Aim

Aim by Joyce Moyer Hostetter

boy under tree next to truck book cover

BIBLIO: 2016,Calkins Creek an Imprint of Highlights, Ages 9 to 13.
REVIEWER: Gwen Harter.
FORMAT: Middle Grade book
ISBN: 9781629796734

Times were tough in the year 1941, the United States faced the looming possibility of entering the second world war. That year was even harder for Axel Bledscoe Junior. In July of that year his Pop dies and leaves him man of the house, only beginning ninth grade. Junior must help his mother with his elderly grandfather Hammer, who had moved in just prior to his father’s passing.

Junior struggles in school and with his family life. He realizes as he talks to Pop’s old friends and family in Brookford, that his father was much more than the drunk he had become and gets a fuller sense of the childhood his Pop grew up with, especially Granddaddy’s rearing.

Struggling to find his identity, and how his father’s qualities plays into it,Junior gets into all sorts of trouble with his new friend Dudley. Junior wants to be handy,loving, and neighborly like his father in his fondest memories but keeps falling short. With the support of his neighbors and his mother, he learns to face the consequences of his actions and vows to earn the respect he desires for himself and his family. This is a truly touching coming-of-age story and flawlessly reflects the historical aspects of life on the cusp of World War II.

I would recommend this book for boys from the ages of 9-13. The plot and language is simple and the text easy to read. While basic on the surface this book can foster introspective growth. A great read for the summer.

More titles in the Series:
boy laying in grass book coveryellow cover, girl sitting book cover

One Green Apple

One Green Apple by Eve Bunting

Girl in apple orchard book cover

BIBLIO: 2006, Clarion Books, ages 4 to 11, $16.00.
REVIEWER: Gwen Harter.
FORMAT: Picture Book.
ISBN: 978-0-618-43477-0

Farah is a Muslim immigrant going on her first field trip on her second day of school. The plot is driven by her differences from her classmates. Namely, her cultural differences such as the dupatta and the girl-boy intermingling and her inability to speak English. The children are elementary school aged, possibly around the age of nine. They are going to the apple orchard to pick apples and symbolism is used when Farah picks a single green apple instead of a red one like her classmates’ apples.
Farah interacts with a few people in the story. She is befriended by Anna and Jim, who were not afraid to talk to her because she was not just the new student but also different from them. Unlike her classmates however, the teacher shows an alternate reaction, frustrating Farah with her oversimplified explanations because Farah knows she is intelligent but has no way to communicate this yet.
This book is great for young readers, especially in a classroom setting because it allows for deep conversations about morals. Children will appreciate this book for its colorful and detailed illustrations and the relatable characters. The artwork done by Ted Lewin accentuates the touching realities of this story.

Interview with Eve Bunting

Watch Out for Flying Kids

Watch out for Flying Kids!:
How Two Circuses, Two Countries, and
Nine Kids Confront Conflict and Build Community.

by Cynthia Levinson

book cover, circus kids

BIBLIO: 2015, Atlanta: Peachtree Publishers, Ages 12 to 18, $22.95.
REVIEWER: Gwen Harter.
FORMAT: Young Adult book
ISBN:978-1-56145-821-9

Reaching for the impossible is easy for these remarkable kids. A form of entertainment that doesn’t come up often, the circus arts, focuses on skilled physical and mental talents. But what about talents of peace and unity? Levinson writes about children performers from St. Louis, USA and Galilee, Israel that challenge the norms of society about typical hobbies and typical relations. The unprecedented novel follows the stories of nine main troupers through seven years of international friendships and performances. The book observes each circus, flipping back and forth over a specified course of time, explaining tricks and routines, the nine trouper’s thoughts and personal lives, and the directors’ engagements, as well as general experiences that feed into the circuses developments. Each circus is enthralling, the St. Louis Arches with their professional performances and highly demanding practices show how advanced this hobby can go, to the point of attending a circus college! The Galilee Circus sections speak out about the difficulties of mixing Arab and Jewish children together because of their religions, languages, and moving past their shared yet volatile history as a country and community. Not to mention, their struggles of developing as a circus without the proper training space and supportive staff to train them. Together, is when the circuses have the most impact on the people around them and the reader as they recount performing as the cohesive Galilee Arches, learning from each other and gaining valuable life experience. Switching the trips between Israel and America gives all of the troupers a chance to experience a different culture while setting a social example. The book is equipped beautifully with a pronunciation guide, index, pictures, and side bars. Easy to use to inspire many conversations about diversity, barriers, strength of character, and more.