Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis
This is the fourth book I’ve read by Christopher Paul Curtis and I’ve enjoyed it just as much as the other three. Curtis takes an under-taught and under-appreciated historical element of American (& Canadian) history and uses it as the backdrop to an amazing story in which a young child surprises us with his courage and determination. Elijah is an 11-year old boy living in a Buxton, Ontario, a settlement of freed and escaped slaves, during the mid-1850s. This book is simply a narrative of a part of Elijah’s young life. What I enjoyed about this book (and Curtis’s other works) is that the protagonist is a young child, usually on the cusp of adolescence living in a particularly challenging time and place. Despite the pressures of the world, Elijah lives life as he has been raised, respectful and always expecting good from people. In fact, I often found myself talking to Elijah, encouraging him to make the decisions I already knew he’d be making. I think the message it sends to its readers is that the heroes can and do come from the unlikeliest of people and places.
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Wow! what took me so long to pick up this book and read it? John Green writes a beautiful story of a sixteen year old girl who has been fighting cancer for the past three years. Not really in remission, the meds she’s on are just really buying her time. Hazel meets Augustus at a Support Group, which is composed of teenagers living with cancer. The Fault in Our Stars is the story of Hazel & Augustus. I’ve read a variety of interesting commentaries of this novel. They all just prove that your personal experiences impact your perspective and connection to what you read. I thought this book was very well done and that the emotions of teenagers dealing with life-threatening diseases were well portrayed. What families of cancer victims and survivors experience cannot possibly be understood by others, I felt as though this book at least offers readers a glimpse into that world.
Adele & Simon and Adele & Simon in America by Barbara McClintock
I also read Adele & Simon and Adele & Simon in America by Barbara McClintock. Adele is the older sister to Simon,which means she’s always looking after him. This is a pretty heavy responsibility considering that Simon is always losing things. And that is the premise of both of these books. The first takes place in their hometown of Paris,France, and the second adventure takes place as they travel throughout America with their aunt. Both of these books are incredibly precious and introduce the read to famous sites relevant to each setting. I appreciated the guide at the end of the book which described each site in detail and listed famous figures you might even find at each location. In fact, with both books, I found myself turning back to each page to understand the details given and to look for those mystery figures.
Play, Louis, Play!: The True Story of a Boy & His Horn by Muriel Harris Weinstein and Frank Morrison
Finally, I read Play, Louis, Play!: The True Story of a Boy and His Horn by Muriel Harris Weinstein and Frank Morrison. It is the biography of Louis Armstrong as told by the very first horn he ever bought. It’s a fabulous story that offers young readers a glimpse into the hard, young life of this musical genius. Play, Louis, Play is a Texas Bluebonnet Book for 2012-2013 and so far one, of my favorites. There are multiple avenues for students to make connections, whether it’s growing up poor, having an absent parent, or simply the love of music. Not only is this a wonderful, easy to read biography, but it’s also one in which students should be able to easily connect to.
On Deck –
I am currently ready The Giant and How He Humbugged America by Jim Murphy. My next audio books will Classic Short Stories from the 19th century, edited by Mark Twain and The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt. And I think I’ll focus on the stack of Caldecotts I’ve had on my bookshelf for the past couple of weeks. Still thinking about what my next chapter book will be. I have Hero by Mike Lupica and Divergent sitting on my shelf. Thoughts???