First Lit Circle


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First Lit Circle

  1. 1. The story presents one day in the life of Jonathan, a thirteen-year-old boy caught up in the Revolutionary War. Jonathan slips away from his family's New Jersey farm in order to take part in a skirmish with the Hessians (German mercenary soldiers hired by the English). Hesets out full of unquestioned hatred for the Hessians, the British, and the Americans who were loyal to the British--the Tories. He hopes for a chance to take part in the glory of battle. "O Lord, he said to himself, make it something grand!“ Avi portrays no grandeur in the war. Jonathan can barely carry his six-foot long musket, and has a worse time trying to understand the talk among the men with whom he marches. The small voluntary group's leader is a crude man who lies to the men and is said to be "overfond of killing." When he is called upon to be a brave soldier, Jonathan's harrowing experience reveals the delusion behind his wish. "The novel makes the war personal and immediate: not history or event, but experience; near and within oneself, and horrible."
  2. 2. Editorial Reviews From School Library Journal Grade 4-6 Park commiserates with the problems of pre- adolescence in this first-person narrative of ten-year-old Howard Jeeter, whose life is temporarily destroyed by a cross-country move to a new family home. Howard knows what awaits him as he drives east from Arizona with his insensitive parents, bawling baby brother, and smelly basset hound to a historic house in Massachusetts: he will be a vulnerable and possibly despised ``new kid.'' His first contact on Chester Pewe St. is Molly, an intrusive first- grader with red hair ``styled kind of like Bozo's.'' Her desperate attempts to be friendly drive Howard to distraction and also make him anxious that his new classmates won't accept him if he hangs around a first grader. Howard's coming to terms with Molly's need for friendship is a particularly well- done part of the novel. As in Operation: Dump the Chump (1982) and Beanpole (1983, both Knopf), Park writes in a witty and bittersweet style about the awkward, super- sensitive age of early adolescence; her humor both reflects and sharpens the sensibilities of her readers in the areas of family and friend relationships. Another first- rate addition by this author to the middle-grade popular reading shelf. Linda Wicher, Lincolnwood Public Library, Ill. Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc.
  3. 3. Editorial Reviews From School Library Journal Grade 4-6-The touching story of a terminally ill girl is recreated in this audio version of the book by Eleanor Coerr (Puffin, 1977). Based on the true story of a young Japanese girl who contracts leukemia as a result of the atom bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima, the story follows Sadako as a healthy schoolgirl winning relay races, through her diagnosis with the atom bomb sickness, to her long stay in the hospital. It is in the hospital that she first begins making origami cranes to pass the time. Her ultimate goal is to make 1000, but she dies with only 644 completed. Sadako's classmates finish making the remaining cranes, and all 1000 are buried with her. Read by Christina Moore, the recording has excellent narration and sound quality and is particularly notable for the children's voices. Moore uses subtle nuances to distinguish between characters, and conveys a sense of Sadako's gentle spirit and courage. The recording is further enriched at the end by an interesting biography of Eleanor Coerr that explains how the author came to write Sadako's story. Schools and public libraries will benefit from adding this recording to their collections. Paula L. Setser, Deep Springs Elementary School, Lexington, KY
  4. 4. Editorial Reviews Review This immensely popular children's story is told from the point of view of a dog named Harold. It all starts when Harold's human family, the Monroes, goes to see the movie Dracula, and young Toby accidentally sits on a baby rabbit wrapped in a bundle on his seat. How could the family help but take the rabbit home and name it Bunnicula? Chester, the literate, sensitive, and keenly observant family cat, soon decides there is something weird about this rabbit. Pointy fangs, the appearance of a cape, black-and-white coloring, nocturnal habits … it sure seemed like he was a vampire bunny. When the family finds a white tomato in the kitchen, sucked dry and colorless, well … Chester becomes distraught and fears for the safety of the family. "Today, vegetables. Tomorrow … the world!" he warns Harold. But when Chester tries to make his fears known to the Monroes, he is completely misunderstood, and the results are truly hilarious. Is Bunnicula really a vampire bunny? We can't say. But any child who has ever let his or her imagination run a little wild will love Deborah and James Howe's funny, fast-paced "rabbit-tale of mystery." (Ages 9 to 12)
  5. 5. Editorial Reviews From School Library Journal Grade 4-7-Woodruff's obvious enjoyment of mixing historical information with a modern adventure, seen in George Washington's Socks (Scholastic, 1993) and Dear Napoleon, I Know You're Dead, But (Holiday, 1992), is again evident in this work. Andy Manetti's life is filled with angst. He is constantly overshadowed at school and home by his stepbrother, also 10, who he has nicknamed "Mr. Gifted." Andy feels average and almost unloved until his fifth-grade class takes a field trip to the museum. As he stares into the mystical face of an Egyptian mummy, an odd feeling overtakes him, and he soon finds that he has been imbued with magical powers. He is suddenly a gifted artist, is given five wishes, and is ultimately able to reconcile himself to his mother's death and to his stepbrother's existence. The book has a strong narrative voice, believable and likable characters, and an involving plot. The factual information is interesting, and Andy's fantastical adventure is fun and well paced. Elizabeth Hanson, Chicago Public Library
  6. 6. Editorial Reviews Review Gilly Hopkins is a determined-to-be-unpleasant 11- year-old foster kid who the reader can't help but like by the end. Gilly has been in the foster system all her life, and she dreams of getting back to her (as she imagines) wonderful mother. (The mother makes these longings worse by writing the occasional letter.) Gilly is all the more determined to leave after she's placed in a new foster home with a "gross guardian and a freaky kid." But she soon learns about illusions--the hard way. This Newbery Honor Book manages to treat a somewhat grim, and definitely grown-up theme with love and humor, making it a terrific read for a young reader who's ready to learn that "happy" and "ending" don't always go together. (Ages 9 to 12) --Richard Farr
  7. 7. From School Library Journal Grade 4-6. Another page-turner from the author of The Kid Who Ran for President (Scholastic, 1996). Eddie Ball, 11, lives with his mother in a cramped trailer in rural Louisiana. Although he dreams of moving to a "regular house," Mrs. Ball's salary at the Finkle Foods Factory is low, and her bills are many. Eddie's best friend is his African-American next-door neighbor and classmate, the poetry-loving, basketball-playing Annie Stokely, who lives with her father. When both adults are laid off from the factory, Eddie enters one of Annie's poems in a poetry contest sponsored by Finkle Foods; the winner gets a chance to sink a foul shot during halftime at the first game of the NBA finals for a million-dollar prize. Early in the book, Eddie wins the poetry contest, but can he make the basket? Shooting lessons from Mr. Stokely improve Eddie's free-throw success rate, but someone seems to be sabotaging the practice sessions. Things become more complicated when Mr. Finkle visits Eddie, admits that his company is having financial troubles, and offers him a bribe to throw an air ball. Gutman expertly builds up suspense to the moment of the shot, milking the throw itself for several delightfully agonizing pages. The story, with occasional basketball tips well woven into the narrative, will appeal to both sports readers and general audiences. Gutman's subtle humor, exciting sports action, and excruciating suspense make this title an outstanding choice for reluctant readers.?Denise E. Agosto, Midland County Public Library, TX