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review 2018-08-02 22:12
Thornhill by Pam Smy
Thornhill - Pam Smy,Pam Smy

This is another book I randomly picked off the shelves when I went to the library for the first time in six months. I was drawn in by the spine. All I saw was it was completely black with Thornhill written in bright white font. Once I flipped through the book and saw it was also told through illustrations, I decided to read it right there and then. And I was not disappointed.

 

Thornhill is told through two perspectives. The first is Mary, an orphaned girl living in the Thornhill Institute during 1982, and is being viciously bullied by one of the other orphans. The second is Ella, a girl living next door to the ruined Thornhill Institute in 2016, who sees a little girl inside the institution and desperately wants to become her friend. What unfolds is a story about loneliness, anger, and pain these two must face in order to find their peace in the world.

 

This story is depressing. Pam Smy does not shy away from showing how terrible being the victim of bullying truly is. It hits the reader hard. Just reading about the pain Mary goes through, seeing her in pain, how lonely she is, it just hurts so much. With the fantastic artwork accompanying the story, brings that hurt alive. Smy is truly talented in weaving both the past and present into one narrative. I am in awe at her abilities to create a story not just through words but art as well.

 

Her characters are so amazing as well. I feel so strongly for Mary the most. She just wants a family to love and appreciate her and because of how quiet she is, she is treated so poorly. Not just by the other orphans, but by the adults as well. But she is such a kind, gentle soul. She loves creating dolls to be her friends and it's truly magical. I adore her. Ella is also kind and gentle. She works so hard in befriending the girl she sees next door and I love that her instinct was to be friends and not to judge her. Smy's characters are lovely and it makes me feel all the more for them.

 

I can't really dive into anything else that happens in this book because it's all about seeing how everything plays out for these two and how the two time periods become interwoven. All I will say that this is truly a tragic story and if there's one thing you take away from reading this book is, if you see anyone being picked on or bullied, please say something. Get help. Being tormented day in and day out is no way to live. Please don't let anyone suffer. We are all on this planet to live as best we can. Let's try to make it a good place for everyone.

 

I really like this book for its art and story, and though it is quite a depressing read, I highly recommend you pick it up. There's violence, bullying, and child neglect involved so keep that in mind when reading this book. However, I do think it's worth the read and worth it for the art as well. It's absolutely stunning!

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review 2018-07-27 13:37
My Name Is Parvana (The Breadwinner, #4) by Deborah Ellis
My Name Is Parvana - Deborah Ellis

And with My Name Is Parvana, this amazing series comes to an end. I had an wonderful and heartbreaking experience reading this series and I would reread these books again and again for years to come. I adored all of these books. Each one has a very important story to tell. Each one is a story that must be told. All four books contain a message, a story, a lesson which we should learn about the people living in Afghanistan, especially the women.

 

Deborah Ellis did a fantastic job in researching the country of Afghanistan. She went above and beyond to bring their stories to life for Western audiences to understand the atrocities that happen there. I love her writing style so much. It's blunt. She doesn't shy away from telling you that women are being tortured, raped, and murdered constantly. And though these books contain such heavy topics, I think it's important that we read them. Not just adults, but children, too. It's important that we read and understand that these things happen in the world and from learning about these horrible acts, we can prevent them from happening in the future. These books teach us that through education, through acceptance and love and empathy, we can get to a better place and help each other to find said place. Ellis writes her characters to be such brave and loving people.

 

Seeing Parvana and how strong and brave she has become by the end of this series is so wonderful. I love how she fought so hard despite all the hardships thrown her way. In fact, so many characters in this book continue to get up and fight even if it seems hopeless. Asif, Sauzia, Mrs. Weera, Parvana, they are such amazingly strong and brave characters. So real and authentic. I admire them greatly. I won't go on about how much I love these characters because that will bring me to spoiler territory, but you should definitely read these books to find out how these characters come together to overcome all the strife surrounding their lives.

 

If you've read all the previous books, then continue on. This book gives the read hope. Not a false hope either. It's not telling you things are going to be better from this point on. It's telling you that life is cruel and messy and sometimes, you want to just give up. But if you can find the strength to keep going, it'll all be worth it. It's a fantastic series if you want to learn more about Afghanistan or the women living therein. It's a great series if you want to find just a little bit of hope out there. I highly recommend you read The Breadwinner series. They are such amazing books!

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review 2018-07-27 05:43
Treasure Hunt House
Treasure Hunt House: Lift the Flaps and Solve the Clues… - Kate Davies,Becca Stadtlander

I meet a couple of friends once a week for coffee/chai/chocolate and today one of them said "want to go to the bookstore afterwards?"

 

...

 

I assumed it was a rhetorical question.  Anyway, this friend has 2 small kids so we of course gravitated to the kids section, where she bought nothing, and I bought this book.

 

For myself. 

 

It has flaps. 

 

It has clues.

 

It has riddles.

 

Did I mention it had flaps?  Flaps are almost as good as pop-ups!  

 

The book is beautiful, with a gorgeous spread and multiple flaps for each room of a house owned by an obviously very wealthy Great Aunt Martha.  Behind each flap is a little fact about the object on the flap and they cover a multitude of subjects: art, music, inventions, history, and fashion.  

 

Each spread also contains a clue to one of the flaps - this was, unfortunately, the most disappointing aspect of the book as the clues seemed easy to the point of insulting.  Yes, yes, this is supposed to be a kids book, so the clues reflect that, I know.  But the clues' simplicity seem disproportionate to the relative maturity of the facts the other flaps contain.  There are a few concepts (like BC and AD, or royal executions as examples) that  imply a higher level of education than clues that consist of "Stop Press! Read all about it! The answer is here in black and white!", which is easy enough that I don't even have to tell you the answer.  Although perhaps in this digital age I'm giving kids too much credit.  

 

Regardless, the facts were great but the clues too easy.  But the book is lovely and I can't wait to show it to my nieces.

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review 2018-07-16 12:54
Mud City (The Breadwinner, #3) by Deborah Ellis
Mud City - Deborah Ellis

After reading Parvana's Journey, I decided to hop right into Mud City to see what will happen next to Parvana and her family. However, once I started to read it, I quickly discovered that this book followed her friend Shauzia, not Parvana. That's didn't deter me from reading the book, of course, because I loved Shauzia in the first book and was looking forward to her journey since last we heard from her. I just had to change my expectations of what the book was going to be about. And is was such a fantastic read! Reading these books have been a wonderful experience. I'm enjoying it tremendously. They have been heartbreaking, especially this installment for very personal reasons which I will explain momentarily. But these book have been a valuable experience throughout.

 

I'm going to start off by talking about Shauzia. This is the first time we get the story through her perspective. In The Breadwinner, we see her through Parvana's eyes. We learn that she wants to escape her life in Afghanistan by going to the sea and traveling to France. At the end of the first book, we learn that Parvana and Shauzia make a promise to meet in twenty years on top of the Eiffel Tower to know that they were able to make it out safely. In Parvana's Journey, the only mention of Shauzia we get is through the letters Parvana writes to her. We don't actually see her. So this is the first time we get to learn more about her. She is a lot more hot-headed than Parvana is. She is someone who fights hard for what she wants, not paying any mind to the consequences. Shauzia is more of a loner and a fighter than Parvana, and I wouldn't have her any other way. She makes some foolish mistakes, but she comes out the better for making them and I'm now looking forward to learning more about her and Parvana in the last book in the series! 

 

Deborah Ellis continues to write about difficult subject matters in an approachable way so that anyone, children and adults alike, can understand and empathize about the wars happening in Afghanistan. I am learning so much about what happened in Afghanistan in the past for it to be the way it is now. Although, I remember some of what happened through personal experience. I lived across the Hudson when the World Trade Center Towers were destroyed. I saw them crumble down. I saw the sky covered in the thick, black smoke. I saw people running around, trying to get their families together. I heard yelling and crying and screaming coming every which way. I was stuck in traffic for five hours in a ride that should have taken ten minutes. All of that is still fresh in my mind. So reading about that in this book, it was so hard for me... but I'm glad to see that this book didn't shy away from mentioning that terrible event. I'm glad it's being talked about and written about and taught to younger kids. That this book shows that there's good and bad everywhere. That even though what happened in New York that day still haunts and hurts a lot of us here in the States, that there are people in Afghanistan who are hurt by those same events and that they, too, want the violence and suffering to stop. Just knowing that this book is out there for kids to read and learn that not everyone is cruel gives me hope.

 

I'm going to stop now. Reading Mud City and then writing this review has made me emotional, I know, but I had to get this out. This is an amazing book. An amazing series! Please, if you have not read the first two, give them a shot. If you have, read this one, too! It's just as good as the first two. Read it to your kids, if you have any, or just read it for yourself. They are such great books and I highly recommend them.

 

And now I'm off to read the final book in The Breadwinner series. I'm a bit worried to see how everything is going to end, but there's no way I'm going to stop now. I want to know the ending and I can't wait to read My Name is Parvana.

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review 2018-07-14 14:08
Parvana's Journey (The Breadwinner, #2) by Deborah Ellis
Parvana's Journey - Deborah Ellis

After how much I adored the first book in this series, I decided to continue on with Parvana and her journey to find her family. I'm glad I did. This is a beautiful, heartbreaking, painful story about a young girl as she travels throughout Afghanistan under the Taliban rule. I'll put it bluntly, this book is a difficult read. People are dying, children are starving, and there's violence throughout so... it's not for the faint of heart. However, I highly recommend you read this book if you've read the first one and appreciated the story within.

 

Parvana is still an incredible character. In this book, she is very angry and tired and looses patience quite easily with the other children. Can you blame her? Her entire life has been nothing but strife and chaos. She's a young girl who knows war and only war. And it's getting to her. I felt so strongly for her in the first book, but I feel so much more for her in this one. She's been through so much already and you know she's only going to experience so much more pain still. Asif is a new character and I adore him, too. He starts off as a brat and, as the story continues, he's still a brat but he acts more like a brother to Parvana. He's sweet and caring, he just doesn't know how to show it. Another character that's new to the story is Leila. She is a lovely little girl with a vivid imagination who joins Parvana and Asif on their journey to find Parvana's family. She is free-spirited and so sweet; I adore her so much!

 

Ellis did a fantastic job in writing this book and creating these characters. She is bringing awareness to what happened in Afghanistan and is helping young children understand that part of the world a little more. She is urging for us to help in any way we can so that way people in Afghanistan, especially women and children, have a chance to live a life free from war and violence and starvation. I love that she wrote these books with the intention to help those in Afghanistan.

 

I love this book just as much as I love the first book in The Breadwinner series. I will continue to read the rest of this series because I want to know what is going to happen with Parvana. I have to see how her story will end. I hope she is able to find peace and happiness one day. I truly do. And I shall continue to read in order to find out! Please read this series! To learn more about our history, Afghanistan's history, and the history of many women who have lived through the war under the Taliban rule. It's a heavy read, but one well worth the weight. 

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