Don’t tell the Enemy

February 10, 2018

EnemyDon’t tell the Enemy by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch

Published by Scholastic Canada; 184p. c2018 [paperback]

This is the latest release by powerhouse historical fiction author, Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch. Though this is slotted as a middle grade story, the power of this read lends itself to being read by readers of any age group or category. Skrypuch has expertly captured  the torment and emotions as “war rages around Krystia’s town, where her uncle and cousin have already died at the hands of the Soviet and Nazi invaders”.  The rawness and brutality of war is not tempered. With an uncompromising honesty, Skrypuch reveals to the reader, the merciless barbaric demeanor of occupying Nazi forces and the affects upon the inhabitants of the Ukrainian town.  However the savagery of these times is offset throughout the book, as the reader gets glimpses of humanity in unexpected places.

As the author’s note reveal’s this is the inspiring true story of Kateryna Sikorska and her daughter Krystia and it is a story that rings with deep emotion, extraordinary courage, determination, and the strength of the human spirit.

Highly Recommended for Junior and Intermediate students!

five-stars

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Two Times a Traitor by Karen Bass

March 2, 2017

traitor-times-two

Two Times a Traitor is the newest endeavor by multi-nominated and celebrated Canadian author, Karen Bass. [Junior Library Guild Selection]

Published by Pajama Press ; c 2017

Two Times a Traitor is a surprising departure from what YA readers have come to expect from this dynamic author.

Laz Berenger  a strong-willed 12 year-old reluctantly finds himself visiting the historic Halifax Citadal with his family. The ever present friction between he and his father explodes while touring the Citadal, and Laz in defiance, takes off on his own. His explorations take him to a section of the Citadel where an unforeseen accident occurs. Laz  suddenly finds himself faced with a knife to his throat and his bravado rapidly dissipates when he realizes that he is no longer in 2017, but has been transported to the historic period of 1745. He finds his loyalty and perseverance tested repeatedly as he tries to earn back his St. Christopher’s Medal and perhaps the key back in time?

Readers will be swept up and away in this riveting richly detailed, middle-grade historical/time travel nail biting adventure, and into the pages of an exciting part of Canadian history!

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!! [for Junior and Intermediate readers!]

five-stars
FIVE STARS!!

#Checkout more Karen Bass at:  http://www.karenbass.ca/ and the Two times a traitor book trailer :

ARC: generously supplied by Pajama Press in exchange for an honest review.

 

 


Moon at nine by Deborah Ellis

April 8, 2014

Moon at nine by Deborah Ellis

Moon at nine by Deborah Ellis

ARC: compliments of Pajama Press

: 273 pages; c2014 

From the publisher:

“A riveting novel set in Iran, where sexual orientation can have deadly consequences.

Based on a true story”.

 

Genre: Realistic fiction

Grades : 8, 9 (intermediate)

 

 

It is the stark dramatic cover of Deborah Ellis’ latest book, that captured my attention.

Reading those three simple words, ‘Moon at nine’….seeing the hazel-coloured eyes staring through two strands of barbwire … for me, is a very powerful image. Resisting the urge to flip the book over, I tried to figure out what this story would be about. My musings were not even near to what Ellis had written.

This story is far from being atypical….it is about a fifteen year old Iranian teen named Farrin, who is the daughter of a wealthy family in 1980’s Tehran, set during the Iran and Iraq war known as the ‘Gulf War’.

We see the story of Farrin’s privileged life, unfold through her eyes. Farrin is dissatisfied — almost bored, with her life, attending an all girls school, while evading daily bombings, and becomes less tolerant with her relationship with her mother.

Her facade of discontent comes to a screeching halt with the arrival of a new student Sadira. Sadira’s outgoing, gentle nature (personality) touches something within Farrin. The two girls connect on a level that has Farrin questioning just who she is.   The pull of Sadira’s steadfastness and compassionate caring personality is something that Farrin cannot resist and they are drawn to each other — like moths to a flame. Though they try to suppress this feeling, but to no avail, Farrin and Sadira find that their friendship evolves into a relationship that can only lead to an outcome that neither girl would anticipate.

 

Freedom … a word that is often taken for granted … and the author has given us a glimpse into a world that reads like a part of history, yet it is still a part of the present … for many young women throughout the world.

This is a story, that I am glad, author, Deborah Ellis had the courage to tell, as it was, for the woman who had the courage to tell it.

Great classroom discussions and highly recommended!!


Blood Brothers in Louisbourg by Philip Roy

March 7, 2014

blood-brothers  Blood brothers in Louisbourg  by Philip Roy
Published by Cape Breton University Press; c2012
137 p,

  Genre: Canadian historical fiction ; First Nations history

Alternating chapters gives the reader a dual perspective to two time lines that are on an intersecting course  unknown to the central characters — Jacques and Two-feathers.
During the reign of King Louis XV, a young French educated teen, suddenly finds himself ripped from the fabric of all that is familiar. He sets sail on a ship bound to New France into the unknown, with a father he hardly knows.
Arriving at Fortress Louisbourg, young Jacques dons an ill-fitting uniform and is thrust into the harsh, unforgiving military world that his father idolizes.
At a similar moment in time, in the untamed wilderness surrounding the Fortress, a young Mi’kmaq warrior called Two-feathers is on his own quest to find the father he never met.

This is the story of two young men – “both seeking to understand their father” unknowingly linked by the bonds of their heritage.

Mr. Roy has created a moving historical tale that touches on a part of Canada’s past that is often overlooked — observations from both inhabitants – those ‘discovering’ Canada and from the First Nations.

It is an engaging story that can be used as a read aloud as it ties in with the school curriculum and can spark many debates and /or discussions within the classroom!

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Grade Level: Grade 7 -9
Interest level: Grade 6-9

Highly recommended!


The Rule of 3 by Eric Walters [ a brilliant new Dystopian novel!]

February 24, 2014

RULE-OF-THREE

  The Rule of Three3  by Eric Walters

  published by razorbill/Penguin Canada ; 404p. ; c2014

It was the dramatic boldly coloured cover of Walter’s latest book, The Rule of Three3, that captured and intrigued me from the start.

In no time, I became completely absorbed by this realistic and disturbing premise and by my own simultaneously personal question of, ‘what if ” this situation really occurred?’  Could this be a possible outcome to humanity – a dramatic reaction to a shocking ‘global viral catastrophe’?

This thought alone, made me want to halt my reading. But it was these same disturbing thoughts that compelled me to continue. Though the story feels almost science fiction-like, one only has to think back to recent global weather events that resulted in similar scenarios.

One quickly realizes that the veneer of civility is shed, if one is without all the computerized driven technologies that have become such an integral part of today’s society.

Through the eyes of sixteen year old Adam, we witness the fear of a seemingly local (innocent) power loss, escalate as the days increase without resolution, to an atmosphere of disorder, feuding, vandalism and desperation. As more time elapses, Adam and his family … with the help of a astute neighbour…try to combat the ever violent disorder and chaos surrounding their suburban neighbourhood into something more orderly…a necessity for survival.

Unfortunately what once was the norm, now has to be re-thought , a mentality, that not all can conform to.

Sacrifice and survival become the key, if any shred of what civil end humanity is to be retained.

This is a strong read, that will challenge the reader to think beyond the box!

Truly a  story of  “what ifs”!

Highly recommended!!

For Intermediate and Senior students


Underground Soldier by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch

February 21, 2014

undergroundsoldier framed[1]Underground Soldier is a moving and inspirational companion book to Stolen Child and the award winning, Making Bombs for Hitler.

This is Luka’s story…..his journey …his painful coming of age during a time, when survival was the key. Luka’s brash escape from a slave labour camp, thrusts him into situations where improvisation becomes the fundamental instrument for his survival — alluding German sentries.

This is a very powerful story, and even though the characters of Luka and Martina are fictional, the events experienced by them are based on real and little known events during a very horrific time in World War II. Often those who were escaping the injustices of the Nazi’s, would also find themselves fighting against the Russians at the same time.

Scenes of total injustice, brutality, violence and all the horrors encountered during war and  endured, are skillfully balanced by the author, into a story that shows that courage, perserverance, determination and compassion can have just as strong as an impact on the human psyche and help one to overcome any adversity.

Highly Recommended for students and adults!


Brothers at war by Don Cummer

November 2, 2013
An quick paced adventure story of two boys becoming unlikely friends!

An quick paced adventure story of two boys becoming unlikely friends!

Brothers at War by Don Cummer

published: Scholastic Canada: Oct. 2013
203 p.
Brothers at war is a quick paced adventure story where the setting is in the past — Canada’s past. Looking at the title and cover the reader is given the impression that this novel is perhaps about two brothers at odds with a war. It is this colourful cover that leads a reader into the pages of a little known part of Canadian history. Tensions in the newly settled areas of Upper Canada, like Newark, are on the rise with the arrival of loyalists and patriots alike.
Only upon reading the first few chapters, is the reader made aware that this story is about two boys and an unlikely friendship that results from a dare by the elite townies and the ensuing, almost tragic consequences. These two young boys, one from a British Loyalist family and the other from a rebel American immigrant family.
Eli McCabe and Jake Gibson become blood brothers and provide support for each other as they get into one scrap or adventure after another. Even when tensions begin to mount within the community against Eli and his family, their friendship remains steadfast. Until one fateful day, when Jake steps up to save is friend that he is no longer considered a blood brother by Eli. The strain and stress between Jake and Eli become mirror images for what is happening in the community….and both boys discover that [as the publisher states]… choosing friends can also mean making enemies and that there are many kinds of loyality.

The author has cleverly intertwined a fast paced adventure within a histoircal venue that never leaves the reader bored!

A great read for Middle grade students!
Highly recommended!

Youtube Book Trailer for Brothers at War: