Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Boy on the Wooden Box by Leon Leyson


 Travis Ann Sherman says:  The Boy on the Wooden Box, a Holocaust memoir, starts off, in anything, a little slowly, portraying a young Jewish boy's rural life in Poland in a loving family. As I'm reading, I'm thinking, "Hmmm, we're going to lose them on the first thirty pages." 
Then Hitler invades. Leon's father has moved his family to Krakow, where he does skilled machinist work in a factory owned by...Oskar Schindler.  The narrative heats up, to the point that I seriously considered shelving my copy in the YA section, except that I don't have a nonfiction YA section. Leyson's tale is harrowing; at one point little Leon, who works constantly to try to find or earn a little food, hurts himself and goes to the Jewish infirmary. Fifteen minutes after he leaves, the head of the camp decides the concept of a Jewish infirmary is ridiculous and goes in and murders all the patients.  And it goes on and on.  
Contrasted with the shocking horror is the fact that Leon's family is still a close, loving one, looking after each other, sacrificing for each other.  Schindler is there to rescue them and bring them together as a family, a heroic humanitarian.  
This excellent book deserves to be read by 10 - 14 year olds studying the Holocaust.  When you pull it, emphasize that it may start slow, but it gets really serious when the Nazis invade! And shiver.  Because the book made me shiver.

http://openwalls.com/image/22981/panda_bear__7_2560x1920.jpgJeannette Atwater says: The Boy on the Wooden Box surprised me. I found it to be engrossing and refreshingly honest. A great choice for any Holocaust reading list, Leon's struggle will resonate with young readers. His depictions of life in Krakow, Poland are spot-on for what I would imagine it to look like to a boy his age. The reader really understands how thankful Leon is to Oskar Schindler for rescuing his family, and the book becomes somewhat of a dedication to his hero. A great choice to accompany lessons on WWII in classrooms, or for any kids interested in the Holocaust or Jewish history.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

The Mystery of the Missing Lion: A Precious Ramotswe Mystery for Young Readers

 Travis Ann Sherman says: A big yes to the next in this charming mystery series set in McCall Smith's Botswana. As a fantasy lover, I usually steer clear of anything that smacks of the real world, but this was a lovely outing.  Perfect for the young mystery lovers among us; perfect for the young world citizens among us; and, perfect for reluctant readers too, because though they lexile in the 700s, these are real page turners.  Oh, and did I mention the illustrations by Iain McIntosh made me stop and stare in pleasure at the pages? It's been a long time since that happened.  This is a series I'll be happy to push at my library.
http://openwalls.com/image/22981/panda_bear__7_2560x1920.jpgJeannette Atwater says: First off, as charming as Precious Ramotswe (who in the future will become Botswana's best private detective) is, I was not enraptured with the mystery of the lion Teddy gone missing as I would have liked. The mystery seemed to me to be more of an adventure through the Botswana landscape. However, the setting, characters and easy vocabulary make this a great suggestion for young readers who enjoy stories about the flora and fauna of the world. The illustrations are captivating, the depictions of lions throughout really make for a fun book!