Book Reviews-Children's Lit
1994-2005 by Ed Dickerson, all rights reserved.
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Book Reviews

Books about "Family"

On this page you'll find a traditional story of sisterhood, and two stories of "family" that transcend heartache and destruction.

I am indebted to my daughter, Shoshannah, for these reviews. Any errors are mine.

All-Of-A-Kind-Family
Sydney Taylor
Reading Level: 2-7
Interest Level: 7-12

Theme: Sisters; life at the turn of the 20th century; Jewish culture.

Review

All-Of-A-Kind-Family follows the life and adventures of five little girls Jewish girls growing up around the turn of the 20th century. Each of the girls takes center stage, as the life and times of a culture, and an era, are explained to the reader in a fun and sensitive style.

Mama and Papa are the proud, if not exhausted, parents of five little girls who range in personality from sweet and sensible Ella and Sarah, to the independent trouble-maker Henny, to the incorrigible little ones who are constantly looking for adventure, Charlotte and Gertie. Along the way housekeeping, responsibility for other's belongings and the sweetness of sisterhood are affirmed. As well as the excitement of adding a little boy to the family.

I love this book!!!!! I could never get enough of the adventures that these girls go on. I'aIWays identIfied with Sarah, but enjoyed the romance of Ella, and the' trouble that Henny always managed to get into. And I loved the fact that no matter what happened, the girls always remained, sisters.

Critique: This book is very enjoyable. Not only is it a more difficult book to understand concept wise, culture, and mor~_mature thoght processes required to interpret the family dynamics; but told in simple, yet vivid language. This book doesn't seem as difficult to read as it actually is. Very well written.

This book also provides insight into family/sibling relationships. This book literally tackles the diverse personalities that can form and grow up in one household. So . if children today feel that life with siblings is difficult, they can see that dealing with siblings has always been enjoyable and frustrating.

Reviewed by Shoshannah Dickerson

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Number the Stars
Lois Lowry
Reading Level: 6-7
Interest Level: 11 and up

Review

This is the story of a non-Jewish girl and a Jewish girl in Denmark who are becoming young women at the same time the II World War breaks out in Europe.

The story starts out with two girls, Annemarie and Ellen, who is a Jew, racing and playing together like normal 12 year-olds do. This scene though, sets up the beginning of a plan to save Ellen and her family from the Nazi death camps. The only way to do this is for Annemarie and her family to risk their own lives to shelter her and take her in as a daughter and sister.

The setting of this book is right in the middle of an occupied Denmark during World War II. Through this setting the suspense is set up as Ellen is nearly caught, except for the fact that Annemarie had an older sister who happened to have dark hair, just like Ellen, when she was young, only she is dead now and Ellen can assume her spot. <

The plot is riveting as Nazis attempt to find the Jews who are being hidden by the Danes and at the same time catch the Danes who are hiding the Jews. In the meantime the Danes are attempting to find new and better ways to hide the Jews and to sabotage the Nazis' all the while appearing to be living their' everyday lives.

Reviewed by Shoshannah Dickerson

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Journey
Patricia MacLachlan
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Reading Level: 3-5
Interest Level: 8-11

Themes: Family; Child abandonment

Review

Journey has grown up with out his mother. He and his sister, Cat, have been raised since his mother left by their maternal grandparents. Journey, though, can remember the day that she left, and remembers that his mother promised to stay in touch.

Journey insists on the fact that his mother has always been a mother to him and Cat and will someday come back and get them. Cat doesn't have nearly the same illusions of a reunited family and lets her younger brother know that. Cat at one point was a photographer, but couldn't get her pictures to turn out right so she turned the camera over to her grandfather.

The moment grandfather got a hold of the camera he started taking pictures. Family pictures daily, and then pictures of everyone else in their everyday activities. Groans can be heard when Grandpa calls for everyone to come out front, or downstairs for a photo.

One day Journey picks up the camera and takes a picture of his grandfather. Also, all through the story Journey has memories of his mother come back to him, and a pair of arms that hold him close and comfort him. One day when Journey calls the family together for a picture on the couch, Journey falls into his grandfather's lap.

And then Journey remembers. His grandfather is the one that comforted him. From then on Journey claims his grandparents as his family, even when his mother attempts to come ~ back into his life. Because Journey understands what true family is, and that through pictures his grandfather has attempted to give him a family history.

This was a refreshing story to read after having read the stories about Sarah, Plain and Tall. MacLachlan isn't repetitive or use the same story line to convey a very important and sad story. I like her style and perspective on issues of the day. I like the z.. sensitivity that she pours into her stories as well as the truth and honesty about the / 7=- contemporary Issues.

This story is honestly presented. MacLacWan doesn't make the answers easy or simple tocome by. But the resolution evolves through the growth of each of the characters in the story.

This is a painful story. There aren't easy answers to this issue and the author doesn't cheat the reader or the story by making the answers easy. The whole story has a hopeful tone to it.

Reviewed by Shoshannah Dickerson

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