The Book Reviews – Website

August 30, 2009

Dragonwings

Dragonwings

Author: Laurence Yep

Page Length: 317

Reading Level: 6

Genre: Realistic Fiction     

PLOT SUMMARY: In 1903, eight-year old Moon Shadow, came to America to join his father, Windrider.  Windrider had lived in American working with other Chinese immigrants in a laundry company for several years.  As Moon Shadow learns the lifestyle and responsibilities of the Chinese/Americans he develops a bond with his father. 

His father, has a fascination with flying, especially when he hears of the flight of the Wright brothers in Kitty Hawk.  Moon Shadow sends a letter to the Wright brothers and tells them of his father’s interest.  The father and son endure the pain of separation from their family after one of their relatives steals from them to get opium.  After the earthquake of 1906, the boy and his father move to Oakland. They develop a friendship  with Mrs. Whitlaw and her daughter, Robin, while Windrider begins his quest to build his own flying machine.     

REVIEW: This is the fifth of a series of books written about the Young family from China.  The book is a narrative by Moon Shadow.  He  expresses the feelings he has towards his mother, he left in China, and  his father and uncles who he lives with for the seven years in which the book is written. The reader also gets an idea of how the Chinese immigrants were discriminated against and the feelings the Chinese had towards the “demons” (Americans).  Eventually, Moon Shadow, realizes some of the positive attributes of living in America and how the opportunites can out weigh the setbacks.

This is an excellent book to use in teaching of the arrival of the Chinese immigrants to the United States.  It also shows how the Chinese, like the Hispanic and African American cultures, have been discriminated against.

TOUCHY AREAS-PAGES: Opium use by one of the nephews throughout the book. It is referred to in a negative way so that the reader will realize the harm and damage of its use.

AREAS OF TEACHING: Conflict, Theme, Point of View, and Compare/Contrast

RELATED BOOKS: The Serpent’s Children, Mountain Light, Dragon’s Gate, The Traitor, The Red Warrior, Child of the Owl, Sea Glass, Thief of Hearts and The Kite Runner

MOVIE, MUSIC, ART CONNECTIONS: Dragonwings/ The Play-performed at Lincoln Center and Kennedy Center

RELATED WEBSITES:

www.yale.edu/ynhti/curriculum/units/2003/4/03.04.02.x.html

www.hti.math.uh.edu/curriculum/units/2001/03/01.03.04.php

www.literatureplace.com/bookfolios/bookfolio_title.asp

www.harperchildrens.com/hch/parents/teachingguides/LaurenceYep.pdf

REVIEWED BY: Shirley Wagner

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May 21, 2008

Lost Star

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Lost Star

Author: Patricia Lauber

Page Length: 106

Reading Level: 5

Genre: Biography

REVIEW: I have always been fascinated about the disappearance of Amelia Earhart, and this short biography gave me some new insight. However, this book is not only about her adult life, but her childhood too.

Amelia Earhart (Meely or AE, for short) was a tomboy growing up who actively sought adventure and thrills. She was a lover of books and a strong feminist. Earhart believed that men and women should be equal. As a youth, she moved around a lot, yet was surrounded by very understanding parents. Earhart was a very independent person, evidenced by her drive to be the best at anything she did on her own. However, before becoming a pilot, Earhart was a social worker. This did not last long as the thrill of flying and setting records called to her.

In her short life, Earhart set many flying records. She even surpassed some of the records set by the men of her time. Females will find this book very inspirational. The males might find the issue of her disappearance intriguing (pages 85-97). I enjoyed this book. The photographs and maps included were very helpful and added a nice touch.

AREAS FOR TEACHING: predictions (page 80), transition words, reading maps (pages 92-93)

RELATED BOOKS: Fun of It by Amelia Earhart, 20 Hours, 40 Minutes by Amelia Earhart, “Further Reading” in Lost Star on page 102

MOVIE, MUSIC, ART CONNECTIONS: Amelia (movie – 2009)

RELATED WEBSITES:

http://www.ameliaearhart.com/ (official website of Amelia Earhart)

http://www.tighar.org/Projects/Earhart/ameliavideo.html (video link)

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2003/12/1215_031215_ameliaearhart.html (National Geographic – 3 Theories)

http://teacherlink.ed.usu.edu/tlresources/units/Byrnes-famous/Earhart.html (Lesson Plan)

REVIEWED BY: Kevin Stratton

April 2, 2008

Flight #116 Is Down

Flight #116 is Down

Author: Caroline B. Cooney

Page Length: 201

Reading Level: 5th

Genre: Realistic Fiction

REVIEW: This story is one of those that you should not read while on a plane or prior to boarding one. It is, however, a book I would recommend you pick up! In Flight #116 is Down, a tragic airplane crash (of which we never find out the cause) brings a small town together for the rescue.  

PLOT SUMMARY: This book is also about the lives of many of the passengers who board this doomed aircraft. Some die and some live. However, this is not where the interest lies. It is the background of these people and their loved ones that the heart of this story is revealed. There is major action (especially when the crash occurs on page 44), yet there are human elements of courage, selfishness, anger, sadness, and fear. Each character has a story to tell. Daniel and Tucker are dealing with their father’s impending marriage to a new wife. Teddie is a small child on her way home to mom and dad. Carly is a twin who is traveling to re-unite with her family after falling into a life of drugs and parties. Darienne is self-centered and refuses to help out the survivors of the crash. She is my favorite character for her colorful personality. Her sarcasm is a horrible character trait, but she is an interesting individual. Darienne is more worried about her looks, getting a connecting flight, and suing the airline than the safety and welfare of those dying around her. Pages 19-22 and page 87 provide some great insight and examples of Darienne’s character.  

Apart from the passengers on the plane, the two main characters are Heidi Landseth and Patrick Farquhar. These two teenagers live in the small community of Nearing River where all emergencies are handled by volunteers. It is in this town, in the backyard of Heidi’s estate, in which the crash occurs. Patrick naturally rises to the occasion, as an EMT, helping out the victims of the crash. Heidi on the other hand, grows from a girl who does not stand out in a crowd, to one that takes some great initiative. She surprises herself by orchestrating many of the rescue maneuvers.  

Besides the revelation that many of the passengers on the plane die, this book ends with Patrick and Heidi growing close (in the heat of emergency) and Tucker reconciling his ill feelings toward his father’s impending marriage.  

AREAS FOR TEACHING: This book would be a great tool to expose students to the skills of characterization, internal dialogue, setting, and visualization. Some pages you should check out are 98-99, 147, and 166-167.  

MOVIE/RELATED BOOK CONNECTION: Students may make real-life connections to this book with the events of 9-11 in New York City, Pennsylvania, and Washington D.C. and the movies the various movies that followed. Another movie/book connection would be Lord of the Flies  

RELATED WEBSITES: 

http://www.funtrivia.com/trivia-quiz/Literature/Flight-116-Is-Down-200653.html (short quiz) 

http://www.ncsu.edu/midlink/bkfair/dms/dms.bks/FL116/FL116.PPT (awesome powerpoint) 

http://www.planecrashinfo.com/ 

REVIEWED BY: Kevin Stratton

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