Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Review- We Found a Hat by Jon Klassen

Share

We Found A Hat  (5 star)

by Jon Klassen
Candlewick Press
Published October 11, 2016
Hardcover, $17.99
  • ISBN-10: 0763656003
  • ISBN-13: 978-0763656003




My review: Intro

I ordered Jon Klassen's new book as soon as I could. I teach at the elementary level as a library media specialist. Ever since I received advanced copies of I Want My Hat Back and This is Not My Hat I have been over the moon in love his writing. His untouchable gift to the reader is his simple text delivered through personification  by cute utterly adorable animals.  His brilliant illustrations show personality and hint at what each character may be thinking. (No thought bubbles needed).  How truly gifted he is. My students go wild for all his books and discussions abound at the end. This is not a read it once book, but will become worn through use.  My students participate and role play the text with such glee. It's an experience that Klassen provides my kids that is rare.

His new book:

So, I just received We Found A Hat in my mail. I ran to the doorstep and couldn't wait to hold his new book. Once again, it is stellar, fun, witty and ADORABLE. A story of two turtles who discover one hat. Problem: What should they do?  I'm never a spoiler in my reviews, so this one you have to read for yourself.  I am already thinking about the questions and lessons this story will bring to my classes in the next few weeks.

Jon Klassen has a talent for pushing kids buttons in a way that makes them think, laugh and enjoy reading.....again and again.  What more can we ask for? Highly recommended and a great discussion started.

In case you are interested Jon Klassen is on tour promoting his book. Details of an upcoming appearance at the Eric Carle Museum can be found here. 
Further info is on his blog. 



~ WISTERIA LEIGH OCTOBER 2016


DISCLOSURE: A COPY OF THIS BOOK WAS PURCHASED BY MYSELF THROUGH AN ONLINE BOOK VENDOR.



Saturday, October 8, 2016

Review- A House Without Windows

Share
A House Without Windows
by Nadia SashimiWilliam Morrow (August 16, 2016)
  • ISBN-10: 0062449680
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062449689
  • Hardcover: 432 pages









Wisteria's Review

I must begin by saying that like other reviewers have noted: I also reread many chapters in this exquisite novel centered on the protagonist Zeba, a fiercely strong and unselfishly determined Afghan woman. 

Yusuf, a native Afghan male is a young and eager lawyer. He recently returned to Afghanistan after living with his parents in New York.  Yusuf hears about the case and meets with Zeba at the prison. Yusuf soon discovers to his dismay that Zeba is an uncooperative client. Yet, reluctantly she agrees to his representation in her defense.  However, in order to save Zeba's life he is confronted with the difficult task of uncovering answers, but for now he only has endless questions. 

As the story begins, Zeba a dutiful Afghan wife and mother is found near the lifeless body of her husband. The cause of death an obvious blow to his skull with a hatchet. Naturally, family and friends are horrified by the discovery. Zeba is naturally accused of murder as she is the only one in the yard with him.  She is taken to the woman's prison in Kabul, Chil Mahtab. Her children confused and helpless are whisked away to live with Zeba's husband's family.  


Nadia Hashimi is a masterful storyteller. Be prepared to be entranced with each page by her poetic prose and equally engaging plot that meanders as a  hurricane erratic and unexpected.   As a result, the writer skillfully enhances the readers curiosity. Hashimi obviously knows her novel's direction, but as a reader you have no idea what's about to unfold.  The suspense is relentless. 

Nadia Hashimi is a polished storyteller. I still yearn to reread passages. I still have thoughts regarding Afghan women and their lack of human rights, women's rights and substandard status. I can't help but compare and reflect on this culture's norms.  I cried many times, I ached for Zeba and the other women prisoners whose reasons for imprisonment are inconceivable. to me. 



Woman's rights throughout our country and the world are of great interest and concern to me. For that reason, I read countless books that depict women who suffer and are controlled by the male dominated society where ever they reside.   A HOUSE WITHOUT WINDOWS by Nadia Hashimi is by far  an exceptional novel.  Written with this author's heart, it is an emotionally satisfying and unforgettable read!

This book has melody, harmony and discord beautifully orchestrated from the beginning to its conclusion. I know I won't soon forget this story of Zeba and everyone's inner struggles to gain justice. 




Disclosure: 
I want to thank Lauren Lauzon from William Morrow for providing a copy of this book for my candid unbiased review. 



Other books by Nadia Hashimi
One Half From the East
When the Moon is Low
The Pearl That Broke It's Shell


~ Wisteria Leigh October 2016


Friday, October 7, 2016

Galgos Need Our Help

My Galgos, Jenson & Button: Their Story

Share

Many of you know my passion for reading, but not as many know my passion for Greyhound rescue. I am a foster parent and have helped to assimilate many new off the track dogs as they transition from their only job they have known-that of a race dog.  I do not plan to write about the greyhound industry, track life or any other aspect of the sport. My job and my mission is to help retired sighthounds find a new loving home. I like to focus on the love and positive future ahead for this awesome breed. Many of you may have have heard that they prefer a life on a couch or soft big cushy bed. It is true!!   Hence the nickname: 40 mph Couch Potato.  

This post is about the Galgo, a Spanish sighthound, who look very similar to what we have come to know as a racetrack English or Irish greyhound, but Galgos have different lineage.  They were once prized but now have become throw away (disposable) dogs for the most part. After one hunting season they are turned out to strive to survive solo.

I have two Galgos who were found together, alone somewhere living wandering the Spanish countryside. They had to survive as best they could and learned to protect each other with tenacious survival skills.  They became a bonded inseparable pair. They were always sighted together, but near impossible to lure to safety.  They feared human contact, but in the end, with the help of Mandy Simpson with Galgos del Sol and her tireless efforts and generous volunteers, they were finally captured. They were then flown to the US and arrived in the care of Greyhound Rescue and Rehabilitation in Cross River, NY.

There are many many  rescue groups throughout Europe and the United States dedicated to Galgo Rescue. This flight from Spain brought two special fosters who I soonI met. Their names were Jenson and Button. (girl and boy)

Once in my care........

They began to learn the ropes-so to speak: for example: they learned to climb stairs, easy for people, but a frightening challenge for a Galgo, who have no idea what it is like to live in a house. Now, when they head up or down the stairs, watch out.  It's a race to the other end and you wouldn't wand to be caught in the middle. Yikes!!

As time passed, everything was new to them. They had to learn not to be afraid of other animals, and people. Birds at the bird feeder, chipmunks, pet store critters, and the infamous mailman. Fortunately, sighthounds should be on leash at all times so the mailman is pretty safe.  Believe it or not they loved riding in the car, but hated walking in heavy traffic near trucks.

As for my neighborhood fauna, I'm not sure the squirrels in my yard will ever appreciate the sudden attack mode stance and fierce drive to lunge at them through the glass. Squirrels are like rabbits to them and a constant torment.

As an avid gardener, their ability to scare off hungry pesky deer who like to decimate buds just as they begin to bloom.  (Yes, deer are cute...but they can eat other things.)

When it rains, they still have an unbreakable habit of licking the puddles rather than their ever present water bowl.

They are catlike and will lick and kiss each other endlessly with sweet affection. These two are inseparable often wrapped in each others embrace on the same pet bed. It is a a priceless picture of cuteness.

As far as weather....they hate the rain, love the heat and literally shiver when the temperature drops below 60.  So, they love the pajamas, blankets, snuggling and laying in the hot sun. Come winter the woodstove is their friend.

So these are my two adorable Spanish Galgos, Jenson and Button who have given more to me than I will ever be able to repay.



Button  &  Jenson 
(tender time together)

Within the next couple of weeks, I will again take in a foster Galgo from Spain. I am very excited and will show you a picture of the newbie as soon as she arrives. 
Until then, please check out the non-profit Galgo and Greyhound Rescue Groups in you area and help in whatever way you can. 



Thursday, October 6, 2016

Can It Be a Year?

Has it really been a year since my last 

Bookworm Dinner post?



Share

At last my year long journey has taken a turn back to the roots of my passion.....writing.


  • I have missed the daily/weekly posts to my blog readers. 
  • I have missed the time writing about one of my biggest passions, books. 
  • Something is indeed missing....Bookworms Dinner has been an empty plate too long. 
When you love to read, love the discovery of each new book, never want that incredible new book to end because it is that good, and know you will never have enough time in your lifetime to read all you want to that grows in all possible directions.... in what readers ofter call their TBR pile. Naturally, a reader will never reach the bottom of that pile-even a determined bookworm that pens this blog.

But, then again....who would want to. How would a bookworm survive when the books run out A dear friend of mine would refer to this fortunate dilemma in life as the glow of Joie De Vivre.


Dewy spider web.jpgBy the way, I never stopped reading. I have posted reviews on Goodreads and various other social media venues, but Bookworms Dinner like an old and dear bookstore was sadly collecting dust. Here's to a return, a renewal and a rebirth of my reading notes as they brush away this years cobwebs on this blog.

How appropriate that it should take place in the last few weeks leading to Halloween.



View all my reviews on Goodreads

Disclosure: An uncorrected proof was sent to me with a request for an unbiased review.  This review is my honest opinion.

© [Wisteria Leigh] and [Bookworm's Dinner], [2008-2016]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to [Wisteria Leigh] and [Bookworm's Dinner] with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


Sunday, September 27, 2015

Review: The Prize, by Dale Russakoff


Share





THE PRIZE: WHO'S IN CHARGE OF AMERICA'S SCHOOLS
by Dale Russakoff
Houghton Mifflin
September 2014
0547945019 ISBN 13 9780547840512
304 Pages





THE PRIZE: WHO'S IN CHARGE OF AMERICA'S SCHOOLS, commands your attention throughout.  An absorbing book and necessary read for all who think educational reform will ever be realized. There is no easy solution as Russakoff gives the reader insight from a recent example in the Newark, NJ public school system.  The players: I expect had grandiose intent: Christ Christie, Cory Booker, Mark Zuckerberg and Cami Anderson. Who doesn't want to reform education these days?

I consider myself an optimist, but Russakoff's years of research took me on a painful roller coaster ride through the urban city of Newark.  Juggling below amid the dropping test scores, high crime, gangs, single parent homes, and general indifference is the powerhouse quartet with a staggering $200 million to play with, to reform the failing district. Lofty goals for sure, but obviously misplaced. It becomes evident in this case that political gain supersedes all. Once again, uninformed capitalists believe they can mold schools into their corporate model structure. NO!

It is not the teachers! You can't replace community schools without considering the insiders. What about people...students...parents...yes and those dedicated teachers? Support is needed on so many levels. 

Dale Russakoff, a 28 year veteran reporter for Washington Post has delivered a well researched, well paced and comfortable style for all readers. Her experience shows. Her first book gives promise for her future projects. 

As the author concludes and I concur,  you need to 

"....put the real needs of children at the center of the national conversation about education reform, which in its ideological decisiveness is in danger of leaving them behind." (218)

Kudos to Dale Russakoff for unveiling the shortsightedness of people in power. This is a dynamic and valuable addition to educational library book stacks.

~Wisteria Leigh 
September 2015

Disclosure: Self-purchased book. 


View all my review on Goodreads

Disclosure: An uncorrected proof was sent to me with a request for an unbiased review.  This review is my honest opinion.

© [Wisteria Leigh] and [Bookworm's Dinner], [2008-2015]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to [Wisteria Leigh] and [Bookworm's Dinner] with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Review-The Hired Girl, by Laura Amy Schlitz

Share

The Hired Girl
Laura Amy Schlitz
Candlewick Press
Publication month: September 2015
978-0-7636-7818-0
$17.99/$23.99 Canada
400 pages
Age 12+




                                                                  Review by Wisteria©

The heroine of this coming of age novel is a feisty, headstrong, inherently impulsive powerhouse-a memorable character destined to be a classic. The Hired Girl, set in the year 1911 on a Pennsylvania farm is historical fiction.  However, the author has a storyteller's magical gift to transport the readers  into the mind  of Joan Scraggs and her experiences through her daily diary. Joan, fourteen, lives with her three brothers and evil tempered father.  After her mom dies, Joan is forced to assume her mom's arduous chores, exhaustive and thankless. She seeks solace in her passion for reading. The few books she owns have been read again and again.  Her father is determined to end her educational goals and the close relationship she has with her favorite teacher. Joan is very quick witted and eager to learn. Yet, when her teacher tries to persuade her father that Joan should stay in school she is rebuked.  Later, her father spews words of vitreous hatred at his daughter. Sadly, it just confirms what she has felt all along.  Unloved and shackled to a hard life on the farm she makes plans to flee.  As hateful as her father is, she recalls her mom's love and support.  Fortunately, her mother left a rainy day treasure in the ruffles of her favorite doll. With her mother's gift and and timely luck Joan secures a job as the hired girl, with a Jewish family.  Although she leads her employers to believe she is eighteen, assumes the name Janet, she settles into this new life.  It is through her diary that the reader will come to empathize and love Janet (Joan).   Her struggles with her own faith, love, women's roles, Anti-semitism and the social class prejudice prevalent are believable. The author captures not only the flavor of this period in history, but she allows the reader to experience Joan's her inner most thoughts, as only a diary will allow.  Laura Amy Schlitz is a gifted storyteller, one of my favorite young adult/tween writers. This one is now on my list to be order for my school's media center. The Hired Girl, with multiple themes and character study possibilities, is the perfect novel for classroom libraries, literature study and read aloud.  Yet it will stand out as a well loved free choice read for young and adult readers. Highly recommended. ~Wisteria Leigh






View all my review on Goodreads

Disclosure: An uncorrected proof was sent to me with a request for an unbiased review.  This review is my honest opinion.

© [Wisteria Leigh] and [Bookworm's Dinner], [2008-2015]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to [Wisteria Leigh] and [Bookworm's Dinner] with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Review-War Dogs by Rebecca Frankel

 Share
War Dogs
Tales of Canine Heroism, History, and Love
Rebecca Frankel
Palgrave Macmillan Trade (2014),
Hardcover, 272 pages


Disclosure: A copy of War Dogs was sent to me by Library Thing Early Reviewer program in exchange for an unbiased review... submitted below.






This book offers a view of the relationship between dog handlers in the military and their dog. 
The bond that develops over time during training and ultimate deployment in action is remarkable. Rebecca Frankel has put together a collection of war dog stories that is memorable and thoughtful. Readers will no doubt take pause to reflect as each story is unique. However, a common thread exists throughout the book that ties these tales together. Each handler and his dog have an unbreakable bond. Each is devoted to the other with an unbreakable trust and love. So much so that they will often give their life for each other....dog for man and man for dog. 

Rebecca Frankel presents her stories with clarity, sensitivity and realism. Highly recommended. ~©Wisteria Leigh


© [Wisteria Leigh] and [Bookworm's Dinner], [2008-2015]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to [Wisteria Leigh] and [Bookworm's Dinner] with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Review-Beholding Bee, by Kimberly Newton Fusco

Share

Beholding Bee

by Kimberly Newton Fusco

Published by: Knopf Books for Young Readers
February 12, 2013
Hardcover, 336 pages
978-0375868368
Lexile: 790L




Review by Wisteria©


Beeholding Bee will engage readers from the first page.  Life has not been fair to Bee who at eleven became an orphan when both parents were tragically killed.  She was born with a disfiguring facial birthmark which causes her to hide and withdraw inwardly.  However, fortunately,  Pauline, a carnival worker who knew her parents has befriended her.  They both work for Ellis, the sleazy owner of the traveling carnival.   By day Bee cuts onions and works with Pauline at the hotdog concession.  Her home is the back of a hauling truck used by the carnival. She fears Ellis, who lurks around with threats to include Bee in his freak side show act.  

Kimberly Newton Fusco uses precise descriptive prose to setting and place for readers to fully realize.   Characters are multi-dimentional, descriptively real thus a perfect novel to have students focus on character traits.  The novel is written in first person through Bee's voice an important author strategy that makes the reader feel Bee's pain and low self-esteem.  Bee would rather be a shadow, hidden and forgotten.  Another devastating break forces Bee to take charge, in order to find a new place to live.  Readers will adore her spunk and vulnerability, a memorable and relevant character to identify with. 

Beholding Bee lends itself to classroom discussion and literature group study in elementary and early middle school.  A perfect classroom read aloud with themes reminiscent of Wonder, by R.J. Palacio. 
Themes that emerge for discussion-difference, acceptance, bullying, special needs, courage and perseverance, women's roles/rights and more. 

Beholding Bee, by Kimberly Newton Fusco is an essential first choice purchase for school and public libraries, and consider a classroom set purchase grade 3+. I'm sure this will be a student favorite...highly recommended. 



View all my review on Goodreads

Disclosure: This book was borrowed with no compensation. 

© [Wisteria Leigh] and [Bookworm's Dinner], [2008-2015]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to [Wisteria Leigh] and [Bookworm's Dinner] with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.



Monday, February 16, 2015

Guest Post- The Price of Blood (Book II), by Patricia Bracewell

Share
The Price of Blood

by Patricia Bracewell
Publisher: Viking
Release: February 5, 2015
978-0525427278
448 pages





Short note from Wisteria:


Amazing!  I first read Shadow of the Crown (The Emma of Normandy Trilogy #1) when it was first released.
I became fascinated with Emma of Normandy and her dominant and sagacious personality. Recently I was asked by Viking Publishers to share a Guest Post by the author, Patricia Bracewell.  Please see below.   I also have a link she has shared all readers to her Online Book Club for this novel.

I wanted to share my enthusiasm for The Price of Blood immediately.  This is a vibrant drama that pulls from the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles a portrayal of Emma of Normandy from A.D. 1006-A.D.1012.  As the author notes, her presence was there when Vikings ravaged the English realm.  This is the second book in the trilogy and sadly, my anxiety will have to wait for the last book. Perhaps, a bit of meditation will help.  In the meantime, I might have to re-read both books. The Price of Blood begins with Emma the Queen of King AEthelred.  She has little power in her own right, as women are considered pawns in a chess game. However, she hopes that the alliances she creates with the strong clergy and others will serve to enhance her power.  It is for her children that she is most worried.  Her marriage to Aethelred was arranged, her worth valued by her ability to produce sons. Her tenacity, patience  and keen wisdom are tested, for she also is in love with a prince. A prince who the king believes would like nothing better than to unseat him.  I most highly recommend this second book in the trilogy.





Loving Research (for Bookworm’s Dinner) 
by Patricia Bracewell

"I’m going to share with you a little secret about researching a historical novel: Novelists LOVE the research. We swoon over it, bathe in it, and struggle to tear ourselves away from it long enough to write our books. There. Now you know.

My own research process, I regret to admit, is helter-skelter.  Most of it is done at my desk or in a university library taking notes on whatever academic tome is open in front of me. Often there are several books open at once, scattered on the table and even on the floor when I run out of room.

Sometimes I’ve been more creative: I’ve taken a summer course in Anglo-Saxon history at Cambridge University; I’ve exchanged e-mails with a thatcher in England; I’ve gazed across a tea table at an eminent historian of Anglo-Saxon textiles and whispered, “Let’s talk about medieval women’s undergarments.”

I was very shy about approaching experts to ask for help when I first began my research. I’m less so now. Having a novel published in four languages has done wonders for my self-confidence.

Some of my research is done on the internet: consulting databases of articles about the Anglo-Saxons; studying Old English charters; or exploring the histories of places that I want to use as settings – whether towns, villages, ancient pathways or stone circles.

The facts about people’s lives, though, are not so easy to come by a thousand years on. For example, we know the names of King Æthelred’s children, but not much more than that. The dates of their births are historical guesses, not facts. The eldest son, Athelstan, left a will, and every single thing that we know about him is contained in that 2-page list of bequests. It isn’t much.

Academics are willing to speculate a bit about the activities of the historical figures of England’s 11th century, based on whatever tiny hints they can glean from the historical record – the chronicles, the charters, the wills, even the Norse sagas. Information in such documents, though, is often contradictory, leaving even the historians puzzled about what actually happened. And then there’s the when and the how and the why to try to establish. That’s where a novelist can give her imagination free reign while an academic has to be more guarded. For the fiction writer, that’s where the fun comes in.

Researching Emma’s life during the years covered by my trilogy, especially in Shadow on the Crown and The Price of Blood, was difficult because there is almost no record of her at all in those years. Her name is mentioned a few times in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and she signs several charters, indicating that she was at court beside the king on those occasions. One charter in 1012 is a grant of land from the king to Emma, so historians conjecture that she gave birth to a son at about that time. But where was she the rest of the time and what was she doing? Because there was no other direct reference to Emma, all I could do was bury myself in the history of and make some conjectures of my own based on what I was able to learn about a queen’s duties and Emma’s later career.

Frequently the vagueness of historical records forced me to invent. For instance, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle claimed that the Danes attacked London several times in 1009, and that the Londoners always repelled them. But there was no description of what, exactly, happened when the Danes attacked. I had to make it up based on my imagination and what I could learn of the military tactics of the time.

Sometimes I’ve discovered a tiny bit of information that I find really intriguing, and then I spend a lot of mental effort trying to figure out how to use it in my story. I wanted to use that gift of property from the king to Emma in 1012 that I mentioned above, but I couldn’t make it work. It just didn’t fit anywhere. The information that the thatcher sent me resulted in a terrific scene, but it was cut in a late draft. When I was at Gladstone’s Library in Wales a few months ago I learned something fascinating about Swein Forkbeard (not saying what), and now I’m trying desperately to find a way to include it in the next book. I guess you could call that the heartbreak of research – all those lovely bits that don’t make it into the novel. Research – much as we love it, sometimes we have to let it go."  
(by Patricia Bracewell courtesy of Meredith Burks, Viking Press)




A review copy was sent to me for review by Viking Press, Meredith Burks, Senior Publicist in exchange for an unbiased review and guest author blog.


View all my review on Goodreads

Disclosure: This book was sent to me for review and possible post by Henry Holt and Company.  This is  my unbiased personal review. 

© [Wisteria Leigh] and [Bookworm's Dinner], [2008-2015]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to [Wisteria Leigh] and [Bookworm's Dinner] with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.