Sunday, June 30, 2013

After Iris by Natasha Farrant


Bluebell’s twin sister Iris died three years ago and the family has never been the same.  Flora, the oldest is rebelling, Bluebell has withdrawn behind a camera, Mom works and travels all the time, Dad also travels and is secretive, and the two Babes – Twig and Jasmine barely remember.  This story explores the family dynamics and especially how Bluebell (Blue) learns to go on living after Iris.  There is quite a bit of drama with the older sister Flora and her boyfriend Joss who also happens to be Blue’s “crush”.  Can the family reconnect and be happy once again or will they continue to drift apart?

This was a pretty interesting book.  Bluebell and her family have all drifted apart after the death of Iris, Bluebell’s twin.  There is rebellion, escapism, misunderstandings, fear, and anger.  The author did a good job of revealing the inner turmoil of the characters and showing how a family in pain can hurt each other deeply without meaning to.  This would be a good book for kids whose families have gone through emotional situations.  


Saturday, June 29, 2013

Once by Morris Gleitzman


At the beginning of the story Felix is living in hiding at a Catholic orphanage.  But when he finds a carrot in his soup he wrongly assumes it is from his parents and that they are coming to get him.  He then decides to go find them in order to save them from the Nazis who he believes are after book selling Jews.  As Felix wanders throughout Poland he narrowly escapes several threats from the Nazis.  This book is told through his eyes and his perception of life as a story.  It is a fascinating look at the war through an innocent child.  Through it all he holds onto hope and love for the other children around him.  

I really enjoyed this book.  I have read a lot of books about the Holocaust but it was interesting to see the events through the eyes of a na├»ve child.  There were several times that I held my breath because Felix was unknowingly walking into a dangerous situation.  It was interesting to figure out what was really happening.  I listened to the audio version of the book and the narrator was the author which was also very cool.  I loved how every chapter started as “Once….”.  This was very well done.

Recentering the Universe: The Radical Theories of Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo, and Newton by Ron Miller


This book covers the various theories of the place of the planet Earth in the Universe.  While primarily focusing on Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo, and Newton, the author also discusses the older theory of Ptolemy and even some more recent geocentric models.  The book is organized in biographical sections which give the history of the astronomer and his contributions.  In addition, the author looks at the role religion played in the development and hindrance of some of the theories.

I really wish this book had been around 5 years ago when I was teaching space to my fifth graders and one of our standards was covering the Ptolemy, Copernicus, and Galileo.  I had to do a lot of research to make it kid-friendly.  While this text would be a bit high for 5th graders it is more accessible than what I had and I could have used portions of it.