BAREFOOT DREAMS OF PEDRA LUNA by Alda P. Dobbs: A Review

The true story of the author’s great grandmother’s journey to a new country and a new life during the Mexican Revolution

Up front, let me say that the copy I read was provided by the author with absolutely no strings attached. The opinions voiced here are strictly my own.

Twelve-year-old Petra Luna was happy living with her abuela in a small town in Mexico. Although her mother had died, things were going right in her life–until her father was conscripted by Los Federales to fight in the Mexican Revolution. Petra had to grow up fast, becoming the sole provider for her grandmother, sister, and baby brother. Eventually the Federales came to her town, burning it to the ground, causing Petra and her little family to become refugees, walking through the burning desert and all the horrors that awaited them there.

When they reached a resting place, the met up with Pancho Villa’s soldiers, including a tough, dedicated female general who encouraged Petra to join the army of guerrillas and fight the Federales.

Petra is torn between family and freedom to be herself and become a strong, independent woman. The decision she makes, and the event that happens afterwards brings tragedy and suffering into her life. Dobbs’ action-packed, fast-paced ending had me breathing hard and my heart pumping rapidly as I read. It is a real page-turner with many twists and turns, which actually happened to Dobbs’ great-grandmother.

I highly recommend it for fans of historical adventure who want a darned good read. It will be published in September.

SATURDAY MORNINGS FOR KIDS

9781684371785     The story of the Philadelphia Athletics who played in the American League at the famous Shibe Park in the year in which the story is set, 1938, is personalized in the life of the team’s biggest fan, a young boy who lives close enough to the park to sell tickets to sit on his roof and watch the games. This is a real blessing to his family during the Depression, when money was tight for everyone. Idolizing Jimmy Frank, based on the real Jimmy Fox, the protagonist eventually is hired as a bat boy for the team, meets his idol, and receives good life-advice from him. His adventures and misadventures, all centered around the Athletics team, are the crux of the story. This historical novel is the story of the heyday of the American League (which started in 1901 and ran through 1954) and describes life in America, during the peak of the American sport of baseball.

SATURDAY MORNING FOR KDS

During my recent stint as a middle grades first round reader for Cybils, I  read many great books for kids in grades 5-8. The thing that impressed me most about them was how helpful they were for kids who were facing today’s world, dealing with issues I never even knew about growing up in the fifties.

Here are a few books that dealt with such issues:

Up for Air by Laurie Morrison depicts problems specific to eighth graders looking forward to high school and all of its changes and challenges. Because of her outstanding swimming abilities, the girl protagonist must face older teens’ problems when she is asked to swim with them on a city team. She has had her own issues with ADHD and focusing, but has been supported by her adoptive parents from the beginning. When her biological father once again enters her life, the problems and confusion she faces are overwhelming. Add to that the tension and excitement of the swimming matches, and you have a fine, page-turner for older middle-schoolers.

For somewhat younger kids, the 12 year old protagonist in Out of My Shell by Jenny Goebel is a sure bet. A common problem, divorcing parents, compound the anxiety of the young girl, who is passionately invested in saving sea turtles and saving her family as well.

For boys, Camp Average by Craig Battle deals with team spirit, competitive urges, and boys’ friendships. The lesson, “Losers can become winners,” is a major theme of this sports-directed, basketball-focused read.

Finally, a favorite of several of the first-round readers was Words on Fire by Jennifer A. Nielsen, a historical fiction novel aimed at middle schoolers.  Dealing with the time period when Lithuania was invaded by the Cossacks, we meet Audra, whose name means “storm.” She is a budding author who becomes involved with book smuggling when books are banned and burned. A well-drawn character, a passion for books, and adventure and perilous trips–what’s not to like in this kid’s novel that many parents would enjoy as well?

Until next Saturday, that’s it for kids’ books. Happy reading!

SATURDAY MORNINGS FOR KIDS

Today’s choice, a winner of the Newberry Medal in 1977, and nominated for the National Book Award, is a “classic” I’d heard about and even recommended to my junior high students during the 70s. Ironically enough, I’d never read it until this week. Mildred D. Taylor’s Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry bears a cover that would attract anyone, child and adult alike.  There is a young African American girl in bib-overalls holding tightly to two younger boys as flames and fire threaten the place where they are standing, their house.

I have just begun reading, enjoying the author’s fine writing style as she describes the three Logan children joining other children on their long, dusty trek to their first day of school.  Once there, by “showing, not telling”, she makes clear the inequality of education of the black and white students. The cover blurbs inform me that the story is set in the Great Depression in the deep South. I hope to read it tonight and tomorrow, then place it in my Little Free Library. The sun is supposed to come out Sunday after several days of cold, rainy and overcast weather. Perhaps families will be taking “after-Sunday-dinner” walks and will stop off to get choose a book for the evening.

SATURDAY MORNINGS FOR KIDS: Two Chapter Books

Today’s post is a recommendation for two books I recently read, which were given to me for my LFL (Little Free Library). Both books are about kids in America’s earlier years.

Patricia McLachlan, author of the wonderful Sarah, Plain and Tall, has written (in 1993) a heart-wrenching, heart-warming story, titled, simply, Baby. It tells the story of twelve year old Larkin, who finds a year-old baby in a basket in his front yard. She has a note attached to her clothing saying the baby’s name is Sophie, and her mother will return for her when she can. Sophie quickly loves her way into the heart of the family. Of course, the inevitable day arrives, and what happens to Sophie and the family’s reaction constitutes the rest of the awesomely written novel.

Just Juice is Karen Hesse’s successful attempt to describe what it was like to be a child during The Great Depression. The book’s heroine is very empathetic to others, especially her father, both of whom can’t read and hate schooling of any kind for that reason. Nine year old “Juice” is hounded by her school’s truant officer, and eventually not being able to read causes trouble for Juice and the entire family. It is an interesting page turner that will cause the reader to wonder and worry about the outcome enough to finish it in one sitting.