Tuesday, March 27, 2018

ReFoReMo 2018 Day 19 Book Reviews

EACH KINDNESS by Jacqueline Woodson 

When a new girl comes to class, she is ignored by everyone. Try as she might, she can't get the kids in the class to accept her. No one seems to be bothered by this until the girl doesn't show up for class. Then the teacher presents a lesson about kindness.

The teacher dropped a small stone into a bowl of water. "This is what kindness does," the teacher says. "Each little thing we do goes out, like a ripple, into the world." The students took turns telling the class what kind acts they had done. One little girl couldn't think of anything to say, so she remained silent.

This little girl is bothered by the idea that she didn't show any kindness towards the new girl. She wants so much for the new girl to come back so she can have a chance to be kind to her. But when the teacher announces the new girl moved away, this little girl realizes that it is too late to express any kindness to her.

This is a touching story, but I am troubled by two things in the storyline. First, didn't the teacher notice that the new girl was being left out? Why didn't the teacher do something about it by encouraging the kids to play with her. Why didn't the teacher provide this object lesson in kindness while they new girl was still in the class?

Also, the book ends with the idea that the other girl realizes that her chance to be nice to the new girl is "forever gone." Those are the last two lines in the book. I think the book should have ended with the idea that even though that chance was forever gone, the girl would have other chances to be kind and she could resolve to take advantage of them in the future.


Henry Brown was born a slave. When his master died, he was taken from his mother and "given" to the master's son. When he got older, he got married and had two children. One day, his wife and children were sold without any warning.

This, unfortunately, was common back in the days of slavery. But, what makes Henry's story different is what happened next. With the help of a white doctor named Dr. Smith, who was part of the Underground Railroad, Henry was able to escape his old life. He did this by being "mailed" in a crate. He traveled from Richmond, Virginia to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, a distance of 350 miles. The journey too, just over a full day, but he arrived safe and sound in his new home.

FINDING WINNIE: The True Story of the World's Most Famous Bear by Lindsay Mattick

This wonderful book was written by Lindsay Mattick, the great-granddaughter of Captain Harry Colebourn. Captain Colebourn, a vet, was on his way to tend to the soldier's horses during the war, when he came upon a man with a bear cub. The captain bought the cub and named her Winnipeg, calling her Winnie, for short. He trained her and she became the mascot for the Second Canadian Infantry Brigade. When the troops were sent out to fight, Capt. Colebourn had to leave Winnie behind. He was in  England at the time, and he drove Winnie to the London Zoo, where she lived out the rest of her days.

She became a favorite attraction at the zoo. One day, little Christopher Robin Milne went to the zoo with his father. Christopher Robin fell in love with Winnie. He and the bear became great friends. Christopher Robin had a stuffed bear at home that he named Winnie-the-Pooh. His father, A.A. Milne, wrote great stories about the adventures of Christopher Robin, Winnie-the-Pooh and their friends in the Hundred Acre Woods.

Mattick writes the story in a refreshingly creative way. She begins by having a young boy curling up with mom while mom reads the story. The little boy keeps interrupting the mother as she reads, as children often do. In this manner, Mattick tells the story of how Winnie-the-Pooh became famous.


Lilly loves school. She loves everything about it. And, she loves her teacher, Mr. Slinger. She loves school and her teacher so much she wants to be a teacher when she grows up.

That is until she brings her new purple plastic purse to school. Lilly loves her new purple plastic purse. It had three shiny quarters and a pair of glittery glasses in it. And, when you opened it, it played a jaunty tune. Lilly can't wait to show it off to her classmates. She is so impatient to do so, that she interrupts class. Mr. Slinger takes the purse from her and keeps it until after school. Lilly gets angry, very, very angry, and does something she regrets. How can she make things right?


Louise is a very adventurous chicken. Apparently, she never got the memo that chickens are supposed to stay on the farm and be contented with their lot. Louise is certainly not content to stay home and be safe on her farm.

First, "she left the henhouse and went to sea..." She enjoyed being on board a ship until it was overrun by pirates and she was captured. The pirates wanted to eat her. Luckily, a huge storm came along and sank the ship Louise was on. She managed to escape by "clinging to a piece of timber." Seven days after being tossed into the waters, Louise spotted dry land. She "used her wings to paddle" herself to shore. From there, she "hopped all the way back to the farm."

When she got back home, one of the other hens asked her where she had been. "Oh, here and there," said Louise. She then went back to the henhouse, climbed into her nest and went to sleep. She was content to be back on the farm, for a short while, until the need for adventure struck again.

Louise goes on three adventures. Each time, her life is put into danger. Each time, she escapes and makes her way back home. The book is divided into four "chapters"; the first three tell the tales about Louise's adventures. In the last chapter, Louise tells her harrowing story about her escapades to all the hens, giving them a chance to experience the adventures with her.


"There are good things about being President and there are bad things about being President. One of the good things is that the President lives in a big whit house called the White House...One of the bad things is that the President always has to be dressed up." The text goes on to describe how McKinley dressed in a "frock coat, vest pin-striped trousers, stiff white shirt, black satin tie, gloves, a top hat, and a red carnation in his buttonhole every day."

The book is filled with tidbits and trivia about our country's first 42 presidents. The current president is not mentioned in this book.

THAT BOOK WOMAN by Heather Henson

Before the days of the modern book mobile, libraries found ways to get books to the people who needed them the most. One way was by horseback. A group of mostly women delivered books every two weeks by horseback to people who lived in the Appalachian Mountains of Kentucky. They were called, appropriately, the Pack Horse Librarians. The initiative was started in the 1930s by President Roosevelt as part of his WPA, Works Progress Administration.

This story takes a fictional look at how lives were transformed by books. In this story, Cal lives in the mountains with his family. He doesn't know how to read and sees no need to learn. He can't understand why anyone would travel miles on horseback to deliver books - at no charge - to people like him and his family. When the librarian drops off a load of books and says they are free to read, Cal is taken aback. But, he doesn't know how to read and he still doesn't see any sense in learning. When the weather turns nasty and it's time for the librarian to come back, he's sure she won't come because of the letter. But she comes, and because she does, he has to wonder what is so special about the books that would make someone to do that. He understands when he asks his sister to teach him to read.

This is a touching story and it is told in a "hillbilly" vernacular that takes a bit of getting used to, but it lends the story an air of authenticity.


Once there was a village where everyone made noise. It became so noisy that it drove everyone crazy. The villagers didn't know what to do, so they fired their mayor. That didn't help any, so they held an election for a new mayor.

The man they elected promised to make the village quiet again. And, he did. It is very, very quiet for seven years until a very noisy rooster comes along and stirs things up.

The mayor is at his wit's end trying to make the rooster be quiet. Will he succeed or will the rooster change the village?

This is a great story about persistence and bravery.

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