Ella Fitzgerald developed a love for music and singing while she was a young girl growing up in New York. She and her mother Tempie used to dance around their apartment while Ella's younger sister Frances repeatedly put the needle back to the beginning of the record so that they could dance and sing the day away. They had such a grand time that they forgot all about the washing and the ironing. The book Skit Skat Raggedy Cat Ella Fitzgerald by Roxanne Orgill and illustrated by Sean Qualls introduces us to the young Ella. At thirteen, Ella and her friend Charlie were singing and dancing on Morgan Street outside the apartment building. It was 1930 in Yonkers New York and people did not have much money. But some folks were able to spare some change for Ella and Charlie. They occasionally had a nickel or two tossed at them.
Charlie and Ella put their nickels together and they were able to take the Number 1 trolley to the end of the line. From there they climbed aboard the subway train to 125th Street. They were in Harlem. Ella watched the dancers at the Savoy Ballroom on Lenox Avenue. When Ella and Charlie danced outside the theatre, people tossed them their loose change. They were making more money than the shoeshine boys. Ella knew that she was going to be famous and she told everyone so.
Carmen Navarro works at the local Quikmart. She is bored with her job. Ryan Sweeney goes to the Valley Forge Military Academy, where there are no girls. In The Fortune of Carmen Navarro by Jen Bryant, their two worlds collide. One day Carmen is working at the checkout counter, and Ryan comes into the store on a one-day pass. He sees her jet-black hair and snake tattoo and falls for her immediately. Carmen sees Ryan as a cute boy with whom she'd like to spend some time. She invites him to come and listen to her band. That is the beginning of an intense relationship for Ryan.
Ryan Sweeney comes from a military family. His family decided for him that he would be going to Valley Forge Military Academy. He wants to please his family and has never questioned their authority. He has been a model student and a rule follower - that is, until he meets Carmen. He starts sneaking off campus to see her and lying to his classmates about where he is going. His grades start to slip. Ryan has never met anyone like Carmen, and he has fallen hopelessly in love with her.
Imagine receiving an invitation to a soiree at the home of Gertrude Stein--number 27 Rue de Fleurus in Paris. If you read Paris in the Spring with Picasso, by Joan Yolleck, you will feel as if you have. This is an imaginary tale written by the author after a trip to the library where she passed the time reading about Stein. She created a story about famous artists and authors as they prepare for an evening's festivities. The young reader is introduced to such characters as Pablo Picasso and Alice B. Toklas.
Fourteen-year-old Zach Harriman lives in New York City with his mother and father. He has been living the life of a typical teen until his father is killed under mysterious circumstances. In Mike Lupica's book Hero, Zach decides that following the devastating loss of his father, he wants to get to the bottom of the story. He knows that his father was powerful and had the ear of the President of the United States. He knows that his father was very skilled in his job of "getting things done." Zach suspects that his father's death was no accident but a premeditated murder by an organization known as the "bads."
Sam Wilson is 14 years old, lives in New York City, and is a computer genius. It is not unusual for Sam and his friends to hack into computer systems and fool around. In fact, computer gaming and use has reached a whole new level in Brain Jack, by Brian Falkner. In Sam's world, being addicted to computer gaming has moved from the basement to gaming lounges. There are individuals who spend their entire days hooked to gaming systems and do nothing else. This book begs the question ...is this a possible future?
Jimi Hendrix was an iconic force in rock and roll. His name is synonymous with music. In the book Jimi Sounds Like a Rainbow, author Gary Golio introduces us to the young Jimi. The book begins in 1956 in Seattle, Washington, where Jimi was living with his father. They were not wealthy, but Jimi's father recognized that his son had a love for music. Jimi often practiced on his one-string ukele. With it he recreated the sounds the raindrops made as they hit the roof and the windowpanes. Even as a very young boy he interpreted the city sounds that he heard outside the boardinghouse where he lived with his Dad and turned them into melodies.
Boris the cat wakes up one morning and finds that his shadow has changed. It no longer resembles him. In fact, to his utter dismay, it resembles a mouse. But he decides not to let something like this ruin his day in the book Boris and the Wrong Shadow by Leigh Hodgkinson. However, he is ridiculed by his cat friends. He is unable to scare the birds. Now Boris begins to doubt that he is a cat. Maybe he is a mouse. Well, he catches a glimpse of himself and is reassured that he is still a cat, though he is a cat with a mouse's shadow.
Boris decides to quietly investigate this disturbing turn of events. Actually, he is so quiet that he could be described as being quiet as a ..........don't say it. Suddenly, he runs into Vernon the mouse and discovers that Vernon's shadow looks oddly familiar. Vernon has a cat shadow. Not just any cat shadow. But Boris' shadow.
When the Brothers Grimm wrote their fairy tales in Germany in the early 1800s, they were scary. Many of them were so scary, in fact, that they were considered unsuitable for small children. As time passed, the stories have been altered to give them wider audience appeal. In A Tale Dark and Grimm, Adam Gidwitz has brought the scary back to Grimm. This is not a fairy-tale book meant for small children. The author gives fair warning periodically throughout the story that the tale is going to get gory and it does!!!
This book is another example of why I love reading children's books. The Chiru of High Tibet by Jaqueline Briggs Martin, illustrated by Linda Wingerter, introduced me to an animal I knew nothing about--the chiru. Chiru are unique animals resembling antelopes, but related to wild goats and sheep. Their wool is special also and is considered to be the finest in the world. It is called shahtoosh, the king of wools. In order for this wool to be used, the animal has to be killed.
A man named George B. Schaller was very worried about the chiru and its existence. He was afraid that if something was not done to protect them, they would become extinct. So Schaller decided to do something. He wanted to protect the chiru from the hunters. In order to do that, he had to find the secret place where the female chirus gave birth. After several attempts to locate this elusive spot failed, four mountain climbers offered to help Schaller.
They set out on the journey with no trucks and no camels or donkeys that would need feeding. They pulled their supplies in wheeled carts across the plains of Tibet. When you read this book you will find out how their journey went and how the chiru situation was resolved.
In 2008, Nya, a young woman who lives in Sudan, walks two hours one way to get water for her family. She does this twice a day. She does not have shoes. In her book A Long Walk to Water, Newbery medalist Linda Sue Park, introduces us to Nya. She also introduces us to Salva, a young man living in Sudan in 1985.
Their stories are told in alternating tales. Salva is a young student in Sudan in 1985. His country has been going through a civil war for decades. One day while Salva is at school, a group of rebels attack his village. The teacher tells all the students to run away to escape the attack by the rebels. Salva does as instructed but soon finds himself alone and far from his home. He certainly does not feel safe. He is lost and disoriented. He meets up with a group of refugees who are leaving Sudan and heading to Kenya. Salva joins the group though they are reluctant to accept him because he is a child and may become a burden. Salva walks with them, hoping to find safety in Kenya and hoping to be reunited with his family.