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review 2019-03-14 23:12
The Kindness of Strangers - Salka Viertel

"THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS" is one of the best memoirs I've ever read. 

Salka Viertel (1889-1978) I had no knowledge of who she was prior to reading her memoir. But no sooner had I begun to read the first few pages, a door had been opened to a spacious house with many rooms, corners, and closets by an old, dear friend I hadn't heard from for many moons. Salka's words became alive and I eagerly listened to her life story. A life that had begun in a bourgeois Jewish family (her father was a distinguished lawyer and also mayor of Salka's hometown) in the province of Galicia in the latter years of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Salka aspired to be an actress and, after wearing down her parents' resistance, was given acting lessons. This was in the era just before the outbreak of the First World War. Salka became acquainted with some of the finest actors, artists, and musicians as she slowly ascended the ladder to a steady acting career which earned her distinction. Then the war intervenes and for a time, Salka and her younger sister Rose (who would became an actress herself) served as nurses before resuming acting in both Austria-Hungary and Germany. She led a somewhat bohemian lifestyle before making the acquaintance of the man (Berthold Viertel) who would later become her husband. Berthold was a talented poet, writer, and had extensive interest in the theatre. He would go on to become a distinguished theatre director, poet, and film maker. 

The memoir then takes the reader into Salka's later life which took her from Europe to America, where she would eventually work in Hollywood, make the acquaintance of Greta Garbo (who became a close friend), become an American citizen, and helped find homes in America (Salka lived in a lovely house in Santa Monica, California, not far from the Pacific) for many of the writers, artists, actors and actresses who were lucky to escape Hitler's clutches. 

Through reading "THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS", the reader is given access to 2 lost worlds spanning half of the 20th century. That is, " --- the pre-Hitler German-speaking stage and the pre-CGI Hollywood" as it was from the 1920s to the 1940s. Through all her ups and downs, Salka Viertel remained resilient, strong, tender-hearted, and full of life. I am so glad that I made her acquaintance.

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review 2019-02-03 23:49
Amazing Grace
Amazing Grace - Mary Hoffman,Caroline Binch

I absolutely love this book and I am so grateful Ms. Gilmore introduced me to it. It will always be a part of my collection. I love the message and it is a great book for children most importantly. Grace is talented, fearless, and determined. She does not let anyone or anything stand in her way and that is a great quality to have. There are so many activities you can do with this book, students can put on a play and act out the book or write about what they want to be when they grow up. For younger students instead of writing about what they want to be, they could draw or act it out and explain it to the class. 


Lexile 680L

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review 2019-02-03 03:43
Chrysanthemum By Kevin Henkes
Chrysanthemum - Kevin Henkes

This story is about a sweet little girl who is named after a beautiful flower. She grew to love her name. What could go wrong? Now that this little girl is in school, she has hated her name more and more. What will happen now that she is getting laughed at for her name and what will she think about her name in the end?  Lets all pick a new name out of this jar that I have written up. Each name is a flower and I want you all to research more about the flower that you drew. After we all have our information, create a name plate for your new name with different drawings and colors that make your flower extra special. 

Lexile Level: 570L

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review 2019-02-02 03:21
Each Kindness - Jacqueline Woodson,E.B. Lewis

Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson is about a girl named Chloe who chooses not to get along with the new girl in class because of the clothes she wears. Every time the new girl tries to talk to Chloe she ignores her. One day when the new girl does not show up to school Chloe's teacher gives a lesson on acts of kindness. The teacher states that a single act of kindness can create a wave that changes the world. Sadly, the new girl never shows up to school again, and Chloe is left stung by the lost opportunity of friendship. I believe this student would make an impact on students in my future classroom. I would have my students put themselves in the new girl's shoes and write about how they would feel if they were her. 


Lexile: AD530L

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review 2019-01-30 04:59
Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun By Maria Dismondy
Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun: Having the Courage to Be Who You Are - Maria Dismondy

This book has a great meaning for friendship, forgiveness, and kindness. The little girls grandfather always reminded her to "treat people the way you want to be treated." This saying stuck with her while she was getting bullied in school. Having that reminder helped her to befriend the bully and help him when he needed it. This book will help create lots of group discussion throughout the classroom. Having this book to read before asking the students to write about a time where they can help someone who may need it rather than ignoring them. Having the students share their response to the class to encourage kindness all around. 

Lexile Level: 610L

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