Book reviews


Aloha Summer by Bill Wallace
Reviewed by Lula Hernandez

The book is about a boy named John Priddle who just recently moved to Hawaii from Oklahoma. His family and he have to adjust to such a new culture plus dealing with racial issues between the Native Hawaiians and the whites. An example of the racial issue that John deals with is in school. The teacher gives special attention to the whites because they are so deserving and are far more superior to the darker races. John and his family see that this attitude is very wrong and they try to bring harmony between the two races. John also becomes friends with a girl named Carol (Hawaiian name Kalola), who teaches him about the culture and history of the island they live on. Another issue John encounters is learning how to love. He learns that having feelings for Carol isn't so bad and that girls do not have diseases if you touch them. This book was over 160 pages and I would say it is appropriate for ages 10 and up. Children will find this book interesting and fun by learning how to say the Hawaiian words. Even though this book was an easy read, I learned a lot about the Hawaiian culture and I enjoyed reading it. Rating: *****

 Angel Child, Dragon Child by Michele Maria Surat
Reviewed by Jennifer Jones

This book deals with immigration. This story is about a Vietnamese girl named Ut who attends a United States school. Ut misses her mother who is still in Vietnam. The children at the school make fun of Ut and her sister. Ut educates the students about her culture. Ut's new friends give her a wonderful gift. This book would be good if a new student comes to class that is from a different culture. Children would like this book if they like to learn about a different culture. Rating:*****

A Day on the River by Reinhard Miche
Reviewed by Samuel Seggerson

This book was published in 1985. The plot of this story is three boys that skip school and spend their day on the river having fun adventures with each other. This book would be good for teaching children the value of friendship and using their imagination to have fun. This book would be appropriate for children in 2nd to 5th grade. This would be a fun read for a child in a reading class. Rating:***** 

Cornrows by Camille Yarbrough
Reviewed by Zachary Bauer

This is a great book that deals with African American culture. The story talks about two children who live with their mother and great grandmother. The children love to hear stories from their great grandmother, and she begins to tell the story of braided hair, and why people wear it that way. She goes through a lot of culture, and history while she tells her story, and the story is enhanced with black and white drawings around the text. This book is a bit longer, and maybe a bit harder for young children to read on their own, but the teacher could definitely read this to their class to allow them to understand other cultures. This book is probably more appropriate for third or fourth grade students to read on their own, and would be a good tool for showing origins in culture, and talking about the slavery issue. 

 A Place for Joey by Carol Flynn Harris
Reviewed by Kathleen Tebbe

This book is about an Italian family that has moved to Boston, Mass. In this family, the son, Joey, has become Americanized, but the rest of the family has not. When Joey finds out his mother and father want to move into the country and buy a farm like they had in Italy, he tries to find any possible reason not to go with them, such as finding a job, even though he is too young to work. In searching for this job, Joey goes through a life-changing experience by helping someone. From this experience he realizes that his world will not end if he and his family move. He discovers a new dream and a new life for him to live. I give this book a three star rating. This book would be appropriate for junior high school age children (7th and 8th grades). By reading this book, children can learn that not only is it okay to be different in a new and strange place, but also to have huge dreams for yourself and to set the highest goals.

Feliz Nochebuena Feliz Navidad by Maricel Presilla
Reviewed by Jessica Smith

This book deals with the issue of different holidays and different ways to celebrate holidays. The book begins by explaining how the character knew Christmas was coming in Cuba, but when they moved to the U.S. there were different signs of Christmas. There is a short background of the Hispanic Christmas celebrations and others. It also talks about different Christmas traditions and foods that the cultures had and provides recipes for some of these foods. This book would be most appropriate for third and fourth grade, or possibly second if it was used in pieces. It could be used in the classroom at Christmas time to explain the different ways people celebrate and that not everyone celebrates the same way or the same holidays. Rating:***

Grandfather's Journey by Allen Say 
Reviewed by Joshua  Mockensturm

The book "Grandfather's Journey" is about a Japanese immigrant's journey to America, and how he falls in love with it yet longs for his native Japan. The story is told through the perspective of the grandson, and discusses the issue of Immigration and how his Grandfather would always long for one place when he was in the other. It is a very emotional and well-illustrated book with many of the pictures looking like famous pictures or paintings. This book would be appropriate for K-2 most likely.

Beatrice's Goat by Page McBrier
Reviewed by Allie Grube

This book is about Beatrice, a little girl from Africa, whose family doesn't have much money. She helps her mom with a lot of the everyday chores. She doesn't have enough money to go to school but she really wants to. One day they receive a goat that changes their life around. They are now able to sell the goats milk and make money to get things they need to have a better life. This is a true story. This book would work well in first or second grades. It shows that with hard work good things happen. Rating:*****

Be Good to Eddie Lee
Reviewed by Sara Mattingly

Be Good to Eddie Lee is a very touching picture book about a girl who learns a valuable lesson from her neighbor who has Down's syndrome. Christy's mom tells her she has to be good to Eddie Lee and Christy just thinks he is a pest until one day he shows her what really counts, and that is what is on the inside. This is a wonderful book to use if you are touching on the issue of differences or children with special needs. This book would be good for students between the ages of 4 and 8. Rating *****

Best Day of the Week by Nancy Carlsson-Paige
Reviewed by Zachary Bauer

This book talks about two grade school friends, Angela and Calvin who loved Thursday because that was trash day. The two friends loved to explore the things people had thrown away, and use some of the things for play. Calvin and Angela find a table in the trash, and keep it to play with. They argue over what to play when they had the table, but finally agree to compromise. This book would be appropriate for second to fourth grade students. They could learn how to use their imagination, and how to deal with conflicts. This book shows how two friends come to a conclusion and learn to use each person's unique play idea to form one uniform idea.

Celebrating Birthdays in Australia by Cheryl Enderlein
Reviewed by Zachary Bauer

This book talks about Australia, explaining about the country itself, and the people who live there. The book then moves on to explain what a birthday is, and what it means to celebrate a birthday in general. It also talks about birthday traditions, and how some families have different traditions. Australian birthday food is discussed as well; differences between American and Australian foods are evident. This book is appropriate for kindergarten to second graders. It is very easy to read, and doesn't get into a lot of cultural details, but enough for children to know that people in other parts of the world live differently than we do. A teacher could use this in class when someone has a birthday, or when the class is discussing different cultures during a cultural week activity at the school.

Celebrating Birthdays in China by Cheryl Enderlein
Reviewed by Karri Smalley

The issue is cultural differences in celebrating birthdays. This book describes the different birthday celebration traditions in China. The book outlined differences in the importance of birthdays and gifts of good luck. The book is for ages 4-8 This could be used as a way to introduce multicultural traditions to the class. Students who are of Chinese decent could find this interesting, and those who are not of Chinese decent might also find that there are different ways to do things that could be interesting. Rating:***

Chinese Eyes by Marjorie Waybill
Reviewed by Sara Mattingly

Chinese Eyes is a story of an adopted Korean girl who gets a very important lesson in how insignificant it is that some people may call her names because she is different. This heartwarming story teaches all of us a great lesson that all though we may look different we are all still very much the same. This book would be good to use when talking about diversity or even multiculturalism. It could even be used to touch on the issue of adoption. I think it would be appropriate for children 4-8 years old. Rating *****

Coat of Many Colors by Dolly Parton
Reviewed by Stacy Rosebrook

This would be a good book to use with second or third grade students along with a lesson centered around how we should treat other people. In this story a mother makes a coat out of colorful rags for her daughter who doesn't have a coat. The little girl is so proud of her coat of many colors that her mama made for her. She wears it to school and the kids all make fun of her because her coat doesn't look like theirs. At the end the little girl says that even though she isn't rich like the other kids she is rich in her own way because her mama sewed every stitch with love. Students that have felt like this at some point may also enjoy reading this book to realize they are not alone.  Rating: *** 

Creativity by John Steptoe
Reviewed by Tiffany Hargenrader

This book is about the issue of ethnicity and being different. There are two boys: Hector and Charles who are the main characters of the story. Hector just moved to Charles' neighborhood and Charles tries to help him out by just being his friend and giving him a pair of his old shoes so that he would fit in. I think that this book would be appropriate for anyone in grades 1-6. A child could find this book helpful when they are trying to make friends with a child who is different from them. This book shows that you can still be friends with someone who is from a different country than you. You will probably find out that you have many similarities with this person.

Faraway Home by Jane Kurtz
Reviewed by Stephanie Backus

This book is about a girl's father who has to go back to Ethiopia to care for his sick mother and he tells her about what it was like to grow up there. Desta comes home from school one day to find out that her father is going to Ethiopia to take care of his sick mother. Desta tells her father that she doesn't want him to leave because it is so far away and her father tells her that it is never far away to him. He tells her stories from when he was growing up. At the end, Desta's father tells her that he will come back and she decides that she will hold his stories in her heart until then. It is recommended for students ages 4-8. This book would be good to show students that people in other cultures grow up differently but there is no right way. Rating:*****

Hanna's Christmas by Melissa Peterson
Reviewed by Allie Grube

This book is a bout a little girl that has moved from Sweden to America right before the Christmas season. She is already sad about having to move away from her grandma, but she also finds out that her mom is too busy to do the traditions they normally have. Hanna takes it upon herself to make sure that the traditions still happen. This is a good book to use at the holiday season to talk about the different ways people celebrate. It would be appropriate for grades K-3. Rating:***

How My Family Lives in America by Susan Kuklin
Reviewed by Tiffany Hargenrader

This book is about children whose parents were born in another country and these children talk about their heritage and different things that their parents have taught them about their country. This book would be appropriate for any elementary age child and you could use it in the classroom to help your students learn about the many different heritages. Children may find this book very interesting because there are different foods mentioned and also activities that are discussed. There are also some recipes in the back of the book for the different foods that the children could make with a parent or with their class.

I Hate English! by Ellen Levine
Reviewed by Stephanie Backus

This book is about a girl named Mei Mei who has to adapt to living in America. She does not want to learn English; she would rather just speak Chinese. She goes through most of the book refusing to speak English because she thinks she likes Chinese better. She ends up getting a teacher who wants to help her speak English and she gives in to the teacher and speaks English. However, she also speaks Chinese so she doesn't lose her culture. It is recommended for students ages 4-8. This book would be good to show students of another culture that they can learn English and still be in touch with their home culture. Rating: ****

I Love My Hair! by Natasha Anastasia Tarpley
Reviewed by Kenzey Meyer

This book is about a young African American girl who is proud of her heritage and race. A large aspect of her identity is her hair. It goes through how she combs her hair, the texture, and the many different ways she can style her hair. This could be a great book to introduce to a 3rd or 4th grade classroom when talking about racial differences. Students can learn about what makes them special and what makes those around them special. Children can then explore how their hair makes them special.  Rating: ****

Jooka Saves the Day by Gilles Eduar
Reviewed by Meghan Mosier

Jooka is a dragon that thinks he is a crocodile. He knows he is different and always feels out of place, but one day he visits the wise pelican and discovers that he really is a dragon. He works on his skills and then goes back to live with his friends. He saves the day from hunters and realizes that he is important even if he is different from everyone else. Use: This book is a good book to help students who are struggling with low self-esteem. It can bring together children and help find the best in each other even among differences. 5 stars

New Friends, True Friends Stuck-Like-Glue Friends by Virginia Kroll
Reviewed by Stacy Rosebrook

This would be a great book to use in a pre-school or primary level classroom to introduce a lesson on how we are different from each other. The author tells an energy packed story of all of the differences between a group of friends. The illustrations really do a great job portraying the illustrations the author speaks of. Reading this book with and to you students will really help them realize that they can be friends with someone even though they are different than them. Rating: ***** 

Once Upon a Time in Chicago by Jonah Winter
Reviewed by Mariel Nash

This book was about a Jewish boy, Benny Goodman, who learned to play the clarinet very well. It took place in Chicago in a poor part of the town where there were immigrants from Russia. Benny first learned to play the clarinet in the local synagogue and later took up lessons with Franz Schoepp. Benny didn't talk much, but instead he spoke through the beautiful music that came out of his clarinet. The issue that could be taken from this book is a race/ethnicity issue, or even socioeconomic status issue. Anyone can do what they dream if they work hard enough and practice enough, they too can change their lives from being poor to making a good living or breaking away from an racial/ethnic stereotype. Another way to look at the story could be the saying "if you work hard, your dreams can become a reality."

On the Wings of Eagles by Jeffrey Schrier
Reviewed by Megan Bruner

This one brief moment in a historic event which spanned nearly three thousand years became the inspiration for artist Jeffrey Schrier's moving depiction of the rescue of the Ethiopian Jews by the sate of Israel. This would be a good book to use while teaching a lesson on war. This book deals with the issue of multiculturalism. It would be best for students in grades 3-6. Rating: ****

Our Peaceful Classroom by Aline D. Wolf
Reviewed by Amanda Shuck

Our Peaceful Classroom is based on the thoughts of students in Montessori classrooms around the world. It shows what Montessori schools are like and how the children want peace throughout the world by incorporating societal problems. This book would be useful in a Montessori school to show what other schools are doing or in a regular classroom to show how there are different types of schools. It would be used in an early elementary classroom setting, as it is overall at the level of a young child. Rating:***

Raymond by Mark Geller
Reviewed by Lindsey Ford

This novel follows a short time in the life of 13-year-old Raymond Cole, who lives in Gary, Ind. Written mostly in dialogue, students reading this book discover that Raymond's home is not a happy one. His father is abusive toward Raymond and his mother. Social services become aware and concerned with the problems, and encourage Raymond to admit that he is being abused. When Raymond finally snaps, he ends up hitting his father, then running from the house in fear of his father. A view into the rough life that forces Raymond to be more of an adult than a child becomes vivid. Raymond's struggle to escape his home life, and encourage his mom to do the same is told in easy to read dialogue. A hint of Raymond's innocence shines through in his uneasiness towards anyone who tries to take advantage of his adolescence. This novel addresses the hardships that a person of any age could encounter, but focuses on the changes that a boy in middle school is experiencing. The end of the novel illustrates that his long and hard journey to find freedom finally does happen after he takes initiative and steps out against his father. Students of middle school age could easily relate to this story, even if they are not victims of this same kind of abuse. The underlying lesson is one of courage, and that love ultimately wins over violence. In the classroom, this novel could be an assignment outside of class. Before discussing it amongst classmates, students could be asked to write what they learned from this story and how they could apply it to a problem they have been experiencing. How do they relate to Raymond in any way? It could also raise awareness of abuse that could be happening to any student. Friends could realize that this could be happening to anyone they know. Raymond receives 4 out of 5 stars in my opinion. The only problem I see with it is that some students may not understand some of the situations that are implied in the story (such as Raymond helping a drug dealer in order to get money). It may cause some confusion and raise some questions in class. If the teacher is willing to discuss the issues, then by all means, this book is a great way to cope with the hard times that occur in middle school.

Sitti's Secrets by Naomi Shihab Nye
Reviewed by Jessica Smith

The book deals with immigration and having family members in a different country. It would be a good book to read to first and second graders, but it would probably be third grade until the students could read it themselves. Sitti's Secrets is about a little girl whose grandmother lives on the other side of the world. One day she gets to go visit her grandmother and she learns how to communicate with her even though they do not speak each others languages. Her grandmother finds way to show peace and communicate with other cultures and the granddaughter thinks it is important that the U.S. does this. It could be used in class to help students that are dealing with just moving to the U.S. or who have family members in another country. Rating: ****

The Color of Home by Mary Hoffman
Reviewed by Amanda Shuck

This is a story about a young boy who moves to America from Somalia and is struggling to fit in and like this new, unfamiliar place. After painting a picture, representing the tragedy he went through, then explaining his story, Hassan is able to realize that this new place isn't as bad as he thinks. This book shows how immigration or moving can affect a child s life. A child who may have just moved or is going through a similar situation could find this book helpful. Rating: ***

The Gift by Aliana Brodmann
Reviewed by Meghan Mosier

A little girl gets money for her Hanukkah present and goes through her town looking for something to buy with it. By the end of the day she ends up giving her money to an accordion player on the street who teaches her how to play. Use: This book can be used to show how gifts can be given to anyone for any reason. The gift that is given can also result from a gift in return. Rating: *****

The Crystal Heart by Aaron Shepard
Reviewed by Tiffany Hargenrader

This book is about a Vietnamese woman who is looking for her mate and she thinks that she has found him when she hears a man singing this lovely song while rowing through the water in his boat. She waits for him to come back and when he finally does, she realizes that he is just a fisherman and she no longer loves him. He eventually dies because he has fallen in love with her and realizes that she does not share the same love. I think this book would be appropriate for maybe like 5th or 6th graders and I think it may be helpful to read to show them that sometimes the first person you love can be the one that you should marry, even if they are of lower status than you are.

The Falling Stars by Wilhem and Jacob Grimm
Reviewed by Mariel Nash

This book was about leaving everything up to God and being a giving person. The little girl in the story had no parents yet she still gave everything she had, which wasn't much, away to others who were in need. She was rewarded by God in the end with riches beyond her wildest dreams to fulfill her own needs. The issue that could be taken from this book is of being a giving and loving person and you will be rewarded in the end for all your good-doing, even if it is not with riches, but maybe with kindness from others in return.

The Land of Many Colors by The Klamath County YMCA Family Preschool
Reviewed by Allie Grube

This book is about war and cultures. In the book there are three groups of people; the green people, the purple people and the blue people and they all thought they were each the best. One day they began fighting. Then someone pointed out that war was mean and that they should work together and love one another. All the different people found out life is better when they worked together. This book would work well in preschool and kindergarten; the colors and pictures are eye catching. This is a good book to use when talking about that it doesn't matter what people look like we should all work together to make the world a better place. Rating: ****

Addicted to War by Joel Andreas
Reviewed by Peter Husted

This book is about the liberal views of how our military has handled invading other countries and how our country is spending more money on our military than anything else. A lot of the book talks about how our government has killed more innocent people in places they attack then they needed. How Sept. 11, 2001, was our own undoing, and our government should have seen it coming. Also, by us attacking Osama bin Laden, we are playing into his hands by giving him more recruits for his holy war on America. I would give this book only one star because I felt it was very biased in the views in which it was written. I do not feel this has any place in the classroom because it is talking bad about our government, and I don t feel that something like this has a place in the education of young people. Both my grandfathers were WWII veterans and I feel like the book portrayed them as murderers. The only way one could find this book fun or interesting is if they are a liberal who feels that our government is being ran the wrong way. If that is the case, they would love this book. Other than that, I was disgusted by this book. Rating:*