Review: Circles of Hope

“Facile had no gift for his baby sister. No tikado at all. He ate a juicy sweet mango, licked his sticky fingers, and thought.” p. 7

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Circles of Hope by Karen Lynn Williams, illustrated by Linda Saport.
Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2005.
Realistic fiction, 32 pages.
Lexile:  AD590L ( What does AD mean in Lexile? )
AR Level:  3.9 (worth 0.5 points)  .

Facile’s is excited about his new baby sister, Lucia, but he doesn’t have a gift for her.  When he was born, Papa planted a mango tree for him, but now Papa is working in the city.  Can Facile plant a tree for Lucia?

Circles of Hope cover
Circles of Hope by Karen Lynn Williams, illustrated by Linda Saport.

First I want to note that this book was published in 2005, so it’s that rare children’s book about Haiti that has nothing to do with the earthquake.

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Review: Seedfolks

“All his life in Vietnam my father had been a farmer. Here our apartment house had no yard. But in that vacant lot he would see me.” page 3

Seedfolks by Paul Fleischman, illustrated by Judy Pedersen.
Scholastic, New York, 1999 (first published HarperCollins 1997).
Adult realistic fiction, 69 pages.
Lexile:  710L  .
AR Level:  4.3 (worth 2.0 points)  .
NOTE: Despite the reading level, I would not recommend this to middle grade readers.

Seedfolks is a collection of 13 short stories by different first-person narrators, all revolving around the first year of a community garden in Cleveland, Ohio.

Seedfolks cover resized

Normally with short story collections, I comment on each story and then give thoughts on the whole.  Because these stories are so short, I’m going to write two or three sentences about each one and then give my general thoughts at the end.

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Review: Stories Julian Tells

“If she was laughing at me, I was going to go home and forget about her. But she looked at me very seriously and said ‘It takes practice,” and then I liked her.” p. 62

The Stories Julian Tells by Ann Cameron, illustrated by Ann Strugnell.
Random House, New York, my edition 2006 (originally published 1981).
Realistic fiction, 71 pages.
Lexile:  520L  .
AR Level:  3.4 (worth 1.0 points)  .
NOTE: This is the first book in the Julian series.

Six first-person short stories revolving around Julian Bates.

The Stories Julian Tells resized
The Stories Julian Tells by Ann Cameron, illustrated by Ann Strugnell.

I’ve already reviewed two later books in this series, Gloria Rising and Gloria’s Way.  Series order isn’t strictly necessary, although a few things change as the series progresses (new characters are introduced, the boys get a dog).  At this point, the main characters are just Julian, younger brother Huey, and their parents.  Gloria is introduced in the final story of this book.

First, I’d like to give some credit to Ann Cameron.  It was unusual in 1980 for a white woman to chose to write a book about middle class black children.  (Keep in mind this was less than 20 years since The Snowy Day.)  And generally speaking, her books still hold relevance today and I haven’t spotted any major issues in the ones I’ve read.

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