Amelia from Our Only May Amelia is back telling more tales about life on the frontier in Washington in 1900. Amelia is still iving on the farm with six of her seven brothers and a Dad who is pretty convinced girls are worthless.
When Amelia’s Dad finally finds a use for her as translator when he is doing some business, Amelia can’t believe it when he actually says…outloud…for the whole family to hear…”You Did Good, Girl.”
Her happiness is short lived though when her Dad’s pride in her turns to blame when his business deal goes bad. As if Amelia’s life on a pioneer farm isn’t hard enough, now she has to dig deep and find the strength and confidence to be herself, a girl, in a tough world, alone. Author: Jennifer Holm
The ordinary interactions and everyday routines of the Watsons, an African American family living in Flint, Michigan, are drastically changed after they goto visit Grandma in Alabama in the summer of 1963.
The Watsons are very funny. Byron is the oldest. Kenny is the funny one. Joey is the annoying one. The whole family has done something funny. Like when Byron kissed his reflection on the car window. Kenny was embarrased when he read a higher book than the 5th graders. (This is still back during racism). The mom has a gap in between her teeth so she covers her mouth when she laughs. I thought that was very funny. The dad was laughng so hard he cried. I’m telling you this book is hilarious.
Amazon Look Inside: The Watson’s Go to Birmingham – 1963
If you like reading about the 1960s, a time that was full of lot of new, controversial, sometimes scary things like: the Cuban missile crisis, men in space, the fight for civil rights, rock music & more, try one of these:
Have you ever had the feeling that maybe the adults aren’t telling you something? They stop whispering when you enter the room. They get funny looks in their eyes when you ask questions. Their eyebrows raise. Sometimes, they seem about to tell you something…and then stop.
Abilene arrives by train in Manifest, Kansas looking for some answers. Her Daddy has sent her to his home town alone, a home town he hasn’t set foot in since he was a boy. Why did he send her away? Why did he send her to Manifest? Why is everyone so evasive? (That means they want to avoid her questions; they don’t want to talk about her Dad.)
All Abilene finds at first is more questions, like who drew the map and wrote the letters that she finds in the old cigar box? And why does the box, which was hidden very carefully, also contain a cork, a fishhook, a silver dollar, a fancy key & a tiny wooden baby doll? Is the map a treasure map? Are the little items just junk, or are they clues? When Abilene starts to ask questions an ominous note appears at the entrance to the treehouse she is using for a hideout. “Leave Well Enough Alone” (page 47)
This is a story about the kind of mystery that has remained unsolved for so long, it almost disappears as the suspects and the clues fade away or die as the years go by. Abilene intervenes just in time so that the things in the cigar box can help the grown-ups tell a very important story that will give Abilene the answers she needs to solve a very important mystery; and the answers she needs about her Dad. Sometimes, the grown-ups are just waiting for the right time to talk as well as the right way. Author: Clare Vanderpool; Newbery Medal 2011
If you like the idea of family secrets and believe that treasure can be found in the attics, barns, and hidey places in old houses…as well as in the stories that old people tell and in their memories, this the story for you.
Ninja pirates killed Jack’s father when they attacked his ship. Jack was rescued by a samurai sword master who takes him to his samurai school in Japan and begins training Jack in the way of the Samurai.
The way of the Samurai is very similar to something Jack does understand being an English schoolboy…and that is the chivalry of English Knights. The rules about loyalty, honor and mad fighting skills are very much the same whether you are talking about Japanese Samurai or English Knights. The Japanese culture though, is very, very different from what Jack knows. Jack is looked on with suspician by his fellow students. He has to work hard to gain their respect. He is at the same time pursued by his Father’s killer, the ninja Dragon Eye, who wants something Jack has that once belonged to his father.
In The Way of the Sword Jack’s adventures at the dojo continue as he prepares for the Circle of Three, a contest during which five students are chosen to perform a series of tests – kind of like the Tri Wizard tournament in Harry Potter except the Samurai students are all from the same school. The series of tests are actually deadly and only the very best students are chosen. Their skills are tested but also their discipline, loyalty and ability to control their own fear.
Can Jack survive the Circle of Three? And when Dragon Eye makes his move can Jack defend himself? Maybe with the help of his new Japanese friends and some pretty amazing Samurai teachers. This one made me one to go out and take a martial arts class. I also liked seeing a person like myself in a new environment. Usually stories are about a kid that is from somewhere else coming to OUR culture…but this one is the other way around…a kid like me going somewhere new. Jack’s English, but still, American and English customs have a lot of similarities. I could really relate to Jack trying to figure out the Japanese/Samurai ways because I didn’t understand at first either. Read Chapter One: The Way of the Sword
If you like reading about Jack I think you will also really like Heart of a Samurai – it is a survival story about a boy separated from his family who strives to live his life by the standards of the samurai and ends up doing great things – it’s based on the life of a real boy too – a boy who is thought to be the first Japanese person to ever come to the United States. So it’s the opposite, about a Japanese boy coming here and trying to figure out our ways.
Manjiro is only 14 years old when he takes a job on a Japanese fishing boat to help support his family. A big storm shipwrecks the fisherman on a deserted island for several months. When they are finally rescued by an American whaling boat they are almost starved to death.
The year is 1841 and as strange as this may seem to us, the country of Japan had a really isolationish view of the world back then. That means that they just wanted to be left alone. They did not want any influences from outside their own country. What this means for Manjiro and the other fisherman is that they cannot return to Japan even though the American whaling ship can easily take them there. If the men return to Japan they could be put in jail…or killed. I know, it sounds really odd to us now but that’s the way it was back then.
So, the American ship takes the fishermen to Hawaii instead. The ship’s captain takes Manjiro under his wing and offers to take him on to America as his adopted son. Manjiro accepts this offer and becomes what is thought to be the first Japanese person to set foot in America. I love this part of the book because it is so different. This Japanese boy goes to school and learns to run a farm in 1840s America.
After Manjiro finishes his education and after he sails around the world, Manjiro decides to return to Japan 1. because he wants to see his mother and 2. because he wants to show that the outside world is not dangerous. He does this even though he knows he might be killed. What happens next in his life sounds like something made up in a movie…or a book…but this times it’s TRUE. Manjiro was a real person and the unbelievable things in this books really did happen. Manjiro left Japan as a poor boy with no future. He returns and Japan is never the same again. Author: Margi Preus Newbery Honor Book 2010
Shipwrecked and Manjiro are both biographies about the real Manjiro – yes, he was real. The discipline, secrecy and skill of samurai is very mysterious – and interesting. The next two are about samurai training. If you liked the survival part of Manjiro’s story try the next four – all about survival at sea.