2012-2013 Great Stone Face Award

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The Great Stone Face Award is an award that is given out every year to around 25 new 4th through 6th grade books by the GSF Committee. It is sponsored by the Children’s Library of New Hampshire. The name “Great Stone Face” comes from the Man in the Mountain, which is the most historic landmark that was in New Hampshire. This year’s Great Stone Face books are really, really good judging by the one I read and  how Mrs. Eaves loves the 7+ that she has read. Hope you get some great books from this list:

  • Benjamin Franklinstein Lives by Matthew McElligott
  • Bigger Than a Bread Box by Laurel Snyder ↓
Read the review of this book here.
  • Cheesie Mack Is Not a Genius or Anything by Steve Cotler
  • Dragon Castle by Joseph Bruchac
  • Flyaway by Lucy Christopher
  • Hothead by Cal Ripken, Jr.
  • Liesl & Po by Lauren Oliver ↓
Read the review of this book here. This looks like a great book and it is DEFINITELY on my reading list.
  • Me & Jack by Danette Haworth
  • The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate ↓
Read the review of this book here.
  • Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes by Jonathan Auxier ↓
Read the review of this book here. Books with ‘exciting adventure, fantasy and determination’ are always on my reading list.
  • Pie by Sarah Weeks
  • Saving Arm Pit by Natalie Hyde
  • The Silver Bowl by Diane Stanley
  • Small as an Elephant by Jennifer Richard Jacobson
  • Take Me to the River by Will Hobbs
  • Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George
  • The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann
  • Wereworld: Rise of the Wolf by Curtis Jobling
  • Wild Life by Cynthia DeFelice
  • Wild Wings by Gill Lewis ↓
Read the review of this book here.
  • With a Name Like Love by Tess Hilmo
  • Wolf Storm by Dee Garretson
  • Wonder by R. J. Palacio ↓
Read the review of this book here. This is such a good book. I wish I could review and read it again because it was GREAT!
  • Wonderstruck: A Novel in Words and Pictures by Brian Selznick ↓
Read the review of this book here. This is from the same illustrator who did The Invention of Hugo Cabret. That is a very good book too.
  • Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke
How many have you read? Tell us here:
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An Elephant in the Garden

An Elephant in the Gardenby Michael Morpurgo

195 pages to add another face to the story we know about World War II

An Elephant in the Garden shares an unusual story of war. At the same time that it is devastating and tragic, it is uplifting and hopeful.  Lizzie is old and frail; so fragile that she has been moved into a nursing home.  The narrator of the book is a nurse there.  She is also a single mom, so on weekends, snow days or days when she takes on extra hours her son Karl comes too.  If the weather is right, he brings his friends and they play in the snow outside the home – often to the great delight of the people living there.  It was on one of those days that Karl met Lizzie.  They formed a special bond and each day when he came he would sit by her and listen to her stories.  His mom questioned them and wondered if they were just the addled ramblings of the elderly.  Karl doesn’t think that is true because she is so sure and certain as she speaks.

February 13th is the anniversary of an event that shaped Lizzie’s life and with Karl there on that day she is compelled to tell the tale, her tale about what happened when an elephant came to live in her garden in Dresden Germany.  Lizzie starts at the beginning – explaining how her Papi was off on the Russian front and with most of the men gone how the women had done their work.  She explained that Mutti (her mother) had begun to care for the animals in the zoo.  She had seen an elephant born and had been asked to name her.  She chose Marlene, after the actor and singer popular in the day.  When Marlene’s mother died Mutti was the only one who could comfort her.  As bombing threats became certainty, plans were made to kill the larger, more dangerous animals so they would not become a threat to those who survived.  Mutti could not bear the thought of gentle, sweet, baby Marlene being shot and so she worked out a deal with Herr Direktor.  And that is how Marlene became a member of Lizzie’s family, residing with them in the garden.

All was fine (well, as fine as living day to day surrounded by the threats of war can be) for a time, but then the Allies bombed Dresden.  Wave after wave of bombs fell.  Already agitated, a frightened Marlene ran and the family – Mutti, Lizzie and her little brother, Karli followed afraid of being separated.  Together they joined the long line of refugees fleeing the city, moving out into the country and to the relative safety of being behind enemy lines.  They chose to move toward the Allies.  Lizzie’s family could not move with the others – they were not like the others. They had an elephant in their family- an elephant who leads them into and through incredible events as they travel toward safety, together.

An Elephant in the Garden is inspired by a true story, and while is does not shy away from the harshness of war there is no fighting and killing in this tale.  This book shares the plight of the people who are innocently caught in the crossfire of war.  It shares how those people feel about the war around them and recounts how little acts of kindness and moments of sheer terror shape lives.  I came to love Lizzie’s family and to marvel at their courage and fierce commitment to what is right.  I was amazed by what they did and how stayed together through turmoil with care and respect.  You must read An Elephant in the Garden to find out what happens to Marlene and her family, to discover how Lizzie is here to share her story and gain greater understanding of the long reaching affects of war.

 This book reminded me of Faithful Elephants by Yukio Tsuchiya ( a picture book I have never been able to successfully read out loud.  I just can’t) and Kelly Milner Halls recent Saving the Baghdad Zoo.  These book also share how zoos and animals suffer the consequences of war.Saving the Baghdad Zoo: A True Story of Hope and HeroesFaithful Elephants: A True Story of Animals, People, and War