Tag Archives: family

Summer Reading: Sophia’s War

Standard

Sophia’s War by Avi.  Historical Fiction.

Sophia Calderwood, vowing to avenge her brother’s treatment in a British prison, takes drastic and dangerous steps to aide the Patriots as they struggle to win the American Revolution.

Themes/Content: The American Revolution, family, Benedict Arnold, John Andre’, Nathan Hale, New York (during the American Revolution), spies, trust, war prisons/prisoners, first person narrative, women in the American Revolution

My Two Cents:  Recommended for grades 5 and up.  Avi again does not disappoint with this well researched historical piece.  He does an amazing job of capturing Sophia’s voice and the apprehensive climate of the time.  Sophia’s War weaves three stories, two of which are historically accurate (Benedict Arnold and the war prisons) and one (Sophia’s tale) which is completely fictional.  Sophia’s personal war is a two-fold.  She’s at war with the British, but she also struggles internally and questions her motives as she helps the patriots.  Is she truly taking these actions to ensure the victory of her country or is she just trying to get revenge for being disregarded at a young age by the man she admired.

Includes a glossary of 18th Century terms, author’s note and a bibliography.  Although there are some descriptions of the horrors of war, none are overly graphic.  This would be an outstanding read aloud for our 5th grade when studying the American Revolution.  As much as I love historical fiction, I have to say that I’ve never been excited about history.  Avi has show me a different perspective by creating such an engaging story which makes these historical events come alive.  No longer are Arnold, Andre’, and Hale simply historical figures, they are developed characters with strengths and flaws.

Pair this with books from EHUE Library:

  • Allen, Thomas B. George Washington, spymaster : how the Americans outspied the British and won the Revolutionary War. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic, 2004. Print.
  • Anderson, Laurie H. Chains : seeds of America. New York: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2008. Print.
  • Griffin, Judith B. Phoebe the spy. New York: Scholastic, 1977. Print.
  • Hale, Nathan. One dead spy : the life, times, and last words of Nathan Hale, America’s most famous spy. New York: Amulet Books, 2012. Print.
  • Murphy, Jim. The real Benedict Arnold. New York: Clarion Books, 2007. Print.
  • O’Dell, Scott. Sarah Bishop. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1980. Print.
  • Purcell, Martha S. Spies of the American Revolution. Logan, Iowa: Perfection Learning, 2003. Print.
  • Thompson, Paul B. Liberty’s son : a spy story of the American Revolution. Berkeley Heights, NJ: Enslow Publishers, 2010. Print.

Favorite Quote: “Dear Reader: It is a terrible thing to see a man hang.  But that is why I did what I did.  Was I right to act in such a way?  You must decide.”  (Avi. Sophia’s war : a tale of the Revolution. New York: Beach Lane Books, 2012. Print.)

The Final Word(s): Awesome! Two thumbs up! Read it! 😀

Summer Read: Same Sun Here

Standard

Same Sun Here by Silas House and Neela Vaswani, Illustrated by Hilary Schenker. Realistic Fiction.

Pen pals, Meena and River, become fast friends as they discover that they have much more in common than they ever thought possible.  Told via alternating bits of correspondence, the story spans an entire school year, with happy, sad, and uncomfortable conversations along the way.

Themes/Content: Friendship, writing, culture, India, Kentucky, social activism, environment, immigration, citizenship, coal mining, mountain top removal, stereotypes, prejudice, Appalachia, family, poetry, voice, presidential elections, Barak Obama

My two cents:  Recommended for grades 5 and up.  I really wanted to love this book, but I had a hard time believing it.  Meena begins the conversation by asking River to be completely open and honest in his writing…. and surprisingly he actually is!  I know it’s possible for two kids to be so forthcoming so quickly, but it’s just not believable.  Their correspondence is also full of political overtones.  Again, not to say that two sixth graders would not ever discuss presidential elections and environmental activism, they just seem mature beyond their years. (Be aware that a few of their conversations may not be suitable for everyone.)

(Spoilers ahead…) Finally, there is also just a little too much coincidence for this to be believable.  They both have fathers whose work keeps them away from home for long periods of time; they both have extremely wise, caring  and strong grandmothers; their homesteads are impacted by greedy companies destroying the environment;  River’s school gym is crushed by a boulder dislodged as a result of mountain top mining; River ends up on the cover of Time magazine … Sorry, but there are just way too many cards falling into place…

Favorite Quote: “I like that library books have secret lives. All those hands that have held them. All those eyes that have read them.” (House, Silas; Vaswani, Neela (2012-02-14). Same Sun Here (Kindle Locations 741-742). Candlewick Press. Kindle Edition.)

The Final Word: So-so. 😐