January 2009

Oliver Has Something to Say!  By Pamela Edwards 


Oliver has a very common problem found among children with an older sibling.  Oliver doesn’t get a chance to speak.  Oliver opens his mouth to speak but someone always answers every question for him.  First, it is his older sister.  She seems like the typical older sister who is trying to be helpful.  She just has not noticed that Oliver has grown up and is able to speak for himself.  Mom and Dad are also guilty of speaking for Oliver instead of waiting for him to form the words and make his own voice heard. 


It takes a kind, patient preschool teacher to help Oliver find his voice.  Oliver seems a little overwhelmed when he gets to make a choice for himself about where to play.  Mrs. Samra is patient while Oliver tries to get his underused mouth in motion.  Through the process Mrs. Samra listens with her eyes and heart as well as her ears.  Finally, Oliver is able to tell her what he wants to do. 


Oliver has learned his lesson well.  After his first day in pre-school he gets up in the middle of the night and lets everyone know they have not been right about what he really wanted as they spoke for him.  Loudly, he lets them know all the things he tried to say over the week.  Mom, Dad, and Margaret are so surprised that this time they have nothing to say.


This is an excellent book to be used in the home or classroom, not only to encourage children  to speak up, but to let talkative children  know they are not being helpful when they rush to finish someone’s thought or sentence.  Sometimes, children need an extra few seconds of time before they can gather their thoughts.  Those who are a bit quicker in forming their thoughts (Mom, Dad, older siblings, and even teachers) need to take the lesson in this book to heart. 

Thanks to Jill at The Well Read Child for sending the book for me to review for her website.  You can see the review there if you click the link above.  Spend some time there checking out the rest of her site… it is wonderful. 


This historical fiction novel for middle school students takes place in a often neglected setting in literature.    The novel is set in Los Alamos.  Los Alamos at that time did not officially exist.  Mail coming into and out of the area was strictly censored to prevent anyone from finding out a group of scientist were all living there and working on a gadget to end the war.   Dewey and Suze are both outcasts forced into a relationship by the events surrounding WWII and their parents jobs in Los Alamos.  Dewey has a physical disability and a passion for climbing around in the dump to find things she can use to work on her inventions. This has earned her the nickname Screwy Dewey.  Suze is called Truck behind her back because of her large size and her tendencyto boss others around.  The fact that they are both outcasts in their class does not make them friends.  In fact, Suze is one of those who teases Dewey when she first arrives.  When Dewey’s dad is called away on secret war business Dewey has to live with Suze and her parents.  All does not go well from the beginning for either girl, but slowly they begin to understand and tolerate each other.  Eventually their relationship grows and they learn from each other.  The relationship building takes most of the book and misunderstandings lead to Dewey running away. 

The historical facts surrounding this story add much to the book as a whole.  The title is not explained until the last chapter and describes a scene not many people have ever read about in history books. 

I think girls from ages 10-14 will enjoy accompanying Suze and Dewey on their journey to friendship. 

There is a sequel and I will be reading it soon.  It is White Sands, Red Menace.  Look for a review soon but not too soon.  I have a growing stack of books to get read!

When you are not alive where are you?  In this book elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin, Liz discovers elsewhere – the place you are when you are not living on the earth.  If you remember this is a fiction story you will have the write mindset to enjoy a young girls trip to elsewhere.  Many things in elsewhere seem just like they did on earth.  People work, shop, live in houses, and seem normal.  At first this confuses Liz and makes her think she is just dreaming. But, things in elsewhere  are not always as they seem.  Old and young take on new meanings.  As expected Liz is not too happy to be taken from the earth and spends a good deal of time watching what is happening back in her old life.  The biggest concern for Liz iswhen she finds out  that here in elsewhere people age backwards.  Liz died at fourteen. Now, she has to go backwards.  She wants to grow up,  learn to drive a car, have a first date, and a first kiss.  This sure isn’t heaven.  Will Liz waste the life she has or find a way to accept her new life?

Thanks to my sister-in-law, Cindy, for suggesting this book.  It is as good as she said.  The next time anyone asks me for a scarey book this is for sure the title I will suggest. 

The Old Willis Place is a ghost story but in an unusual way.  It is scarey but it has character development and relationships along with the mystery and adventure.

Diana and Georgie are living in the woods.  They are dirty and unkept but seem to have rules suggesting parents do care about  their activities.  They are forbidden to leave the woods and forbidden to be seen by others.  So, they spend their time watching the activities and sneaking around the old mansion in the woods.  New caretakers come and go after unusual activities in or near their home.  The new caretaker is a writer with a daughter close to Diana age. Suddenly, Diana wants to break the rules and become a friend to Lissa.  Will the breaking the rules ruin Diana and Georgies relationship?  Will Lissa want to be friends with Diana?  What “bad thing” happened to Georgie and Diana that has kept them bound to the rules they must not break?