Rummanah Aasi
  I realized that I still have some children's books that I didn't get a chance to review yet from last year. Though the mini-reviews are brief, I think they cut to the chase and let you know my impressions about the books. Today I'll be reviewing: Animal Heroes by Sandra Markle, Kira, Kira by Cynthia Kadohata, and Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor.

Description (from book's back cover): A guide dog leads its owner to safety down seventy-seven flights of stairs in the World Trade Center before the building collapses. A female gorilla in a zoo picks up and protects an unconscious toddler who falls into her enclosure. An elderly dog named Frisky keeps his owner awake and alive when Hurricane Katrina floods the house. Winnie the cat saves her owners from carbon monoxide poisoning. Animals, both wild and domestic, have become heroes when they've come to the rescue of humans. In these heartwarming, true stories, Sandra Markle shows how dogs, cats, cows, monkeys, and even dolphins use their normal senses or special training to help people in trouble or in need all over the world.

Review: Animal Heroes is a juvenile nonfiction book that contains lots of colorful pictures and information. As the title suggests, the book features numerous animals who have rescued humans, either their own owners or complete strangers caught in a dangerous situation. Rescues from 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina as well as more obscure disasters are included. One of my favorite stories was about a gorilla at a zoo who helped keep a child, who accidentally slipped into the cage, safe. The stories are remarkable. The stories also contain informative panels that further explain the situation in scientific terms such as the animals habit, what it means to have frostbite or hypothermia. An extensive bibliography, including a few website links, and a glossary is included along with further reading suggestions.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: There are some photos and details of the 9/11 attack especially of the building crumbling and on fire which make be a bit scary for young readers. As an adult, I know I felt a bit uncomfortable. Recommended for Grades 3 to 6.

If you like this book try: Shelter Dogs by Peg Kehret

Description (from book's back cover): Glittering. That's how Katie Takeshima's sister, Lynn, makes everything seem. The sky is kira-kira for the same reason. And so are people's eyes. When Katie and her family move from a Japanese community in Iowa to the Deep South of Georgia, it's Lynn who explains to her why people stop them on the street to stare. And it's Lynn who, with her special way of viewing the world, teaches Katie to look beyond tomorrow. But when Lynn becomes desperately ill, and the whole family begins to fall apart, it is up to Katie to find a way to remind them all that there is always something glittering - kira-kira - in the future.

Review: Kira, Kira won the Newbery Award in 2005. It's one of those books that make you scratch your head and wonder why it was awarded. The writing is quite good and the plot is ok, but there's nothing really remarkable about it. It moved at a snail's pace kinda like a movie you thought was finished but only to find another scene pop on the screen. I liked knowing Katie's family and the Japanese culture. I was a bit confused, however,  as to what ailed her sister Lynn. There are hints about a terminal illness, which I thought was cancer but the illness was never explained. In the end Kira, Kira really didn't do anything for me and had it not win the Newbery I wouldn't have picked it up.

Rating: 3 stars

Words of Caution: There are some racial slurs and PG language in the book. Recommended for ages 12 and up.

If you like this book try: Return to Sender by Julia Alveraz

Description: A black family living in Mississippi during the Depression of the 1930s is faced with prejudice and discrimination which its children do not understand.

Review: I didn't realize that Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry was part of a series by Mildred Taylor. While I didn't feel lost reading the book, there's not much of a plot to the story. The book does a good job in showcasing the family's struggle against prejudice and racism. I loved learning about the members of the Logan family and was inspired by their tenacity to stand up to the injustice they are faced. My main problem with the book is how the adults, particularly the mother of the Logan family,  tries to shelter her children about what is happening around them such as the terrorism caused by the KKK. While her reasoning is understandable, I think it does a disservice to her children and I found it unbelievable. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry was awarded the Newbery Award in 1977.

Rating: 3 stars

Words of Caution: The "n" word is used quite frequently, but it does serve a purpose. There is also some violence in the book too. Recommended for strong Grade 5 readers and up.

If you like this book try: Logan family series by Mildred Taylor, Guardian by Julius Lester
3 Responses
  1. Jenny Says:

    Ahhh! I so want to read the Animal Heroes book! I love stories like that, they never fail to just blow my mind. Thanks for the suggestion Rummanah!

  2. Animal Heroes sounds adorable. I think I may pick that one up for my girls. They'd love all the pictures and stories about animals. I think I had to read part of Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry when I was in elementary school. Can't say it has super stuck with me, except maybe the racism parts. Loved these minis, Rummanah!

  3. I agree with you about kira-kira. Nice story, but award winning??? And, just FYI, Roll of Thunder is a great book on audio. One of my first experiences with audio books, and I thought, "this is great I'll do this all the time" -- then I realized that all audio books are NOT created equal!

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