The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas

February 4, 2010




This book tells the story of a young German boy, Bruno, who moves with his family during the Second World War.  The father is in charge of running a concentration camp, a fact that is obvious to the reader but one that the naïve young narrator is oblivious to.  The story deals with the family as they live within the walls of the camp, trying to maintain a normal life but failing dismally.  A friendship is struck between one of the young Jewish prisoners and the son of the camp commandant, this friendship carries the story to its startling conclusion.  The story has several twists and turns and a very effective ending.  This is one of my favourite intermediate books! 

Reading Ability:  intermediate level (themes and material) 

Genre: Historical fiction
Theme:  Determination, War, Friendship, Holocaust 

Who would love this book? 

-those interested in the Second World War 

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Sarah, Plain and Tall

February 3, 2010


In this award winning novel, a family tries to come to grips with the death of the wife and mother.  The two young children, Caleb and Anna desperately long for their father to be happy again.  Father advertises for a mother for his two children and accepts a response from Sarah who has written from Maine.  Sarah arrives full of dreams of the sea and imagination and finds it difficult to fit into the lives of her new prairie charges.  Caleb loves Sarah instantly and is afraid that she will leave, taking any happiness he has found with her.  Anna is afraid of losing the memories she has of her mother but is drawn to the kind and gentle Sarah.  This story relates the hardships of living in the prairies, the loss of a parent and the uniting of a family.

Reading Ability: Grade Three

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Themes:  Prairie Life, Family Life, Survival, Pioneers

Who would love this book? This has been a hit whenever I used it in a grade three and four classroom.

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Two Old Women

February 3, 2010

Two Old Women, by Velma Wallis, is an Alaska legend of betrayal, courage and survival. 

This book is based on an Athabascan legend that has been passed from generation to generation by mothers and daughters.  It is the story of two old women who are left behind to meet their fate in the face of a brutal winter.    It is a story of determination, betrayal and friendship. 

Reading Ability: Junior /Intermediate
Genre:  Historical / Realistic Fiction
Theme: Courage, Survival, Native Culture, Friendship

Who would love this book?
-those interested in Native culture
-friendship and survival in difficult circumstances

Link to Discussion/Comprehension Questions: