We want to help create motivated and engaged young readers. This blog is about children's and YA literature (especially New Zealand), literacy research, and ways to get, and keep, kids reading.
This revised and updated edition is not just a tell-all about the ills of modern slavery. It is a handbook on how you and I can make a positive stand to become abolitionists.
David Batstone systematically goes through all of the regions of the world (sadly, most countries) where some form of slavery operates in the form of sex trafficking, human trafficking, child soldiers, working in factories without pay and being held against one’s will.
This book has a plethora of information that we can call upon to do our bit to be abolish slavery. It is a clever mix of real life anecdotes, contemporary examples of what others are doing and facts and figures from governments to support his argument. Batstone offers several options of how we can contribute to the ‘Not for sale’ campaign which makes the reader feel that however small their efforts are, they count. I hope mine will.
Recommended for intermediate upward.
review by Melissa
Image by TheIRD
Sojourner Truth, (the name was taken after a religious experience), was the daughter of slave parents and was sold away from her family as a child. Truth’s life of engagement with slavery issues, black civil rights and the rights of women is remarkable in itself but is all the more astonishing when one considers that she died in 1883, - less than 20 years after the end of the American Civil War and the emancipation of the slaves. Even at the time of her death ‘Blacks’ in the United States were a long distance from experiencing the same rights and freedoms as whites. As a black woman, Sojourner might have been expected to be “doubly subservient”. At a time when women and ‘Blacks’ were still regarded and, in many situations, treated as lesser citizens, Truth stood up for what she believed was right.
While as a reader I was left wondering what her stance meant for her in daily life and how she was treated, how people reacted to her.
However Katherine Krohn gives a factual insight into a truly remarkable personality and this is enhanced by the “fast facts”, time line, glossary, recommended internet sites and bibliography. All of which will allow the interested reader to delve more deeply into Sojourners’ amazing life.
review by David
Image by madelinetosh
Celeste is a 16 year old girl from an upper class family, who holidays at Lake Conemaugh. She secretly befriends a local boy and becomes disenchanted with the superficial face and judgments of her family’s society crowd. Lake Conemaugh, a mountain reservoir, is a man-made lake which is held back by a seventy-foot earthen dam. The people who live in Johnstown below the dam often joke with each other about the dam breaking, until the day …
At the back of the book information is given on where to find out more on this historical event , along with a chronology from when and why the dam was built, to what happened afterwards. A great debut novel and an interesting read for people who like historical fiction interlaced with fact.
review by Michelle
Image by NOAA Photo Library
This book is one in a series of books entitled Children of the Pacific about the life of four children in the Pacific. Excellent photography means that the images are crisp, relevant and a true depiction of (in this case) Kiribati village and cultural life. The text is short and detailed with further annotations to explain more thoroughly, particular concepts.
I admire this series, not only for the fact that there is not enough Pacific work published for primary age students but also because it is a positive, delightful look at the life of these children -one that Pacific children in New Zealand (and other nationalities) can and will relate to.
Hard back copies would be desirable in order to prolong the life of the book as it is currently only available in paperback. But all in all, a really great book by Jill MacGregor, a former teacher, who has sincerely and thoroughly documented cultural practices in a time of change. Recommended for primary students.
review by Melissa
image by luigig
The Aztec civilization is noted for the size and grandeur of its temples and civic structures. What they signified, who built them and how, is the focus of this interesting book.
Anita Croy attempts to demystify the Aztecs as a people and provides worthwhile information about the importance of the archaeological discoveries shedding ever-more light on the Aztecs. Croy provides a fascinating book, which is clear, without being either condemnatory or ghoulish about the Aztec practice of human sacrifice (as a part of their religious observations).
The book’s well- referenced photographs and interesting illustrations enhance the text, as do the relevant fact boxes. The glossary, index and a brief bibliography provide further information sources - both print and digital.
review by David
image by Jonathan Cohen
Creating a story which is totally engaging, wise and funny, Boyce has Liverpool schoolgirl Julie making friends with two Mongolian brothers newly arrived at her school. Chingis and Nergui conscript Julie to be their Good Guide, a role which she accepts eagerly so that she can be included in the aura of exotic mystique which surrounds the brothers.
The story is recounted by a much older Julie, whose memories come flooding back when she comes across the coat which had belonged to Chingis. I thought both the older and younger Julie had very convincing voices, and I was quickly drawn into the mystery of the brothers. It was no surprise to read in Frank’s afterword that the inspiration for this book had its roots in a true story.
Although it exposes an all too familiar contemporary issue, I think it is a rare writer who could have handled it with such a subtle touch.
Review by Pamela
image by AaverageJoe
Rosa Park’s legendary 1955 bus (photo right) protest in Montgomery, Alabama is a story I thought I knew well. But until I read this book, I had no idea that 15 year old Claudette Colvin had already done something remarkably similar nine months earlier. So why is Rosa’s story so well known, when Claudette’s is not? The background to Claudette’s omission from the history books is just as intriguing as her defiant stand against the humiliating Jim Crow laws of that time.
Author Phillip Hoose alternates his voice with Claudette’s own, crafting a powerful narrative backed by thorough research. Illustrations have been well chosen to set the story in its place and time. This book goes a long way towards restoring Claudette to her rightful place in the history of the American black civil rights movement. Recommended.
Here’s an interview with Phillip in which he talks about his motivation for writing it: http://www.nationalbook.org/nba2009_ypl_hoose_interv.html
review by Pamela
Flickr image by Maia C
Oil disasters have been in the news lately with the blowout in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, and the oil leak from the Rena off the coast of Tauranga last year. Unfortunately most books on this topic seem to be for older readers.
However this title from Raintree gives a great explanatory background for younger readers into what oil is, how oil disasters occur and the effect they have on the environment. And it completes the topic with some of the ways we try to clean up the mess.
The illustrations are clear and relevant. Definitions for words that may be unfamiliar are in a small box on each page, and also in the glossary at the back of the book.
A simple and timely introduction to oil spills, suitable for children, years 3 - 5.
image by jeremycg
This historical, novel in verse is a Pura Belpre Honour book. Margarita Engle, a Cuban-American writer is also famous for her other novels in verse, The Surrender Tree (Newbery Honour Book), The Poet Slave of Cuba (Pura Belpre Award) and Tropical Secrets. All these books communicate the author’s passion for the history and the beauty of this Eden-like island. Also woven into this picture,(in delicate free verse) are her concerns about the social evils that corrupt Cuba.
The Firefly Letters, a story about slavery and the oppression of women is revealed through the voices of; Fredrika Bremer who decides to travel to Cuba, Cecelia a young African slave and Elena the privileged daughter of a slave-owning family. Although the element of hope for change lingers through the pages, it is through the astonishing actions of Elena that the reader is presented with a vision of hope and optimism.
The story is based upon the diaries and letters of Fredrika Bremer, a Swedish writer and women’s activist who spent three months travelling around Cuba in 1851.
For more information on Margarita Engle’s visit her website.
review by Janice
image by Edu-tourist
Anita Ganeri is a skilled writer and provides key information in a detailed yet succinct way for young people. This book is an enjoyable and accessible look at who she thinks the top ten world stage leaders are to date. Ganeri even invites readers to feel free to create their own list if they disagree with anyone she has included!
The leaders are chronologically arranged by date of birth, and each page describes in easy language what the leader achieved in their lifetime, good and bad.
The key focus is on how they impacted on the world that we live in today. A timeline at the end of the book categorises the leader, and the consequences of their leadership.
A very easy to read book with well-presented key information, including useful photographs and drawings. Suitable for primary years 4 - 6.
review by Melissa
image by salimfadhley
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