The Candy Bomber

Candy Bomber: The Story of the Berlin Airlift's "Chocolate Pilot"The Candy Bomber by Michael O. Tunnnell is a true story of hope and kindness. At the end of World War II Berlin was divided and in ruins.   The people had little.  The Allied Forces were airlifting supplies and food but US Air Force pilot, Gail Halvorsen knew there were children there grateful for food and freedom.  He spoke to the children who looked through the airfield fence.  They didn’t ask for chocolate or gum, nothing, but Halvorsen wanted to give them hope.  He told them the next time he cam back he would bring them chocolate.  The children asked how they would know it was him flying over.  He told them he would wiggle his wings.

Halvorsen gathered chocolate bars and gum from his buddies at the base, and using handkerchiefs, fashioned parachutes so the candy would float down to the children below.  “I had so much fun on my first drop … when I flew over the airport I could see the children…I wiggled my wings and the little group went crazy… I was able to give them a little candy and a little hope, but they were able to fill me us with so much more,” Gail Halvorsen wrote in the prologue of the book.

Read The Candy Bomber to learn about this amazing man and his commitment to humankind.  He didn’t stop with just one drop or with just operation.  His effort to show kindness to those most in need is inspirational.  What can you do to inspire hope in the world?  Share your ideas in a comment – no idea is too small.  After all The Candy Bomber began with only two sticks of gum.

Click here to learn more about Gail Halverson and Operation Little Vittles.

Elephant Run

Elephant RunElephant Run

While World War II rages on, Nick Freestone and his mom’s apartment gets destroyed by a bomb dropped by enemy planes. When his mother decides that England is too unsafe for a person his age, he is sent off to Burma, where his real father owns a teak plantation. Nick’s mom sent him there thinking that it would be safer, and she would be right except when its a World War, everywhere isn’t safe. Japanese soldiers invade and capture the plantation, and one way or another his father becomes a Prisoner of War of World War II. Nick, meanwhile, is forced to work as a servant for the new rulers of the teak plantation. The village is very unstable for Nick and his friend, Mya so they start planning their escape. Read Elephant Run by Roland Smith to find out what happens.

Roland Smith, the author of Elephant Run, came to our school.  He gave a really great talk on who he is, how he wrote his books, and his second job! It turns out that Roland Smith, along with being an author, is a field biologist. He talked about saving animals from an oil spill and other field biology things. And also he pushed in some humor in those speeches. And the best part was, I was chosen along with my friend Isabel to have lunch with him. It was a great experience to talk to him in person.

Click here to view Roland Smith’s website. It has book descriptions, trailers an more!!

Calli Be Gold

Calli Be GoldCalli Be Gold

By Michele Weber Hurwitz

for readers 9 and up     Realistic Fiction     198 pages

Calli Gold might have been born into the wrong family.  In her eleven years she has discovered that “you can divide all the people in the world into two categories:  The loud ones who shout about who they are and what they do, and the quiet ones who just are and do.”  She supposes that all evens out “Except for this:  if you’re a quiet person randomly and hopelessly born into a family of louds….”  That’s where Calli finds herself the quiet one who notices much but says little.

While her family pushes her to discover the passion she can take to a championship level, Calli struggles to find hidden gift.  She knows that she has failed at everything she’s tried so far.  Perhaps she just isn’t a Gold.  Then Calli meets Noah Zullo, a second grader who seems strange to everyone else.  Calli likes him.  She feels a strange connection to this anxious little boy and partners up with him in the Peer Helpers Project. Together they create a beautifully simple display for the Friendship Fair.  As Calli begins to discover what makes her shine, the rest of the Gold family finds another side to being a winner – one that doesn’t shout out for all to notice.

Read Calli Be Gold by Michele Weber Hurwitz to find there may be many ways to be number one. After you read it, let us know are you a “loud” or a “quiet”?  Have you found your passion, or are you still looking for the thing that makes you gold inside? Leave us a comment and let us know.

Wideness and Wonder

Wideness and Wonder: The Life and Art of Georgia O'KeeffeWideness and Wonder – the life and art of Georgia O’Keeffe by Susan Goldman Rubin is the story of one woman’s determined effort to do what she loved – create art.  Packed with information and a  rich collection of photographs and art reproductions this book opens the door on the artist’s entire life.  When Georgia was in eighth grade she said she would grow up to be an artist. Closely tied to the land and her family, Georgia always worked to paint what she loved.  Each image was a celebration.

At first Georgia tried to stay within the lines of “good art and technique.”  It was fine, but it was also like everything else.  It wasn’t until Georgia found a way to share her unique view with the world that her art sang.  When she discovered her individual sense of expression and sought to share her own interpretation and arrangements of color, shape and form she knew she had found her true passion in life.  She made sure each image captured how she felt.  Georgia knew that, if nurtured, passion continued to grow and develop leading a person onward.  “Success doesn’t come with painting one picture.  It’s building step by step against great odds…Every year I have to carry the thing I do enough further so that people are surprised again.”  These quotes, found on page 79 of the book, show how Georgia created and thought about sharing her work with the world.

Later in life, once her success assured that she could devote her life to creation, Georgia O’Keeffe moved on to painting the world as she saw it boldly, serenely, full of light and color for the sheer joy and pleasure of learning how she saw her world.

As I read Georgia O’Keeffe’s story I was amazed and thankful for her determined life.  So many times it would have been easier to fade away into her family obligations – to care for her parents and her sisters.  So many times it just would have been easier to pack up the paints and colored pencils to live a quiet life on the lake.  We are so lucky she did not.  We are so fortunate she did not allow her vision to be put aside until life became more settled and taking time to create was convenient.

It is important to share your vision with the world no matter how challenging that is. It is the only way our world becomes richer and full of possibilities – when we understand more than our own mind.  What is your passion?  What talents will you develop?  How will you share your unique vision with the world?  How are you and Georgia O’Keeffe alike?  Read Wideness and Wonder and then let us know.

The Magic Thief

The Magic Thief (Magic Thief, #1)

Young Conn is a pickpocket in the city of Wellmet, and when he picks the pocket of an unsuspecting wizard, things change drastically for Conn and the wizard, Nevery. What Conn pick pocketed from Nevery’s back pocket is his locus magicalicus, the stone that gives Nevery his power and magic. Conn should have been killed by the stone when he touched it, but that didn’t happen. This makes Nevery is curious about Conn and he takes him on as an apprentice. In order for Conn to take on the role of Nevery’s apprentice, he needs to find his locus stone. Meanwhile the City of Wellmet’s magic is dwindling and Conn has to help Nevery fix the magic and bring it back. Read The Magic Thief by Sarah Prineas to find out what happens.

Click here for the Magic Thief Website!! (HarperCollin’s Children’s)

Click here for Sarah Prineas Website!!

The Penderwicks at Point Mouette

The Penderwicks at Point Mouette (The Penderwicks, #3)After reading both Matt’s and Gus’ reviews of The Penderwicks:  a Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits and a Very Interesting Boy I decided I needed to reacquaint myself with Jeanne Birdsall’s characters.  I remember liking the story very much.  I remembered the sisters and their meetings, Mrs. Tifton (who could forget her), Jeffrey, Sabrina Star and the bull, but that was all.  Time to read again.   I did and was immediately caught up with the each interesting character – striking in how they cared for each other while supporting their rights to be an individual.  I had such a calm, quiet feeling when I finished reading.

Right away I moved The Penderwicks at Point Mouette to the top of my to-be-read.  I’m so glad!  Skye, Jane and Batty are going to Maine with Aunt Claire.  Dad, Iantha and Ben are in England and Rosalind is off to the shore with a friend.  The family has been split apart and because of this we get to know the individual main characters a bit more. (Yes, even Rosalind in how the family selects the parts of their vacation to tell her about so she can continue to enjoy her’s worry free.) This story features Skye and how she deals with OAP (oldest available Penderwick) status, managing her wishes, controlling her temper and considering what it is like to be in another’s shoes.  Along the way there are dog mishaps, moose, music, golf balls, and a flashy skateboarding dude.

The ending, though not totally a surprise, is wonderful indeed!  When I finished reading, I again appreciated how the characters move through trials big and small, annoying, challenging and exhausting and are still able to believe in each other in the selfless way I admire and truly hope to live up to.  What a wonderful book.  What wonderful writing.  I can’t wait to read the next book.

You might like to read about all of Jeanne Birdsall here at her website:  Jeanne Birdsall

The Memory Bank

The Memory BankThe Memory Bank is both is stange and wonderful at the same time.  The book combines prose and illustration to share the story of sisters who love each other dearly.  “Hope and Honey Scroggins were the closest of sisters, had been right from the start.  Truly, they were lucky to love each other so!  Not so lucky when it came to their parents, though.  Mr. and Mrs. Scroggins were simply awful people.” (p.9)

Right after this passage the Scroggins unceremoniously leave  Honey by the side of the road for laughing too much in the car.  “Forget her,” they say to Hope and do.  But Hope cannot and does not.  Unable to forget and devasted by despair Hope retreats to her dreams.  There at least she might glimpse something of her beloved Honey.  As a result of too much dreaming, Hope is summoned to the World Wide Memory Bank (WWMB) where she is asked to account for her deficit of new memories. You can’t make new memories if you don’t participate in the real world – not something that typically happens to a nine-year old.  The keepers of the Bank are quite surprised by this and not sure what to do.  While plans are being made, Hope learns more about the conflict between the Clean Slate Gang, a group that seeks to destroy memories, and the WWMB, guardians of memories. She sees how memories are kept, shared and treasured and for the first time in her life she feels valued, wanted and cared for.

Meanwhile, Honey has been picked up by an exuberant,candy eating, live-in-the-moment group whose actions are told wordlessly  via multi-page illustrated sections. The reader gradually sees how these stories will intersect.

Though a little confusing in some places, this book will make you think as you’re reading and after you are done.  It will keep coming back to you.  How will you live in the real-world?  What memories will you keep in the Bank?  Which will you picture and which will you record?

Elijah of Buxton

Elijah Of Buxton

11 year-old Elijah Freeman is a freeborn black child in who was born and is being raised in Canada. It is early 1860 and just before the Civil War, he lives a normal Canadian life with his Ma, Pa and friends. None of the people he knows are enslaved now, but some he knows have been enslaved. He has never had any experience with the brutality of slavery. But when a theif of their own kind steals the money that has been saved for freeing friends, Elijah crosses the border from Canada into the deadly dangerous America. He tries to track down the thief in America. If you want to find out what happens to the innocent young Elijah, read Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis.

Click here for the website on Christopher Paul Curtis. This website is a bit outdated because Elijah of Buxton is his newest book and  is not yet  on the website.

Click here for the take on Christopher Paul Curtis.

Click here for the Elijah of Buxton book trailer.

Click here for the The Stacks for take on the Elijah of Buxton website.

Edison’s Gold

Edison’s Gold by Geoff Watson brings friendship, invention and history together to create an original tale ofEdison's Gold what might have been and what could be.  Set in present day New York City, Tom Edison discovers some huge changes are coming in his life, and not just because he keeps causing disasters through hisfailed inventions.  Tom doesn’t want to move to Wichita.  He doesn’t want to leave the two best friends a person could have.  There has to be a way to stay – if only he can make an invention work – if only he can follow in the footsteps of his namesake and great great grandfather.

Just as it seems all hope seems lost, Tom discovers a clue in his basement laboratory- an original photograph left by his famous relative with an odd rose-like symbol.  This launches Tom’s quest – a race against time to solve the hidden mystery. If he can solve it there is a chance he can keep his family from moving, help save their house and restore honor to the Edison name. It’s a challenge uncovering the century old secrets, made even more difficult by evil billionaire out to avenge historical rivalries by stealing Tom’s secret.

Edison’s Gold is an exciting adventure.  There is danger and challenge.  The characters are great friends supporting each other in covert missions, reading codes and solving problems that unite present day with historical sites in New York City. Personalities like Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla, Theodore Roosevelt, Babe Ruth are woven into the tale to add interesting connections for lots of different readers. There’s sure to be a sequel – the secret is saved, but the mystery is certainly not over.  Have fun reading Edison’s Gold.  You’ll be glad you did.

Gilda Joyce – Physic Investigator

Gilda Joyce – Psychic InvestigatorGilda Joyce: Psychic Investigator (Gilda Joyce, #1)

By:Jennifer Allison

Fiction, mystery and comedy

5 Stars

Review by: Sophia

Gilda Joyce – Physic Investigator is going to be the most action packed mystery book you’ll ever read. I couldn’t put it down. This thrilling novel by Jennifer Allison is bound to have you hooked until the very end, from all of the creepy truths Gilda and her cousin, Juliet, find to the ghost that is said to haunt their mansion. The plethora of events is sure to keep you reading. I absolutely loved it! This awesome novel is about a 13-year-old girl named Gilda Joyce. She ends up going to her gloomy cousin house for the summer to help her write a novel that she promised her class by the end of the summer. The tower outside the mansion is where her aunt is said to have committed suicide.  Gilda Joyce loves to go explore creepy places so she of course tried to open the tower door but it wouldn’t open.  What will happen you ask?  Well you have to read and find out.  Jennifer Allison has written three other novels.  You might like to read them all.

Gilda Joyce: The Ghost Sonata (Gilda Joyce, #3)Gilda Joyce and the Ladies of the Lake (Gilda Joyce, #2)Gilda Joyce: The Dead Drop (Gilda Joyce, #4)