Tag Archives: nonfiction

Review: The Reason I Jump

Title:  The Reason I Jumpbook-the-reason-i-jump-ftr

Author:  Naoki Higashida

Publisher:  Random House LLC, August 2013

“According to the Center For Disease Control And Prevention, one in 250 births result in autism, meaning that about 1.5 million Americans have some form of the disorder. The Department Of Education suggests that number is climbing, and that in the next decade or so, there could be over 4 million cases in the United States alone.” -Tammy Ruggles in A Brief Overview of Autism 

Autism is often seen as a mysterious disorder with unknown origins. Although the precise cause of autism is unknown, it is believed to be caused by abnormal brain structure or function.  Arguably, autism is disorder which can only be understood in its entirety by those who experience it. For many individuals who have the most profound manifestation of the disorder, however, communication can be a struggle. Individuals with autism have described situations in which it can be painful to have limited control of their body, to not have the “right words” for the situation, or for some to have no words at all.  Communicating all of the details of that which they experience everyday as a part of normative life can extremely challenging.

In The Reason I Jump, thirteen year old Naoki Higashida writes answers to some of the many questions people without autism have about the disorder and those who live with it.  Hisashida, who has a pronounced manifestation of the disorder, has limited verbal communication skills.  He communicates through written word both on the computer or by pointing to letters on a chart, spelling out words, which are written down by a transcriber. The words that Higashida uses to describe his world are candid, direct, and above all, honest. The book ends with a truly moving short story, written by the thirteen year old boy, which pulled at my heart-strings and brought me to tears. The Reason I Jump proves, as author David Mitchell who wrote the book’s introduction pointed out, that empathy and compassion are absolutely felt by those with even extreme forms of autism, despite popular belief.

The Reason I Jump is an eye-opening narrative which has challenged the way I view autism and those who live with autism. A New York Times Bestseller which can be found at bookstores around the world, this book will change the way the world sees individuals with disabilities. I strongly recommend The Reason I Jump for all readers aged 10 and up.

I would like to extend a very special thank you to my friend, Kiva, for gifting this book to me and reigniting the blogger in me.

Posted by: Janine Reads

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Review: Hana’s Suitcase

thTitle:  Hana’s Suitcase

Author:  Karen Levine

Publisher:  Albert Whitman and Company

Genre:  History/Non-Fiction

            This book is about two stories:  a Jewish girl named Hana who gets caught right in the middle of the holocaust and a woman named Fumiko Ishioka half a world away on an inspiring journey to find the identity of a girl named Hana Brady. This book was on my reading list for school and it pairs well with The Berlin Boxing Club because Karl (from The Berlin Boxing Club) and Hana are both kids that get caught in the tremor of the holocaust, but both in different ways.

Fumiko Ishioka is a Japanese woman on a mission to teach children about the tragedy of the holocaust. She works for the Tokyo Holocaust Research and Education Center, which, of course, is located in Tokyo. She teaches kids of today mainly about kids of then, what their lives were like, what the restrictions put into action by the Nazis were, etc. One day, by request, she gets a package in the mail of things that might help her teach the kids at her facility. They include a sock, a shoe, a can of Zyklon-B poisonous gas, and a suitcase, labeled “Hana Brady, Waisenkind (the German word for orphan)”. She wants to figure out who Hana was, what her life was like, and generally, her story. So she searches literally the globe in a determined hunt for clues that might help her. She faces many seemingly dead ends, but doesn’t give up.

Hana’s story is a deeply sorrowful one, but a very humbling one at least. It made me appreciate the life that I had, which was like that of a millionaire compared to hers. She had a brother named George who was three years younger than her, a mother with a booming laugh, and a caring father. First their (Hana’s and George’s) parents get separated from their household, then the children are taken up by their aunt and uncle, then are separated from their guardians, then each other. Along the way are many losses of lives of both friends and family.

The story of Hana comes to a terrible end, but Fumiko Ishioka’s search did not go in vain. She finds a relative who teaches her students about the terrible seven-year period and about personal accounts as well. In fact, the story of Hana herself was told by her relative, and then written down by Karen Levine. Many people may think that authors barely even have to think to write a non-fiction or history book. I mean, it’s already happened, right? It can’t be that hard. WRONG!! This book was clearly very hard to write, but in a way that’s hard to explain. The whole setup is absolutely perfect. The two stories go back and forth in between chapters. Karen Levine also does a very good job of writing it, in a way that seems very real. Again, it’s hard to explain. I would recommend this book to anyone ages thirteen and up.

Posted by: Fred Reads

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Review and Summary: Freedom Walkers – The Story of the Montgomery Bus Boycott

Title:  Freedom Walkers – The Story of the Montgomery Bus Boycott

Author:  Russell Freedman

Publisher:  Holiday House

Genre: History

 

Many people know something about the Montgomery bus boycott, but not many people know the details. This book explains what happened them in great detail. There are chapters in the beginning about specific people, such as Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Jo Ann Robinson. Then in the middle, the book starts talking about groups and acts by both the white council and the boycotters. The book has a lot of black and white photographs in it relating to either things that already happened or things that the book is talking about at the moment. It is a little confusing at first, but it becomes less unusual as the book proceeds. The author does not hesitate to add the violent part of the civil rights movement, which I think is good, because kids need to know that it wasn’t all simple, that people got hurt and died in the fight for freedom. It’s a really inspiring story about how people decided that they weren’t going to get pushed around anymore, after so many years, and just stopped riding the buses.

The story starts with the laws. In the south, they were called “Jim Crow” laws. They kept African-Americans from doing many things and allowed segregation, which is the separation of two different skin colors or races. For example, on the buses African-Americans were not allowed to sit in the first ten seats, even if none of them were taken. And when a white was in need of a seat an African-American had to give up his or her seat, no matter what the circumstances were. Even if a senior African-American citizen had to stand up the bus driver would make them or else they would be taken to jail for a day or they could pay the fine. Today a five dollar fine wouldn’t be much, but it was back then, especially when some people earned that much in a week. I think the most important people in the book were Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, and E.D. Nixon.

I think that the closest book to this one was The Notorious Benedict Arnold. The book wasn’t boring like most people take a history book to be, yet it was very informative. This is written by very skilled author who has won many awards for his many works of literature, and I see why. Other than this one, he has written seven history books, all about American history. The author knows the fine line between informative and boring. I definitely think the author should write more about the civil rights movement. I would recommend this book to ages twelve and up.

Posted by: Fred Reads

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Review: Tasting the Sky

Title: Tasting the Sky: A Palestinian Childhood

Author: Ibtisam Barakat

Publisher: Meanie Kroupa Books, 2007

Do you remember learning the alphabet? Ibtisam Barakat does, and recalling this moment in Tasting the Sky, regards her imaginary friend Alef who is made of chalk. Alef is the first letter of both the Hebrew and Arabic alphabets. She loves Alef so that she claims him to be her saving grace in a time of war. Alef served her well throughout her childhood, in the aftermath of the 1967 war between Palestine and Israel. Barakat uses this similarity fittingly throughout her memoir as one of the many links between two peoples who may at times seem very different.

A writer of great eloquence, Barakat takes the modern western reader away from their own world and into that of a Palestinian child’s. From the joy of sesame candy to the fear of bombs exploding overhead, Tasting the Sky was not a book which I read with dry eyes. Barakat was able to find a wonderful balance of childhood antics and a real world look at the conflict which is too often seen as hopeless. Also included in the back of the book is a reading list for young people interested in learning more about the Arab-Israeli conflict, a few of which I picked up from my local library today. A poignant look at an issue which still plagues children and families in the Middle East, I recommend Tasting the Sky to readers 12 and up.

Posted By: Janine Reads

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Review and Summary: The Notorious Benidict Arnold

Title:  The Notorious Benedict Arnold

Author:  Steve Sheinkin

Publisher: Macmillan: Roaring Books Press

          This is surprisingly a completely non-fiction book. The reason it’s surprising is because it’s a really good adventure story. Most history books that are in as much detail as this one are either really boring or are a million gazillion pages long. Would you believe that I’ve seen a history book four times the size of this one? It was about 1,348 pages long. That’s insane! It talks aboutArnold’s life from before birth to his death at age sixty.

The story of Arnold’s life is truly amazing it really made a lasting impression on how I looked at the Revolutionary War and period. Most people think of him as an evil, black hearted, completely insane traitor. Yes, it is true that he turned on his country, but he also helped the rebels win the war. In fact, we couldn’t have won the war without him. He was a General and then a Major General. He won America some of the most important battles of that century. The author, by the way, has an Arnold obsession. I see nothing wrong with that. I am obsessed with numerous inventors and scientists. There are exactly seventy one references, not including the ones Sheinkin used for the quotations. Each and every word in this book is completely true. It’s clear from the very start that hours and hours of infinite occupation went into this book.

My favorite part in this story is when Arnold gets his leg nailed into a fracture box after he gets his left leg shattered by a musket ball. The fracture box is the only option he has other than amputation. The reason it’s funny is because during the battle he got it, he is being slowly driven insane by the sounds of musket fire and cannons, against orders, he runs out of the tent screaming battle cries and firing his pistol like a madman.

The thing that I remember the most is the battle of Lake Champlain. (Yes, Champlain, not champagne.) There he makes an impressive display of what studying a body of water can do. They catch the British by surprise in a narrow passage. They get the head start in the beginning and blow several ships to smithereens, but at the end of the day the enemy has them captured. At midnight they make a narrow escape in their smaller boats and surprise the British commander in the morning.

I think this was an excellent book. It was informative, thrilling and adventurous. This was one of the books sent to me by Janinereads. I would recommend this book to anyone ages twelve and up.

 

Posted by: Fred Reads

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Review: The Story of B

 Title:  The Story of B

Written By:  Daniel Quinn

Publisher:  Bantam Dell

No one writes a diary purely for their own pleasure; there is always an audience in mind. At least that is what the fictitious  Fr. Jared Osborne writes in his own diary, published as The Story of B. Part fiction, part non-fiction philosophy, The Story of B asks its readers to examine why what is commonly called “western culture” dominates world culture and question whether this western way of living is going to lead to our eventual destruction.

Though slow to start, there are a few twists in turns throughout the book which are more than enough to keep the average fiction reader interested. Offering more questions than answers in its philosophy,The Story of B is one worth reading again and again for readers aged thirteen and up.

Posted by: Janine Reads

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Review: That’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals

 Title:  That’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals: A Book About Vegans, Vegetarians, and All Living Things

Written and Illustrated by:  Ruby Roth

Publisher:  North Atlantic Books

Genre:  Picture Book, Non-Fiction

 

Ahh, picture books. A wonderful world of color, imagination, and play… but not always. That’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals, a non-fiction book about the truths and horrors of the industrial meat and dairy industries is a semi-sweet and somewhat bitter wake up call written for very young children. The book features America’s favorite animals to eat: pigs, cows, chickens, turkeys, fish, quail, ducks, and geese. It also highlights the meaning of “endangered species”, the rainforest crisis, and the discrepancy between the treatment of the cute and cuddly animals we keep as pets and the ones we choose to consume. Though a little on the preachy side, this book features mezmorizing illustrations and speaks honestly of what happens on farms where animals are bred for consumption. The imagery, which contrasts the life of animals living on open farms and in the wild to that of an animal living on a factory farm, is enough to make any child stop and think about where the food on his or her plate comes from (perhaps even enough to give them nightmares).

 The book itself suggests that we all become vegetarians and vegans to alleviate the problem. Though I am myself a vegan, my own good sense says that though that is one way to look at it, there are other ways to combat animal cruelty. Even as a vegan, I am unsure of how comfortable I would be reading this book to a group of young children in my classroom. However, in the home, with the proper supervision, this book can be a great teaching tool and conversation starter about food choices and the truths of the meat, dairy, and fishing industries. I would recommend this book to children aged 4-8, with parental guidance.

 

Posted by: Janine Reads

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Overview & Review: Foods of India

Title:  Foods of India

Author:  Barbara Sheen

Series:  A Taste of Culture

Publisher:  Thomson Gale

Type:  non-fiction

Copyright year:  2007

This book has four chapters. They are Colorful, Fragrant and Delicious on page four, Common Threads on page sixteen, Tasty Snacks on page twenty eight, and Honored Guests on page forty.

Chapter one talks about the food in general (such as where the food comes from, the Indians’ love of food, and the staple foods). One of the things that I learned from this section is that a tandoor is a barrel shaped clay oven that usually makes thing such as certain kinds of flatbread and tandoori chicken – an Indian favorite.

Chapter two talks about at home dishes such as curry and vindaloo. It also talks about how food is served and eaten. I learned that curry is in fact what the British called Kari, the Indian word for all spicy dishes.

Chapter three talks about, well, snacks. It talks about snacks made at home, fast food, and the ingredients. Some of the snacks talked about are samosas, pakodas, pav bhaji, and pakoras. There are also drinks such as lassi.

Chapter four talks about the food that is served to guests. It especially tells about weddings. This was a long section. Some of the foods talked about are rasam, jaggery, and biriyani. I learned that there are fourteen lamb dishes served between two days before the wedding.

I wish the book would have talked more about the recipes because there were no more than eight recipes in all. They do not look like the best recipes moreover. I think that the book ought to have been longer because it was only fifty three pages long and there were a lot of pictures – thirty one to be precise. Almost all of them took up most, if not all of one page. I also think that the author should have had a smaller quantity of resources because she is a professional writer and had at least forty resources.

I thought this was a decent book and I would recommend it to anyone between seven and ten.

 

Posted by: Fred Reads

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The Golden Days of Greece

Title:  The Golden Days of Greece

 Author:  Olivia Coolidge

 Illustrator:  Enrico Arno

 Publisher:  Fitzhenry and Whiteside Limited  

 

          This book is a non fiction book about Ancient Greece. It talks a lot about war and is very detailed. I liked this book because it talked about lots of things without being too brief. I think that the author should have included more about Greek mythology. The reason I say this is because even though this is a non fiction book, the ancient Greeks did not consider the Olympian “gods” myths.

           They truly believed in things like Thesus defeating the Minotaur and Poseidon overthrowing Oceanus. They thought that these were real thing that happened before them. Alexander the Great even thought he had traced his family to Achilles, the greatest warrior of all time.

          The pictures in this book were not very realistic. They were all in black and white and they were not to scale. They did give you somewhat of an idea of what it was supposed to be about, but they were hard to understand without reading the page first. There were some words that were hard to pronounce correctly at first glance like Tissaphernes and Phoenician.

          I would recommend this book as a school book, but not as a leisure book. I would recommend anyone that would like to learn about ancient Greece that is 13 and up. I thought this was a good book.

 

Posted by: Fred Reads

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Overview: Greek Mythology

Book Review: Greek Mythology

Title:  Greek Mythology

Author:  Simone Payment

Publisher:  Rosen Central

This book is about Greek mythology. What makes it different from other books I have read is that the book not only talks about the stories, but the origination of myths, the spreading of myths, the categories of myths, and several of the Greek heroes, heroines, gods, and goddesses. It is part of a series called Mythology Around the World.

Some of the characters talked about in it are of Narcissus, Prometheus, Pandora, Perseus, and Hermes the Trickster. The story of Narcissus talks about how many women fell in love with Narcissus but were all rejected. One nymph was so distraught that she faded away. The goddess Nemesis tricked Narcissus into falling in love with his own reflection and fading away as well.

My favorite story is of Prometheus. He first created man out of dirt and water. Zeus was impressed so he let Prometheus and his brother Epimetheus give animals and humans special abilities such as speed and fur.

Epimetheus was not very smart like his brother, so he immediately gave all the abilities to animals so there was none left for humans. Prometheus was not happy. He had created humans and was angry that they had not gotten any abilities. So, to make things easier for them, he stole fire from Mount Olympus.

Zeus flew into rage. He bound Prometheus to a rock on Olympus and had vultures scratch at him. The worst part (and the coolest) is that Zeus also had an eagle pick out Prometheus’ liver every day. Since he was immortal, his liver kept growing back and the eagle would come back the next day. This kept on happening for thousands of years until Heracles killed the eagle and freed Prometheus.

I wish the author would have talked more about Poseidon because he is a really interesting god in mythology. There was only one sentence about him. A short sentence, too.

This book talked about some very interesting things and I learned a lot. I would recommend this book to anyone eight and up. I thought this was a good book.

 

Posted by: FredReads

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