Showing posts with label book review. Show all posts
Showing posts with label book review. Show all posts

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Paperboy by Vince Vawter

“Paperboy” takes place in the mid to late 50’s sometime after Elvis had made a name for himself and when Arkansas started integrating schools
The story takes place in Memphis and reads like a journal.  No commas, no quotations.  Very cleverly written, I think.
The summary of the story itself got my attention, but what really intrigued me was Rob Buyea’s recommendation.  I had posted a review on Buyea’s books here
Victor Vollmer has agreed to take his friend’s paper route for a month.  He enjoys throwing papers and is good at it.  His problem is with collecting money, for Victor has a stuttering problem and lacks the confidence in talking with people.
But he learns a lot and meets a few people that he may not have otherwise.  He records his thoughts and some conversation and little by little the reader can see the growth of this young man.
There doesn’t seem to be much of a plot until pretty much towards the end – after all the characters have been introduced.  He sums up the last chapter as Primrose had here in “Everything on a Waffle” and I love how he portrays who he is and who he’s met and how it’s made him grow (although he, himself, may not be aware of the growth that we see as a reader.)
My favorite quote is on page 217 as he’s wrapping up a brief description of his mother:
“I don’t know if it’s worse not being able to say words at all or being able to say them and not know what they mean”
It’s a very good book.  Easy reading.  Strong recommendations on my part.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Hank Zipzer is Laugh-Out-Loud

                                              Lin Oliver and Henry Winkler: Hank Zipzer authors

         Hank Zipzer is a character invented by Henry Winkler – though I wonder how much of the character is based upon himself as he had struggled with learning though nobody understood that he had dyslexia but wasn’t diagnosed until he was in his 30’s.

         The first Hank Zipzer book that I read was “The Curtain Went Up, My Pants Fell Down” Hilarious.  I laughed out loud with almost every page.  
         I really liked how in this particular story, it is not the obvius talent put who play the leads.  The director picks those that seem to struggle – someone he can help mold into the part.

         Hank’s fifth grade teacher is named Ms. Adolf – I’m guessing a play on words, as she appears to be stern and unfeeling, but perhaps not quite Hitler.  Just his first name.
         In my mind, Henry Winkler does the narration for the character Hank Zipzer.  I think the voice of Principal Love twould sound like Ben Stein.

         I tried reading it to Jenna, but she’s just not interested and she has a marvelous sense of humor.  She just doesn’t identify with the character at all.

         Learning has always come natural and easy for Jenna.  She doesn’t feel pressure from others that she’s being made fun of – nor does she make fun of others.  She’s got a great gift of accepting others as who they are and never stereotypes another based on looks or behaviors.  Although she has ruled out bullies, she still treats them with respect.

         I didn’t have a learning disability.  I enjoyed learning things – at my own level.  I liked learning what I wanted to learn but for the most part did not enjoy what was being taught.  I had a tendency to tune things out and daydreamed entirely too much.  I was never a class clown.  More of the shy wallflower.  But I can relate to some of Hank Zipzer’s character.

         I like the series for a few reasons.  One would be the font size.  Because I don’t struggle with my failing eyesight.  Two, I believe all seventeen stories come in paperback (at least they have thus far) which is less weight in my backpack (good reason, huh?) and three, because it’s easy reading, marvelously written and really does put a smile of my face.

         Now that my school years are so into the past, I learn older I get, the more that I really do enjoy learning.  Many of the things I refused to learn in my youth have become more interesting as I age.  I also enjoy being entertained with Witty humor.  Thank you Henry Winkler for Hank Zipzer!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Everything on a Waffle by Polly Horvath

My latest book review is Everything on a Waffle by Polly Horvath.  

Everything on a Waffle is a Newberry Honor.  I didn't used to like Newberry books.  But I really like this one. I suppose one reason why I choose juvenile over adult or young adult is the font size. 

Recently I had placed holds on one of each.  For the latter two, I am able to see the words better with a magnifying glass.  I prefer not reading with a book in one hand and a magnifying glass in the other.  And with the mornings having become darker, small fonts require more light if my eyes must read them.

 Everything on a Waffle is told in first person from Primrose’s point of view.  Primrose is an eleven year old that lives in a Coal Harbor, a small town in town in Canada (though it doesn’t specify which providence.) in the custody of three different guardians.

Initially she’s left with Miss Perfidy who often sits for Primrose – though, as the book starts out, becomes for an extended time and not just while mom and dad are out for the night.

Primrose’s father is a fisherman who is out during a storm.  Her mother, worried about the conditions of the weather, leaves Primrose to go in search of him to bring him home.  Both are lost at sea.

Primrose takes us on an adventure from the persnickety old lady to her Uncle Jack to a couple who live in city not as near to Coal Harbor as she would like.

I love the wit and humor in this book.  In one chapter she tells about being hit by a car and then waking up in the noisy hospital wondering if she might be dead.  She shares this thought: “This must be hell, I thought, because in heaven surely they try to keep the noise down.”

She also describes her last foster couple (who are short, plump and round as “look[ing] like a couple of kindly old hard boiled eggs”

At the end of each chapter, she shares a recipe – though most without exact measurements.  There is one she shares with two alternatives: The correct way, which is good, and the kind that you might choke down just to be polite:          “If you prefer Miss Perfidy’s tea biscuits, double the baking soda and leave out the vanilla.”

I also liked reading her profound thoughts:

“I was [grateful;] not just for their return but for their absence too, and where it had taken me and who I had met there.  I would never go home again in quite the same way, but that was okay, too.

“. . . I left parts of myself some places and found others unexpectedly . . .”

I wish all books could touch me in such a positive way.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

“Birthday Surprises” Review

Johanna Hurwitz edited the book “Birthday Surprises” found in the juvenile literature section in the library.  Easy reading and highly entertaining.  I think Jenna will enjoy it.

Johanna Hurwitz had asked ten children’s authors to come up with a story involving a child celebrating his or her birthday; several presents and a beautifully decorated box that’s empty.  I LOVED it.  I loved the creativity.  I loved how different each story was.

Pam Conrad wrote quite a touching story about a man in a rest home who’s about to celebrate his 100th birthday and is worried about what his sister will do when she shows up for the party.

His great great grandson listens to the details of a memory of the last time he had seen his sister and his gift (or lack thereof) and how his predictions were so different from what had really taken place.  The only story that brought tears to my eyes.

Ellen Conford’s story was hilarious.  A girl (Diane) writes in her journal about her party and her friends and one girl in particular, Tracy – her frenemy (she doesn’t call her that – but that’s how it reads) and how much Tracy is at fault when it seems pretty clear to the reader that it is Diane who is clueless as she writes about whatever is “not” bothering her.

I really enjoyed the poem written by Karla Kuskin and the creative imagination on the part of the receiver and what genuine happiness.  I like the imaginative ending.

Johanna Hurwitz also brings a humorous piece of her own – written in the form of several letters to and from the “Nature Wonder & Company”, the parents of an unhappy birthday boy, and the birthday boy himself. 

I found each story to be very clever and enjoyed each for different reasons.  I loved this book!  I hope Jenna loves it as well. 

Friday, September 19, 2014

Great Reads for Girls: Mother/Daughter Book Group

During the summer Jenna kept on hounding me, “When is the next reading club?”

Not until September.

I LOVE the line-up of books we get to read this year.  I’ve actually read half of them already.

Our first meeting was  last night.  We had checked the book out just the week before.  Fortunately for us, it was easy reading and we had finished the book on Tuesday morning. 

I was happy as we read that what we read had historical truth – meaning the book “Riding Freedom’  I did not realize until just before the last two chapters that Pam Munoz Ryan had written this historical fiction about Charlotte Darkey Parkhurst  or one-eyed Charley –

Charlotte was an orphan who lived at a poorhouse along with several other orphans – all male.  Charlotte was needed in the kitchen and those in charge made certain that there would never be an opportunity for her to be adopted.  When Charlotte’s best friend, Hayden, is adopted, she decides to run away.

The story takes place in the mid 1800’s when women didn’t travel alone and were not given the right to vote among other things.  Charlotte disguised herself as a boy and worked like a boy and eventually would pass herself off as the greatest stage driver and vote as a man. 

After the story is an account of the real Charlotte or Charles Darkey Parkhurst – which is the name she used on the registrar to vote – over 50 years before women were allowed to vote.  It was not discovered until after her death that she was indeed female.

Next month’s book is ‘The Great Ivan” – which we’ve already read.  You can read some of my review on this post. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Horses, Elephants, Fairytales

Michael Morpurgo wasn’t born until some time after World War II had ended, and yet he was affected by the war as bombed ruins became his play ground.  It wasn’t until much later that he learned that the war had not only destroyed buildings – it had destroyed lives as well – including that of his own family.

        The books he writes tell of the history but also give hope to the reader.  I have not yet read “War Horse” but it is on my books-to-read list.  The first book that I’ve read by this author is “An Elephant in the Garden

Before the bombs had dropped on Berlin, the keeper of the Berlin Zoo had mentioned when the destruction came, all of the big animals at the zoo would have to be killed.  A woman who worked at the zoo asked if she could take a baby elephant she was attached to.  Every night when the zoo closed, she would take the elephant home and every morning she would bring it back – until the bombs came.  And then there was no point.

Morpurgo took this true account and another of a woman whose husband had joined the team of those who had tried to assassinate Hitler.  After he was executed, she took refugees into her home. 

From my understanding “War Horse” takes place in England whereas “An Elephant in the Garden” takes place in Germany.  Instead of Berlin, Morpurgo starts the story out in Dresden.  He gives the account of three family members who flee from one horrific scene to another while traveling with an elephant.

I like his style. There are so many truths about how it was for far too many.  Families torn apart before the war because of political disagreement, abandoning their houses whether willingly or not, fear of the unknown. “An Elephant in the Garden” is written in first person.  I’m hoping his other work is as well.  

I have a second book on reserve at the library.  I will have to go and pick it up within the next three days.  Looking forward to reading more.  Not just the historical fiction that he’s written, but some of his other work – like rewritten fairytales.  I LOVE fairytales with a new perspective.  My favorite thus far is called “Rumpelstiltskin's Daughter” by Diane Stanley.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Last Two Books

We have only two months left of the mother-daughter book group.  After our last meeting the librarian had placed the next book near the back of the room. I don’t know how many copies were there. Jenna and I were the last ones to retrieve.

The book for this month is Flint Heart by Katherine and John Paterson.  It appeared to be easy reading, but I also saw the words “pixies”, “fairies”, and “trolls” perhaps.  No, no, no, no.  Had it been written in first person, maybe.  But overall it is NOT something that appeals to me.  I loathe fantasies and all of those fantasy creatures and all the bizarre names of characters and places. 
I checked out a book and a CD figuring Jenna could read along at her own pace as she has always seemed to enjoy that make-believe aspect.  But her comments thus far have been, “It’s weird.” Though I guess it’s been weird in a good way, she hasn’t gone into detail about why.

Meanwhile I decided to place a hold on Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick. When I went to the library to pick it up, I was quite surprised at the thickness of the book.  THICK.  I figured I had placed a hold on the wrong book and flipped through its pages and noticed several illustrated pages.  (I did not count them, but the description indicates over 400 of them) Okay.  I still had no clue about what I had checked out.

Thus far it is among one of the more interesting books I have ever read (and looked at) and look forward to reading more about the author but have decided I will finish this book before reading any material I’ve come across on the website so I don’t risk possibly running  into any spoilers.

            The written part of the story takes place in 1977.  Ben lives by Gunflint Lake in Minnesota.  He’s been left in the care of his aunt and uncle as his mom has passed away.  He has never met his dad but decides to go look for him in New York.

The illustrations  start out with another story.  They tell the story of Rose who lived in New Jersey fifty years earlier.  She also goes to New York in search of stage and silent screen star, Lillian Meyhew, who she seemingly seems to idolize.  

I have appreciated how the pictures have connected, though two different stories.  But as Ben experiences the storm (through words) in 1977 the illustrations show us another storm that took place in 1927.  The words describe how Ben sees the museum in 1977.  The illustrations that follow show the same museum from Rose’s point of view in 1927.

I have had the book for only three days and am nearly finished with the story part and am starting to see more of a connection between the two characters.  It has been a rather quick and interesting journey.  I can honestly say I have never seen another book   like it.  I am interested to what the girls will have to say about it when we meet together in May

Thursday, February 13, 2014

April Rain: author review

Recently Jenna and I checked some books out from the library.  One of these books was called Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Tai – a story written in a free verse and dated as would a journal or diary.  The experience of Ha (the narrator) reminds me of Thuan Huynh’s own life as recorded in April Rain – a book I received for a birthday almost seven years ago. 

At the time Thuan was working at the same office as Roland.  He autographed the book for me and I started reading it and was intrigued with his life’s journey and for the huge sacrifice that his mother had made for him and his sister and for the love he had for his family members – particularly his mom and his sister.  And for the courage that each of them endured

Though it is an easy book and can hold the reader’s interest to move quickly through the pages, I am still quite a slow reader (though I did read it quicker than most books while it was in my possession).  I shared the book with others that I knew would be able to read it faster, and so it wasn’t until Thuan and Roland were no longer working together when I came across the photo at the end of the book.

The photo shows Thuan with his wife and son.  It appears that all three are dressed in white.  I had no clue that Thuan even had a son.  For the wife in the photo is not the same wife I had been introduced to at the company barbeque.  I was later told that he had divorced the wife that I met.  And really, I don’t know the circumstances of either partner or why he is no longer with either of them. 

I believe it was rumored that Thuan had had an affair in another state.  His boss had tried to get in touch with him to close a deal – but Thuan hadn’t answered his phone.  His boss ended up doing the majority of the work and so gave Thuan only a small percentage of the sale.  I think Thuan should have been grateful – if it hadn’t been for his boss, the deal would have never gone through and no money would have been made for either one of them.  But Thuan took him to court to claim a larger percentage of the sale – and walked away with more than he himself had earned.  It put a huge damper on the relationship he had had with his boss – both professionally and personally.

Now as for the wives or the rumor of the affair, I don’t know.  I suppose I don’t really KNOW about the sale and percentage dispute either – only what I have been told by others who were involved – hearsay – but not from Thuan himself.  I don’t really know him.  Only what is written in his book.  And I still think it’s a marvelous achievement and should probably be a required reading with every youth in America.  I respect who he was and the accomplishments he has made.  But I have lost respect about some things – but as I said I don’t know the accuracy of what I was told.  And even if I were to hear from Thuan Huynh himself, I still wouldn’t know the accuracy.  I think his words in April Rain are quite truthful, but I don’t know if they are anymore.

Thuan actually does not go by the name of Thuan nor has for some time.  I started this post with his American name, but decided to change it as he is in currently in a position in which scandal could be harmful.  And because I don’t KNOW, it’s not my place to turn others against him.  Not that I’m against him.  I’m not.  He’s human.  He may have made mistakes.  He may have been in a financially tight situation in which he felt he had no alternative but to take his boss to court.  Still, I wonder if he had even bothered to involve God in his decision.

Regardless of who is now, April Rain really is an awesome autobiography that I highly recommend.  Inside Out and Back Again is also good reading.  We can learn history through the survivors.   It’s important that we learn.  It’s also important to forgive.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Mind Games: Educating Bullies

                  I believe it was 1996 when the freeway was in the process of a new makeover as Utah would be holding the winter Olympics in 2002 and the city needed to get ready for the mass transportation that would be involved.
            I was working downtown and had chosen to ride the bus to my destination.  Often I would catch a bus which ran along State Street, but every once in a while I managed to catch the one that went by way of the freeway.  Either way I had my nose in a book during the ride.

            I recall one day in particular I was reading the autobiography of a World War II survivor from Poland.  He was only a boy when the invasion started and described the horrific scenery – which to him was not so horrific - as he thought the dirt pits and piles and military transportation vehicles offered some sense of adventure – only he learned that the “adventure” was grotesque and inhumane and not at all what he had set out for.

            As I was reading the book, I happened to glance out the window.  My mouth dropped as I looked at the dirt piles and holes in the freeway – like the rubble that had been described in the book.  But instead of German vehicles, there were yellow caterpillars – no soldiers, (but no construction workers either).  It was actually kind of eerie.

            I hate Hitler.  I hate the very thought of all the tragedy, all the crime, all the needless punishment.  I have no Christ-like compassion for Adolph Hitler – perhaps a few of his followers.  There was so much brain washing and fear.  There are not enough words in my vocabulary to describe all the hatred and anger and remorse that I feel each time I read or watch or discuss anything related to all that senseless political crime.  So why do I continue?  I admire the strength of the survivors who stayed true to themselves – who pass on their stories and experiences.  I would hope that we may take into our hearts their pain and their experiences and learn and NEVER EVER repeat that piece of history. (But then perhaps we already are – or perhaps it already exists)

            There are so many accounts from children who were sent to live in the United Kingdom – a means of protecting them – or trying to.  Some were sent to good homes.  Others were not so fortunate.  Some became slaves to those that had been forced to or agreed to take them in.  Some were able to reunite with their real families – or at least some family members.  Many more were not.

            Currently I am reading a piece of historic fiction, “Someone Named Eva” by Joan M. Wolf.  She introduces a part of history I hadn’t learned before.  Girls with blonde hair and light colored-eyes were considered the “elite” and regardless of whether they had been born in Poland or Czechoslovakia, they were “stolen” and forced to take upon a new identity and become the Aryan – the best of the German girls. 

            I am horrified at the events that took place.  In 1942 the Nazis (or Gestapo) went into the homes and ordered al l family members to leave.  They were given only a few minutes to pack.  I have read so many accounts of being allowed to pack.  For what purpose?  Their possessions were confiscated almost immediately.  Almost everything they had was taken away.  Some were able to hang on to their identity.  Many others were not.  They were caught up in Hitler Youth or the Gestapo or the Brown House or whatever – saying “Heil Hitler” first out of fear and then out of habit.  Brainwashed.  Becoming numb. Saying but not feeling.

            Some were actually so caught up in it, they willingly accepted the harshness to be a part of their lifestyle (if you can indeed call it living) to become great bullies themselves.  To actually support the cause.  To praise evil.

            The girls in this story were “stolen”.  Two had been removed from Lidice along with their families.  And then they separated.  The men were taken in one direction and children with mothers and then separated again.  Milada and Ruzha were put on a bus that took them across the border into Poland.  They didn’t know why.  They didn’t speak German.

            Another bus carried twelve girls.  They didn’t speak Czech.  They didn’t speak German either.  Finally a pretty woman translated for all fourteen girls.  It was the one and only time that she would ever translate, for they were forbidden to speak in their native tongue.  German would be their new tongue.  They’d be accepted as German girls.

            Each morning they were expected to give the “Heil Hitler” salute to a poster.  Once they learned the German language they’d be introduced to German history and mathematics.  The youngest one (Heidi) was having too hard of a time keeping up.  She spoke in another tongue and was whipped for it.  Sometime later she disappeared.  When Heidi’s sister gave up on the German education, she too disappeared. 

            Whether or not their whereabouts had been explained to the other girls wouldn’t have made a difference.  They had fed them so many lies that it was hard to know what was truth.  Ruzha (whose name had been changed to Franziska) had hardened her heart.  She was a bully and worked hard at getting the approval of the adult bullies. 

            Milada worked just as hard to separate what she’d been taught from who she wanted to be – NOT a Nazi.  She was ashamed when people thought she was.  But that’s what the Aryan wanted.  And when the war was over, couples from all over Germany were called in to “adopt” the girls.

            So now Milada (who is called Eva) is in a fancy house with a new brother and sister and mom and dad.  All blonds.  All beautiful.  Her description of a horrible smell reminds me of the horrific smell described in “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas” – a discovery that makes me cringe and cry and stirs up all these emotions of pain and dismay. How could so many people have let things get out of hand the way they did?

Milada remembers her own family.  And that is where I am in the book.  

Survivors allow emotion.  Bullies forget emotion. I must be a survivor. 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Lions of Little Rock

I love Love LOVE this book.  I think it’s the best piece of historical fiction that I have read EVER . . .

Kristin Levine did a lot of research before writing this book found in the juvenile fiction.  Originally she thought she would do a story on the Little Rock Nine but as she was doing her research she learned about the WEC (Women’s Emergency Committee) and the STOP (Stop this Outrageous Purge) and the battle of Segregation/Integration and the closing of schools that followed the Little Rock Nine.

The author’s mother had left Little Rock in 1954 – three years before the nine were admitted to Central High.  She hadn’t had a first hand experience in the events explained in the story.

The story is told through the eyes of Marlee, a twelve – thirteen year old white girl who makes friends with Elizabeth – the new girl who is light enough to pass for white, but really she is what was then referred to as colored or Negro.  Today we say African American or black . . .

The junior highs in this story are opened, but all the high schools are closed.  Marlee attends junior high, but her sister attends high school. Judy (the sister), has a hard time with it as she would like to associate with her friends and perhaps get educated as well. 

Marlee also has a brother, David, who is away at college.  She loves her brother and sister dearly and misses David as he is at college and then misses Judy as she is sent away to live with her grandmother so that she is able to attend high school in another city.

Marlee is a math genius.  She loves numbers.  She’s not great with words however.  She hardly ever speaks.  Many of her peers just assume she’s mute.

Elizabeth (Liz) is quite outgoing and assists Marlee in overcoming her shyness.  They work on a project together and practice their parts.  Marlee’s greatest incentive is a “Magic Squares” math book which Liz uses for a reward.

But when it’s discovered that Liz is not white, both girls are forbidden to have any further contact with one another – which upsets Marlee’s world even further.  We are then introduced to WEC and STOP and the racial prejudices and the fears and taking a stand and “mixing races”

The title of the book has symbolic meaning. And there are questions at the end of the book.  Thought provoking questions.  And references to non-fiction material of events that occurred in Little Rock in the late 50’s and early 60’s. 

We’ve come a long way.  Unfortunately not everybody has been on board with the whole racial issue.  The Klu Klux Klan has thinned out tremendously, but there are still some active members.  I’d like to send each member of each group a pedigree of every member – prove to them that no one of them is pure. 
The whole racial thing has bothered me my entire life.  And Jenna yells at the top of her lungs, “What difference does it make?”

It shouldn’t make a difference.  And it’s sad that so many believed that it did – or still believe.  We are all children of God.  I don’t get the trials that so many have put themselves through due to skin differences.  How stupid!

I’m so grateful for those who have made a difference, who have carved a path to make it a little bit easier for those who followed.  I hope the prejudice dies and having a different skin, or religion, or favoring gender or a tattooed covered body doesn’t threaten anyone.  We’re all different.  And still, we’re all the same.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Three More Books

         Often when I check out books from the library, it will be with the intention of proof reading materials that Jenna might enjoy.  Occasionally I’ll check out books that I know she has absolutely no interest in but might interest me.  I generally read young fiction because I don’t have time for wordy adult novels.

I still have not read Watt Key’s Alabama Moon, but I did just finish Fourmile.  Loved the book.  Easy reading (finished it in less than two weeks – even with Jenna’s constant interruptions) and good for imagination.

         I’m guessing Foster (who tells the story) is an eleven year old boy who lives with his mom on the farm (Fourmile) that was his dad’s dream.  Only his dad had died the year before.
Foster has a dog named Joe who came to him right after his father died. 
He hates his mom’s social interest, Dax. 
When Foster starts painting the fence that surrounds the property, he develops a huge interest in a stranger named Gary Conway.

         The book is very well written.  I really like Watt Key’s style.  He brings a flavor of Alabama to the reader and an ability to feel what Foster feels and see the things he sees.  I really appreciated having the same sense as Foster.  And how he sums up the story in the last chapter.  I especially like his last two lines about memories. So profound.  I already turned the book in and so do not have the exact quote.
         Jenna and I finished reading a book called “The One and Only Ivan” by Katherine Applegate.  Fantastic book.  Also Easy Reading.  For the most part we read at night before she went to sleep.

         I may have mentioned it before, but I tend to get into books a lot better when they are told in first person – even if that first person happens to be a gorilla.  Allows me understand better how the main character views things and what is being felt than when narrated in third person.

Ivan is a silverback gorilla who lives at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade.  The story is told from his point of view. 
Ivan was captured in captivity and purchased for display to attract and draw crowds and drivers passing on the highway.  He has friends, but does not know if other gorillas even exist.

His best friends are Stella, an elephant, and Bob, a stray dog.  He also has a human friend named Julia.  She gives him crayons and other art supplies and he draws and his owner sells his pictures to tourists who will pay outrageous prices.

When Stella gets to old and out of shape to perform her tricks, the circus owner brings in another elephant named Ruby.  Stella tells Ivan about the zoo and says that is where Ruby needs to be.  She believes the humans treat animals better at the zoo than at the Big Top.  She makes Ivan promise that he will find a way to get Ruby away from Big Top.

Okay, I guess it’s a little far fetched.  There really was an Ivan and a Big Top mall and when the mall went bankrupt the real Ivan ended up at the zoo.  So the book is based on an actual character.  But it’s not like Katherine Applegate was able to sit down and have an actual interview with Ivan. 

I like and appreciate the imagination of the author – who of course doesn’t really know Ivan’s story, but has made one up.  Jenna and I both LOVED this book.

         When we finished we moved onto Wonder by RJ Palacio.  It is about a 5th child who has a face deformity and about to enter public school for the first time.  Jenna keeps on asking what kind of deformity.  I told her it doesn’t matter.  The point of the story is how to treat others – not what we look like.

         I must confess that I had actually stopped reading it with Jenna and would read whenever I'd pick her up from school.  I was able to finish the book while waiting outside of mom's room.  It is a really fun book narrated by a variety of people who each tells his or her point of view.  

        The story focuses on a boy who has a unique appearance - a face that makes most people do a double take or are horrified or threatened by what they see.  August is fully aware of the reaction and behavior of those around him and school is a challenge but proves to be possibly the best thing that he's ever done.
        The story takes us from August's point of view to his sister, Olivia, to his friend Jack (and it is Jack's narration that had me laughing the hardest) and other friends of both August and Olivia.

         Very well written.  Highly entertaining.  And very thought provoking.  Enlightened and threaded with precepts and moral values.  Loved the book.