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review 2018-04-12 19:39
How Mrs. Santa Claus Saved Christmas - Phyllis McGinley
(spoiler show)

By famous author/poet Phyllis McGinley, this quaint children's tale told alternating in poem and story. 
Mrs. Claus is known for influencing the Mr. and giving him his good ideas, but this year she has thought of a radical idea. It makes Santa so angry he goes to sleep for a nap Christmas Eve, telling no one to wake him-- he will do it himself. The hour has come for Santa to begin his delivery ride, but cannot be roused. So, Mrs. Claus decides to make the trip herself, implementing her new idea. She dresses up like Santa and delivers "skis for the bookworms, books to read on rainy Sundays for the Baseball Breed; For girls who had nothing but dolls on hand, nice red dump-trucks for dumping sand; Nice soft Pandas, huggable and fat for little boys waiting for a cowboy hat; useless presents, extravagant and funny for children with never a cent of money; practical presents for those more rich; for studious fellows, balls to pitch; ribbons for tomboys, jacks for their brothers....." and the change from the expected gifts delights the children that Santa is even more endeared to them. We loved the book.

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review 2018-03-29 20:32
The Journey That Saved Curious George
The Journey That Saved Curious George : The True Wartime Escape of Margret and H.A. Rey - Louise Borden,Allan Drummond
This was an interesting book looking into the lives of the individuals who brought us, Curious George. This book is a biography on the authors and tells us how Curious George came into being, what part the war played on George’s life, and the authors commitment to put their book into the hands of young children.
 
I have always enjoyed Curious George. His antics and his adventures always put a smile on my face. I remember the book where he folded all the newspapers that he was supposed to be delivering and he made boats out of them and then the book where George is scared to go to the dentist, I liked George’s face in that book as it reminds me of how I feel when I visit that scary place.
 
I think George opens up the world to kids, he shows them its okay to be scared, to not know all the answers and its okay to ask questions. He does things that we might perhaps think about doing but don’t act upon. He is our, what if? The world is a huge, evolving place and George helps children navigate inside it. He makes things funny, he calms our fears and being a cute, little monkey helps.
 
As I read this book, I was surprised at the extreme measures the Rey’s took to put George inside a book. The novel begins talking about the couple as they were young children and time moves quickly along. Their dreams, college years, WWI, have the youngsters enjoying their life and doing what they do best: drawing and writing. Working together, they decide to get married and they share their apartment with a pair of marmosets. I am thinking to myself as I read this, how perfect is this? Hans keeps a daily journal as they try to get their projects into the hands of publishers. WWII begins and the couple’s living conditions are unstable. This couple has quite the miles under their belts when they finally find a place that they can call home. It seemed that they were always on the move, their manuscripts and illustrations tucked safely into their bags. Whether they traveling by ship, by train, or by bike, the Rey’s had to travel light but they knew they had someone special inside their bags. The illustrations were bright, cute and whimsical and they went perfectly with the book. It was an education and enlightening read.

 

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review 2018-03-27 19:35
The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden - delightful but way too long
The Girl Who Saved The King Of Sweden - Jonas Jonasson,Rachel Wilson-Broyles

A delightful, surprising, silly, convoluted and humorous historical tale -- until it went on way too long.

 

Nombeko, the hero/main character, turns all bad things her way. She's smart, snarky and rather wonderful. She does some crazy things, but because it's a fantastical story, I was more than willing to follow along. From the most humble of beginnings in Soweto, Nombeko ends up with a pile of diamonds, then through some crazy accident she backtracks by getting somewhat enslaved (I suppose it's actually indentured servitude) to a stupid man who manufactures nuclear weapons. She's smarter than the man, so she gets the better end of that deal after a while, though she gets caught up with a couple of Mossad agents in the process. All of that takes her to Sweden, also rather accidentally. There she hooks up with a set of twins (Holger One and Holger Two -- it really is quite silly) who have a plan to liberate Sweden from royalty.

 

Needless to say, this doesn't sit well with our hero, who falls in love with the smarter of the twins. Their lives are intertwined irrevocably, so she and her Holger do their best to smother the murderous intentions of the other twin. Eventually all of this leads to the saving of the King of Sweden, among other international figureheads.

 

And that is where the story should have ended, but it didn't.

 

I was up for all of the previous plot, though it became less satisfying along the way. I could never have guessed what turns the plot would take, but the writing became repetitive. The tone stayed cheeky, the facts stayed wild, and after Nombeko had done so many amazing things, overcome entire intelligence agencies, court systems and arms manufacturers (not to mention apartheid,) and saved the King of Sweden, it just lost the luster. It all became the same, and that is decidedly not delightful.

 

And as for taking on race and class and all the other issues, it just doesn't. It uses these facts and history in service of a fun fairytale, but that's not the same as a good examination of the issues.

 

I have the other two books by this author - gifted to me by a friend who thought I'd adore them. I may eventually read them, but for now, I've had enough of this yarn.

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review 2018-03-16 01:03
The War that Saved my Life
The War that Saved My Life - Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

 

In the end it was the combination of the two, the end of my little war against Jamie, and the start of the big war, Hitler's war, that set me free.

- Chapter 1

 

She was not a nice person, but she cleaned up the floor. She was not a nice person, but she bandaged my foot in a white piece of cloth, and gave us two of her own shirts to wear. Miss Smith was not a nice person, but the bed she put us in was soft and clean, with smooth thin blankets and warm thicker ones.

- Chapter 7

 

Huh, I thought. Imagine dressing up tables. Imagine wasting cloth to dress up tables.

- Chapeter 18

 

I wanted Mam to be like Susan. I didn't really trust Susan not to be like Mam.

- Chapter 26

 

Ada was born with a club foot, and because of this, her mom doesn't let her leave the house. But that isn't the worst of it. Ada's mom (Mam) punishes her by putting her in a kitchen cabinet -- sometimes overnight. Mam calls Ada rubbish and tells her no one wants her with her ugly foot. Ada "escapes" this abuse by going somewhere else in her head. 

 

When Ada finds out her younger brother Jamie is to be evacuated with the other kids from his school, she is determined to go with them. The journey takes them to a small village where families have agreed to take in the evacuated children. Ada and Jamie end up living with Susan Smith, an old, grumpy spinster who doesn't really want them.

 

Ada is a heart-wrenching character. She has been taking care of her brother all his life, but no one takes care of her. She has suffered unimaginable abuse from the woman who should love her the most. She doesn't know how to accept love and kindness, and she doesn't even think she deserves it. Her mother has told her that her foot is messed up because Ada did something wrong.

 

Susan has her own issues. She recently lost her best friend and suffers from severe depression. Having Ada and Jamie around gives her something else to think about and an important responsibility - a reason to get up every day and engage with others.

 

Wow. This book is powerful. It is set in England during World War II. I loved watching Ada's development and bonding with Susan and others in the village. Despite everything Ada has been through (or maybe because of it), she is stubborn and courageous. She is also slow to trust and filled with self-doubt. The last chapter had me in tears.

 

I recommend this book to kids in grades 4-8 and their adults. I think it will touch their hearts in a major way.

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text 2018-03-15 23:31
Kill Your Darlings - Red Team Round 6 guess
The War that Saved My Life - Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

 

 

Using this book because it is historical fiction. (review to follow)

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