The Sign of the Beaver

The Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Spears tells the story of young Matt left alone in the Maine wilderness to guard his family’s cabin from savage Indians until his father returns with his mother, sister, and the new baby. Matt keeps busy tending the corn and sparingly using his father’s gun to keep himself fed and busy.

Soon, the loneliness sets in and a series of events leaves him short on food staples and without only means of hunting. Matt without any likelihood of survival is helped by Saknis and his grandson Attean, members of a local Indian tribe. Matt owes a great debt to Saknis and agrees to help Attain learn to read. This relationship changes both boys as they turn into men. Matt’s expectations are never met when it comes to the generosity and kindness of Attean’s family and he does his best to return their friendship.

I read this with a group of third graders who were able to understand how friendships can cross all sort of boundaries. It may have been a bit difficult for some of the readers, but for those who understand some of the deeper meanings, it was a joy to hear them talk about it.

Read May 2018

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The Bridge of Sighs

Olen Steinhauer’s The Bridge of Sighs is an interesting look into a post-WWII Eastern European city that’s shadowed by Russia. WWII left many dead and many more secrets behind, especially those who switched sides.

Detective Emil Brod, a new, young detective, is assigned his first homicide. Its a crime that everyone seems to want to go away, but Brod is new and believes in his role as detective. He gives almost everything to solve this crime and taking away some power from those who hold too much.

This was an interesting look into how Eastern Europe redeveloped after the war and how influential Russia was into the politics and policing of other nations.

Read May 2018

The Nightingale

What a great book! The Nightingale is about families, secrets, and protecting one another, and set with the back drop of WWII, where the French citizens are barely staying alive. Kristin Hannah shows a side of the war that I’ve not heard much about with a set of sisters set in a small village and Paris. Vianne and Isabelle  grew up very differently when their mother died and their father abandoned them. Vianne, eight years older, was able to marry soon and have a family. Isabelle, more rebellious, was sent from boarding school to boarding school. However, once the Germans invaded France, their lives changed. Vianne, a young mother, whose husband went to fight, needed to survive for her daughter, even if that meant living with a German officer. Isabelle, unable to stay quiet under a watchful German eye, returned to Paris where she worked with the resistance.

A great, sad story of how important it is to fight for whats right and to survive against all odds.

Read April 2018.

Bad Beginnings

Bad Beginnings by Lemony Snicket (aka Daniel Handler) is a fantastic children’s book that definitely has a bad beginning, middle, and end. The sarcasm and mistrust throughout this book is not typical for a young reader, but I think it speaks right at most children’s sarcasm level.

The Baudelaire children are orphaned at the start of the novel and they must go live with their only family member, no matter how distant, that lives within the borders set by their parent’s will. They have challenge after challenge when their caretaker and in loco parentis, Count Olaf, tries to scheme to get the Baudelaire fortune.

An enjoyable read! Read with 3rd grade class.

Read March 2018.