Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Nonfiction: Off to War

This compelling book is a series of interviews with kids whose parents are in the military. Kids aged 5-17 talk honestly about how their parents' job has shaped their family life, and how they feel about their missing parent.
The stories give great insight into the lives of military kids, and show how some families cope with the absence of a parent...and some don't. Every kid has tips and tricks that they use to fight loneliness when their parent is away, and advice on how to welcome back a parent who is returning from war. It's clear that most kids have a deep respect for their parent's job and dedication, even while they are uniformly uncertain about the military's goals in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The common theme is that all kids, both Canadian and American, miss their parent, and worry about their safety. There is always strain on the family when their parent is away, and many kids (but not all) vehemently state that they will find a civillian career when they grow up.
This is an interesting and unusual look at the effect of war on those left behind. It's an excellent tool for families or classes that want to consider the impact of war, and talk about the value of fighting for a cause. Author Deborah Ellis has written many books focusing on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and her focus is always on the experience of the kids who get caught in the middle.
Grades 5-9
Click here to check out the Port Moody Public Library's catalogue.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Realistic Fiction: Cookie

Cookie is the story of plain, timid Beaty Cookson. Beauty is a kind and ordinary girl with a lovely mother; however, she wishes that her life were different.

Beauty goes to a snotty private school, where all the girls think her name is ridiculous. Instead of calling her Beauty, the call her Ugly. Even worse, Beauty's dad can't seem to control his hurtful criticisms and uncontrolled rages. Even the smallest thing can set him off into a storm of shouting. Beauty and her mother try to placate him, but it becomes clear that nothing can make him accept his family as their imperfect selves. Together they discover a new hobby - baking cookies - and a new, better nickname is born.

When Beauty's dad spins out of control during her disastrous birthday party, Beauty's mom is ready to take the reins, and make a new life for herself and her daughter. This book addresses tough issues, like anger and family breakup, but it does it in a sweet and respectful way that gives hope rather than dread. You can't help but love Beauty and her mother, and author Jacqueline Wilson resists the temptation to demonize the angry father. I'm sure this charming book will be up for an award in the next year or two!

Realistic Fiction; family and friends

Grades 4-8

Click here to check out the Port Moody Public Library's catalogue!