Thursday, January 31, 2013

Greenhorn by Anna Olswanger, illustrations by Miriam Nerlove

Greenhorn is a heart-warming story of two outsiders who become life-long friends.  With lovely folk art type illustrations by Miriam Nerlove, the story is set in a Yeshiva, a boarding school in Brooklyn, NY in 1946 and narrated in the first person by Aaron, a student there and a boy who speaks with a stutter, to the annoyance/amusement of the other boys in the school.

One day, the Rabbi interrupts a class during their recess to announce that twenty boys from Poland, who, unlike their parents, survived the Holocaust, will soon be arriving at the school.

After the Polish boys arrive, one of them, Daniel, is assigned to Aaron's room, already crowded with three boys.  The other boys don't really welcome their new roommate, and start going after him for being skinny and not speaking.  They nickname him Greenhorn, but there is not affection in the name.  Aaron realizes that Daniel doesn't speak English and asks if he understands Yiddish.  At first, Daniel doesn't respond to any of the boys, except with fear when they bring up the Nazis.

Eventually, the Polish boys all start speaking English, except Daniel, who, it turns out, does know Yiddish and will only speak it.  Yet, no matter what kind of friendly overtures are made to Daniel he never joins in.  Nevertheless, Aaron keeps trying to be friends with Daniel.  One day, while the boys are picking on him because of his stutter, Daniel comes to Aaron's defense - in English.

Things get better after that, but not much and the other boys begin to really focus on the little box Daniel carries around with him, even putting it under his pillow at night.  One night Aaron notices that the box had fallen on the floor, opened and the content had fallen out.  It looked like a rock to Aaron, but when he asked Daniel about it, he received no reply.  "F-F-Friends don't keep secrets from each other." Aaron tells him.  But Daniel was sleeping.

But what's in Daniel's box that he carried all the way from Poland and never let out of his sight?  Was this the end of Aaron's attempts to be friends?

Most American children really didn't comprehend how conditions were in Europe for Jews during the war.  Of course, by 1946 they had heard about what happened in concentration camps, but it was still hard for them to grasp the full measure of things.  To her credit, Anna Olswanger has depicted this aspect of life even in a place like a Yeshiva.  But I think she has done an outstanding job of depicting the kind of trauma kids who were caught of in the actual events and who lost parents, siblings and other relatives suffered from.  It seems like it would be just unimaginable, but you do get the idea from this short but powerful story.

Healing is a long hard road, but this is a story of friendship and it is based on a true event.  The boy Aaron grew up to be Rabbi Rafael Grossman.  He lost touch with the real life "Daniel."  But one day, while visiting Israel, he ran into him again, "Daniel" had become a pediatrician, working and living in Israel.

And yes, eventually Aaron/Rabbi Grossman did find out what was in Daniel's box and why it was so important.

This is just my feeling but, although this is a story written for readers around 9+ years old, I think it might be a good idea for them to read this little book with some supervision.  Not that the events involved are described in graphic detail, but some of what the Nazis did to people is not always covered in books for kids.  That being said, it would still highly recommend it.

This book is recommended for readers age 9+
This book was sent to me by the publisher.

A discussion guide for teacher's can be found here
A discussion guide for parents can be found here

The author, Anna Olswanger, has written a very interesting guest post about Greenhorn over at Cynsations

There is a Goodreads Greenhorn Givaway running until February 17 and you enter to win a copy here

Monday, January 28, 2013

World War II Pilots: an Interactive History Adventure by Michael Burgan

Last April, I reviewed an interactive book from the YouChoose World War II series called World War II: On the Home Front by Martin Gitlin.  I found it to be an excellent book for introducing readers to life on the home front.

Now comes this latest YouChoose adventure, World War II Pilots.  The basic premise is that you are given a situation and the story unfolds based on the choices you make at certain junctures of the story.   In Chapter 1 of World War II Pilots, the reader is first given some historical information about the events that led to the war beginning at the end of World War I.

At the end of the chapter, you have 3 choices: to follow the path of a British pilot in the RAF, an American pilot fighting in the Pacific Ocean or a Tuskegee Airman - all very interesting choices.  So you choose your path and at the end of each chapter, more choices can be made regarding the fate of the chosen pilot.  In fact, there are 36 choices altogether, given each pilot 12 possible ways to go.  And in the end, there are 20 different possible endings - 7 for the RAF pilot, & for the American pilot and 6 for the Tuskegee Airman.

I know this all sounds complicated.  I also think that, too, whenever I start these kinds of books, but they are designed for young readers and really aren't difficult at all and in fact, they are quite informative without being overwhelming.  I actually enjoyed going back and forth and making choices to see where each path led.  I also liked the photographs that are included and relevant to the path I was following.  For example, when I picked the Pacific Ocean pilot, there were pictures of things like Bataan, or the carrier he might taken off from.  I also found that concepts that might not be familiar were clearly explained.

I especially like the back matter.  First, there is a timeline of events in the war relevant to the stories.  Next, there are suggestions for designing your own World War II pilot stories - a female pilot in the RAF or in the US, a German pilot during the Blitz, a POW held by the Japanese or Germans, all requiring so research and imagination.  To help this along, there are suggestions for further reading in print and the Internet, a glossary and an extensive bibliography.

World War II Pilots is an excellent book for leisure reading as well as home schooling and classroom use.

This book is recommended for readers age 9-12
This book was an E-ARC from Net Galley

Curious?  You can download a sample chapter of World War II Pilots at Capstone Young Readers.

Nonfiction Monday is hosted this week by Laura at laurasalas

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Gingersnap by Patricia Reilly Giff

It is 1944 and Jayna's big brother Rob, the only family she has, is a cook in the Navy.  Jayna and Rob were separated for years, placed in separate foster homes after the automobile deaths of their parents.  But when Rob turned 18, he got custody of Jayna.  Only now Rob has received his orders to report to his ship for deployment to the war in the Pacific.  Rob have made arrangements for Jayna to stay with thier landlady Celine for the time he is away.

Rob may be a great cook, but Jayna has a way with making homemade soup that even he can beat.  Could this be a family talent?  The night before he leaves, Rob tells Jayna he found a small blue recipe book with a name and an address in Brooklyn.

When a dreaded telegram arrives with news that Rob is missing in action, Jayna decides to find the recipe book.  Inside, there is a picture of a woman standing in from of a shop called Gingersnap, the same name her mother used called her, or so Rob claimed.  Jayna didn't remember her parents, who were killed in a car accident when she was very young.  Unhappy at Celine's and feeling very alone in the world, Jayna packs up a few things, including Theresa, the turtle she takes care of, and set off early one morning to find what she hopes might be an unknown grandmother named Elise.

Accompanying her on the trip to Brooklyn is a ghostly presence, or at least part of one, who wears Jayna's pink nail polish and can read her thoughts.  But she wasn't much help when Jayna takes the wrong train and ends up in Coney Island.  Leaving Theresa and her suitcase on the boardwalk, she goes down to the water's edge.  And naturally, the suitcase with the recipe book is stolen.  But Jayna remembers the address and, in distress, take the train to find the store with the name Gingersnap.

Yes, it is exactly where it was supposed to be.  And there is a kindly looking elderly lady behind the counter.  Mustering up her courage and encouraged by her ghost, Jayna walks into the store and no sooner is she standing in front of the lady when she knocks a wedding cake of the counter.

Ready to give up, Jayna runs out the store's back door and hides in the overgrown garden there, falling asleep. When she wakes up, she is hungry, miserable and stiff.  To make matters worse, now Theresa is missing.   But, seeing Elise in the back of the store making some dinner,  Jayna shores up her courage and knocks on the door.

Will this kind lady be her grandmother?  At last, a family member and a tie to her unknown parents?
Maybe, maybe not.

You can't go wrong when you pick up a book by Patricia Reilly Giff to read and Gingersnap is not exception.  The plot may be a little predictable, but the characters are believable and basically kind and caring, which is always nice to see in a novel.  WWII was a chaotic time and all kinds of things happened that caused children to become orphans, so it was nice to see Jayna's desire and determination to be part of a family.

I loved reading reading all the little details Giff included in Gingersnap, and especially about my hometown Brooklyn in the war.  The lackadaisical attitudes about school and Elises's difficulties running a bakery with all the shortages due to rationing are the kinds of real life details that go into making good historical fiction.

My very favorite part of the book is Jayna's soup recipes that are scattered throughout.  Depending on what is going on in her life, Jayna prepares soups like "Don't Think About it Soup" or "Feel Better Vegetable Soup."

And about that ghost - when you read Gingersnap I think you will agree that this is not really a true blue ghost story and there is a perfectly reasonable explanation for her presence.

This is a great book about food, family, hope and courage, and whether you are or are not a Patricia Reilly Giff fan, one you will want to read.

This book is recommended for readers age 9+
This book was borrowed from the Webster Branch of the NYPL

Monday, January 21, 2013

Tamar, a Novel of Espionage, Passion and Betrayal by Mal Peet

Tamar is one of those stories that is difficult to talk about without giving too much away and spoiling the twist that comes at the end of the novel.  And Tamar is well worth the read just to get to that.  It begins in 1979, when William Hyde asks his son Jan if he and his wife would consider using the name Tamar for their expected baby, to which they happily respond in the affirmative.  It is this daughter, Tamar, who narratives the story that follows.

The story then switches to 1945, introducing Dart and Tamar, undercover names (based on English rivers) for two Dutch born, British trained agents for the SOE (Special Operations Executive) just as they are about to parachute into the Nazi-occupied  Netherlands to work with the Dutch Resistance in an attempt to reorganize it during that terrible Hunger Winter when so many people died of starvation.  Once inside Holland, Dart, who is the team's radio operator, operates under the name Dr. Ernest Lubbers, living and setting up his radio at the local mental asylum.  Tamar, under the name of Christiaan Boogart, is fortunate enough to be placed in the home of Marijke Maatens.  Tamar/Christiaan and Marijke have been lovers for a while, but when Dart/Lubbers realizes what is going on between them, he becomes very angry and jealous.  He has also fallen in love with Marjike.

The narrative moves to the spring of 1995.  Jan Hyde's daughter Tamar Hyde is now 15.  Her father has be missing for a few years and her beloved grandmother, Marijke, has recently passed away, after being placed in a nursing home because she was seemingly suffering from dementia.  Now, her grandfather has just committed suicide.  As a result of that, Tamar finds herself in possession of a box full of his World War II memorabilia.  Tamar knew that her Grandad "was fascinated by riddles and codes and conundrums of labyrinths, by the origin of place names, by grammar, by slang, by anything that might mean something else.  He lived in a world that was slippery, changeable, fluid." (pg 111)  And so Tamar begins a journey to figure out that codes messages her Grandad has left regarding his life and suicide.

From here on the story alternates between 1945 and 1995 as events unfold and characters are explained.  I don't want to say too much more at this point and risk an unintended spoiler, which can so easily happen with suspense novels you feel enthusiastic about.

Tamar is an exciting, suspenseful, very sophisticated and often gritty YA novel, but it is definitely not going to be everyones cup of tea.  A lot of readers said they had a hard time getting into the story, while others complained that it was big (379 pages)  and too slow moving, while other readers thought it was a 5 star story.  I tend to be on the side of the 5 star folks.  

Peet's teenage narrator proves to be quite formidable.  One would almost think beyond her 15 years, but given Tamar's life experiences so far, maybe her formidability is completely understandable.  Through her voice, Peet details her discoveries in a very straightforward style, clean and clear, yet it is all done in such lyrical prose that sometimes it often made me almost forget the subtext of the title.  Without my realizing that he had done it, Peet has taken that subtext espionage, passion and betrayal, wound and woven them together in a story that left me unsuspecting until the very end and then totally surprised.  In fact, after I finished it, I thought the whole novel is really a reflection of of William Hyde's love of all things enigma and that, I think, that is what makes Tamar such an unusual story.  And yet, all along the way, Tamar gives us innocent (?) hints about where things are going.

The book is recommended for readers age 14+
This book was bought for my personal library

Walker Books Australia has a very nice teacher's guide here.

This book was awarded the following well-deserved honors:

2005 Carnegie Medal
206 Wirral Paper Back of the Year
2008 ALA's Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults
2011 De Gouden Lijst

This is book 4 of my 2013 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge hosted by Historical Tapestry
This is book 2 of my 2013 European Reading Challenge hosted by Rose City Reader

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Sophia's War: A Tale of the Revolution by Avi

Avi has always been a favorite in our house and his latest book, Sophia's War, is another addition to his oeuvre of historical fiction that doesn't fail to satisfy.  This time Avi takes the reader back to the American Revolution.

For 12 year old Sophia Calderwood, the revolutionary war is personal.  Forced to flee with her mother and father when the British attack and seize lower Manhattan, on her return, Sophia and her mother witness, first, the hanging of Nathan Hale by the British for being a spy and second, the burnt remains of part of their lower New York settlement.  Fortunately, the Calderwood house, though ransacked, is still standing.

Sophia's father had thought it wise to remain at a friend's house in northern Manhattan, but he soon shows up at home with a gunshot in him arm.  It is decided that he will remain sequestered at home for now, since he is a known patriot and needs to recover.  As for Sophia's brother William, a soldier fighting under General Washington, there has been no news of him for a while.

On top of all this, with the British now in charge, the Calderwoods are forced to billet a soldier.  Lieutenant John André, handsome, cultured and kind, arrives at their door and Sophia is immediately taken in by his attention and many charms.
"In short, having never met so well bred and civilized a man as John André, I was greatly flattered by the attention.  Indeed, I was nothing less than enthralled." (pg 56)
When Sophia lets slip to John André the her brother is a patriot, he lets her know that he will keep the information to himself, and that he will do whatever he can to help her family.  So naturally, when Sophia discovers her brother seriously ill and starving in one of the British prisons known for their deplorable conditions,  she is sure John André will help him.

The news that John André has been ordered to go to Staten Island immediately, prompts the Calderwoods to ask if he will help William.  When Sophia confronts him about this, he tells her he cannot do anything, that his honor as a British officer is the most important thing in the world to him.  But when Sophia reminds him that he had promised that, if needed, he would anything he could for her, he responds that a promise to a 12 year old is not like a pledge to a lady, and that she is not yet a lady.

Shaken to her core by this, Sophia vows to save William.

Fast forward to 1780, the war is still being fought.  Sophia is now 15, working in a print shop to help her family out.  There, because she can read, she is recruited as a spy for the Americans.  Placed in the home of British General Clinton as a housemaid, she is asked to report any information she finds.  But just as she discovers a plot of treasonous proportions involving an American general and her old friends John André, the person she reports to has disappeared for safety reasons.

What to do with all this information?  Here is Sophia's opportunity to get revenge on John André for failing to help William by exposing the plot she has uncovered.  Can a young 15 year old succeed against all odds and possibly change the tide of the war?

Sophia's War was an exciting book to read.  Avi has taken a real event of the American Revolution that has many aspects to it that have never been explained and offers a cogent explanation.  And why not?  This is what historical fiction is all about.  All the places and events, as well as most of the characters in Sophia's War are real and you will probably recognize them from history lessons.  It is told in the voice of  self-conscious narrator Sophia, who directly addresses her readers in several places, making it sound plausible, while at the same time reminding us she is a fiction.

I thought this was one of Avi's best novels and I have loved all of them.  My one reservation about Sophia's War was the revenge aspect of her motivation.  But, of course, in the end, there is much to learn from Sophia's motivations.  Do read this novel is you enjoy good historical fiction.

This book is recommended for readers age 10+
This book was borrowed from Webster Branch of the NYPL

Simon & Schuster offer a reading guide for Sophia's War including Common Core Standards here.

This is book 1 of my 2013 American Revolution Reading Challenge hosted by War Through the Generations.
This is book 3 of my 2013 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge hosted by Historical Tapestry

Thursday, January 10, 2013

From the Archives #22: The Long Way Home by Margot Benary-Isbert

It's 1945, World War II has just ended, Germany is in chaos and retired schoolteacher Sabine Quendlein has discovered a small sickly boy left in her garden by a desperate mother and former student who wasn't able to take care of him.  Trying desperately to nurse him back to health, nothing in her poor stock of food helps, until an American soldier shows up at the door.  Larry Sherman takes a real interest in the boy, Christoph, and the teacher.  He brings them a steady supply of American rations smuggled from the Army, and finally Chirstoph begins to thrive.

But then Larry has to leave.  Sabine Quendlein's house is located in eastern Germany and as per the agreement at the Yalta Conference, she now lives under Soviet rule.  But Larry promises her that as soon as possbile, he will send for Christoph to come live with him and his new French wife, Denise, in Chicago.

This promise has to be continously postponed because Denise is having emotional problems adjusting to her new life in the US.  Then, in 1953, at age 13, Christoph begins to get involved with some dangerous political stuff.  Many of the young people living in the Eastern Zone of Germany were tired of Soviet oppression and groups of student Freedom Fighter were organized.  The village's mayor, another former student, visits Miss Quendlein and tells her about Christoph's activities and warms that the authorities are on to him.  And so it is decided, Christoph must sneak over the border into the Western Zone and travel to America.

Christoph unwillingly bids farewell to his Aunt Sabine and sets off on foot for the first leg of his long journey to Chicago.  This journey includes his escape under the barbed wire border fence, a slippery climb down a rock quarry on the other side in pouring rain, where he received a serious injury resulting in a scar down the side of his face, a stay at a castle full of actors and actresses, a stay with some Quaker relatives of Aunt Sabine's, an ocean crossing in a ship, a stay with a Quaker family in New York, and finally a train ride to Chicago.

In Chicago, Denise is still haveing adjustment troubles, made all the more difficult by the two adopted war orphans and the one natural child she and Larry have and for whom she can't manage to properly care.  Larry arranges for Christoph to live with a family he knows who own a restaurant, and where he can work evenings as a dishwasher, along with the owner's children.

As he travels from East Germany to Chicago and beyond, Christoph has many adventures and discovers many new things, some of which amaze him, some of which confuse him.  But as she always does, Benary-Isbert mixes a certain kind of innocent, almost ideological and really sentimental view of the world with harsh, sometimes jolting reality.  And again, as with The Ark and Rowan Farm, it results in a story that you really like and that makes you think.

It seems that a trademark of Benary-Isbert's writing is to provide lots of small, everyday details about her characters, the lives they have and the circumstances under which they live.  In The Long Way Home, this results in an clear, realistic picture of post-war life, not just in Germany, but in the US as well, something most readers might not remember or even know about, and bringing it all to life once again.  Young readers weren't even alive when the fall of communism in East Germany and the dismantling of the wall that separated east and west became history on November 9, 1989.

And I had to laugh out loud when I read the following passage and thought to myself Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose (the more things change, the more they remain the same):
"The boys looked sloppy.  It seemed to be the fashion for them to wear their jeans so low on their hips that a patch of skin on their backs appeared when they stooped." (pg 122) 
The Long Way Home was published in 1959.

I so thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and really appreciated how Benary-Isbert ever so causaly let readers of The Ark and Rowan Farm know what became of the characters in those novels.

This book is recommended for readers age 11+
This book was borrowed from a friend
Originally written in German, this book was translated by Richard and Clara Winston.

This is book 2 of my Historical Fiction Reading Challenge hosted by Historical Tapestry
This is book 1 of my Pre-1960 Classic Children's Books Reading Challenge hosted by Turning the Page

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

A Parachute in the Lime Tree by Annemarie Neary

It is 1941 and after a visit home, Oskar , a young Luftwaffe airman, discovers that the girl he loves, Elsa Frankel, is living in Ireland.  Her family is gone from the house next door to his parent's home, rounded up and taken away because they are Jews.  Elsa was sent to Ireland on a Kindertransport in 1939 when she was 17.  

Oskar decides to betray his country by parachuting into Ireland to find Elsa, loving her far more than he loves the German Reich. And the opportunity to do this daring jump finally comes his way in April 1941 when the Luftwaffe is sent to bomb Belfast.  Without any idea of where he is or where to find Elsa in Ireland, Oskar makes his jump and lands in a lime tree in Kitty Hennessy's garden in Dunkerin.  

But though she had actually spent time in Belfast, Elsa is now living with a kind Jewish family, the Abrahamsons, in Dublin.  Elsa is never really able to feel at home in Ireland, despite the kindness she is shown.  She is a gifted piano player who loves Chopin, and it is her talent that first attracts Charlie Byrne, a medical student, to her and who almost immediately falls in love with her.  

Meanwhile, Oskar, who was injured when his parachute lands in the lime tree, is discovered by Kitty while foraging for food in her kitchen.  Kitty lives a lonely, dull life caring for her grieving mother and a Luftwaffe soldier in the kitchen offers just the excitement she has been longing for and, naturally, Kitty falls in love with Oskar, or perhaps, she really falls in love with the danger he represents.

So, Oskar loves Elsa. Kitty loves Oskar, Charlie loves Elsa, Elsa loves...Well, you will have to read the book to find the answer to that.  But A Parachute in the Lime Tree is much much more than a nice love story with all kinds of twists and turns.  It is also a story about young people caught up in a war they didn't want and the consequences of their choices made because of that war.  For instance, Oskar is racked with guilt over his failure to do anything that might have helped Elsa and her family earlier in Germany.  For herself, Elsa must live with never really knowing what happened to her parents after they were sent to Theresienstadt concentration camp.

In this debut novel, Annemarie Neary has written a wartime adventure/love story as poignant and exciting as any I have read so far.  The focus of the novel alternates among the four main characters, revealing their thoughts and feelings in their individual past and present, and ultimately tying their stories together in a nice, but not very pat ending. 

I have said before, there are not many WW2 stories set in Ireland.  Partly because this was the time of The Emergency, when the Republic of Ireland was neutral in WW2 having declared itself to be in a state of emergency.  Only Northern Ireland, which was not very prepared for war, participated as part of the United Kingdom.  A Parachute in the Lime Tree, therefore, is a very nice addition to Irish novels set in WW2 and one I can highly recommend. 

This book is recommended for readers 14+
This book was sent to me by the author

This is book 1 of my European Reading Challenge hosted by Rose City Reader
This is book 1 of my Historical Fiction Reading Challenge hosted by Historical Tapestry

Friday, January 4, 2013

Saving Zasha by Randi Barrow

Even though the war is over, conditions are still difficult in Russia and if you are a dog, especially a German Shepard, things are downright dangerous.  It is hard to believe tha in a country that no longer has any dogs left because of the war, German dogs, are nevertheless. killed immediately.  After all, Germany started the war and Russians still hate them so much they even hate their dogs.  So imagine the fear and awe13 year old Mikhail feels when he finds a severely wounded soldier with the most beautiful, obedient German Shepard he has ever seen and with whom he immediately falls in love.

Mikhail helps the soldier home, but despite all his mother's efforts, the man dies.  Mikhail, his mother, sister Rina, 9, and older brother Nicolai, 15, take the man's body to the police to report his death, but now the question is what to do with Zasha, the dog?

Well, by now all three kids are in love with her, and even their mother has some affection for the beautiful dog and so it is decided that they will keep Zasha, but make sure she is well hidden from prying eyes.  Still, despite their best efforts, two people suspect the family of having a dog.  Katia, a not well liked by him classmate of Mikhail, is the first to come around snooping.  Under the pretext that she is helping out on her father's newspaper, Katia is rather desperate to discover the hidden dog.  In her zeal, Katia tells the brothers about a man not far away who is trying to start a dog kennel at the abandoned Orlov farm.

Intrigued, the boys sneak over to the farm and discover what Katia said was true.  The army has assigned one of their soldiers, Dimitri, to start trying to breed a "superdog" that could be used for both work and the military.  Unfortunately, all Dimitri has to work with in creating this "superdog" is a bunch of ragtag dogs that are anything but super.  Wouldn't he just love to have Zasha?  Thanks to Katia who had already told him her suspicions, Dimitri's hopes are confirmed when he sees the boys have German Shepard dog hairs all over their clothing..  And added to Katia and Dimitri's desire to discover Zasha are the two dangerously desperate dog thieves that show up on the farm to search for Zasha because there is lots of money to be made if you have dogs to sell.

On top of all this, it turns out Zasha may be even more valuable than originally thought when it is discovered that she is pregnant.  Will the family be able to keep Zasha and her pups safe and out of the hands of all those who want her for their own purposes?

Saving Zasha has all the makings of an exciting, nail-biting adventure story for any reader who likes good historical fiction and/or a great dog story.   It is a finely wrought debut novel for Randi Barrow and she has created a realistic situation and characters in a book that is sure to win over many middle grade readers.

Barrow writes at the end of the novel that by the end of World War II there was a shortage of dogs because so many were used during the war and didn't survive.  Indeed, at one part in the novel, Mikhail's mother's explains how they were used.  When the war ended, the army really did set about creating a kind of superdog called the Black Russian Terrier.  Be sure to read this part of the book.

The prequel, Finding Zasha, has just been released and is said to be just as exciting as Saving Zasha and may even answer a few of the questions about Zasha's past that you might have if you have already read Saving Zasha.  I hope!

This book is recommended for readers age 9-12
This book was borrowed from the Children's Center branch of the NYPL

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year

I wish everyone a Happy and Healthy New Year!

Well, it is that time of the year again - time to sign up for reading challenges.  There doesn't seem to be as many challenges as there have been in the past, but luckily for me, I had already decided which I wanted to participate in.  This year, I am returning to three old favorites and two new challenges.

The War through the Generations 2013 American Revolution Reading Challenge sounds very interesting.  My goal is to read 4-10 books in any genre with the American Revolution as a primary or secondary theme.  I even have some books picked out about the American Revolution.

And I will be returning to the 2013 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge hosted each year by Historical Tapestry. And since the Medieval period was always a secondary interest of mine, I thought I would go for the Medieval level of 15 books.  I know, almost everything I read for The Children's War is historical fiction, but not everything I post qualifies.

The third reading challenge I am returning to is Rose City Reader's European Reading Challenge.  I am going for the Five Star (Deluxe Entourage) level of reading at least five books by different European authors or books set in different European countries.

The two new Reading Challenges I have decided on are:

The 2013 Cruisin' thru the Cozies hosted by Socrates' Book Reviews.  I am going for level 1, Snoop,  and reading at least 6 books.  There are still a few mystery books I want to read that take place in WW2 and that would have lots of appeal to YA or N/A (New Adult) readers.

And last, but not least, I am participating in 2013 Pre-1960 Classic Children's Books Reading Challenge.  This is a good challenge for me since I have not been very good about my From the Archives book reviews.

I am looking forward to a very interesting reading year in 2013.