Who’s Reading What Wednesday, Part Two

Originally I was going to do one post and feature two books.  Then I sat down to do so.  Good idea, not so easy to implement.  One is a review of a book for the school library and this second is because I love to read the YA books (if I could, I would consider a middle school library).

So the second book which arrived in the mail recently was Tell Me a Secret by Holly Cupala, debut author.  Another book that I could not put down. 

What if your older sister died?
What if you lived with a religious, domineering mother and absentee father?
What if you had aspirations to attend a prestigious art school?
What if you dumped your childhood best friend to be friends with the popular -wild-new-girl in highschool?
What if you spent the summer teaching crafts at church camp?
What if you found out you were pregnant and didn’t want to believe it?
What are your family secrets?

Those are all questions facing Miranda AKA Mandy AKA Rand as she begins her senior year.  And the answers to those questions lead her on a quest of self-discovery and redemption.  From page one, readers will be taken on a wild ride of teen-age angst and hope.  After all, “faith manages.” One of my favorite quotes.

Cupala’s characters are memorable in this story.  From the wickedly wild Delaney who reminds Miranda of her dead sister, Xanda to Essence (love this character name), Miranda’s best friend who suffers betrayal from her.  Kamran, the boyfriend, who is serious and intellectual and gullible in the way he is played by Delaney.  High school is a long ways in the rear view mirror but you know what?  These people also attended my high school.

The book is an intense read with such valleys and peaks of secrets and expectations.  How did it end?  Cupala doesn’t disappoint.  Her words keep us at the edge of our seat.

Of course, you won’t find it in my library but I hope readers will find it in either their middles school or high school library.

Happy Reading.


Who’s Reading What Wednesday, Part One

Bamboo People by Mitali Perkins

 As a K5 library media specialist, I am always on the lookout for gripping books with substance to suggest to fifth graders.  I also want books that bring young readers into worlds where redemption and compassion are themes.  Bamboo People  by  Mitali Perkins is such a book which I had the pleasure to read in a day recently.

Bamboo People is the story of two boys, Chiko and Tu-Reh, in war torn Burma.  Each have experience the challenges of a country in turmoil: justice, mistreatment, rejection, revenge, and deception.

Chiko is the story of a young man whose desire is to teach.  His father, a doctor has been imprisoned by the military regime of Burma.  When he responds to an ad  for teachers, he is deceived and captured by the Burmese army.  Being forced into the army, Chiko befriends a streetwise boy, Tai.  Chiko learns how to fight and face the brutal treatment of training from Tai and in return, Tai learns to read and write.

Chiko’s  and Tai’s lives take an interesting turn when they switch places for two tasks in the Burmese army.

Tu-Reh lives a different life.  He is a Karenni refugee hiding in the jungle close to the Thailand-Burma border.  His village is attacked and burned along with the bamboo fields.  He wants revenge.  Tu-Reh is thrilled that his father, his “Peh” has finally asked him to go on a mission.

Tu-Reh and Chiko’s lives are about to intersect.  When they do, each learns lessons in redemption, forgiveness, and compassion. 

I could not put this book down.  I had heard many go things prior to reading and was at first, worried it might be too high for fourth and fifth grade.  Having read it, I think not, especially fifth grade.  I cannot wait to hand Bamboo People to a colleague who has engaged her students with books about social justice in the world.  We need more stories about how it is to be a child in other parts of the world.  These stories are critical to opening the hearts and geography of my students.   

Thank you, Mitali Perkins for bringing the world a tiny bit closer.

Title: Bamboo People
Author: Mitali Perkins
Date Published: 2010
Pages: 270
Reading Level: 5th grade and up
Publisher: Charlesbridge
ISBN: 978-1-58089-328-2
Source of Book: Copy from the publisher.

Happy Reading.