Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Coventry Teen Underground wishes you a Happy Halloween!!!!

Book Review ~ The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

It is plain to see why this book, The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate, won the John Newberry Medal for most distinguished contribution to American literature for children and also why it was nominated for the 2014 Rhode Island Book Award. (I hope it wins!)

I don't think it's possible to even begin to convey how much I loved this book. It was so moving and so beautifully written.  The author doesn't waste words in this book, in fact she uses them sparingly, choosing those that will evoke the deepest emotion from the reader. And evoke emotion she does! This book made me laugh and cry. It is at once both sad, yet hopeful, and speaks to the deepest part of our humanity.  I recommend this book whether you are 10 years old or 100.  I give it 5 stars!!! 

While this book is fiction, it is based on the real life of a gorilla named Ivan who spent 27 years alone in a cage at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall. He was captured as an infant from his home in the Congo (his twin died on the journey to the US) and was sold to become a sideshow attraction. 

In this story Ivan is an easygoing, friendly gorilla who loves to create art. He spends his days watching TV, drawing or painting, and thinking about his friends Stella, an elderly elephant, and Bob, a stray dog. Then Ivan meets Ruby, a baby elephant taken from her family, much like the way Ivan had been, and everything changes. Ivan is determined to become the great silverback he is meant to be...a protector!  

If you do not love this book then surely you are not human and must be a robot!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

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Book Review ~ The Runaway King by Jennifer Nielsen

The Runaway King by Jennifer Nielsen is the follow-up to The False Prince, the second book in the Ascendance trilogy.

Now if you've read The False Prince, I have no doubts in my mind that you have already fallen in love with Sage, our protagonist and the heir to the throne of Carthya. And if your a guy?  I'm guessing that you would love to have him as a best friend.

I really enjoy Sage's/King Jaron's character.  He can be wise when he wants to be, but he also has a tendency to do impulsive and irrational things which points out the fact that really he's just a kid. I like the fact that he isn't portrayed as perfect, but has character flaws just like we all do. He's made mistakes, a lot of them I might add, but he makes them in his own unique way, and always has good intentions. He realizes that he's not invincible, that he can get hurt, that others can get hurt because of him, and finally admits to himself that sometimes you need a little help from your friends.  It's alright to trust.

There was a hint at romance in this book, but not as much as I hoped for and is done very subtly. What I did like is that there wasn't an "insta-love" connection that you see in a lot of YA novels, but a deeper connection between two people that is more adult and based on respect and admiration of each other as people.

The Runaway King dragged me in from the very first page! I had to curb the urge to sneak my novel in with me to work (even though I work in a library and it's mostly acceptable) when I had other work that needed to get done.  I managed to be responsible and not crack open the cover until I got home where I proceeded to neglect my family to finish reading.

Overall I thought that this was a worthy action filled sequel that satisfied my unreasonably high expectations. This is one of those novels that I would recommend to anyone, including guys, and especially if you're a fan of action adventures like myself. This captivating series doesn't focus on the romance aspect, but instead focuses on the action and seemingly impossible odds that King Jaron/Sage must overcome to succeed in his quest to save his Kingdom. A very refreshing read to those who are tired of the same old typical love driven YA novel!

Monday, October 28, 2013

November is Native American Heritage Month. What will you read to celebrate?

What started at the turn of the century as an effort to gain a day of recognition for the significant contributions the first Americans made to the establishment and growth of the U.S. has (in 1990) resulted in a whole month being designated for that purpose.

I'm sure that for most people November brings to mind Thanksgiving with happy and oh so Thankful Pilgrims sitting down to a feast with the Native Americans (the Wampanoags).  I can't help but wonder how different things would be if the Native Americans had chosen not to help those struggling and starving people?

As a tribally enrolled direct descendant of the Nipmuck tribe of Massachusetts I would like to celebrate and acknowledge, throughout the month of November and beyond, those people who were instrumental in the success of our nation at the expense of their own lives, freedom and culture... The Native Americans.  

What most people don't realize is that Native Americans still exist, and not just out west, but here in the east as well. Tribes are active and alive within their cultures where a main goal is to keep new generations immersed in the culture. For me, it has been like living in two worlds.

Here is my daughter Little Owl getting ready to jingle dress dance at our annual Pau Wau at Lake Siog in Massachusetts. This dance is done as a medicine dance to bring healing to our people. 

Here is a video of my husband Stone Oak drumming with the Eastern Medicine Singers (a drumming/singing group of Native men from Rhode Island). 


This month I will feature some excellent books written by Native authors.  The first, and perhaps one of my favorite books of all time is The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie.

About This Book

2007 National Book Award Winner
Wanting to better his life, fourteen-year-old Arnold Spirit Jr., a teenager on the Spokane Indian reservation, who is often the brunt of his community's jokes, decides to make a brave and bold decision. He begins attending a nearby all-white school. Because of this decision Jr. is regarded as a traitor by his own people.  In this book Junior struggles to make new friends as he adjusts to his new school.
I loved this book because it discusses situations that many Native youths must face and also because it is based on the author's own experiences.  This first young adult novel by bestselling author Sherman Alexie features poignant drawings by acclaimed artist Ellen Forney that reflect the character's art as it chronicles the contemporary issues facing Native youth and particularly of one Native American boy who is attempting to break away from the life he was destined to live.  

           I give this book 5 stars!!!