Cynthia Kadohata

All posts tagged Cynthia Kadohata

4th and 5th grade book club: Historical fiction

Published November 19, 2014 by Dagmar

One of my favorite times of the week is my time with the 4th and 5th grade book club at my school.  We meet on Wednesdays at 1:20 and have trouble getting them to leave the library before my preschool class comes for their library time at 2pm.  Today, instead of talking about our slate of books we’re reading this fall (more to come on that), we chose the books that we’ll read in January when we read historical fiction books.

HistoEliza's Freedomrical fiction is one of my favorite genres, because I love learning about other times and other cultures.  It wasn’t hard for me to create a great list of 10 books from my library.  I presented these books to my students and had them vote on their top six choices for the book club.  These books will be available to them during the month number the starsof January (and yes, some of them will read all six books).  The choices they were given were:

  • Under a War Torn Sky, by L.M. Elliot (World War II)
  • Number the Stars, by Lois Lowry (World War II)
  • My Name is Keoko, by Linda Sue Park (World War II)
  • Inside Out and Back Again, by Thanhha Lai (Vietnam War)
  • A Million Shades of Gray by Cynthia Kadohata (Vietnam War)
  • Sophia’s War, by Avi (Revolutionary War)
  • My Brother Sam is Dead, by James Lincoln Collier (Revolutionary War)
  • The Mighty Miss Malone, by Christopher Paul Curtis (Depression)
  • Eliza’s Freedom Road, by Jerdine Nolen (1850s)
  • Jefferson’s Sons, by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley (1780s-1790s)

jeffersons sonsmy brother samPlease click on the highlighted books to see books I’ve reviewed.

We talked about why authors often pick times of war or conflict as settings for historical fiction.  Then, the students had a chance to look at each of the books and discuss them before they voted on their top six choices to include in the book club “library”.

And the winners were – in order of preference: Eliza’s Freedom Road (winner), Inside Out and Back Again, Jefferson’s Sons, My Brother Sam is A MillionDead, Number the Stars, A Million Shades of Gray.  In my opinion, they really can’t go wrong with any of these titles.inside

Next month, when my students choose the books they’ll read, I’ll be excited to hear what attracted them to the books they selected and what they thought about the books.  Stay tuned!

More summer reading reviews

Published July 25, 2013 by Dagmar

Moving through my summer reading list, I took on a a historical novel, Kira-Kira, by Cynthia Kadohata, a fairytale adventure, Robe of Skulls, by Vivian French, an environmental novel, One White Dolphin, by  Gill Lewis.

kira-kiraKira-Kira is a powerful, Newbery Medal-winning, story of the strong bond between two Japanese-American sisters living in Iowa and Georgia in the 1960s.  Katie’s sister Lynn best friend, her mentor and the person that taught her that kira-kira means glittering.  Kira-Kira takes many forms: stars in the sky, the sea, people’s eyes.  Katie’s family struggles.  Her family moves to Georgia where her parents find work in chicken hatcheries owned by a very rich man who does not treat his workers well. Katie’s parents work around the clock to make a living and are are devastated when Lynn is diagnosed with a terminal illness.

I was really touched by the beauty and the sadness of this book.  I loved the portrayal of Katie’s strong love for her sister, her quirky but sweet Uncle, her hard-working parents, her love for her little brother and how Katie manages her pain of her sister’s illness.  I will definitely recommend this to my tween and middle school students.

Robe of SkullsFor those of you in search of a fun, fairy tale fantasy, you may enjoy The Robe of Skulls.  I think this book would work best for third and fourth grade readers.  Robe of  Skulls is the first of a series of four books in the Tales of the Five Kingdom’s series.

Lady Lamorna has ordered a new fabulously creepy robe of skulls from the Ancient Crones.  Unfortunately, this wicked sorceress’s trunk of gold is empty.  She has no money to pay for her robe.  What will she do? Why, devise a nasty scheme to turn all the royal princes and princesses into frogs and ransom them, of course.  Little does Lady Lamorna know as she sets out on her evil mission with her troll, that she will meet a very evil stepsister who wants to steal the money Lady Lamorna earns and a young girl named Gracie Gillypot who might just foil her plans.

onewhitedolphinOne White Dolphin is an environmental story based in Cornwall, England.  Kara Woods is a girl who lives with her father at her aunt and uncle’s house.  Her mother, a marine biologist and environmentalist, disappeared while on a scientific mission.  Kara is bullied at school by the sons of powerful fishermen whose parents opposed her mother’s efforts to save the local reef from destruction and dolphins from being caught in fishing nets.  When an albino dolphin calf washes ashore, Kara and her new friend Felix team up to help the dolphin survive and to fight to save the reef that fishermen will destroy as they dredge it to find scallops.

I found myself rooting for Kara on her quest to save what her mother had fought so hard for.  There are several exciting and suspenseful scenes that I really enjoyed as well.  I’d recommend this book to tweens and middle school students.