Weekly Book Review – Oct 9

I thought it would be easier to just review books once a week.  Since I’m reading the library books and many of them are so short, it didn’t make sense to review one or two books at a time, because I would be doing mulitple review in one day.  So here are all of the books I’ve read over the last few weeks to get us caught up.

Adderson, Caroline:

Caroline Adderson has one book in our library.  It was so funny I found myself laughing out loud once or twice and multiple times I would read passages out loud to my family members who happen to be around when I was reading.  It was an adorable book that I think would keep any kid interested.  It’s clearly part of a series, but I had no problems catching right up and figuring out who everyone was.

Adler, David A.:

I’m sure many of you have heard of Cam Jansen, or at least you have if you’ve read any children’s books over the last 37 years.  The first Cam Jansen book, The Mystery of the Stolen Diamonds, was published in 1980.  WOW!  

David Adler is the next author at our library.   According to goodreads, he has written and published 34 Cam Jansen books and 20 Young Cam Jansen books.  Our library has one of those and 4 of the Cam books.  They are really short and quick reads, and just perfect for early readers.  I gave them all five stars because they are wonderful for their target audience.  My favorite aspect of them is at the end of each book, there will be a “click quiz”.  The main reason Cam is able to solve so many mysteries is because she has a photographic memory, and so she says “click” and takes a mental picture of something she really wants to remember.  At the end of each book there are questions about one of the pictures in the book.  A kind of quiz to see how much you can remember.  I’m horrible at this even when I know I should pay attention to the pictures because there will be a quiz!  Also, you can read these books in any order you want.  Our library only had numbers 20, 25, 26, and 30 in the original series, and book #6 in the Young Cam Jansen series.  Their titles are below, but like I said, they can be read in any order.  They are just wonderful!  

Now, the other book in our library by David Adler is so different.  Don’t Talk to Me About the War is realistic historical fiction.  He took the year 1940 in the Bronx, and turned it into a wonderful history lesson and a lesson about growing up during that time.  His main character was a boy named Tommy, and we get to see the development of the United State’s involvement in World War II through his eyes.  We see his unwillingness to discuss anything about the war at the beginning because it was happening somewhere else and didn’t have anything to do with America.  He was mostly just copying what his father was saying.  His father had fought in World War I, so he had firsthand knowledge of what war “in the trenches” was like.  

Tommy just goes about his normal days of going to school, coming home, and listening to the radio with his parents in the evenings.  Tommy seems so normal, and I think that aspect of his character made him so easy to relate to.  I found myself wondering if my grandmother thought some of the same things as she was growing up at this time.  Tommy was born in 1927, and my grandmother was born in 1924, so they were around the same age.  

I love history in general, so I was pleasantly surprised when I picked this book up.  I knew it was next in my library journey, so I picked it up.  It’s also crazy that the boys and I have been listening to a new audible production of The Home Front: Life in American During WWII.  The very first episode of that production talked about Roosevelt using the radio to communicate with the American people.  It talked about his “fireside chats” he would have over the radio, and in the book Tommy and his parents sit down and listen to a fireside chat one night.  

Another thing that happened in 1940, and what really made Tommy start discussing the war, was the rescue of allied forces at Dunkirk.  Tommy’s friend, Beth, was kind of obsessed with the war, and every morning she would read newspapers before school, and because of his relationship with Beth, Tommy began to learn more and more about what was happening in Europe.  He also had another friend, Sarah, whose family had fled Nazi Germany and eventually made it to NY.  She was in their school, but other than Beth and Tommy, she didn’t have many friends.  

I love how real everything seemed in this book and how I could picture the different areas of the Bronx even though I’ve never been there.  I definitely recommend this book for any age, although I’m sure it’s written for 2nd-5th graders or something.  It is a great book for children and adults.  

Adler, Susan S.:

I never had those American Girl dolls.  I had a Real Baby, that my children still find terrifying, and I had cabbage patch kids.  So I missed all of the American Girl things for the most part.  There are two books in our library (so far) about the American Girls.  These two, written by Susan Adler, were next in my reading schedule.  Meet Samantha and Samantha Learns a Lesson.  These books are set in the early 1900s, and after the story is over, there is a section at the back of the books that tells more about what school and life was like during this time.  The basic premise of the first story is that Samantha is living with her grandmother and she befriends a servant girl who lives and works at the house next door.  Her new friend opens her eyes to what life must be like for poor people.  Nellie is sent to work for Samantha’s neighbors because her family doesn’t have enough money to feed all of the children.  So they send Nellie off to work so that she can make money.  In the second book, Nellie and her whole family move out near Samantha and they all go to work for a different family.  Samantha’s grandmother helped arrange the move, and Samantha is so excited for Nellie to finally be able to go to school.  Nellie is a lot older than the children in the 3rd grade because she’s never been to school, and they treat her very badly.  Samantha learns what is happening and helps her friend by teaching her after Nellie finishes her work.  Samantha also defends Nellie from the bullies and has to defend herself when the other girls want to know why Samantha is being friendly to “the poor servants”.  This is a good book to start a dialogue about treating people the same no matter their circumstances.  It shows that children can work hard to make a difference for the people around them instead of waiting until they are older.  I liked them both.

Airgood, Ellen:

Prairie Evers is the only book the library has by Ellen Airgood.  It was a wonderful book about a girl who discovers that change isn’t always bad.  Prairie is an only child and lived with her parents and her grandmother.  Her grandmother homeschools her, and it seems like she does a great job of it.  Prairie gets to learn whatever she’s interested in and she and her grandmother read all the time, and go on adventures around their home.  Prairie’s parents move them from North Carolina to New York (upstate), and her grandmother decides that she can’t stay there because she misses NC too much.  So she moves back home, at the same time, Prairie learns that her parents are planning to send her to school for the first time in her life.  This is a great book about her dealing with these changes and learning that just because something is different doesn’t mean it will be worse.  I really liked this book even though it made me cry (that’s usually a deal breaker for me).

Alcott, Louisa May:

I know this name is familiar to almost everyone, but I had never read anything by her.  Our library only has two books by her in the children’s section.  An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving and Little Women.  I read An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving first and I’m still reading Little Women, so that review will come later.  This book was just a cute little story about a large family in the late 1800s.  The mother and two oldest daughters are getting things ready for Thanksgiving in a couple of days.  The mother receives word that her mother is sick and she needs to go to her as soon as possible.  The mother and father leave with the baby and leave the other kids there alone.  The two oldest girls decide to make the Thanksgiving meal even though they are alone.  The parents come back on Thanksgiving day and they arrive with news and a big surprise.  The story was cute and light-hearted.  I liked it, and I’m ready for Little Women!

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