Sunday, May 26, 2013

Honoring Memorial Day

Memorial Day (and the weekend prior) is a good time to reflect on those who have given their lives for our freedoms. There are some very good books on these soldiers and the wars that they served in, or stories set during the time of these wars.

Revolutionary War:

Johnny Tremain
by Esther Forbes
1944 Newbery Medal
This book takes a minute. It doesn't start out as a story that grabs you (at least that has been my experience). But it is a wonderful book of historical fiction. Johnny is a silversmith in Boson just before the beginning of the Revolutionary War. This story encompasses all the big events that children are aware of  - the Boston Tea Party, the ride of Paul Revere, and the Battles of Lexington and Concord.

Disney made a movie of this novel, it's quite good, probably because it was made in 1957. AFTER the book is read, it is a worthwhile movie to watch.

My Brother Sam Is Dead

 My Brother Sam is Dead
by James and Christopher Collier
1975 Newbery Honor Medal
This story delves into how war affects a family. The Revolutionary War tears apart the Meeker family and follows their lives through the war.

To note, this book has a history of being challenged. It has those who are opposed to it and would like to see it banned, mostly due to the fact that the Meeker family are Anglicans, and are opposed to the war. It is challenged because it has been considered to have "unpatriotic views of the American Revolution". Don't let it's "challenged" status stop you from reading this. It is a very deep work of historical fiction.

The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere
The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Beautiful artwork enhance the classic poem by Longfellow of the ride of Paul Revere.
My personal copy was purchased at the bookstore at the Old North Church in Boston. I love that fact about it.

Much has been altered in what we now think is the story of what happened that night because of this poem. Paul Revere was not the only rider out that night. William Dawes also rode in case one rider was captured. Longfellow said that he didn't intend the poem to be an accurate retelling of a historical event, but rather as a call of remembrance to patriotism and the tenacity of the American Spirit. His poem was published in 1960, just prior to the Civil War.

Civil War:
The River Between Us
The River Between Us
by Richard Peck
This is a very different kind of "war" book. It is set during the Civil War but really follows events happening within a family in Southern Illinois. A definite must read. Unlike most other books you will read about war.

World War I:
Christmas in the Trenches

Christmas in the Trenches
by John McCutcheon

Truce: The Day the Soldiers Stopped Fighting
Truce: The Day the Soldiers Stopped Fighting
by Jim Murphy

Both of these books tell the story of the spontaneous Christmas Day truce in 1914 between two sides of  "enemies".

Christmas in the Trenches is a beautiful picture book. Truce is a longer, non-fiction account of the event and the events that led up to the Christmas Day truce.

A Poppy Is to Remember
A Poppy is to Remember
by Heather Patterson
A beautiful picture book, great for younger children.

In Flanders Fields: The Story of the Poem by John McCrae
In Flanders Fields: The Story of the Poem by John McCrae
by Linda Granfield
This book tells how the famous poem came to be written, as well as details about the war, and what life in the trenches was like. It is a good read to try to help us understand all the sacrifices that were made by those who fought for our freedoms.

Private Peaceful
Private Peaceful
by Michael Morpurgo
For the older reader, this is one of the best war stories I've ever read. It tells the stories of brothers Charlie and Tommo Peaceful, and their experiences prior to and during World War 1.

World War II:
There is so much written for children regarding World War II, or books that take place during the time of the War. Much of it is very good. I have a child who has been very interested in all things WWII. These are several that I am fond of.

Harry Mazer has written some good reads on World War II, here are a series of three:

A Boy at War: A Novel of Pearl Harbor
A Boy at War
Adam and his family live in Honolulu and he witnesses the bombing of Pearl Harbor, in which his father is killed.

A Boy No More
A Boy No More
Adam and his family leave Hawaii and head to California. Adam helps a friend find his father who has been placed in the Manzanar internment camp.

Heroes Don't Run: A Novel of the Pacific War
Heroes Don't Run
Adam Pelko enlists in the Marines, and is sent to fight in Okinawa.

Under the Blood-Red Sun
Under the Blood-Red Sun
by Graham Salisbury
Another story set in Hawaii during the attack of Pearl Harbor. Tomi is American born Japanese, it delves into the difficulties faced by American Japanese during the war.

Twenty and Ten
Twenty and Ten
by Claire Huchet Bishop
I remember my oldest brother reading this book, and that cover is still firmly in my mind:

Scholastic printed a copy and retitled it The Secret Cave

Based on a true story of 20 French children hiding 10 Jewish children while the Nazis come to their town. This is a great story of heroics. This book is getting harder to find, grab a copy while you can!

The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips
The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips
by Michael Morpurgo
You must read this! Really you must! This one is great for younger readers.
This story is told by a young girl in the English countryside where her family's farm is needed as  a training ground for American soldiers who will eventually fight in the invasion of Europe.

Maus, Vol. 1: My Father Bleeds History
Maus I: My Father Bleeds History

Maus, Vol. 2: And Here My Troubles Began
Maus II: And Here My Troubles Began

Both books are graphic novels by Art Speigelman. These are for older readers - teens and adults. These are not for young children, which many people don't understand since they look like comic books!

Art Spiegelman tells the story of his relationship with his aging father, and his father's experiences as a Jewish survivor of Hitler's Europe. The events are harrowing, brutal, and deeply moving. Akin to Elie Wiesel's NIGHT. These two books are extremely powerful.

Korean War:
Sadly, I cannot think of a single book for children on the Korean War.

Vietnam War:
10,000 Days of Thunder: A History of the Vietnam War
10,000 Days of Thunder: A History of the Vietnam War
by Philip Caputo
A good non-fiction account of the Vietnam War for young readers.

Patrol : An American Soldier in Vietnam
Patrol: An American Soldier in Vietnam
by Watler Dean Myers
A picture book that captures a soldiers fears during the Vietnam War. A good book for older readers, even though a picture book, not for a young child.

Iraq War:

I Am A Seal Team Six Warrior: Memoirs of an American Soldier
by Howard E. Wasdin with Stephen Templin
This is a special edition for young readers (middle school/high school) of the book
Seal Team Six: Memoirs of an Elite Navy Seal Sniper
SEAL Team Six: Memoirs of an Elite Navy SEAL Sniper

This special edition follows a young man's training to become a Navy Seal and eventually part of the most elite team, Seal Team Six. There are many toned down stories, but it still follows the battles and incidents of the soldier at the Battle of Mogadishu and other incidents.

I want to end with a thank you to those men and women in service and those 1.25 million Americans who have fought and died for my freedoms.
Thank you.
15 Powerful Quotes of War in Honor of Memorial Day

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Confessions of a Book Hoarder

Today while cleaning in my house, I began to notice how many piles of books were towering throughout each room. Every room I went into had piles here, there and everywhere.
I've always known deep down that I was a book hoarder,
but I'm finally willing to admit it publicly.

As I began to clean up rooms, I pulled out my phone and decided to chronicle the piles.
It truly is "so many books, so little time..."
Bedside table piles. Crossword puzzle and pencil, Trim Healthy Mama from my sister (don't ask me if it's working)...and interestingly a collection of war books. Hmmm...

A true book hoarder will still have a stack of books from the library.
Thinking of fun things to do this summer...

Piles and stacks even in the boys room.
Desk piles.
I wish I could say that he's read all of these.
The Great Expectations copy I gave him at Christmas. It hasn't moved.
I just bought the Ghosts in the Fog for him at the Scholastic Book Fair.

I am concerned with how buried that Algebra book seems.

Smattering of animal books, animal guides, random sports books etc. This selection has been so very much thinned out in the past several years. Animal books overran us for awhile.

The vast collection of to date printed collections of Peanuts cartoons.
The earliest years are delightful and hysterical. Something wacky happened to Charles Schultz in the 1970's. About the time Woodstock showed up....

The collection of classical literature (aka Diary of a Wimpy Kid), complete with gas mask. Doesn't everyone have a gas mask sitting around their house? The plastic box contains Nintendo DS games. These weren't touched for a long time until a recent incident involving the "loss of electronics" and the boy rediscovering his DS and needing these games. It took me awhile to realize what was happening in there...
Sadly, I'm assuming the DS has been touched more recently than some of these books.

Books in the kitchen. I may actually reference these from time to time. There are MANY other cookbooks on the bookshelves elsewhere. How several of these made their way front and center to the kitchen I'm not sure...
I've never cooked a thing from that Weber Big Book of Grilling, and the How To Cook Everything mostly gets used when I double check how long you boil an egg for it to be hard boiled.
I liked that first Pioneer Woman Cooks book quite a bit, but the second one is a bit of a dud.

Secrets in the closet.
My front room closet houses stacks of books in boxes, yet I can justify each pile.
This box holds books for my brother-in-laws school. I buy books and acquire things for their library as often as I can.
See that book "Katy"?
I hate it.
I like Virginia Lee Burton, and Katy is kind of a cute snowplow, but I live in a cold, snowy climate and I resent the weather here 9 months out of the year. I dislike almost anything that reminds me of this fact. A book about a snowplow (and a big snowfall) entirely fits this bill.
Nonetheless, all schools should have a copy of this book.
Oh look, another box filled with books. These are really the books that previously were stacked around my bedside table. Last time I cleaned, I put them all into a box to clean the place up a bit. Every time I finish a book, I just reach into the closet and grab another one.
Here is the truth of the matter, I don't always read books I want to read, or that I think I may enjoy.
Some books get a quick read, or a skim read. Some of these are destined for that. Some books are award winners and I'm interested in reading them, some I want a better read on before I have students reading them etc. Some books, such as "All's Quiet on the Western Front" there, that one I've been meaning to read for several years (shamefully admits I've never read it).
Here's the latest pile of what we are reading aloud.
Betsy's Wedding by Maude Hart Lovelace.
We read every other book in the series a year or so ago, and finally are reading the final book. This one we both have a copy of and read back and forth.
Also this year's Newbery Medal award winner, The One and Only Ivan.
We're about 1/3 of the way into this. I can tell something sad is pending. I'll agree with what the boy told me a while back, when there is an animal on the cover (this time a gorilla and an elephant) something will happen and make you cry. I can smell it coming....

Here's where it starts getting really obvious I'm a book hoarder. This area is harder to conceal. But I SWEAR I know exactly where each book is, and you could name a book and I could find it in a matter of minutes.
These shelves house my Newbery Award collection. This whole area is Young Adult literature. I have it all.

The pile on the right hides another row behind it, plus can you see the books stacked on the space above that row? Hoarder.

It's a problem I tell you. This book's a disease.

By this point you can't really even pretend that it's neat. But I SWEAR it is organized, the Newbery winners are in order by year of award. Other books are all grouped together by author...there is some madness to my method...I mean method to my madness.

This isn't my stack. I have nothing to do with this. I own the top book Friday Night Lights.
These are the housemates reads.

Real question: How many atlases does a family need?
1. A current world atlas (check)
2. Atlas of World History (check)
3. United States Atlas (check)
several other various atlases of historical periods. I recently culled 4 other atlases out of the collection.

It's an illness.
Several rows of books on crafting. Did you know you can also hoard craft supplies? Fabric, yarn etc.?
Add to that the books on quilt patterns, knitting patterns, needlecraft patterns.
I don't mean to brag, but I have some awesome craft books.

This picture is fuzzy because it is in disguise. I didn't want you to know how many Philippa Gregory books I have. Nothing beats a bodice ripping The Other Boleyn Girl type book, right?

Various and a Stephen Ambrose book.
 When I'm not reading I plan extravagant dinner and cocktail parties. All very posh and Martha Stewarty of me.
Ok, not really, but I could because I have the books to do it.

There on the right is my collection of Charlotte Mason books. If you ever want to understand the difference between a living book and twaddle, go directly to the source.
More cookbooks? Check.

Travel books? Check
Collection of works by Pacific Island authors? Check.
Various anthropological works on pacific island culture? Check.
The Pacific Islands garners a whole shelf.

These books are all in the "as soon as I read these, I'm donating them" pile.

More eventual donations...and my collection of Lemony Snicket.
I love The Series of Unfortunate Event books.


Art books? Check.
Children's biographies on artists? Check.
It's an illness isn't it?
Is this horrifying? I actually donated about half of this collection.
I have six different books on Van Gogh right here.

Mythology collections? Check.
History for children? But of course. World War II is a big hit in my household.

I truly do know what's in here because these are recent purchases and haven't been shelved in their respective place by award date.
(I sound insane). collection of Fairy Tales and Folktales.
My Lizbeth Zwergers and my P.J. Lynches and my Robert Ingpens...some of my absolute favorite illustrators works.

I realize in looking at this picture that I have 3 copies of Wanda Gag's Tales From Grimm.
2 copies on the bottom right, and in the previous picture the top book on the pile.

 Yes, I collect Caldecott Medal winners also.
But by now you know how much I love a picture book!
Caldecotts, picture books, treasure.

Here is my collection of Maude Hart Lovelace books. My absolute favorites.
Of course they are carefully guarded with piles of books around and on top of them.

Sister Wendy? Check.
A cup of hot tea, a fire and a cozy evening looking through
the 1000 Masterpieces and Gauguin book...bliss.

 Don't get me started on Harry Potter...I can geek out on it and talk about it for hours!!

The shelf of "light" reading - Dante.
More classics.
Some good stuff right there...

Classics, Faulkner, classics, classics, Vonnegut, classics, classics, Steinbeck, classics, classics, classics.

Even I'm starting to feel a bit in horror at the level of the hoard.

Do I have a problem?
Oh look! multiple copies of Charlotte's Web...

Is it a lot?
But someone has to read all this to blog about it, right?

Recent purchases at the Scholastic Book Warehouse sale.
Some new Caldecott winners among other things. (Note: The book "Grandpa Green" is delightful!)

Some titles that are at the peak of the YA charts. John Green books - what all the teens are reading.
Where Men Win Glory by Jon Kraukauer. (I never realized how many "war" books I have).

That MUST BE all.
Actually I noticed several other small (I said SMALL) piles I missed documenting.
I feel better now.
It's good to come clean.
Yes, I am a book hoarder.

These must be the cat's books. They are sitting on her chair, right in the sunbeam...