The Book Reviews – Website

December 19, 2010

Back

Filed under: B — thebookreviews @ 3:32 am
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Back by Norah McClintock: Book Cover

Back

 

Author: Norah McClintock

 

Page Length: 93

 

Reading Level: 3

 

Genre: Fiction

 

Career Connections: Policemen, Doctor

PLOT SUMMARY: How would you feel if a neighbor who had been jailed for beating your brother so badly that he was in a coma was released from prison and back living with his mother?  This is the situation Ardell Withrow is facing as Jojo Benn returns to the neighborhood. 

The story is told by a young boy who has a broken ankle and is doomed to wear a cast for the summer.  So, he has a good view from his front porch of the neighborhood activities. 

He first explains why Jojo was in jail.  It began when his girlfriend, Shana, became pregnant with his child.  Jojo had an attitude with people and when Shana wanted more attention than Jojo was willing to give, he got an “attitude” with her.  Eden, Ardell’s brother, witnessed this and came to her rescue.  This infuriated Jojo so much that he got a crowbar and beat Eden so badly that he went into a coma.  He has been in a hospital since the horrifying event.

When Jojo is released, the people of the neighborhood are leery of what his behavior will be.  The neighborhood stores refuse to sell him groceries.  He stays at home most of the time, except on the days when he and his mother leave in a taxi.  Shana comes to visit him and shows him their baby.  All of this is observed by the people in the neighborhood, including Ardell and his family.

Ardell and his mother go to visit Eden, but Ardell’s father refuses to visit him. One day his dad comes to the house and tells Ardell’s mother that the hospital has determined that Eden is brain-dead.  Eden is taken off of life support and dies. 

Many of the neighbors attend the funeral, but Shana doesn’t.  The tension increases with each of Shana’s visits to Jojo’s home.  Ardell confronts her and asks how she can forgive Jojo when it is his fault that Eden is dead. When Shana tells him that she didn’t ask for Eden’s help, this is more than Ardell can take.

REVIEW: This is a high interest level book written for the reluctant teen reader.  The story is told from an observer’s point of view, I think a student who has few friends or shy may be able to relate to the narrator. I would suggest the book to boys who are just beginning to do independent reading.

AREAS FOR TEACHING: Drawing Conclusions, Making Predictions, Character, Conflict, Cause/Effect, and Compare/Contrast

TOUCHY AREAS-PAGES: None

RELATED BOOKS: Snitch, Tell, Bang, Down, Marked, and Watch Me

RELATED WEBSITES:

https://www.etrafficpress.com/?q=orca-soundings-resource-guide  

REVIEWED BY: Shirley Wagner

Advertisements

September 28, 2009

Big Guy

Filed under: B — thebookreviews @ 1:06 am
Tags: , , , ,

Big Guy

Author: Robin Stevenson

Page Length: 106

Reading Level: 2.9

Genre: Fiction

PLOT SUMMARY: Derek is trying to get through high school and work. His favorite pastime is hanging out online. He meets someone special there and they talk everyday. When the guy asks for a photo, Derek sends him one. The problem is that photo was taken when he was pounds lighter. As their anticipated meeting date draws near, Derek can’t decide what to do. He’s trapped within the web of his own deceit.

REVIEW: The book details a gay online relationship as well as Derek’s father’s negative reaction to having a gay son. Mixed among the homosexual issues is a great story line about believing in yourself and being strong. Derek works with disabled and elderly clients where he meets a woman who avoids living a full life because she is disabled. Derek and the woman become friends and find strength through their friendship with each other.

AREAS FOR TEACHING: sequence of events, internal conflict, external conflict, character traits, dialogue, cause and effect, point of view

TOUCHY AREAS-PAGES: gay relationship, absent mother, alcoholism

RELATED BOOKS: Out of Order, Dead in the Water, Impossible Things

RELATED MOVIES: “Freedom Machines”, “The Christopher Reeve Story”, “Rain Man”, “Radio”, “Forrest Gump”

RELATED WEBSITES:

http://readingjunky.blogspot.com/2008/08/big-guy-by-robin-stevenson.html

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1442563.Robin_Stevenson

http://www.orcabook.com/client/PDFs/TeachersGuides/Orca%20Soundings/BigGuyTG.pdf

http://www.patriciaebauer.com/2008/09/12/divers-disabilities/

REVIEWED BY: Dayna Taylor

August 30, 2009

Kensuke’s Kingdom

Filed under: *AWESOME BOOKS!!!,K — thebookreviews @ 8:01 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Kensuke’s Kingdom

Author: Michael Morpurgo

Page Length: 164

Reading Level: 5

Genre: Fiction

PLOT SUMMARY: When Michael’s parents receive the news that they are both being laid off, his family decides to sell everything they own, buy a boat, and sail around the world. Michael and his dog, Stella Artois, set out on a grand sailing adventure. Only sailing has its downside too. Tossed overboard, no one hears Michael’s cries for help. Will he make it to land? Will he be able to survive on his own? Will he ever see his family again?

REVIEW: This story was entertaining and perhaps most teachable because of the humanization of the characters within it. The reader is able to learn and grow with Michael while also learning to see another side of the typical historical perspective of war. Kensuke is a native of Nagasaki who ended up on this island during the war and has survived there alone for many years. He fears returning to the world he knew just as he has feared for many years that his family was destroyed in the bombing of Nagasaki. This book would work well in conjunction with the World War II part of US History class. The reader also experiences the fear of change and the unknown with both characters – which makes for a great discussion topic. The story is entertaining and lends itself well to the historical connections and many other excellent and thought provoking discussion points – I would recommend this novel as a classroom read for juniors (US History students).

AREAS FOR TEACHING: comparing text to self, compare and contrast, sequence of events, setting, conflict, resolution, historical connections, theme

RELATED BOOKS: Alone on a Wide, Wide Sea, Dolphin Boy, Why the Whales Came, Private Peaceful, My Friend Walter

MOVIE & ART CONNECTIONS:

Lifting the Fog: The Bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (1992)

Sailing artwork – http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/21/nyregion/21artct.html?_r=1

Castaway (2000 movie starring Tom Hanks)

RELATED WEBSITES:

http://www.michaelmorpurgo.org/

http://www.war-letters.com/

http://www.private-art.com/

http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/bombing_of_nagasaki.htm

REVIEWED BY:  Dayna Taylor

The Book Thief

Filed under: *AWESOME BOOKS!!!,T — thebookreviews @ 6:34 pm
Tags: , , , ,

The Book Thief

Author: Markus Zusak

Page Length: 550

Reading Level: 6

Genre: Fiction

PLOT SUMMARY & REVIEW:  “Six year old Werner” lies dead at his young sister’s feet by the train, and little Leizel looks on as her mother abandons her to a foster family.   The story takes place during the war time of Nazi Germany within Adolph Hitler’s major aggressive reign in Germany against the Jews.  The main characters are Leizel Meminger and her family who live on Himmel Street right outside the city of Munich, Germany, and the Meminger’s various neighbors.  The Book Thief is a narrative written by “Death” who acts as an omniscient presence during the death struggles of all the innocent and guilty victims during the war. 

Leisel later becomes a foster child and continues her young life in the home of Hans and Rosa Hubermann.   She is like any other child who enjoys playing.  However, she is introduced just as she begins stealing books.   The first book taken is the grave yard handbook which she steals from the cemetery where her brother is buried.  She doesn’t yet read, but will be taught how to read by her new foster father.  Her favorite friend is Rudy who helps her begin stealing more books.  Leizel’s mother, Rosa, does washing and ironing for the neighboring women, and Hans, her father, paints for a living as well as plays an accordion.

The plot gets more into the German War strategies which Hitler has created.  The young boys are sent into military training, and Jews are constantly being caught and herded off to concentration camps.  

The theme in this book is based upon the psychological feelings of terror, fear and death.   However, there is an underlying theme of happiness due to the spirit of human love and kindness.   The reader sees fear in a recurring nightmare about the death of her brother, as well as the last time she saw her mother before she was abandoned.   She wishes the dreams to go away, but they don’t.  However, her papa, Hans, often comforts her and the two are bonded together by reading books.   The reader also senses terror in the book as the “air raids” of bombs begin to deter German victory.   The reader also sees and feels Death as the very first victim becomes Leizel’s little brother, Werner.   Death is also seen in the huddle of masses of Jewish bodies, and in the bodies of many soldiers fatally wounded on the streets.  The underlying theme of happiness is seen quite frequently as families and friends laugh over music, games, and joyful times together.

As the war goes on, and the economy goes sour Rosa Humberman loses many of her customers.  One of which, is the mayor’s wife who has a huge library which Leizel loves, because of the many books.   Unfortunately, Leizel has a lot of anger built up inside of her, and hates the mayor’s wife for eventually dropping her mom from working for her.   She then, begins to steal books from the old lady, and does so with her friend Rudy.  

Somewhere in the beginning of the war the Hubermann’s begin hiding a Jew named Max.  His profession at one time was that of a fist fighter.   He stayed in their basement, for some time, to keep hidden from the Furer and his men.    He and Leizel became very close, and she befriends him with gifts and newspapers she picks up off the streets by Himmel Street.   It’s impossible for Leizel to say anything about her new Jewish friend as it is a dangerous thing to hide a Jew, because it would probably get them all killed.

There are a total of ten parts to the book, and each one plays an important role in allowing the reader to get the complete picture of what the effects of war are, and how it affects people – mostly little Liesel Meminger.    The parts are as follows: 1) The Grave Digger’s Handbook 2)  The Shoulder Shrug – the next book Leizel  has taken from a Nazi book burning   3)  Mein Kampf – a book of Hitler which when translated is My Struggle  4) The standover man  6) Dream Carrier  7) The Complete Duden Dictionary and Thesaurus – a gift from the mayor’s wife to Leisel  8 – The Word Shaker 9) The last human stranger  10) The Book Thief      

The conclusion of this story comes after the Ally forces bombs away at Liesel’s home on Himmel Street.   Her foster parents and all of her friends are killed.  All of the homes become a huge burnt rubble.  She has nowhere to go, so the police take her in until the Mayor and his family come and take Leisel home with them.  Death does not come to Leisel until she is an older lady in the town of Sidney.   She had married, and leaves behind children as well as grandchildren.   Her story, The Book Thief, which was written while her parents were alive was given back to her from Death himself when she took her last breath.  She was quite a super hero as she loved words, adored books, and shared all that she knew with anyone who she came into contact with. In conclusion, this was a very good book!

AREAS FOR TEACHING (TEKS):  

6.9 draw upon experience to for word meanings

6.10 know main idea and details

6.11 connect and compare the various ideas

6.12 analyze characters                 

TOUCHY AREAS-PAGES: It is all about death which can always be a bit depressing.

RELATED BOOKS:   Other books by Zusak are: The Messenger, Getting the Girl, The Happy Prince and other Stories, Fighting Reuben Wolfe

MOVIE, MUSIC, ART CONNECTIONS: “The Hiding Place” (a movie in the 70’s)

RELATED WEBSITES: 

www.bookbrowse.com   

www.goodreads.com

www.reviewofbooks.com  

www.athomewithbooks.blogspot.com

REVIEWED BY: Linda Schwegler

January 17, 2009

The Sign of the Beaver

Filed under: T — thebookreviews @ 9:41 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

The Sign of the Beaver

Author: Elizabeth George Speare

Page Length: 135

Reading Level: 6.5

Genre: Realistic Fiction     

PLOT SUMMARY: Matt and his dad have built a cabin on their homestead land in Maine.  Matt is left alone while his dad returns to bring back his mother and sister.  After seven weeks, Matt has a visitor who steals his rifle.  Then, he runs into a beehive.  When Matt awakes, he finds that an older Indian and his son, Attean, are treating him.  Matt agrees to teach Attean to read in trade for his treatment back to good health. While teaching Attean to read, the pair bond and become good friends.  Matt also learns many survival skills from the Indians.  However, the Indians begin to fear the white people moving in and they decide to travel further north and west.  They invite Matt to move with them, but out of loyalty, he decides to wait for the return of his family.

REVIEW: This is an excellent easy to read book that focuses on a young boy becoming independent with his own survival skills in the wilderness.   The friendship that forms between Attean and Matt is genuine.  This would be a good class novel to read in conjunction with United States history in the early 1700’s. 

AREAS OF TEACHING: Theme, Point of View, Setting, Sequence of Events, and Compare/Contrast

RELATED BOOKS: Brian’s Winter, Island of the Blue Dolphins, I am Regina, Calico Captive

MOVIE CONNECTIONS: Dances with Wolves (1990)

RELATED WEBSITES:

www.litsum.com/signofthebeaver

www.randomhouse.com/teachers/catalog/display.pperl?&view=tg

www.literatureplace.com/bookfolios/bookfolio.asp?BookfolioID=133

www.indiana.edu/~reading/ieo/bibs/speare.html

www.teachervision.fen.com/fiction/lesson-plan/16556.html

REVIEWED BY: Shirley Wagner

You Don’t Know Me

Filed under: Y — thebookreviews @ 8:46 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

You Don’t Know Me

Author: David Klass

Page Length: 344

Reading Level: 6

Genre: Fiction

PLOT SUMMARY: The reader has the unique opportunity to get to know 14 year old John. Reading this book is like being inside John’s head – he shares his every thought about everything from playing the tuba, to being harassed by teachers, to admiring Glory Hallelujah from across the room. John claims that no one really knows him – after all he doesn’t even know himself. Throw in a manipulative girl, an abusive step father, a mother who is trying to make ends meet, and a band director who might know too much and life couldn’t get much more complicated.

REVIEW: I found this novel interesting and insightful. Who doesn’t want to understand teenagers (teenage boys) better? This book is a great look (fictional but realistically so) inside the mind of a teenage boy. I would recommend this book for parents and teachers – just to understand the perspective. It’s very powerful – the reader feels the fear of the step father with John. We also understand his cynicism about the world. The book is also humorous (outrunning an angry father)…

AREAS FOR TEACHING: cause and effect, character analysis, sequence, use of dialogue (internal and external), elements of plot, suspense

TOUCHY AREAS-PAGES: abuse, theft, violence

RELATED BOOKS: Dark Angel, Home of the Brave, Wrestling With Honor, Danger Zone, The Caretaker Trilogy

MOVIE, MUSIC, ART CONNECTIONS: “Radio Flyer”

RELATED WEBSITES:

http://www.teenreads.com/reviews/0374387060.asp

http://www.harpercollins.com/authors/21174/David_Klass/index.aspx

http://www.childabuse.com/

http://www.preventchildabuse.org/index.shtml

REVIEWED BY:  Dayna Taylor

August 6, 2008

To Be a Slave

To Be a Slave

Author: Julius Lester

Page Length: 160

Reading Level: 6

Genre: Non-fiction

REVIEW: This book is a compilation of letters, poems, and personal historical narratives from actual individuals who lived during the time of slavery, many of which were slaves. The author has taken time to research the written records of these individuals from sources such as the American Anti-Slavery Society, The Federal Writer’s Project, and the Archive of Folksong Library of Congress. The majority of the letters are from sources dated around the 1930’s. Imbedded in the letters and poems is the author’s interpretation of what the individuals were trying to convey based on true historical context. In doing so, the author paints a very different picture of slavery from that in the history textbooks.

I learned much from reading the words of the people who suffered and endured the harsh times of slavery. Before Africans were captured from their land and taken aboard ships to America, the new American colonists enslaved Indians, poor whites, prisoners, and debtors for 18 years. After that period, the first slave ship set sail for Africa hoping to seek out a larger, cheaper work force with which they could easily control and profit from. Upon arriving in Africa, the colonists, with the aid of some of the African chiefs, coaxed over 50 million Africans onto slave ships and sent them over to America. On their voyage from Africa to the New World, slaves ate only yams – and only minimal amounts at that. Many died from suffocation or suicide.

Upon arrival to America, many slaves were auctioned off and sent to live with their new owners. While on the plantations, not all slaves supported each other. Some of the slaves assigned to a slave owners house, would spy on the field slaves for his master. To pass the time and maintain high spirits, slaves would sing songs, dance, and gather for fellowship and religious services whenever they could. Such activities were looked down upon by the slave masters. Slave owners wanted to keep their slaves focused only on work and obedience. Any sign of human socialization and affection, was denied at every corner. The slaves were even denied their own names. Many times when a slave moved to a new owners property, he would receive a new name – or just an initial. When some slaves thought it was safe, or just plain could not stand being enslaved anymore, they would escape to the North where freedom was calling. Along the way many died or were captured and sent back to their owners. Some slaves escaped to live with the Indians fearing the white men of the North were no better than the South.

Slavery was not just created for a cotton field work force. It was a major driving force in the economy. Some have equated slavery to the stock market and it’s financial effects on the country. Many slave traders earned up to half a million dollars in revenue from their business dealings. Some individuals even took part in slave breeding, which primarily occurred in Virginia. However, only 25% of the south’s white population held slaves. But of that 25%, millions of dollars fueled it’s economy.

When slaves were actually freed by the government, many African-Americans did not know what to do. For years, slavery was all they ever knew. For some, they were born into slavery. When the country officially granted slaves their freedom, they did nothing to ensure that these new members of society would be self-sufficient. Many freed-slaves went back to their slave owners to work.

On page 155-156, Thomas Hall states that the country freed the slaves, but did nothing to help them afterwards.

America was not the first and only country to allow slavery, but it was certainly the cruelest. This book is a great example of how through letter writing/reading one can understand the effects of slavery on America’s history. This book is best read in small chunks. The teacher may be the best source to choose which sections to read out-loud to his/her students. The chapters are divided up nicely by theme. I highly recommend this book!

AREAS FOR TEACHING: compare/contrast Thomas Jefferson and George Washington’s slave houses (page 62-63), visualization, reading letters, reading a diary, & reading a poem

TOUCHY AREAS-PAGES: the use of the “N” and “B” word is prevalent throughout the text, slaves are referred to as “things” throughout the book

RELATED BOOKS: Uncle Tom’s Cabin, The Red Badge of Courage, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Sojourner Truth Ain’t I a Woman, The Glory Field, Wanted Dead or Alive The True Story of Harriet Tubman, & Frederick Douglass Fights for Freedom

MOVIE & TV CONNECTIONS: “Amistad” (1997), “Glory” (1989), “Roots” (1977 – TV miniseries), “Gone With the Wind” (1939), & “The Red Badge of Courage” (1951)

RELATED WEBSITES:

http://www.sdcoe.k12.ca.us/score/slave/slavetg.html

http://www.nps.gov/bowa/forteachers/upload/To%20Be%20A%20Slave.PDF

http://www.teachervision.fen.com/slavery-us/activity/10981.html

REVIEWED BY: Kevin Stratton

July 7, 2008

Number the Stars

Number the Stars

Author: Lois Lowry

Page Length: 137

Reading Level: 5

Genre: Historical Fiction

PLOT SUMMARY: Annemarie Johansen is a young Danish girl who, along with her Jewish friend Ellen Rosen, attempts to live a normal life in the midst of Nazi occupation. In their town of Copenhagen, both girls participate in rationing. They live with little – unable to even spread butter on their bread! What is plentiful is the love of family and friends. That is what keeps these citizens together. When the Nazi’s begin to “relocate” the Jews (to ultimate death), Denmark’s sense of security and freedom diminishes.

In response to the Jewish discrimination, “The Resistance” (a group of individuals with a mission to fight the occupation of the Nazis) begins to smuggle the Jews out of Denmark and over to Sweden.  Some of Annemarie’s family and friends take part in this mission in order that Ellen Rosen and her family may escape the Nazis. Annemarie is sad to see her friend leave, but she understands that it is necessary in order for the Rosen’s to have a chance at survival.

Annemarie displays great courage and strength when she aids the Rosen family in their escape. She doesn’t plan her courageous acts, rather she takes it upon herself to assist when her mother injures herself.

The story ends with the Rosen family escaping, the war ending, and Annemarie hopeful that she will see her friend again.

The author provides a nice “Afterword” at the end of the book which explains which portions of the story were fictional and which were based on fact.

REVIEW: This book was an easy read and kept my attention. The scenes that included the Nazi guards were very suspenseful. This book would be a great supplement to a unit on the Holocaust both in English class as well as World History.

AREAS FOR TEACHING: mood, tone, simile (page 5), symbolism (page 25, 87, & 94), historical context, vocabulary (swastika & kroner), reading varied sources – letters (page 137)

RELATED BOOKS: Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl (Jewish hiding, female perspective), Stepping on the Cracks (two girls’ relationship during war time), The Yellow Star: The Legend of King Christian X of Denmark, Night, The Book Thief

MOVIE, MUSIC, ART CONNECTIONS: “Anne Frank Remembered” (1995), “The Diary of Anne Frank” (1959)

RELATED WEBSITES:

http://www.cdli.ca/CITE/number_the_stars.htm (covers TEKS such as character, point of view, foreshadowing, imagery, writing activities, projects, etc)

http://www.mce.k12tn.net/reading23/number_the_stars.htm

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

January 4, 2008

Inkheart

Filed under: *AWESOME BOOKS!!!,I — thebookreviews @ 1:58 am
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Inkheart

Author: Cornelia Funke

Page Length: 534

Reading Level: 7th

Genre: Suspense / Fantasy

 

REVIEW & SUMMARY: I really enjoyed reading this book. My eight year old daughter was also enjoying the suspense as she listened to the first half of this book aloud (we would read a couple of chapters a night). The characters were entertaining and the suspense was well paced. I was anxious to read the next chapter to find out what would happen. Funke leaves questions nicely unanswered inviting the reader to find out more.   

 

In the book we meet Meggie, a twelve year old girl, and Mo, her father. Mo has instilled in his daughter a love of books. She has her own special book box that she carries with her everywhere. Mo himself loves to read and makes a living restoring books. Things seem “normal” until the arrival of an old friend of Mo’s named Dustfinger. After Dustfinger visits, Mo packs them up and they are on the move (something which we discover is common for Meggie and Mo as they have never stayed any one place too long). Meggie eavesdrops to discover Dustfinger and Mo discussing a particular book that a man named Capricorn wants to regain in his possession. The book is secreted away with the three of them to Elinor’s house. Elinor is Meggie’s mother’s aunt and an avid book collector. Strangers of the mob-kind visit in the night and leave with both the book and Mo. Meggie is heartbroken, but the adventure is just beginning. Meggie, Elinor, and Dustfinger are hot on their trail. How were they found so easily?  What does Capricorn want with Mo?

 

Perhaps the most startling discovery for Meggie is that this mob and Dustfinger refer to her father as Silvertongue. Meggie soon discovers Mo’s unique power of reading characters to life from books. She also learns that as characters come out of the story, objects and people nearby have disappeared. The book in question is in fact called, Inkheart. The mob of villains after Mo and the book are in fact characters from the book. When Meggie was a young child, her father read the book aloud to Meggie and her mother. Her mother disappeared and three prominent characters came to life. Mo has been on the run away from them ever since and try as he might he hasn’t been able to find Meggie’s mother. The adventures unfold as the forces of good and evil must battle. Who will win? How will they triumph against seemingly insurmountable odds? Can the author of the book help? What does Capricorn want the dreaded Shadow for?

 

AREAS FOR TEACHING: This book is a fascinating tool for teaching about the power of words and the richness of language. After all, Silvertongue (Mo) can bring characters to life. Funke came up with an original idea – characters coming to life from the book. It’s interesting to discover their longing or dislike for their homes. Teachers could discuss what makes a home and what connects people to one another.  What are our motivations in life? What makes us happy? Why do we need other people?  The list of discussion topics and writing response prompts the book yields is enormous. We also find characters in the book and who can not read and are therefore more easily controlled by Capricorn. Teachers could springboard discussions about how education, reading, and being able to consider all the alternatives changes one’s outlook. Why is knowledge important if one wants to control his/her own destiny?

 

It is a long book. Fantasy readers will be more interested. In general, I think that this book would be more successful with a student who already enjoys reading. I would not use for independent reading with a struggling reader – although as a read aloud it would work well. Great book!

 

BOOK CONNECTIONS: Since writing Inkheart, Cornelia Funke has continued the trilogy with Inkspell and Inkdeath. The first chapter of Inkspell is provided at the end of Inkheart. It looks as promising as the last. A movie, based on the book Inkheart, was made in 2008.

 

RELATED WEBSITES:

 

http://www.corneliafunkefans.com/mainSiteIEUSA.html

 

http://www.kidsreads.com/reviews/0439531640.asp

 

http://www.discoveryjourney.com/PublicSummary313.asp

 

http://bookchase.blogspot.com/2007/12/inkheart-movie-trailer.html

 

REVIEWED BY: Dayna Taylor

 

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.