Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

Hardcover316 pages
Published January 8th 2015 by Dial Books

Wall Street Journal's Best Children's Book of 2015 
An exceptionally moving story of triumph against all odds set during World War 2, from the acclaimed author of Jefferson’s Sons and for fans of Number the Stars. Nine-year-old Ada has never left her one-room apartment. Her mother is too humiliated by Ada’s twisted foot to let her outside. So when her little brother Jamie is shipped out of London to escape the war, Ada doesn’t waste a minute—she sneaks out to join him. So begins a new adventure of Ada, and for Susan Smith, the woman who is forced to take the two kids in. As Ada teaches herself to ride a pony, learns to read, and watches for German spies, she begins to trust Susan—and Susan begins to love Ada and Jamie. But in the end, will their bond be enough to hold them together through wartime? Or will Ada and her brother fall back into the cruel hands of their mother? This masterful work of historical fiction is equal parts adventure and a moving tale of family and identity—a classic in the making.

Sometimes being placed into a new setting can be the worst thing in the world- or so it seems. Especially when you are young, there is a war surrounding you, you are different from everyone else because of something you have no control over, and your mother seems to not care about you. For Ada, the best thing that ever happened was when she and her brother were sent to live with Susan Smith. 

There are parts of war that we either don't think of or don't even have a knowledge of, and I have to say that this novel opened my eyes to yet another side of a war that I constantly find myself drawn to in reading and research- World War 2. I loved this story from start to finish. Ada is one of those characters that you fall in love with and root for throughout the entire book. I found myself gasping in parts, getting angry with her mother in other parts, laughing at the antics and lessons Ada had to learn (and her stubbornness- because I can completely relate) and in tears during other parts. It is well deserving of its Newbery Honor. 

History teachers this is definitely one that you should have in your library and would make a great Read Aloud while you are teaching this time period in history. This book deserves a place on every book shelf from elementary school to high school! 

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Prisoner B-3087 by Alan Gratz

Hardcover272 pages
Published March 1st 2013 by Scholastic Inc.

Survive. At any cost.
10 concentration camps.
10 different places where you are starved, tortured, and worked mercilessly.
It's something no one could imagine surviving.
But it is what Yanek Gruener has to face.
As a Jewish boy in 1930s Poland, Yanek is at the mercy of the Nazis who have taken over. Everything he has, and everyone he loves, have been snatched brutally from him. And then Yanek himself is taken prisoner -- his arm tattooed with the words PRISONER B-3087. 
He is forced from one nightmarish concentration camp to another, as World War II rages all around him. He encounters evil he could have never imagined, but also sees surprising glimpses of hope amid the horror. He just barely escapes death, only to confront it again seconds later. 
Can Yanek make it through the terror without losing his hope, his will -- and, most of all, his sense of who he really is inside?

Based on an astonishing true story.

I would have majored in History Education if I hadn't needed so many foreign language classes. Seriously, I offered to wash my professors dog for a C in the class... it was bad. Due to my love of history,  I love historical fiction. When it is based on true stories- count me in!

This beautifully written novel is stunning. By telling Jack (Yanek) and Ruth's story through his eyes, readers are able to get a birds eye view of what living durning the Holocaust. Especially what it was like living through 10 different concentration camps. Alan Grantz's writing captures readers attention and sucks you right in. You find yourself rooting for Yanek, crouching because you dread what is coming next, and cheering when the American troops finally come in to liberate the prisoners.

This book is a must read for my middle schoolers and is a great addition to any Social Studies curriculum. The first person point of view as well as the details of this deplorable time in history lend a hand to those teachers who are looking for a way to make history more personal. I was able to listen to the audiobook version of this and highly recommend it! It would be great to play some snippets from the novel during lessons!

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