Review: Baseball Saved Us by Ken Mochizuki, Illustrated by Dom Lee

Book Information:

Baseball Saved Us by Ken Mochizuki
Illustrated by Dom Lee
Lee and Low Books Inc.
Published in 1993
ISBN 1880000199
32 Pages

Series Information:

None

Review/Rating:

4 out of 5

4/5

Ease of Reading Text: 5 out of 5
Illustrations: 3 out of 5
Plot: 5 out of 5

During World War II, a young Japanese American boy and his family are forced to live in internment camps. Trying to get by in these camps, everyone decides they need something different to do — baseball.

This is a pretty simple book, but it still delivers a small message. :) I love how the author was able to write it in a child’s point of view of how a Japanese Internment Camp was like during this time period. Another thing I like is how different of a plot it is compared to other World War II fiction books — most of the ones I see are about concentration camps or going into hiding in Europe during the war — so it is a nice change. Even in my high school class, I don’t remember going over it that much. :S The descriptions and everything else are very well done, and I was able to feel the emotion of the child who was sent to the camp. ;)

For the text, I was able to see/read the text just fine since it was black text on white paper. As for the illustrations, I don’t really like the style of them, but they do deliver the emotion of the characters better than if it were a style I was used to. :)

Overall, it is a pretty good book, but I can’t really figure out why someone would banned/challenged. Oh, I guess it was banned/challenged because of the slight racism and history America would love to keep hidden from people. Though, I do wish there were fiction books about this period in time. :P

Where I Got It:

Checked out from the library.

Challenges Apart Of:

Goodreads 2012
Banned/Challenged No Limit

Other Reviews/Author Site:

Ken Mochizuki
Dom Lee
Goodreads

Places to Buy From:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Review: Anastasia: The Last Grand Duchess, Russia, 1914 by Carolyn Meyer

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Book Information:

Anastasia: The Last Grand Duchess, Russia, 1914 by Carolyn Meyer
Scholastic
Published in 2000
ISBN 0439129087
214 Pages

Series Information:

Royal Diaries
Not really a series, but has a lot of books under that general name.

Review/Rating:

4 out of 5

The story of the very last Grand Duchess of Russia, Anastasia, told through a fictionalized diary by Carolyn Meyer in the Royal Diaries series/line.

Let’s start with what urged me to check it out from the library. I decided to check it out because I just love The Royal Diary series and the Dear America series since I love historical fiction. :D

I know this is for middle school and below, so it won’t have all the elements that a young adult or adult book will have, so I will try not to go into the lack of details. For a middle school book, it does have the right amount of details and big words. Though, the one thing I can’t forgive is how the diary entries are so out of place in the beginning that it is actually kind of boring, but it gets interesting once War World I starts up. Once those entries show up, it isn’t that boring since they come pretty much in order and you can make sense of it. Yeah, so that is only thing I really don’t like about the book, and that is the only reason why it is a 4 star instead of a 5 star. ;)

Now for the things I loved. I just loved how you can tell the author did her research over the matter, and she tried to keep it as accurate as she possibly can. Also, you can almost imagine how it might of felt like to live during World War I as Anastasia – or, maybe, as any young, rich noble girl in Russia. Second thing I loved is that you can almost sense almost the kind of personality Anastasia might of have – the mischievousness and playfulness almost pop out of the pages. And like all the Royal Diaries, I like the history notes, pictures, and other information the books usually come with. Also, I like how both the Royal Diaries and the Dear America books are pretty much fast reads – I finished this one in pretty much 1-2 days. :D Oh, I also love the historical aspects of the books. :)

While like with most of the Royal Diaries or Dear America books, if you know the history, it already kind of spoils it, but what really makes these books special is how the authors in those series can pull off how a young teenager might have felt during that time and give that person a personality you can imagine relating to. So, despite being an adult, I still enjoy these book series because of the history and the other things I mentioned above.

Where I Got It:

Checked out from the library.

Challenges Apart Of:

Goodreads 2011

Re-Reading:

Not planning to re-read.

Other Reviews/Author Site:

$New_Bullet Carolyn Meyer
$New_Bullet Goodreads
$New_Bullet Library Thing

Places to Buy From:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Review: The Crossroads by Chris Grabenstein

%TheCrossroads

Book Information:

The Crossroads by Chris Grabenstein
Random House
Published in 2008
ISBN 9780375846977
325 Pages

Series Information:

Haunted Mystery Book 01

Review/Rating:

4 out of 5

Zack Jennings is a normal eleven-year-old boy, except for the fact that he can see ghosts. Him, his father, and his new stepmother move from New York to Connecticut, but when they arrive there things are not what they appear to be. You see, there is the huge tree in their backyard, and Zack knows there is something evil about it. His new stepmother, Judy, has also seen ghosts near the house. Are the ghosts all connected in some way? And why does the evil spirit in the tree want to kill him?

Another supernatural book, but it is one about ghosts. Also, it’s a junior fiction book. Yeah, I know, way off my level, but I like to read around. :)

Like almost all mystery books, it starts off kind of slow and boring, which is always annoying in books. Though, it starts to pick up the action, suspense, and mysteriousness after they move to Connecticut, where the haunted tree is located. And the mystery part is kind of annoying since the author doesn’t leave that many clues for you to figure out what happened, instead the author lets the characters figure it out on their own. So if you want a mystery, where you can solve it from the clues, this isn’t a book you want.

Another thing that is slow moving are the characters, though they do eventually have some growth, errr… most of them anyways. I especially like how the relationship between Zack and Judy, his stepmother, grows since I mostly only see books mention how mean stepmothers are or how they mostly ignore the kid. So, that was kind of enjoyable to read a book without the “mean stepmother” routine.

Another thing that I like about this book is that it tells the story using mostly descriptions and details, instead of mostly dialogue. I tend to be harsher on books that have more dialogue than ones that tell the story in paragraphs summarizing what most others use dialogue for.  I like books like this one a lot. :)

Anyways, it is a good ghost novel, despite the slow-moving parts, so go read it. :D Another thing, this book has a series. This book is the first one in that series. The second one is called The Hanging Hill, and the third one, which isn’t released yet, is called The Smoky Corridor. I’ll try to read them, if my library orders them. >.<

Where I Got It:

Checked out from the library.

Challenges Apart Of:

None.

Re-Reading:

Re-read later on.

Other Reviews/Author Site:

$New_Bullet Chris Grabenstein
$New_Bullet Goodreads
$New_Bullet Library Thing
$New_Bullet BC Book Reviews
$New_Bullet Bookhound
$New_Bullet Mrs. McGriff’s Reading Blog

Places to Buy From:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Review: Torn Thread by Anne Isaacs

%TornThread

Book Information:

Torn Thread by Anne Isaacs
Scholastic Press
Published in 2000
ISBN 0590603639
188 Pages

Series Information:

Not a series.

Review/Rating:

3 out of 5

#Old_BlueBooks-3_5

During the Nazi invasion of the Polish town of Bedzin, Eva along with her father and sickly sister have been forced to leave their home and move into a tiny room inside the Jewish ghetto. When the Nazi raids their town for people to be placed in work camps and other kinds of camps, Eva’s life takes a turn for the worse. During one of these raids, her sickly sister is imprisoned in one of the work camps, and so, her father arranges for Eva to join her sister, Rachel. Now, without her father and other family beside her, Eva is forced to spin thread on machines to make blankets and uniforms for the Nazi army. Now she has to make choices that may buy some more time for both her and her sister. What dangers will happen to her as she is trying to live in a dangerous time when the Nazi constantly threatens her life? And, most importantly, will her sister and her make it out alive?

It’s another junior book, but I really like history fiction, especially about World War II. The first time I read this book was around middle school, I think. ^^;

It’s a very short book, but it is very interesting with details and events from a real girl’s life. I would have liked a little bit more description about the characters, but since this is a junior book, I won’t complain that much about it. Though, the only things I really find interesting are that the book is based on a true story, and it takes place during the time period I like learning about.

Anyways, it’s too short for my tastes, but it is very well written for elementary or junior high students. Any higher level than that and the book might be a little too short for you to enjoy. Unless, you really like short books, books about this time period, or books with history in them.

Where I Got It:

Checked out from the library.

Challenges Apart Of:

None.

Re-Reading:

Not planning to re-read, but leaning towards maybe.

Other Reviews/Author Site:

$New_Bullet Anne Isaacs
$New_Bullet Goodreads
$New_Bullet Library Thing

Places to Buy From:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Review: Counting on Grace by Elizabeth Winthrop

%CountingonGrace

Book Information:

Counting on Grace by Elizabeth Winthrop
Wendy Lamb Books
Published in 2006
ISBN 9780553487831
240 Pages

Series Information:

Not a series.

Review/Rating:

5 out of 5

Despite the child labor laws in 1910, at twelve years old, Grace and her best friend, Arthur, are expected to quit school and go work in the mill with her family. With the high-risk job as a doffer, Grace has to learn how to do the work right, so that her family won’t lose any money. Grace is noticing that Arthur is willing to do anything to get out of mill, and Grace tries to stop him. She tells him that help will be coming, not to give up hope. When Lewis Hine comes, they believe their prayers have been answered. Though, will Lewis Hine be able to keep the promises he made? Will their hopes be raised by this event, only to be destroyed later?

This book shows a certain creativeness since the author uses a picture that Lewis Hine took of a child working in a mill during the 1900′s as inspiration, instead of making it up from thin air. The author even adds Lewis Hine into the book, which makes it even more like the actual history. It kind of read like those Dear America or Royal Dairies books. And, like those books, it includes the actual history that the author found out about the photographer and the girl in the 1910 picture.

Counting on Grace is very well written and lets us know how horrible even America’s history is — like involving child labor and how lax the law was enforced during that time. It leaves you thinking and grateful for how Lewis Hine and the Child Labor Commission changed the laws, so that children wouldn’t have to work that young and get those injuries like the characters in the book.

Even though it is only a junior level book, it there is enough history, emotion, and description to get you interested and thinking about how different things actually was. So, even though this might be way below your reading level, it is a great read for your children.

Where I Got It:

Checked out from the library.

Challenges Apart Of:

None.

Re-Reading:

Not planning to re-read, but leaning towards maybe.

Other Reviews/Author Site:

$New_Bullet Elizabeth Winthrop
$New_Bullet Goodreads
$New_Bullet Library Thing
$New_Bullet Read, Read, Read!
$New_Bullet Meeyauw

Places to Buy From:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble