Code Name Verity- Elizabeth Wein

I really enjoy historical fiction.  Not only do I get to read a great story but I get to learn in the process.  I also love books with strong female protagonists.  This book truly delivered on both counts.  Told from the viewpoints of two different girls during WWII this book has action, intrigue, female bonding and so much more.

Some of the things I loved about this book:

TONS of literary and historical allusions.  This book is for smart people!

A new take on WWII.  I’ve read lots of books focusing on the plight of the Jewish population- which of course is very important, but this takes a different angle.

Young women in positions of importance.  This is definitely a book that proves can be/do anything.  Even pilot planes during war time!

I truly think this would be a great book to use in the classroom.  Check out this novel guide on Teachers Pay Teachers that helps students with the vocabulary, allusions, and general comprehension.

The Lowdown: (via Scholastic)

Interest Level: Grade 10

Reading Level: Grade 6  (While this may be technically true, the dual narrator, and the allusions, along with some of the content make this book appropriate for high school.

Awards: 

Michael L. Printz Honor Book

Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best Young Adult Novel

Golden Kite Honor

There is somewhat of a sequel available too which I have yet to read.

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Number the Stars- Lois Lowry

This book is a bit of a change for me as it is a bit more middle grades than young adult.  That being said, I’d heard good things so I decided to pick it up and read it.  The story, as most of you probably know, is about a young girl during WWII that lives in Holland and how her family is affected by the Nazi occupation.

It was interesting to read this book so soon after I read Postcards From No Man’s Land (I read both a couple of months ago).  Both provided insight into the war in Holland, but both were extremely different.  Overall I honestly wasn’t that big of a fan of Number the Stars, perhaps if I were more into books for upper elementary school students I would have felt differently.  It appears to be historically accurate, but I felt the plot and the characters lacked development.  I wanted to know more.

The book is definitely school appropriate and could be used for grades 4-7 though I’d say 5/6 is ideal.  This would be a good book to pair with a history lesson on WWII.

Awards:

WINNER 1991 – Arkansas Charlie May Simon Master List
WINNER 1989
– Sydney Taylor Book Award, Association of Jewish Libraries
WINNER 1991 – Kansas William White Master List
WINNER 1991 – Kentucky Bluegrass Master List
WINNER 1990 – Maine Student Book Award
FINALIST 1993 – Massachusetts Children’s Book Award
WINNER – Newbery Medal Winner
WINNER – ALA Notable Children’s Book
WINNER – School Library Journal Best Book of the Year

Postcards From No Man’s Land- Aidan Chambers


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I had started this book in the Spring of 2008 and for some reason I never finished it.  In the hopes of checking off another book on my Printz challenge and because I found a super cheap copy at a dollar store I decided to try again.  I’m glad I did.

Postcards From No Man’s Land weaves together two stories separated by decades.  One story describes the impact of WWII on Holland and its citizens while the other is a modern day story of a teen boy visiting Holland on his own.  In both stories issues of sexuality are discussed, though I was not always sure as to why they were pertinent to the teen boys story.  The book was very descriptive and it definitely held my interest. There are interesting family dynamics explored in the book as well.

This is a book for high school students.  The content and the vocabulary make it appropriate for grades 9-12.  I would consider using in a classroom but would probably send a note home outlining to parents the controversial topics it discusses.  It may be a useful book for history teachers as well.

I was glad to finally read another book with a male protagonist!

Awards:

1999 Carnegie Award

2003 Printz Award

Those of you who have read it, what did you think?

Room in the Heart- Sonia Levitin

Sonia Levitin creates a very realistic account of German occupied Denmark during World War II perhaps drawing on the fact that as a child she escaped Nazi Germany.  The story follows several characters, some Jewish, some not, and some Nazi sympathizers or soldiers themselves.  While a piece of historical fiction this book is also multi-genre- it consists of narrative writing, diary entries, and letters.  I feel that this story does a great job of showing how the German occupation affected average citizens.  This novel shows great examples of how every day people can make a big difference in other people’s lives.  This novel would be a great addition to a unit on the Holocaust in a history class, or just used as a novel study in a language arts class.  I think it is especially interesting because it is not set in Germany like most of the books written about the Holocaust.  This book could be used in classes from 7th to 10th grade, and because it follows characters of both genders will be able to identify with this book.

 

One of my favorite quotes that I think Levitin embodies in this novel:

“I want to focus not on the evil, but on the goodness that exists in this world.” page 285

 

AWARDS:

Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People
Scholastic Book Club

Out of the Dust- Karen Hess

This historical fiction piece is written in verse form. The language is easy to understand however. It takes place during the 1930’s in the middle of the “dust bowl.” This book I believe is appropriate for students ages 10-13 depending on their reading level. If a class were studying this time period it could be an interesting text to read along with it. The protagonist is female however, which might make it harder for male students to appreciate.

 

 

AWARDS:

Newberry Medal 1998

Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction

IBBY Honor List

ALA 1998 Top 10 Best Books for Young Adults

The First Post

I am starting with the YA books that I read this year.  I will be putting each review into different categories in order to aide you in finding books specific to your needs.  These categories will revolve around intended audience and content matter.