Sleeping in, spending whole days at the beach, and reading great books - a lot of them - oh the joy of summer when you're a kid. The 2012 Summer Reading Program, "Dream Big" is underway in Youth Services at the Library. In addition to a variety of programs there are books for every reader this summer. Take a trip through worlds of fantasy, adventure, romance, history and friendship without leaving the shores of Lake Superior. Check out these titles from the 2012 Great Lakes Great Books list in the fourth through fifth grade division.
Brian Selznick, Caldecott winner for "The Invention of Hugo Cabret," hit another home run with his latest novel, Wonderstruck. Selznick tells two unrelated stories side by side, one entirely with original drawings, the other only in words. Visually, the reader is pulled into the story of a young girl fascinated by a famous New York actress. She runs away from home in search of the actress. Fast forward 50 years where Ben Wilson is on a quest of his own in New York City, looking for the father he knows nothing about. After his mother tragically dies, Ben is left with one small clue about a man she never mentioned. He stumbles upon the American Museum of Natural History, the very place mentioned in "Wonderstruck," a book about the history of museums he found in his mother's things. He hides out in the museum, meets a new friend and discovers his father's identity.
Breaking Stalin's Nose by Eugene Yelchin is poignant fictional tale of Stalin's soviet regime, through a child's eyes. Communist to the core, 10 year old Sasha Zaichik dreams of the day he can join the Soviet Young Pioneers who are "devoted to Comrade Stalin, the Communist Party, and Communism." When his father, a high-ranking official is arrested, Sasha starts to question the system. When everyone suspects everyone else of anti-communist sentiment and accusations end with execution, it's only a matter of time before the state department comes for Sasha. So, when he accidentally breaks the nose off Stalin's statue, Sasha is certain the punishment will be severe. Yelchin's pencil drawings move the story along, adding a beautiful depth.
In Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai, ten year old Ha flees Saigon with her family during the Vietnam War. This story chronicles the time period when life was peaceful for Ha in Saigon, the coming of war, the family's journey jam-packed on a boat for many days and their struggles to start over in America. From the start, Ha dislikes living in America. Her teacher and classmates assume she is uneducated because she cannot speak English. She is scared to go to school, because of a bully. The food tastes bland compared to the spicy dishes she remembers in Saigon. Still, these discomforts don't compare to her biggest fear. Her father, who was captured in North Vietnam, may never unite with them again.
The year is 1937 and Joe Louis, "the Brown Bomber", is boxing his way to the Heavy Weight Boxing Championship. Bird in a Box by Andrea Pinkney captures the excitement that surged throughout the African American community during the preliminary matches and the deciding fight on June 22 against James J. Braddock. In this fictional tale three young African Americans share their stories. Hibernia, a preacher's daughter, dreams of becoming a famous jazz singer and enters a singing contest to raise money for Joe Louis. Willie has big dreams of becoming a boxer, which are crushed when his father holds his hands in boiling water, reducing them to nubs. Willie runs away to Mercy Orphanage, and meets Otis. Together they listen to the fights on Otis' late father's radio, as Joe boxes for glory.
A classic figure in modern American Literature "gits his say" in The Adventures of Mark Twain by Huckleberry Finn by Robert Burleigh. Samuel Clements most famous character, Huckleberry Finn navigates the reader through his creator's life. With both the vernacular and vocabulary of a his mid-19th century self, Burleigh pens a biography, with humorous but accurate commentary. Huck Finn also reflects on his own characterization, and reminds the reader that Mark Twain was a visionary on the issues of slavery and equal rights in a time when it was severely unpopular to speak up.
Disguised as Frank Thompson, Sarah Edmonds joins the Michigan Volunteer Infantry, and signs up to fight in the civil war. Nurse. Soldier. Spy. by Marissa Moss tells the heroic true story of a brave women who fought during the civil war as a man. Thompson served as a nurse when few would agree to help with the horrific battlefield wounds. She went on to spy for union troops throughout the war. Illustrator John Hendrix offers a vivid rendition of fearless Thompson as well as genuine depictions of war-time posters, encampments and battlefields.
- Jenifer Kilpela