I Am Malala

Another check mark on my “to-read” list – this book meeting the “current events” requirement of my reading challenge. And yes, education and women’s right is certainly a current event. Even in America it is something we are still battling.

This time I read about an autobiography of a girl from Pakistan – Malala Yousafzai.

If you haven’t heard of Malala, you should really go look her up. Seriously! She is 20 years old and starting college this fall, but she has been in the news since she was like 11. What really brought her to the public eye was speaking out in favor of girls attending school, which the Taliban was denying the girls in Pakistan.

Then, in 2012, as she was en route home from school, she was shot, along with two friends. She was eventually brought to the UK for treatment and recovery, and then stayed there to finish her schooling with her family.

Like the last book I read, I felt a draw to Malala, thinking we were similar despite growing up in different cultures and countries. For one, we both love school. I have known for a long time that I wanted to be a teacher. Well, I’m not one today, but I do what I feel is a close second – library tech. Instead of planning lessons for a class of 30 or so students, I plan library lessons and story time for all 650 kids that attend the school and visit the library throughout the week. No, its not quite the same, but I think it’s something I could live with, especially since reaching that teaching dream doesn’t seem to be financially reachable at the moment.

Another draw I have to Malala is that we both felt our passion for what we wanted to do in live early on. In chapter 1, Malala mentioned that though she “certainly didn’t understand politics…[she] felt a pull to the weighty world of the men.”. Then, when she was ten and learned of the death of Benzair Bhutto, she felt the calling to fight for women’s rights and education, and has been going strong ever since. For me, the call as I mentioned in the last paragraph, was teaching. I remember “playing school” during the summers, and when I grew out of the elementary-age programs at church, I went back but as a helper, preferring that to hanging out with kids my own age. Even at school, I preferred to hang out in a teacher’s classroom during lunch or after school instead of the crowded areas of the courtyard or lunch room. Perhaps why working as a library tech seems like a good replacement for being a classroom teacher – I get the aspect of planning lessons, but without all the hassle of student behaviors, as I only see classes for about 30 minutes a week.

Read my goodreads review below for some passages that stood out to me … And go check this book out! I read the young reader’s edition, but would be willing to read the ‘adult’ version as well, to learn more about Malala’s life from her own voice.

I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World (Young Readers Edition)I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World by Malala Yousafzai

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I had heard of Malala, and her story has been on my “to-read” list for some time now. I’m glad its one I can finally check off.

I like how Malala is a girl just like I am. Even though she is from a different country, culture, religion, we have similarities still. I also like how she justifies arguing with her brothers also – “…when Khushal fights with me, I oblige him.”

There were a few lines that I was drawn to:
1) In talking about moving to the upper school, Malala writes: “In a country where so many people consider it a waste to send girls to school, it is a teacher who helps you believe in your dreams.” (chapter 10) – I think this is true even in America. Teachers have such an impact on their students, more so than the teacher may ever realize.
2) When going through the ups and downs of life, the words of Malala’s father, Ziauddin, seem like encouragement when you’re scared – ‘”At night our fear is strong, jani,” he said. “But in the morning, in the light, we find our courage again.”‘ (chapter 10)
3) When Malala offers to keep a diary for the BBC about life under the Taliban and her dad is torn about his daughter being vocal about the same issue he is fighting for, her mother, Toor Pekai, seemed to side with Malala – ‘She gave us her answer with a verse from the Holy Quran. “Falsehood has to die,” she said. “And truth has to come forward.”‘ (chapter 12)
4) When learning there was a death threat against her from the Taliban, I like how Malala approached it when she saw her father was worried. She was calm, but saw her father was near tears and responded ‘”Everybody knows they will die someday. No one can stop death. It doesn’t matter if it comes from a Talib or from cancer..”…” Aba,” I said. “You were the one who said if we believe in something greater than our lives, then our voices will only multiply, even if we are dead. We can’t stop now.”‘ (chapter 20)
5) Malala’s dream, I think, is one that many others agree with, myself included – “Peace in every home, every street, every village, every country-this is my dream. Education for every boy and every girl in the world. To sit down on a chair and read my books with all my friends at school is my right. Te see each and every human being with a smile of true happiness is my wish.” – and as stated when she addressed the United Nations – “One child, one teacher, one pen, and one book can change the world.” (epilogue)

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Shooting Kabul

I know your initial thought on that title is that this has something to do with guns. But actually, the “shooting” refers to a camera, one of the items Fadi brings with him when his family escapes from the Taliban in Afghanistan to refuge in America.

This book meets the challenge of an immigration story.

It is a fiction story based in 200-2001, but it is based on the real-life story of the author’s husband’s family’s escape in the 1970s.

I enjoyed this book, and would be willing to add it to my school’s library collection. It is something I think could help students better understand the many refugees that are coming from the Middle East.

Below is my goodreads summary/thoughts:

Shooting KabulShooting Kabul by N.H. Senzai

I don’t remember where I heard about this book, but I chose it because I needed an immigration story for my yearly reading challenge.

This story is one I think any immigrant can relate to, especially those coming from the Middle East. It is a fiction story set in 2000-2001, but it was based on the author’s husband’s real-life back in 1970s.

As Fadi and his family are fleeing the Taliban for freedom, his younger sister Miriam is lost in the crowd. Fadi feels guilty and responsible that she is not with them when the family reaches America. He has a hard time adjusting until he hears about a photography club in his middle school. The grand prize winner gets to pick their choice of destination, including India. He has now figured out his chance to save his sister and return honor to his family.

When his camera is destroyed by some bullies in the wake of 9/11, Fadi losses all hope of finding his sister. The winner of the photography contest is announced and at the ceremony, a certain photograph catches his attention.

I liked how Fadi and I have something in common – photography. We both enjoy taking photos. It bridged the cultural gap and helped me relate to him. I also liked how he found inspiration and could relate to the book From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler in aspects of his flight and new life in America. His struggle in the toy store is something I think people who have gone through traumatic events can relate to – something so simple triggering those feelings buried down deep.

Definitely a book for older kids to read to help them put themselves in the shoes of some of the refugees that are entering their classrooms.

The author wrote a second book in which Fadi’s younger sister appears, and I’m interested in seeing how she too has adjusted to life in America.

The Girl Who Drank the Moon

Anyone a fan of The Giver by Lois Lowry? If so, then I have a book recommendation from you.

This book won the 2017 Newbery Award and is about a girl who is given as an offering from her town to the witch in the wood. Why is she given up as an offering? Well, she was the first born child since the last offering. Why does the town offer the first born? To make the witch happy. What happens when they leave the child behind for offering? Well, no one knows for sure, but probably the child is eaten or starves to death or gets too cold. After all, no one has seen the witch. She’s just a story that is told.

But when this particular child is given the moon to drink, things change for the witch, and the town. A mother goes mad, a nephew is attacked by paper birds, and a girl keeps things hidden from her grandmother.

In the end, a mother and daughter are reunited, a town comes out from under the clouds of sorrow, and the truth about the witch is finally revealed.

Take a read for yourself and let me know what you think.

(Below you have my goodreads summary as well…)

The Girl Who Drank the MoonThe Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill

The book slightly reminded me of The Giver as the Protectorate follows some customs (leaving a baby as an offering) without anyone really understanding why. Then when a particular child is left one year, the reason behind the offering starts to be revealed to the reader.

The different story lines are intertwined with a story told in italics.

I think it would make kids wonder who is the good guy or the bad guy, and are they really that way or is it our perception that makes it so.

Well written and a different twist on a story makes it easy to see why Kelly won the Newbery for this novel.

View all my reviews

My Family for the War

Catch-up 2 of 2 …

This book won the Mildred J. Batchelder Award, which is awarded to an American publisher for a translated title. My Family for the War was originally written in German, and the original title was Liverpool Street.

This book I am putting under the section for “a book in translation”, though it could easily fall under “a book about a topic or subject you already love” as I enjoy fiction children/young adult novels that center around the Holocaust and Jews in hiding during that time. That topic became popular in my head after reading The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank in high school.

My Family for the WarMy Family for the War by Anne C. Voorhoeve

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

One historical fiction topic I enjoy reading about are those of children during the Holocaust period. It started with ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’. I was looking for a book that had been translated into English for a reading challenge and seeing this on the Batchelder list of award-winning translated novels, my interest peaked and it was at the top of my ‘to-read’ list.

I imagine the struggle Ziska/Frances had as she grew to love her foster-family is one that many Jewish children experienced during WWII, but also one I think that children in foster families or who are adopted must feel also – that torn feeling of wanting to be loyal to their birth family, but also a new-found loyalty to their foster-family.

Never having gone through war time or being torn from my family, it is not something I can relate to personally, but I still admire those who go through those struggles and come out on top.

There were two passages, or words of advise, that stuck with me …

1) The first is from Ziska/Frances’ friend Professor Schueler when she tells him about her dead father and missing foster-father, and her regret of not working harder to bring her parents to a safer country. It is part of his advice in response to her parents sending her away – “Live! And live well!”

2) The second is in the second to last paragraph of the book as Ziska/Frances and her family remember the dead – “We belong to those who live with the dead. They depend on us. As long as I have a voice and as long as there is someone listening, I will name them, and tell our story.”

Stephanie

It seems I haven’t shared two books I’ve read for my yearly challenge, so this is catch-up 1 of 2 …

This book meets the category “a book published before you were born”. I actually have had this one my shelves at home for several years, but haven’t yet read it. My mother-in-law had it first I believe, and when I saw the title shared my name, it somehow became part of my shelves. And it fits the category as this book was published back in 1979 originally (my birth year, for the record, is 1983). Needless to say, I finally got around to reading it.

It was one of those classic girl feels out of water in her family but finds a way in the end to fit in and feel accepted type stories. I remember reading it though, that it probably could have used a few more edits before publishing, not because of spelling, but it didn’t flow right to me in some parts. Nonetheless, it is one I would read again, and knowing there’s a sequel, would read that as well.

Here’s my goodreads review for you as well…

StephanieStephanie by Joan Austen-Leigh

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I was first drawn to this title because it’s my name! Yet this book has sat on my shelves for several years without being read … until now.

Upon reading it, I found myself drawn to the main character. She doesn’t feel as though she belongs in the world she is growing up in and turns to books and writing as an escape. As she grows up, she needs to decide if she will live in the world of her childhood, or follow her childhood dreams.

I feel for her, as my original plan seemed to have changed from childhood dreams, and I almost feel as though I’m reinventing myself as I get older and find what makes me happy now.

It felt as though it was an early draft of the book, or at least in the early stages of a writer’s career, but nonetheless still enjoyable.

Brown Girl Dreaming

Continuing my reading plan for the year (check out the list and previous reads here: 2017 Reading Challenge) … the next box to be checked off is – a book of poetry, a play, or an essay collection.

This also fits into the upper section as a genre I usually avoid as I don’t read much in the way of poetry, but I have another book in mind for that…

Anyways, below is my review as posted to goodreads, then I will share pieces from her book I enjoyed.

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Brown Girl DreamingBrown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

Poetry is not something I normally read, but having read some of Jacqueline Woodson’s picture books, specifically Each Kindness, I decided to give one of her non picture books a try. As well, it was something I’d been wanting to read since it was announced as a Coretta Scott King Award Winner.

I loved reading about Jacqueline’s history through her poetry. She made it feel like I was with her in South Carolina on her grandmother’s porch, or with her as she explored writing and school in New York. And she makes me want to try my hand at poetry.

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My favorite poems or passages from the book …

 

“on paper”

Letters becoming words, words gathering meaning,

becoming

thoughts outside my head

becoming sentences

 

“graffiti”

They’re just words, I whisper.

They’re not trying to hurt anybody!

 

“how to listen #7”

Even the silence

has a story to tell you.

Just listen. Listen.

 

“each world”

where You decide

what each world

and each story

and each ending

will finally be.

3 Books by Brian Selznick

One of the categories in the “Reading for Growth” of Modern Mrs. Darcy’s 2017 challenge is to read “three books by the same author”. I had previously read The Invention of Hugo Cabret and The Marvels and enjoyed both books immensly, so Brian immediately popped in my head as I knew he had written one more in a similar style. Upon researching what else he wrote, I saw that he wrote (and illustrated) two other books the public library had in circulation, so I checked them out. Below are the three books I read by him.

I think the things that strike me the most of interest is after reading his books are: 1) I love his pencil drawings. It’s amazing that such a simple tool can create such a cool drawing. 2) I’m a fan of his part picture, part words style of writing. Yes, picking up a 400+ page book seems a daunting read. But when you look closer and it feels that half those pages are pictures just when you thumb through the book? Doesn’t seem so daunting now. 3) This is probably something that would explain other picture books, but wow! A picture really does say a thousand words! As someone who works with kids, I’m finding myself drawn to books that are told with no words, only pictures. I think it takes talent to tell a story with just a picture, and Brian seems to take that to the next level with his style of telling a wordless story, a word story, and combining the two together in the end.

Without further ado, the books …

The Boy of a Thousand FacesThis one seemed like it could be on the scary end and not one I would normally go to (If you know me, you know I don’t do scary or horror – even in book form I avoid it). I think the only reason I read it was for this challenge. However, I liked the concept of the challenge the boy created for himself. Similar to a photo-a-day challenge, or a selfie-a-day challenge that I’ve seen.

The Houdini Box – If you aren’t familiar with Harry Houdini, he is a famous magician. This story is about a boy who is fascinated with magic and gets the chance to learn a secret from the master, but unfortunately receives a box instead. The boy leaves the box closed and forgets about magic. But by a small chance, years later, his former passion is revised and when he finally opens that box, a childhood answer was revealed.

Wonderstruck – This book features two characters who are deaf, trying to find where they belong, both ultimately finding the answer in New York City.