Saturday, July 13, 2013

Reaching for the American Dream

In 1901, my maternal great-grandmother, Beda, arrived in the United States aboard the S.S. St. Paul. She landed in New York City the day President William McKinley died, September 14th. She married my great-grandfather, Claus, during the winter of 1908. She worked as a seamstress and he as a farmer in Marshall County, Kansas. My great-uncle, Everett was born in the fall of 1909 followed by my grandmother, Inez, in the winter of 1913. The family learned English by reading the Sears and Roebuck's catalog.

My husband's parents married in the fall of 1946 in Clifton, Arizona. My in-laws worked for the Phelps Dodge Corporation in the copper mine.  They raised a family in the town of Morenci, owned and operated by Phelps Dodge. The entire city (school, hospital, mercantile, everything) was owned by the mining company. They rented a three bedroom, from the corporation for $24-$25 per month. Along with each paycheck a book of coupons, in $20 increments, was issued. This money was deducted from the paycheck, but could be used to make purchases in the mercantile.

Although the time period and the locations are not the same, they are similar enough to the new book I am reviewing that I had to mention some of the comparisons.

Katerina's Wish
by Jeannie Mobley
Katerina's Wish is a wonderful coming of age book about a young Bohemian girl and her family who have come to the United States in the early 1900s. They make their way to a southern Colorado coal mining town and live in a home owned by the mining company. The family is part of a community of other immigrants, also working for the mining company. The three sisters, Trina, Aneshka and Holena, attended school during the fall helping them to learn English. Their mother relied on her daughters to assist her, but learned about America by looking at the pictures and ads in the newspaper.

This thirteen-year-old overcomes a number of obstacles in order to help her family achieve the American dream. She shows the most growth through listening to fairy tales told by family and friends. The sisters learn about perseverance, creative thinking, and reaching for your dreams. I love the manner in which Ms. Mobley wove the traditional Eastern European fairy tales into the book. It made me want to go and find these stories so I could read more.

I highly recommend this wonderful historical fiction title for all libraries providing services to children in upper elementary through middles school (Grade 4 - 8). Not only is it a wonderful story, I actually did not want it to end and hope a sequel is in the making, it is also an excellent example of a mining community.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

I HATE Picture Books

Okay, hold on...don't stop reading my blog because I used the title of a new children's picture book as the title of this post! I do, in fact LOVE picture books, and hopefully after reading today's review you will LOVE this book, just like me.

I Hate Picture Books!
by Timothy Young
When I first saw the title of this book, I did a double take. On second glance I felt certain the author / illustrator was going to provide a twist. I mean, look at all of the wonderful picture books on the cover! How could you NOT love all of these great classics? As you picture walk through this wonderful story you will not come to a page you can quickly identify the characters and books to which he (the main character) is referring.

In a humorously clever manner, Mr. Young, conveys what a number of young readers have thought for years about eating green ham! I think this is my favorite part of the book. It made me laugh out loud when I got to it.

As a children's librarian I know all of the books pictured throughout, but I have to say it made my heart swell when I saw the book that he LOVES is one that I loved as a child. I have such fond memories of my mother reading "Are You My Mother?" to me when I was a child. It made me love this book even more.

Yes, on first glance you might think this is a book against picture books, but in reality it is a book all about the LOVE of picture books and reading. As you know, I have a deep passion for reading, books, and sharing this love. I think this is the perfect book to help non-readers become readers. It provides glimpses of books, or short book talks in a manner than might spark a young non-reader to want to see exactly what that book is all about.

I applaud you Mr. Young. Thank you for creating a book that will help to ignite the spark needed for some of our youngest to WANT to start to read.

I highly recommend this book for all libraries. I would also recommend this book for any parent who has young children, especially the non-readers. I think this just might be the book to help them get started.

*To comply with new guidelines introduced by the Federal Trade Commission, Schiffer Publishing, Ltd. has provided a complimentary electronic copy of this book through