Monday, March 27, 2006

The Heart of a Chief

Joseph Bruchac is one of my favorite authors. I think it is because of my interest in the history of Native Americans. I originally became acquainted with his writings when I was preparing a unit on Native American folklore for a 7th grade language arts class.

Chris Nicola, a sixth grader, is a member of the Penacook tribe in Maine. Chris lives on the reservation. The people are divided on the issue of building a casino. Chris is involved in a school project that questions the team name, the Rangerville Chiefs. This is an issue that I personally do not understand – maybe that is because I am not Native American. My high school was known as the “Mohawks”, and I don’t think there was any disrespect intended. My college mascot was the “Highlander” – again I don’t believe there is any disrespect. I have wondered, should the “Banana Slugs” of the University of California at Santa Cruz be changed out of respect for banana slugs – just a thought.

After you finish reading the book you will understand why the author chose the title. The book is interesting and may allow you to think about your feelings on a number of topics.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The Legend of the Wandering King

This novel by Laura Gallego Garcia is translated from Spanish. The main character is Prince Walid ibn Hujr of Kinda – he is a poet, a soldier, and an intellectual. He most wants to be chosen the best poet, but he cannot write better poetry than a poor weaver, Hammad ibn al-Haddad. Walid’s poetry does not have the “heart” of Hammad’s. The setting of the novel is ancient Arabia.

King Hujr gives his son some advice before he dies -- “We are all responsible for our actions, both for good and for evil. And life always returns to you what you give it…life makes us pay a price.” Walid’s envy and vengeful spirit sets the tone of his life. The Prince gives Hammad the job of historian – organizing all the manuscripts and creating a rug that has the history of mankind woven into it. (It is the hope that this will take his lifetime to complete.) This job eventually kills Hammad and thieves steal the carpet. Walid sets out to recover the stolen carpet – this becomes an obsession. The carpet has some very magical powers. Along the way he meets the sons of Hammad.

I really enjoyed reading this book! I began the book hating Walid, but by the end he had changed, and I had changed my mind about him.


Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Children of the Lamp #2: The Blue Djinn of Babylon

P.B. Kerr has completed the second book in the trilogy Children of the Lamp, The Blue Djinn of Babylon. He began to write this story for his own children. The djinn (if you are at our school, this site is blocked :)) twins, John and Philippa Gaunt find they are called upon to find a missing book, a powerful book of djinn magic. There is only one thing, the book isn’t really missing and Philippa is abducted by the hard-hearted Blue Djinn (the leader of all djinn).

You can read an excerpt.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

The Treasure of Savage Island

Historical fiction ranks among my favorite genre and this novel by Lenore Hart is “comfortable” reading. Rafe, a runaway slave, sneaks aboard a ship bound for Boston to find his freedom. A nor’easter causes the ship to run aground near one of the barrier islands – in the story it is Savage Island.

The dialogue in the novel is great and keeps the story moving. It also has pirates, buried treasure stories, and the rotten Mrs. Ben who is very cruel to both Molly and her father, Ned. Shortly after Molly’s mother had died, Ned lost the tavern in a poker game to Mr. Ben. Now the good-natured Mr. Ben has also died leaving his mean wife the new owner of the tavern.

Molly, the other main character in the book, finds Rafe while she is scavenging the wreck. He is the only survivor and claims to be a freeman because he is afraid she will turn him in. Molly is kind-hearted and wants to help Rafe but is also troubled because she is lying to her father, breaking the law, and fighting her conscience.