows one of the "rules" of detective fiction by introducing the thief early in the story while disguising the person's means and motive. As the crime genre demands, the "criminal" is punished but, in this instance, in a manner with which kids will be able to identify.

Jenkinson, D. (2003). The top secret files of Mother Goose. CM: Canadian Review Of Materials, 10(2), N.PAG. 

Use in Library: -This book would be perfect to use as a read aloud to the upper elementary grades.  A mock mystery theater could be set up in the library where clues will have to be discovered and a path has to be followed to find a guilty party. Another suggestion would be to have a reader’s theater because of all the various fairy tale characters

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Module 8: Hunger Games

Citation: Collins, S. (2008). The hunger games. New York, NY: Scholastic Press.

Summary: Katniss Evergreen learns early on how to survive in her poor district within the futuristic North America.  Her father is no longer with her and her family, which leaves the sixteen year old as the sole provider for her, her twelve year old sister and her depressed ridden mother.  She lives her life hunting as a means of providing and soon that skill will help her when she needs it the most.  The Hunger Games, which is hosted by the government of Panem, which is made up of 12 districts, is held yearly as an event to remind the districts that they are in control.  This gaming event consists of 2 tributes, a boy and girl ages 12-18, whose name gets picked from a bowl with slips of paper from each district.  But when Prim, Katniss’s sister, is the one chosen, it only leaves Katniss one choice but to offer herself in her sister’s place for the games. This is where Katniss’s hunting for survival skills enables her to get farther within these televised games.  Katniss’s journey to survive is being watched by all the districts in Panem and the people eagerly await while her and Peeta, the other tribute from District 12, compete to be the final tribute standing.  Peeta, a rather strong and attractive boy, may be able to further her in the game.  Through a in love approach to win over viewers and sponsors, Katniss and Peeta are able to get a little further in their survival and with a new rules applied to the games anything is possible.

Impression: Nothing Peaceful, Love & Love it! & a Definite Must Read! 
Okay friends, at the moment Hunger Games is all the rage right now because of the movie coming out. I would say there is nothing peaceful about reading this book because there is just too much excitement.  I was in love with the learning more about the love twist in this brutal game of trying to be the last one alive in all the fight to the death encounters that the gamers have with each other. Love and brutality all in the same story, I have to say that is a brilliant way to grasp a well balance group of both female and male readers, therefore this is a must read!

Reviews: Gr 7 Up-- In a not-too-distant future, the United States of America has collapsed, weakened by drought, fire, famine, and war, to be replaced by Panem, a country divided into the Capitol and 12 districts. Each year, two young representatives from each district are selected by lottery to participate in The Hunger Games. Part entertainment, part brutal intimidation of the subjugated districts, the televised games are broadcasted throughout Panem as the 14 participants are forced to eliminate their competitors, literally, with all citizens required to watch. When 16-year-old Katniss's young sister, Prim, is selected as the mining district's female representative, Katniss volunteers to take her place. She and her male counterpart, Peeta, the son of the town baker who seems to have all the fighting skills of a lump of bread dough, will be pitted against bigger, stronger representatives who have trained for this their whole lives. Collins's characters are completely realistic and sympathetic as they form alliances and friendships in the face of overwhelming odds; the plot is tense, dramatic, and engrossing. This book will definitely resonate with the generation raised on reality shows like "Survivor" and "American Gladiator." Book one of a planned trilogy.

Baird, J. (2008). The hunger games. School Library Journal, 54(9), 176-177. 

Survivor meets “The Lottery” as the author of the popular Underland Chronicles returns with what promises to be an even better series. The United States is no more, and the new Capitol, high in the Rocky Mountains, requires each district to send two teenagers, a boy and a girl, to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a reality show from which only one of the twenty-four participants will emerge victorious—and alive. When her younger sister is chosen by lottery to represent their district, Katniss volunteers to go in her stead, while Peeta, who secretly harbors a crush on Katniss, is the boy selected to join her. A fierce, resourceful competitor who wins the respect of the other participants and the viewing public, Katniss also displays great compassion and vulnerability through her first-person narration. The plot is front and center here—the twists and turns are addictive, particularly when the romantic subplot ups the ante—yet the Capitol’s oppression and exploitation of the districts always simmers just below the surface, waiting to be more fully explored in future volumes. Collins has written a compulsively readable blend of science fiction, survival story, unlikely romance, and social commentary.

J., H. H. (2008). The hunger games. Horn Book Magazine, 84(5), 580. 

Use in Library: -This book would be a great to use with a reading club that can meet weekly to discuss what has occurred within the book.  Students can make predictions on what characters have a strong chance at surviving the games.  They can also complete an activity in thinking of  what futuristic special skill they would like to have if they were a gamer in the brutal Hunger Games and illustrating that skill in pictures that can be on display within the library.