Friday, September 21, 2012

Friday Reads: Moon Over Manifest

A dear friend sent me this book in the mail.  For no reason.  Just because.  Now you know why she's a dear friend.  (Thank you, Wendy!)

Moon Over Manifest
by Claire Vanderpool

For: 8-12-year-olds

Genre: Historical fiction

Published: 2010

Description: Abilene Tucker feels abandoned. Her father has put her on a train, sending her off to live with an old friend for the summer while he works a railroad job. Armed only with a few possessions and her list of universals, Abilene jumps off the train in Manifest, Kansas, aiming to learn about the boy her father once was.

Having heard stories about Manifest, Abilene is disappointed to find that it’s just a dried-up, worn-out old town. But her disappointment quickly turns to excitement when she discovers a hidden cigar box full of mementos, including some old letters that mention a spy known as the Rattler. These mysterious letters send Abilene and her new friends, Lettie and Ruthanne, on an honest-to-goodness spy hunt, even though they are warned to “Leave Well Enough Alone.”

Abilene throws all caution aside when she heads down the mysterious Path to Perdition to pay a debt to the reclusive Miss Sadie, a diviner who only tells stories from the past. It seems that Manifest’s history is full of colorful and shadowy characters—and long-held secrets. The more Abilene hears, the more determined she is to learn just what role her father played in that history. And as Manifest’s secrets are laid bare one by one, Abilene begins to weave her own story into the fabric of the town.

Why I liked it:  I really loved how the author weaved two different time periods together into one story.  The main story is set in the 1930's and is from the main character's point of view, but I the second time period during World War I was told through newsprint  and letters and stories from folks who'd lived through it.  But mostly I connected with the main character as she struggled to find herself by searching to find who her father really was and how the town of Manifest had molded him.    I felt her longing, and I wanted her to grow from the experience (which she did).  In my opinion this deserved the Newbery Medal (which it received in 2011).

Have any other historical fiction from either WWI or the 30s to share? Please do!  And happy weekend reading!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Nominate a Library Today!

(Psst.  Hey, I know you are curious to know why I missed last Friday's Friday Reads.  It was because I wasn't actually reading.  I was getting ready for a baby shower I was hosting for my baby sister.  In fact, I spent the whole week offline.  I don't think I turned my computer on the whole week, either.  So, sorry about that.  But we're back on schedule for this week, so it's all good.  Hope you'll forgive me.)

Today on my other blog we are launching our second Great Library Giveaway.  We've collected almost 50 middle-grade titles and we would like to donate them to one lucky public, private or school library.  The problem with this great idea is that it's hard to narrow down which library to choose.  So we are asking our readers to nominate one.  

Head on over and tell us which library you'd suggest we send our collection to.  We'll be accepting nominations through October 16th.  Then, from Oct 20th-30th we'll choose three finalists at random and let our readers vote on which library should receive our middle-grade collection.  

We are also hoping to collect 100 titles for this giveaway, and we are only half-way there.  Please consider donating a middle-grade book for this, since you'll be helping a worthy library.  Any book will do--a new release or an old classic--but it needs to be in new or like-new condition.  Also, hardcover is preferred, though we will accept paperback as well.

I hope you'll join in the fun and nominate or donate, or both!  See you on the MG side! 

Friday, September 7, 2012

Friday Reads: Amelia Lost

Here's a little family history lesson for you:

My 23rd great-grandfather was the 15th great-grandfather of Amelia Earhart's husband.  (Or something like that, anyway.  It's hard to count back that many generations.)

That makes us almost related, right?

Anyway, ever since I realized this pseudo-family relationship existed, my fascination about her story has bordered on obsession.  So when I heard about this book, I had to read it.  In fact, I made my son choose it for one of his school book assignments.  Hey, he thanked me for making him read it, so my obsession turned out to be a good thing in this case.

You should read it, too.  I'm just saying....

Buy this book!

Amelia Lost
by Candice Fleming

For: 8-12-year-olds

Genre: non-fiction, biography

Published: 2011

Description (from Booklist): Drawing on her training as a historian and her considerable writing talents, Fleming (The Great and Only Barnum, 2009) offers a fresh look at this famous aviatrix. Employing dual narratives—straightforward biographical chapters alternating with a chilling recounting of Earhart’s final flight and the search that followed—Fleming seeks to uncover the “history in the hype,” pointing out numerous examples in which Earhart took an active role in mythologizing her own life. While not disparaging Earhart’s achievements, Fleming cites primary sources revealing that Earhart often flew without adequate preparation and that she and her husband, George Putnam, used every opportunity to promote her celebrity, including soliciting funds from sponsors. The use of a gray-tone background for the disappearance chapters successfully differentiates the narratives for younger readers. Frequent sidebars, well-chosen maps, archival documents, and photos further clarify textual references without disturbing the overall narrative flow.

Why I liked it: Aside from my Amelia Earhart obsession, this book was so well-written and captivating that I couldn't put it down.  The recounting of her final flight, in particular, was mesmerizing.  And I appreciated that the author was willing to point out Amelia's flaws as well as her successes, since it gives the reader a more well-rounded picture of who Amelia Earhart really was.

Do you have any other narrative biographies that you can recommend?  I really do love a good biography, so if you know of one, please tell me in the comments below.

And happy weekend reading!