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review 2018-09-10 03:00
My all time favorite!!!
Chrysanthemum - Kevin Henkes

If I could give this book 10 stars I would!! Ask anyone what book is my all time favorite children’s book and it would be this one no doubt. I have read this book so many times that I feel I could read it backwards. What a wonderful, positive, and uplifting story this book tells that I feel every student can relate to one way or another. Elementary kids are quick to be discouraged in the little things around them, like their names not fitting on a name tag. But what a great book to read to remind them that every person is special in their their own way and that’s what makes them so great! This is a great character education book to advocate a no bullying atmosphere lesson as well as a great lesson about names such as Tikki Tikki Tembo. Also, this book could be issued mid year as a little mid year pick me up lesson by having  each student draw another student’s name and have them write 2 to 3 sentences about what makes that student unique and why they are glad they are their classmate. The class could then share one by one and have them hung up on the wall for the rest of the year as a daily reminder. 

 

Lexile Leveling: 570L

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review 2018-09-10 02:50
Is there such thing as TOO long a name?
Tikki Tikki Tembo - Arlene Mosel,Blair Lent

Tikki Tikki Tembo is another classic book from my childhood that I loved to have read to me and read myself. Honestly, anywho we reads the full name of the first son can’t help but smile because it’s just fun to say! This is another book that has a beat while reading it and is a hit with shared reading due to the expression in the second son’s voice having to repeat his brother’s long name over and over again. This book is sure to give the any age group a giggle and also make them appreciate their names a little more. A great lesson using this book would be reading this book aloud to the class and having a writing assignment to allow the students to describe why they love their name and possibly the story behind why their parent chose it if there is a story. When they are done writing, allow them one by one to come up to the teacher’s desk and look up their name meaning online for fun to add at the bottom of their page. A great way to start the year with self love! 

 

Guided Reading Level: N

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review 2018-09-05 11:25
An incredible story of survival and success!
The Girl with Seven Names - Hyeonseo Lee,John David Mann

The Girl with Seven Names, Hyeonseo Lee, David John, authors, Josie Dunn, narrator

Hyeonseo Lee had not meant to escape from North Korea or her family. Although it was dangerous, she had only wanted to secretly cross the river into China to visit with some relatives before her 18th birthday. She had planned to return in a couple of weeks at which time she would get an official ID card. However, life intervened in the form of a government census. Her mother was forced to report her missing. She had unwittingly put her mother and brother in danger. Her 18th birthday had come and gone, and now if she were to return she would be responsible for her actions and would be punished. She was trapped in China.

Growing up, Hyeonseo Lee had been a happy and well loved child. In school, she learned what all the other children learned. North Korea was the greatest country in the world. The leaders were like G-ds and even their pictures were valued more than any other possession. The students were brainwashed. They were taught to hate South Koreans and Americans. There were rules about dress and behavior. They were trained to denounce each other for any perceived infractions. Those families would then simply disappear, more often than not. Neighbors turned each other in for extra rations. The fear was pervasive. They had no real freedom, but they also had no real responsibility. The government was meant to provide everything, education, health care, food and shelter, although it was minimal, at best, and many went hungry.

This memoir is the remarkable story of Hyenonseo Lee’s journey to freedom after finding herself trapped in China without proper identification papers. Without any skills or visible means of support, she was forced to rely on her courage, her wits and her relatives and family friends to survive. She was willful and resourceful, and when she felt trapped, she simply picked up and moved on, without a plan, even abandoning those who helped her, if necessary. Fortunately, most often, luck intervened and prevented tragedy from overtaking her. Her story, though, is harrowing and hard to believe. Time after time she escaped from the most dangerous situations because of the kindness of strangers or simply serendipity. After more than a decade, and many hair-raising experiences, she was finally granted asylum in South Korea.

Still, she was alone there, and separated from those she loved. She despaired and would often dream about bringing her mother and brother to her. It would not be without great expense and grave risk to all of them. Escaping from North Korea was dangerous, even for those who had special relationships with the border guards, like her brother who was a smuggler. In the Asian countries mentioned in the book, North and South Korea, Laos, Vietnam, and China, bribery was a way of life. Smuggling of goods and humans was a common business. Brokers, sometimes unscrupulous, were paid to guide those seeking asylum out of the country. Bribes needed to be arranged so that border guards would look away. Government officials took money, as well. Sometimes the commitments were not honored and the money was lost and the asylum seekers were imprisoned and sent back to uncertain fates. No one could be trusted. People eagerly turned each other in to the authorities. Escape often depended on lucky breaks.

For almost two decades, Hyeonseo bounced from job to job, relationship to relationship and from one precarious situation to another. What her story reveals is the constant fear that the North Koreans live with daily. It reveals their distrust of everyone, since everyone is a possible enemy. It reveals their ignorance of all things other than North Korea. It reveals their hatred for America. North Koreans are brainwashed by a system that allows no outside information to influence their lives. It was cell phones and the internet that combined to open up Hyenonseo’s eyes to the world outside and that allowed her to maintain contact with her family throughout her years of exile.

After reading the memoir, I thought that the author either exhibited extreme courage or extreme naïveté. On the one hand, her cleverness allowed her to escape many an ordeal, but on the other, her lack of worldliness prevented her from being suspicious at appropriate times which exposed her to danger that might have been avoided. That said, I do not think there are many who could have successfully accomplished all that she has been able to accomplish in the two decades of her wandering, although, in order to accomplish her goals, she often compromised others. Luckily, things seemed to work out in the end.

There is a great deal of significance given to names in the book. First, a good name was very important in North Korea. Second, the author changed hers, for a variety of reasons, seven times before she found freedom. Thirdly, she also had a unique way of describing her relatives with names that revealed something about them, like Uncle Poor, Uncle Opium, Aunt Pretty and Aunt Tall.

While the book is really informative, and I learned a great deal about the hardships and the dangers the North Koreans face, I don’t think the book fully brought out the magnitude of the danger. So much happened over the almost two decades of  her trials and tribulations, but sometimes the story moved on before I fully absorbed it or understood exactly how it really played out.

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url 2018-08-21 15:54
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review 2018-08-09 04:56
House of Names
House of Names: A Novel - Colm Tóibín

When I saw this book on NetGalley, I chose it because I read Brooklyn and Nora Webster; but this book was something else entirely. A retelling of the story of Clytemnestra, this isn't something I would normally go for, but I live in a house with Greek mythology fans, and they are obviously starting to affect my choices. Not really what I would expect from Toibin either, by the way, but I am convinced now that he can write anything he wants; this story is compelling, and, in some ways, prescient. If it weren't for Toibin's name attached to this story, I probably wouldn't have picked it up at all, though it does have a beautiful cover. (I prefer the red one on Goodreads - BookLikes has its usual limited number of editions - 1 for this one, unfortunately...) I admit, absent of any other information, I do still sometimes judge a book by its cover. In any case, if you feel the way I do, stretch a bit and try this one — there are some graphic moments, but it is a powerful story, and Toibin does not disappoint.

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