Monday, September 30, 2013

Summer of the Monkeys by Wilson Rawls

I have read this one out loud to my oldest son but reading it aloud to my two middle kids has made me appreciate it more. Perhaps it is because they are the two that would get into the same scrapes that this young man, Jay Berry, does or perhaps it is because they have tried my patience and I can relate to the mother completely. Either way as we made our way through the 9th chapter the other night I found myself laughing so hard that I could not stop.  This is the chapter where the monkeys get Jay Berry drunk and steal his britches. I have not laughed this much in years. The premise of this book is that a circus train has crashed and the monkeys have escaped, with one very intelligent chimpanzee as their leader. Jay Berry tries with the help of his grandpa to catch the monkeys because they are worth $2 each except for the chimpanzee who is worth $100. Just imagine that! He could by his own 22 and pony if he could just catch them.  Unfortunately the chimpanzee is smarter than he is and he is outfoxed time after time. He doesn't give up and in the end the monkeys are driven by a storm to him and he earns all the money. Does he get his 22 and pony or does he turn the money over to his parents for his twin sister's much needed surgery?  A lesson and laughter all in one!  I love this book.  If you can stop laughing long enough to read it, your kids will love it too! This is the same author of Where the Red Fern Grows.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper

I stumbled upon this book because of an assignment my son has in his class to read 8 award winners by the end of the year. I have struggled to find award winners for him to read. This book is the winner of the following awards: Buckeye Children's Book Award for 6-8 (2011), Dorothy Canfield Fisher Children's Book Award Nominee (2012), Goodreads Choice Award Nominee (2010) and the Beehive awards which is an award done through Utah and the children and parents are voters. That is why I selected the book. I am so glad I did. Sometimes I have to prime the pump to get him to read books that he doesn't select on his own. This was one of those times. I picked it up and quickly became captivated by the heroine who is a brilliant girl trapped by a body that won't respond. It is written from her point of view and done in such a way that will change forever your perception of those we label disabled.  It's a sad story as she makes her way through school with teachers good and bad and eventually is able to communicate through new technology.  She thinks she is making friends but sadly they are unable to accept her completely. It's hard to see past the flailing limbs and drool.  Her champions - her parents and neighbor - never give up and fight so hard for her but in the end it is her determination and will that allow her to navigate life.  It's not a book with a happy ending but most of life isn't about happy endings. It's a book that champions those who cannot voice for themselves and it will change you.  This is a great one for dialog with your children.  I believe it would be a fantastic read aloud book for kids ages 8 and up.  It's also one you could co-read. You read and they read and then you get to discuss. My son came up to me tonight and said, "You were right mom.  I will never be able to look at people with disabilities the same way again.  She's jealous of a baby because the baby gets to learn how to crawl, walk and feed herself."' It makes you think and that is something we all need to do, especially when it comes to those who are different from us. 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

East of Eden by John Steinbeck

I had never read this one and it was amazing. Not only was the prose a feast for word eaters but the story itself made you think.  I enjoyed the parallels to the Bible story. I loved Lee. He was the epitome of a great parent, one who listens, advises and then lets a child make their way in the world. Cathy is the queen of evil and it never ceases to amaze me when writers depict women who would abandon their children. I am sure they exist but I cannot imagine it and it seems unfathomably wrong.  Adam Trask needed a wake up call earlier but in the end he redeems himself. This books shows you the power of one word and the freedom understanding it brings.  I highly recommend this book.  It's for adults, not kids but it is one that is a friend on my shelf now.