Don't have time to read this summer?
Have your kids write your posts!
Summer reading programs are running in libraries all over the US right now. Research shows again and again that "kids who participate in library summer reading programs significantly improve their reading skills."
Here are a few titles to start them off:
A Diamond in the Desert is the story of a 12-year-old boy, Tetsu, and his time in the Gila River Japanese Internment Camp during World War II. A Diamond in the Desert is also the story of how baseball not only makes his life better, but improves morale for the whole camp.
There was one little part about this book that I didn't like. On page 6, Tetsu hears the newlywed neighbors have an argument. Fitzmaurice writes, "...much later, they went to bed having forgiven each other their harsh words and ... you know." This scene is very vague and serves to illustrate the lack of privacy in the barracks where the families were housed. But it occurred so early on in the story, I was unsettled, wondering if that type of scene was going to be a common event in the book. I am happy to note that it was a one-time occurrence.
One little part about this book that I loved is the Author's Note at the end of the book, Fitzmaurice reveals her research process, which was largely based on interviewing actual detainees who played on the actual Gila River team.
At the end of her Note, she reveals the meaning of the Japanese word, gaman. In her words, "Simply, it is enduring the seemingly unbearable with patience and dignity."
If I had to sum up the theme of A Diamond in the Desert in one word, that word would be gaman.
"Cleverness and bravery are absolutely necessary for good adventures."
Thus opens The Hotel Under the Sand, a beautifully written fantasy by Kage Baker. Check your sense of reality at the door, because anything can and does happen in this whimsical adventure.
Emma has lost everything and is washed up on a beach during a storm.
It might have been a storm with black winds, with thunder and lightning and rising waves. It might have been a storm with terrible anger and policemen coming to the door, and strangers, hospitals, courtrooms, and nightmares. It might have been a storm with soldiers, and fire, and hiding in cellars listening to shooting overhead. There are different kinds of storms.
See what I mean by "beautifully written?"
She befriends Winston, the ghost of a bellhop who used to work at the Grand Wendlocke Hotel, 100 years ago, before the Grand Wendlocke was buried under the sand.
Another storm comes and uncovers the magnificent hotel, in all of its glory. Emma and Winston decide to make a go of re-opening for business, along with a cook, a spoiled young heir, and a pirate. Time is manipulated like play-doh in this lovely, crazy story appropriate for readers of any age.
A few WWRWs ago, I mentioned that Edmund was reading Gary Paulsen's Mr. Tucket (The Francis Tucket Books). In that post, Edmund gave us his thoughts on Mr. Grimes, the mountain man that rescued 14-year-old Francis Tucket.
Some background info: Mr. Tucket is the 14-year-old boy that got captured by the Pawnee while his family was on the Oregon Trail. Mr. Tucket is rescued from the Pawnee by Mr. Grimes. Mr. Grimes is a mountain man who *SPOILER ALERT* brutally and unnecessarily scalps his enemy at the end of the book. At the end of the book, Mr. Tucket strikes out on his own to find his family in Oregon, rather than stay in the company of a murderer.
Edmund has since written a few sentences about his opinion of the young Mr. Tucket which are below:
Mr. Tucket was a good man and these are some reasons why. Mr. Tucket was a nice guy because he didn't want to kill. Also he was a good person because he walked away when Mr. Grimes scalped Braid. He was a hard worker and he made good choices.
That's my opinion of why he's a good person.
this is for your blog. FROM THE COOLEST KID IN THE WORLD EDMUND!!!!!!!