Monday, November 24, 2008
GOOD QUEEN BESS: THE STORY OF ELIZABETH I OF ENGLAND by: Diane Stanley and Peter Vennema - Non-fiction Biography
Elizabeth, the daughter of England's famous King Henry VIII, grew up in a time of religious conflict and chaos. King Henry VIII went to an extreme, marrying six times, to make sure he had a son to rule after he passed, but it was Elizabeth who would conduct England through the rough years ahead. Historians call this the "Elizabethan Age," after Queen Elizabeth I, which is amazing since it was a time of men. This book is very attractive; the text is readable and the illustrations compliment the pages. The illustrations are beautiful paintings that reflect the lavish lifestyle Queen Elizabeth I lived.
This biography is of a famous adult author names Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I think this story was written to inform readers about Marquez's wild and vibrant imagination that allowed him to write his stories. During his childhood, Marquez spent a lot of time with his grandfather; hanging out with him brought many new ideas for Marquez to write about. This book is written in English and Spanish; this book would be very handy to teacher ESL students. Also, this is a good book to use if a teacher needs to introduce the concept of biography to students.
Alta Weiss, the real life inspiration of this story, discovers she is "born to play baseball." At a young age, Alta developed the art of pitching and pursues a career as a professional baseball player in the early 1900s. After achieving that goal, Alta later was the only woman in her medical school graduating class. I loved this book, especially as an athlete. I wish this book would have been published when I was younger because I always wanted to be a professional softball player and was always beating the boys in various sports. I think this book could be a good way to introduce that women can be success and participate effectively in the same events as men.
Rosa Parks was traveling home from work on a segregated city bus in Montomery, Alabama when she was ordered by the bus driver to give up her seat to a Caucasian passenger. Rosa Parks refused to get up, she was sitting in the "neutral" section; the driver calls the police and Parks was arrested. Word spreads and a boycott of the buses is organized until segregation is ended. The pictures in this book are phenomenal; the illustrator creates Rosa Parks as a bold and strong woman. This book is aimed for 4 to 8 year olds, but I do not think that they will understand some of the material, a lot of the material is not explained. This is a good book for a family to read so the parents can discuss in more detail the events of this book.
Gooney Greene arrives at her new school, Watertower Elementary, and all the second graders are interested to getting to know her. When it is story time in class, all of the students want to hear about Gooney Bird; this is great because Gooney loves being in the middle of things. I thought this book was really entertaining and it teaches the reader what a story needs; a beginning, a middle, an end, and a main character. Mrs. Pidgeon, the teacher, is trying to demonstrate a lesson about a character in a story, but the class wants to hear about Gooney instead; so the teacher allows Gooney to tell stories for 15 minutes every day. As Gooney tells her stories, the teacher points out when Gooney uses characters, dialogue, or suspense during each of her stories. This is a very funny book with hidden instruction about how to create and design a good story. I think this book would be a great aid to assist a teacher when teaching the basics of writing a story.
Frank "Shanks" Russell, the youngest of the Russel family, is ten-years-old when the Civil War begins. Since he cannot enlist, "Shanks" stays at home when his father and brother head off to fight in the war. He is left with a big duty, looking after the rest of his family and his family's land, with the help of Buck, the family's slave. During this novel, "Shanks" questions the war and his beliefs of slavery; this question continues to trouble him as he becomes close with Buck's family. At first, this book was really slow, but it becomes really suspenseful when "Shanks" and Buck are making their way to the Strong River. I really enjoyed this book because it questions people's beliefs and illustrates to the reader what the Civil War was like for everyday people in the South. It helps demonstrate that not everyone lived on a large plantation with a lot of slaves, but most people were poor and underwent hard lives.
Number the Stars is a story told through Annamarie Johannesen's eyes, a ten-year-old. Her family is living through World War II, living in Copenhagen, Denmark. There are curfews and slim food to pick from; life is really uncomfortable and difficult. For instance, people have to be creative to make shoes, since leather is no longer available (they use fish scales). The situation takes an even worse turn when it is publicized that all Jewish people will be rounded up and relocated. Annamarie and her family help her Jewish friend and others escape to Sweden. I think this book is very well written and pretty factual; the best part is after the book, the author explains the realities that the book was based upon. I think that a teacher could incorporate this novel into a history lesson; readers will learn how desperate this time was.