Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes by Eleanor Coerr

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Title: Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes by Eleanor Coerr

Premise:

Sadako is a young girl who lives with her family in Hiroshima, Japan.  She dreams of running on the school’s relay team.  Though she was only a baby when the atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima during WWII, she later contracts leukemia.  Sadako’s best friend, Chizuko, tells her of a legend that says that if you fold 1,000 paper cranes, the gods will grant your wish to get better.  Sadako makes it her goal to fold 1,000 cranes and tries to come to terms with her own mortality.

My thoughts:

I think this may have been the first book I read as a child that made me cry and made my heart ache.  Sadako’s story is so tragic and it’s simple enough that it’s a good way to introduce kids to the concept of death.  It also serves as an age-appropriate introduction to WWII and some of the lasting effects that it had on everyday people.  The book is based on a true story.

A few years ago, my husband read the book at my suggestion.  I didn’t tell him how sad it was, and he came to me after he had finished, with tears in his eyes, and asked why I didn’t warn him.  Oops–I didn’t know it would affect him quite so much.  So, be prepared for some weepiness if you or your child chooses to read the book.

I recommend Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes to kids in elementary or middle school, or as a poignant family read-aloud.

Rating: 5 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

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The Fault in Our Stars – Movie 2014

Fault Stars - Movie

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I feel like I’ve just had my butt kicked emotionally by this movie.  The Fault in Our Stars is the movie adaptation of the book by the same name.  I loved the book and I’m glad to say that I loved the movie, as well.

First, the main characters (Hazel and Gus) were cast and acted extremely well.  I was fully convinced that they were the real characters and that their story was true.  There was such a wonderful spark and connection between them which really came through in the movie.  It doesn’t take much to imagine that they really are in love.

I don’t want to completely ruin the story for somebody who hasn’t read/seen it before.  In a nutshell, the story is about two teens who have cancer.  They fall in love and learn how to deal with their circumstances.  Their family and friends also learn how to deal with it all.  That is the very vague explanation.  I have left a lot of good bits out of my explanation–bits that you should find out about by reading the book or seeing the movie (or both).

This story explores the complexities of life, death, what makes a life worth living, friendship, love.  It hits deep on several topics and imparts new insights and feelings in the viewer.  This is one of those rare stories that helps you focus again on the important things in life.

A couple of my favorite parts of the movie are when Hazel and Gus are talking while Isaac is freaking out on Gus’ trophies in the background (hilarious!), and Gus’ letter to Hazel at the end.  That letter was amazing and it perfectly wrapped up the story.

I would highly recommend this movie to both teens and adults alike.  It is an amazing story about life, death and love, that will break your heart–in a good way.

Possible Objections:

  • A mild sexual scene
  • A bit of strong language

Rated: PG-13

Rating: 5 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

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The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants – Movie 2005

Sisterhood Traveling Pants - Movie

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I finally got my hands on the movie adaptation of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.  I really enjoyed the book as a feel-good, but still challenging coming-of-age story.  However, after seeing the movie, I think this story is better told through the book.  The story line felt very disjointed in the movie because it skips around from character to character.

The movie was alright, by my estimation.  It’s not something that kept me riveted or that I’ll ever need to see again, but one time was okay.  For the most part, the movie followed the book pretty faithfully.  The four friends were cast quite well and they all did an admirable job of portraying their characters.

There were a few liberties take with changing the story for the movie adaptation.  The biggest changes were in Lena’s story.  I didn’t particularly care for those changes, either.  In the movie they changed Kostos’ occupation to a fisherman.  They also manufactured a family feud between Lena and Kostos’ families.  In the book their families are actually trying to set them up.  I didn’t see any point to changing the story that way.

My favorite characters were Carmen (America Ferrera) and Tibby (Amber Tamblyn).  I think those two girls did an excellent job portraying their respective characters and bringing some complexity to the story.

I would recommend this movie to preteen and teen girls.  I don’t think it would interest many others.

Rated: PG

Rating: 3 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

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The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares

Sisterhood Traveling Pants 1

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Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants is the second book I’ve read from my Rainbow Cover Reading Challenge.  It’s a moving and emotionally complicated book which focuses on four friends who are coming of age.

The friends are spending their summer apart, but staying connected through a pair of magical pants.  The pants rotate between the girls, helping them to do whatever needs to be done in that moment.  Some of the girls gain courage, some gain maturity, some take risks.  The point is that the pants help the girls remember their friends’ support and infuse them with extra confidence to do what is necessary in their particular circumstances.

The girls experience everything from work issues to death, complicated family relationships to boy issues.  I like how the situations are not cheapened by coming up with nicely packaged and processed resolutions.  The reader is allowed to sit in some uncertainty about how things will ultimately turn out for the girls (Of course, this could simply be a plot device that sets us up for the next book.)

The narrative skips around to the different girls throughout each chapter, so that can get a little confusing.  There are no headers to alert you to the changes.  The characters were mostly likable, but not complex enough to make me truly attached to them.  It could just be that they were adolescents and their behavior/thought life were a bit erratic.  Goodness knows that would be true to reality.

The one thing that I really loved about this novel was that the story encompassed a lot of different issues and emotions associated with a young girl coming of age.  It’s a complex time of life for young ladies and I feel like this novel would help them to feel a little bit normal.  I don’t know about you, but my middle and high school years were not a piece of cake.  I think I would have benefited from hearing the message that these emotions are normal and it’s okay not to have all your spit together.  We’ll swap excrement for oral secretions, okay?  You might also like to know that I cried towards the end.

A favorite quote from the book:

“Maybe happiness was just a matter of the little upticks–the traffic signal that said ‘Walk’ the second you got there–and downticks–the itchy tag at the back of your collar–that happened to every person in the course of a day.  Maybe everybody had the same allotted measure of happiness within each day.

Maybe it didn’t matter if you were a world-famous heartthrob or a painful geek.  Maybe it didn’t matter if your friend was possibly dying.

Maybe you just got through it.  Maybe that was all you could ask for.” (p.282)

With all that being said, I would recommend this book to teen and preteen girls.  I think they’ll enjoy and identify with it most.

Possible Objections:

  • A bit of bad language
  • One sexual encounter, though it’s extremely vague (I had to read between the lines to understand that it had even occurred)

 Rating: 4 Stars

 

Until next time…

Lori

 

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The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Fault in our Stars - WM

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Huzzah–The Fault in Our Stars is the last book from my Friends & Family Top Picks Reading Challenge!  I’m glad to have finished the challenge (enjoyed it thoroughly) and am looking forward to working on the next one.  On to the book…

 Can I start off by saying that this is an amazing book?  Oh, I can?  Well then…whatever.  No need to repeat myself.  It’s hard to put into words what makes this book so awesome.  The characters are completely lovable, despite seeing their flaws, insecurities and brokenness.  Their difficult circumstances make me want to root for them 100%.  And it just seems like an epic story.  One of those stories that melts your heart and shapes it into something a little bit different from how it started.

I really don’t want to ruin this story for you, so I’ll stick to generalities in my analysis.  The story revolves around two main characters, Hazel and Augustus.  Each of them has/is still having a brush with cancer and they meet at a support group.  They grow close to one another and in the midst of this closeness, they truly transform one another’s lives.  Plot-wise, there isn’t a ton of major action in this book.  There are hospital stays and a little bit of travel, but most of the story stays close to home.  It’s set among a limited cast of characters.  I think that this closeness in telling the story allows the reader to become more attached to the story.  It starts to feel like you are one of the bystanders experiencing the situation from the periphery.

The ending will have to remain a secret in this post.  I can’t rob somebody of the satisfaction of reading it for themselves.  I will say that it was satisfying, for me personally.  The Fault in Our Stars helped me empathize more with those who have been touched by cancer.  In other ways I feel like it has made me a better person.  It speaks to the significance of human life, examining what makes a life lived worthwhile.  Read the book to find out the conclusion that the book arrives at on that particular subject.

I would recommend the book for teens and up.  If you’ve already read it, please let me know what you thought!

Possible Objections:

  • A little bit of bad language
  • A mild sexual scene

Rating: 5 Stars

 

Until next time…

Lori

 

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