Reviewed by Esther Bailey.
February is Black History Month in North America and so it's a good time to read and write about some unknown black hero's from history.
The Clothesline Code is another great book from author, Janet halfmann, telling a story that I think few people will have heard of before.
It is the story of Lucy Ann and Dabney Walker and how they risked their lives to spy on the Confederate army during the American Civil War. But these two brave people were not your average spies! Having been slaves (and escaped Slavery!) they had never learned to read or write, but they still managed to devise a whole secret code using laundry on a clothesline! This was the most interesting and exciting part of the story for me and I loved how the author and illustrator showed how they came up with their plan and created their code. In the authors note at the beginning, Janet Halfmann explains that some of the scenes she had to imagine up, but they are based on factual events that really happened. I am glad she chose to include some imagined scenes and conversations, because they really helped to bring the story alive for me.
This book felt like it could be for slighter older kids than picture books usually are, but the illustations by Trisha Mason, are bight and colourful and will make it appeal to younger children, so I think it's a great book for kids 5- years-old to 10-years-old.
I think my school would love to have a copy of this book in their library because it is such an important story about bravery and using what you have been given for a greater purpose than yourself, plus both the story and the afternote teaches you about the Civil War too.
Reviewed by Esther.
So I have to be honest, I don't usually read many books like this - I mean unless I have to for school, I'm more of a fiction girl. But I was pleasantly surprised by this book.
It's actually a great book for everyone because not only does it tell the true story about a pretty amazing man called Robert Smalls (for the story lovers like me,) but it's also packed full of interesting fact pages about the civil war and slave ships in the 1800's (for the kids who love all that history stuff too.) Win win!
So, who was Robert Smalls?
Robert Smalls was a plantation slave born in Charleston, South Carolina. He had a hard childhood but was lucky because he was allowed to work in his masters house instead of on the plantations, where the work was much harder and the masters were meaner. As he watched "boys and girls his own age sold like animals on the auction block," he hated slavery more and more and began to dream of a different kind of life.
I don't want to give away spoilers so I won't tell you what happens exactly but I really like how the Author, Janet Halfman, tells Roberts story because the whole time, despite being a slave and having a terrible early life he comes across as so hopeful and determined. Even though he had never been properly educated he eventually became a very important person, fighting for the rights of slaves and all black people and in the fight to win the Civil War.
I've read lots of books about American hero's (mostly from the Civil rights movement and some about the Slave trade,) for school, but I had never heard of Robert Smalls before, so I really enjoyed reading about how he refused to accept his circumstances and had so much courage and bravery.
The information pages tell the reader lots of facts about slavery in the southern states and also the Civil War. There are even diagrams of the inside of a slave ship.
Another nice feature is throughout the book, the words that some of the younger readers might not understand are bolded and then put into a glossary at the back, which is super helpful.
I liked Duane Smith's detailed illustrations. Even though they are in black and white... His style reminded me a bit of Van Gogh's portraits, which I thought was pretty cool.
I think this is a great book for classrooms and libraries, but also for anyone who is interested in learning about Slavery and the Civil War. I learned a lot!
Reviewed by Esther.
Counting by Sevens is a book I read in school. I was not really looking forward to it because normally I like fast-paced action books the best, so I was a little bit skeptical about this one. Little did I know that it would be such an amazing story and an important one, none the less.
In counting by 7s, author Holly Goldberg Sloan shows us the world through the eyes of Willow Chance, a very special kid who is super smart and kind-hearted but who everyone else thinks is strange. Willow has three, great, obsessive passions - medical practice, gardening and the number 7. These three things are what get her through the traumatic events in the book. And they are VERY traumatic. However I still recommend this book for 11-12 year olds (or if you have a really smart 10 year old…) The book is not scary, but be prepared, it is quite sad.
However more than just being sad I also found Willow's story very inspiring.
The author switches between Willow’s perspective and a few other characters and this gives the reader clever insight into how others see Willow. I thought this made the story super interesting and it made me think a lot about how sometimes we might judge people from our own perspectives, when actually we don’t ever really know another person or what going on inside of them.
I give this book 4 stars.
Reviewed by Esther Bailey.
Orphan Island is one of my all time favorite books.
It is about a little island where everything seems perfect, the beautiful sunset and the crystal clear waters. Except the island's only inhabitants are nine children.
Only one thing ever changes on the island. Once a year, a boat comes to take away the eldest child, and this year it is Deen’s turn to leave. Deen is Jinny’s best friend, The magical thing about the boat and the island is that when the oldest child leaves a new child arrives. This way there are only ever nine kids and it has always been this way. The children have no idea why or how this happens.
When Deen leaves Jinny is the new elder and responsible for the new arrival, Ess. Jinny has to teach Ess everything she needs to know about survival on the island so that when it's Jinny’s turn to leave, Ess will be ready, but will Jinny be ready to leave the only home she has ever known?
This book is everything you would want in a good book, not at all scary, but it is filled with tension, cliff hangers and there is no yucky romance stuff! It has great characters and an amazing plot. Laurel Snyder (The Author) really makes you feel like you are actually there - one of the children on the island.
I totally recommend this book for 10-13-year-olds.
So all in all Orphan Island is an amazing book!
From Emily -
The strongest friends of the soul - BOOKS.