30 December 2009

38. Letter to My Daughter

Thank you to Random House Publishing for the opportunity to read and review the Advance Reader's Edition of Letter to My Daughter by George Bishop. I read this book in just one reading and found myself transported to my own teen years. The scenarios painted by Mr. Bishop were amazingly on target and interestingly intuitive as this was a female story from start to finish.

The book is one very long letter from a distraught mother to her fifteen year old daughter. The two had a fight which ended with the mother slapping the daughter and the daughter leaving the house without telling her parents where she was going or when she was coming back. Haven't we all been there on one level or another? The mother then waits for her daughter to come home and writes her a letter telling her about her own adolescence.
The letter takes the reader back to the late 1960s and the VietNam war. And the angst of being in love for the first time. Beyond the basic story, the author leads the reader to think about the war and the effects on young men who were there. In addition, I thought about the legacy we leave our children, in spite of our best efforts not to repeat mistakes of our parents.
This was a very short book, but I tore through it - needing to hear the entire history of the mother as well as the fate of the daughter. This is a fascinating debut novel and I look forward to more from Mr. Bishop.
TITLE: Letter to My Daughter
AUTHOR: George Bishop
PAGES: 126
TYPE: fiction
RECOMMEND: I am very happy to have read this work and would recommend it to my friends.

10 December 2009

Dogs, Books, and things

My sweet Sugar Pie Then:
My sweet Sugar Pie Now:

I am so excited! I am going to be off from work for the next three weeks. Can you even imagine? The way the holidays fall and my need to use up some leave before I lose it created this little holiday miracle. So I have a few things in mind for my vacation:

  • I really want to work on my Holocaust Resources blog by reading and reviewing as many children and young people Holocaust books. If you have a personal favorite that you have read or used for teaching about the Holocaust, please leave me a comment so I can try to locate a copy here at the University or nearby bookstore.
  • For once, I would like to complete reviews of ALL of the books I have read this year. With my husband at work for the first week I am off, maybe I will have some success.
  • Spend time with Sugar Pie and my sweet Annie and Lulu. Best dogs in the world, with Sugar Pie possibly the smallest dog in the world.
  • Crochet some scarves for all of the females in the family - sorry boys, working on a pattern for you! It's not like I am coordinated or anything.

I wish you all happy holidays and hope to hear from you!

37. Yellow Star

Jennifer Roy first learned her Aunt Syvia's Holocaust story almost fifty years after Syvia had been liberated from a Nazi camp, one of only twelve Jewish children who survived the Lodz Ghetto in Poland. Ms. Roy knew immediately that she wanted to tell the story to others. After a number of attempts, she decided to write the story in first person verse. She states:

When my aunt recounted her childhood to me, she spoke as if looking through a child's eyes. She made her experiences feel real, immediate, urgent. In the poetry of a survivor's words, this is Syvia's story. (p. n/a)

This memoir in verse is divided into five distinct parts, based on time periods during the War. The author provides brief historical facts about the period as it pertains to her aunt's family and other Jews in Poland and all of Europe.

The author provides free downloads for educators. Pre-Reading, Language Arts, Social Studies, Art/Music, Math, and Discussion Questions. Although our library has the book listed as Grade 4-8, I think that most portions of the book could be read to or by even younger students. The free verse is beautiful and true to the young girl who lived this life from age four to ten. While the story is often horrifying, I believe it is a story we all need to hear. Here is just a small sample of the story:


is the color of

the felt six-pointed star

that is sewn onto my coat.

It is the law

that all Jews have to wear the

Star of David

when they leave their house,

or else be arrested.

I wish I could

rip the star off

(carefully, stitch by stitch, so as not to ruin

my lovely coat),

because yellow is meant to be

a happy color,

not the color of

hate. (pp. 7-8)

Ultimately, the yellow stars on their coats help in the rescue of Syvia and her family. What a wonderful tribute to one child's Holocaust narrative.

TITLE: Yellow Star
AUTHOR: Jennifer Roy
PAGES: 227
TYPE: poetry, Holocaust memoir
RECOMMEND: Excellent book