Masterpiece
*****
Excellent
**** 1/2
Very good
****
Good
**** 1/2
Just okay
***
Not for me
**
Definitely not for me
*

Messenger by Lois Lowry

Messenger
by Lois Lowry

2004, 167 pp.

Rating: 4

It’s very hard to describe Messenger without giving away parts of The Giver and Gathering Blue. This is the third book in that trilogy. So I’m not going to say anything about the book, other than I enjoyed it very much but consider it to be the weakest of the three. It was nice to have a sequel that wrapped up (somewhat) the other two titles.

Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry

Gathering Blue
by Lois Lowry

2000, 215 pp.

Rating: 4.5

This book is the second in the trilogy which also includes The Giver and Messenger. I read The Giver, a Newbery book, earlier this year and absolutely loved it. This book doesn’t really continue where The Giver left off, but Messenger takes place after both stories and with characters from each.

Kira is a girl who has just lost her mother to sickness. She is very distraught as it has been her mother who has protected her from the community. Kira has a bad leg, and everyone in the village with any kind of defect or deformity must leave the protected area and contend with “the beasts” outside of it.

As she goes back to her small house, the women around her make it known that they want her property as a place for their own children and animals. A legal proceeding takes place which decides the matter. Will she have to leave the community and contend with “the beasts”, or will an exception be made?

Recommended highly, but make sure you read The Giver before you read Messenger.

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

Number the Stars
by Lois Lowry

1989, 144 pp.

Newbery Medal

Rating: 4.5

This was an excellent children’s book. I read it in a couple of hours while the rest of my family was at the movie theatre.

Annemarie Johansen and Ellen Rosen live in Copenhagen. They are neighbors and best friends. Ellen and her family are Jewish and World War II is going on; consequently they are in very real danger and Annemarie’s family does everything they can to help them.

I can’t really say much more without giving the whole story line away. This book fascinated me because many of the details are based on factual evidence. Books like these truly make history come alive and make the reader eager to do more research on the subject.

Highly recommended.

Lisa – June 19, 2007
I read this one this week as well. I thought it was good but didn’t love it. I think this is in part because I recently read The Book Thief which overshadows this one. I posted a short review this morning.
Trish – June 19, 2007
I loved loved loved this book as a kid (I think we read it in 4th or 5th grade) and I re-read it again as a YA. I guess I should now read it as an adult!As a side-tid-bit: I learned the word disdain from this book. ) I can still remember how the babysister disdained her fish shoes. Quite an impression.

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

A Wrinkle in Time
by Madeleine L’Engle

1962, 224 pp.

Rating: 4

Newbery Medal

I listened to this book on CD with my sons on a short road trip. All three of us enjoyed it very much. Meg Murry is a girl whose parents are both scientists. Consequently her family is a little different than others. She and Charles Wallace, her littlest brother, get made fun of at school because everyone thinks they’re either stupid or not living up to their potential. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. Her twin brothers are more normal so they fit in.

Their father works for the government and has been missing for a few years. The search for Mr. Murry, with a little help from Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which, takes them on a journey too incredible to imagine. Three sequels follow that each of us plan on reading this year or next.

Lisa – June 18, 2007

This is on one of my lists- Newbery? Decades? I thought I owned a copy but it looks like I’ll be PBS’ing it. I remember it fondly from my childhood.

I just saw your review of Number the Stars. I read it this weekend and don’t want to influence my review by reading yours, but find it cool that someone else read it at the same time.

The Giver by Lois Lowry

The Giver
by
Lois Lowry

1993
179pp

Newbery Medal

Rating: 4.5

I really, really liked this book. It is another “Big Brother” story similar to Fahrenheit 451 or 1984. Scary, scary.

Jonas is eleven years old. When he is twelve, he will receive his “assignment” or job from the Elders of his community. Everything is decided by the Elders. Who marries whom. Which occupation you will have. Which children you will raise. And even who has to be “released” from the community. When Jonas is selected for a special position that only one other person in the community has, it is considered a very high honor. What Jonas discovers about this “honor” changes his life completely.

I read this for the Banned Book Challenge. I’m not sure why it would be contested. Perhaps because there is some talk about the “stirrings” of beginning s* x u ality in Jonas. I didn’t have a problem with this, but I’m really glad I read it before I gave it to my 13 and 12 year old sons to read. This book will make for a great discussion.

Also reviewed by

Lisa – March 31, 2007
I’ve never read this either but have always been interested. I just finished Fahrenheit 451 last night, and wow.
Amanda – March 31, 2007
I love this book! It is a fantastic read and people always have different ideas of what actually happened at the end.
booklogged – March 31, 2007
This is one of my favorite books. Like you I wondered why it had been banned. I found the following site that lists some reasons:
http://www.northern.edu/hastingw/Giver.htmlLowry didn’t write a sequel, but she did write 2 companion novels: Gathering Blue and Messenger. Of these, Messenger is the best, but I think you need to read all 3 for full appreciation.
Les – April 3, 2007
I read this 5 or 6 years ago and absolutely loved it. Gave it a perfect 10, as I recall. Definitely time for a re-read!

To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

Wow! What a fantastic book. I don’t know why I’ve never read this before. I really thought I already knew what it was about–a girl’s father defending a black man for r*ping a white woman. It is about so much more than that, although of course that plays an important part.

Scout and her family live in Maycomb, Alabama. In the beginning of the book, Scout is going into the 1st grade and her brother Jem is going into 5th. Her father is an attorney, her mother died when she was 2, and her caregiver is a sweet, smart black woman named Calpurnia. The family relationship among all members is strong–very strong. Scout and Jem play together at home (but not in school–Jem insists). Scout and her father always read together in the evenings. This is a point of contention with Scout’s teacher Miss Caroline. Some of my favorite passages come from this section and they are hilarious to me as a former teacher who now homeschools.

The teacher asks if anyone knows what the alphabet is, and then. . .

…as I read the alphabet a faint line appeared between her eyebrows, and after making me read most of My First Reader and the stock-market quotations from the Mobile Register aloud, she discovered that I was literate and looked at me with more than faint distaste. Miss Caroline told me to tell my father not to teach me any more, it would interfere with my reading. [...] “Now you tell your father not to teach you any more. It’s best to begin reading with a fresh mind. You tell him I’ll take over from here and try to undo the damage–”

The Dewey Decimal System consisted, in part, of Miss Caroline waving cards at us on which were printed “the,” “cat,” “rat,” “man,” and “you.” No comment seemed to be expected of us, and the class received these impressionistic revelations in silence. I was bored, so I began a letter to Dill. Miss Caroline caught me writing and told me to tell my father to stop teaching me. “Besides, she said. “We don’t write in the first grade, we print. You won’t learn to write until you’re in the third grade.”

…as I inched sluggishly along the treadmill of the Maycomb County school system, I could not help receiving the impression that I was being cheated out of something. Out of what I knew not, yet I did not believe that twelve years of unrelieved boredom was exactly what the state had in mind for me.

I don’t want to give away too much of the story, so from here I’ll be brief. Scout, Jem, and their friend Dill (said to have been inspired by Lee’s childhood friend Truman Capote) spend a lot of time together in the summer trying to see Boo Radley, a neighbor who is a recluse. In fact, they are obsessed with this endeavor. Atticus Finch, Scout’s father, takes on the r*pe case. The fallout from the case is felt by the Finches from the community as well as from their extended family. The book ends well, though, with a very satisfying conclusion.

To Kill a Mockingbird won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1961 and was made into an Academy Award winning film starring Gregory Peck. It is the only novel Harper Lee ever published.

I listened to parts of this book on Audio CD read by Sissy Spacek. Highly recommended.

Caution: There are a few curse words and adult themes in the book. I would recommend this book for high school level and up.

1960, 281 pp.
Pulitzer Prize 1961

Rating: 5

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