Saturday, May 28, 2016

"Saved by the Enemy" by Craig A. Ledbetter

Childhood is supposed to be an easy, carefree time full of playing and learning in school.  However, for Hank and Fred, their early years were lived in Nazi Germany.  This was not easy for any child, let alone Jewish children.  The story starts with the boy's parents meeting and starting their life together.  When the boys enter the story, there is a brief moment of calm before the storm of Nazi Germany rises up.  The experiences of the entire family is recounted alongside historical facts.  What's great about this book is that it reads like a story while also teaching readers about historical information.  The years are listed for each book chunk, along with information on what happened in those exact years.  There is also a storm analogy used throughout.  While what happened to this family was tragic, there is an element of hope.  The parents do not survive, but the boys do.  They eventually emigrate to America and start over.  The details about the Holocaust are not sugarcoated, but they are not overly graphic (same goes for the pictures).  Throughout the tough time that the boys faced, they were helped by various gentile Germans.  At the end of the book, the author reminds readers to not hold grudges and to remember that not everyone is bad.  There were good Germans who sought to help the Jews, and it is each and every person's personal responsibility to help as many people as they can.  Also mentioned in this book is the JDC--a Jewish humanitarian organization--that helped Hank and Fred start over as orphans in America.

Monday, May 16, 2016

“Counting Blessings” by Eileen Spinelli and illustrated by Lee Holland

This full-color hardcover children’s book is a must have for any collection.  Not only is the main character a cute and cuddly bunny rabbit, but there is much versatility in this book.  The first half of the story involves counting from one to ten.  With the fun rhymes and engaging images, kids can learn the basics of counting.  Then, there is a wrap-up to work on children’s memory.  Afterwards, the second half of the book has various blessings to be grateful for.  Cognitively, this will help kids transition from counting to analyzing.  Plus, who doesn’t like a cutesy book about a bunny counting blessings?