Wednesday, January 26, 2011
More Newbery 2011 Reads
Heart of a Samuri
by Margi Preus
Newbery Honor 2011
Had this novel not won a Newbery Honor, I have to admit I probably would not have read it. And I would have been missing out on a great novel. From my first glance at the cover, I thought this was just not my type of reading. However, a few chapters in and I was hooked. The story starts in 1841 when a young boy named Manjiro becomes shipwrecked with four others. I then thought that the story would be one of survival on the island where they were trapped. But was happily surprised when they quickly were rescued by some barbarians, who turn out to be from America. We follow the journey of Manjiro from young boy into adulthood. He spends time on several whaling boats, makes some difficult life changing decisions, and learns what is really important to him. The reader is wrapped up in his life and we wonder if he will ever make it back to his home in Japan and if he does what will happen to him when he arrives. This novel is full of action, suspense, character development, and the bonds of friendship. The book is divided into 5 different parts (The Unknown, The Barabarians, The New World, Returning, and Home). The end of the novel contains an epilogue where the reader learns what happens to Manjiro in the rest of his life. There is also a historical note from the author explaining how the story was based on a real person and which facts were true in the story. We can also read about the Japanese calendar method and the environmental concerns about whaling. There is also a glossary included which explains many Japanese words, terms, and places; along with Whaling terms, parts of a ship, and Sailor's lingo. Also included is a bibliography and suggested reading list.
Topics this book could be included in: Samurai, Sailing, Whaling, Japan, California Gold Rush
Dark Emperors and Other Poems of the Night
by Joyce Sidman, Illustrated by Rick Allen
Newbery Honor 2011
I have to say I was surprised and delighted that this book won a Newbery Honor this year. As it is part poetry and part nonfiction, it doesn't fit the Newbery mold. This book is all about creatures that are awake at nighttime, or who are nocturnal. Each two page spread, includes a poem and an informational paragraph about the creature. We learn about raccoons, snails, primrose moths, owls, spiders, porcupettes, crickets, mushrooms, bats and even trees hard at work during the night hours. I loved the illustration style of linoleum block painting. The book information gives more details as to how the illustrations were created. There is also a useful table of contents and a glossary of great vocabulary words included.
Links: The author's website
A great reader's guide from the author
The illustrator's website
and be sure to check out the book trailor below: