Wednesday, August 16, 2017

In the Shadow of the Sun - a review

In the Shadow of the Sun (audiobook)
by Anne Sibley O'Brien, read by Jackie Chung
Scholastic Audiobooks

North Korea, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), has been in our news feeds much too often lately for all the wrong reasons.  We hear much about the country's leader and its nuclear capabilities, however, we know very little about daily life in the closed, dictatorial nation.

 Anne Sibley O'Brien has lived in South Korea, speaks Korean, and has done extensive research to create this middle-grade thriller about two siblings who are attempting to escape the country after their father, a humanitarian volunteer, has been seized by the police.  Mia is an adopted Korean girl and has little in common with her tall, blond, blue-eyed brother.  But while she may be a minority in her Connecticut hometown, her appearance will prove to be an asset in Korea.

In the Shadow of the Sun could not be a more timely book, and it should appeal to readers of many genres.  It features family dynamics, sibling rivalry, travel, adventure, thrills, mystery, identity politics.  It's relatively short, just under 9 hours and worth your time. 

The publisher suggests Grades 4-7. Lexile is 700.

The audio snippet provided by the publisher on AudioFile Magazine's site, is from the author's foreword—not from the contents of the books itself, which is read by Jackie Chung.  The author's foreword and notes are well worth a listen, however.  It's clear that she is very passionate about depicting North Korean life as accurately as possible.

For more information:
Link to the CIA's The World Factbook page on the DPRK.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Fault Lines in the Constitution - a review

Fault Lines in the Constitution: The Framers, Their Fights, and the Flaws that Affect us Today
by Cynthia Levinson and Sanford Levinson
Peachtree 2017

Most Americans of all political stripes revere our Constitution and the far-reaching genius of the men who drafted it. With the glaring exception of their failure to do away with the heinous institution of slavery, the framers did a remarkable job of creating the rules for a new government.  But are those rules of government still serving us adequately today, or are they aiding the gridlock that we now see in all three branches of government?

YA author Cynthia Levinson, and constitutional scholar Sanford Levinson, wrote Fault Lines in the Constitution to highlight sections in The Constitution of the United States that they believe are contributing to our current political situation.  The Electoral College, the out-sized influence of small and sparsely populated states in the United States Senate, and the difficulty in amending the Constitution are several of the featured flaws.

Whether you agree with the arguments posited by the authors or not (for the record, I think that they make some very salient points), Fault Lines in the Constitution, can serve as a primer on some of today's most pressing political arguments, and as a jumping off point for classroom discussions. 

Are we still in the process of creating a more perfect Union?

Fault Lines content includes illustrations, timeline, bibliography, introduction, and parts with titles that reflect current concerns such as, "How Bills Become (Or, More Likely, Don't Become) Law," and "If America Threw a Party, Would You Be Let In?"

If you want to join in on the Constitutional discussion, join the authors of Fault Lines in the Constitution at this website. []

Another review of Fault Lines in the Constitution:

Read a copy of The Constitution of the United States here.

My copy of Fault Lines in the Constitution is an Advance Reader Copy provided by the publisher at my request. The final version will likely be updated to reflect recent changes adopted by the Senate regarding filibusters.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Stanley's Opposites and Stanley's Numbers - a review

Let me just say that I continue to be a fan of Stanley books by William Bee.  The latest are Stanley's Opposites and Stanley's Numbers from Peachtree (2017).  You'll find these on a shelf near you this fall.

These colorful books are everything one wants in a board book—bright colors, simplicity, simple concepts, minimal text.

If you're interested, Stanley has a new fan page.

You can read my other reviews of Stanley books here:

Thanks to Peachtree Publishers for my review copies.  I'm passing them along to tiny relatives ASAP.😃

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Graphic Shakespeare: Othello - a review

I was working on a collection development project and picked up this copy of Othello from my library in search of a good graphic Shakespeare.  If you have any suggestions, please feel free to share them!

Graphic Shakespeare: Othello 
Adaptation by Vincent Goodwin
Graphic Planet, 2008

A fair introduction to a Shakespearean classic. The back matter includes a glossary, as well as notes on the play, Shakespeare, and the graphic novel adapters. This information would have been more useful as an introduction, as the first act is difficult to follow if the reader is not already familiar with the play.The dialogue retains a Shakespearean flavor, and it should be noted that not all unfamiliar words appear in the glossary. (I had to look up "bawn" in an online dictionary.)

The illustrated characters, besides Desdemona, have a dark and serious cast befitting this tragic play. Scenes featuring Desdemona offer the only break from the furtive treachery talking place in dark corners.The oversized dialogue bubbles, rather than the illustrations, often drive the story.
Othello is part of the Graphic Shakespeare series by Graphic Planet.

For young kids, I absolutely LOVE First Second's Stratford Zoo Midnight Review presents Macbeth.  (There's a "Romeo and Juliet" too, and I hope more to follow) My review is linked above.