Monday, February 16, 2015

The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon

The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon is by David Grann. In 1925, Percy Fawcett, the famous British explorer, leads his son and another young man into the Amazon jungle to search for the Lost City of Z. None of them are ever heard from again. Numerous expeditions try to find them with disastrous results. This book is a magnificent historical account of the early years of exploration, some would say the "great age" of exploration. Grann researches Fawcett's life meticulously, and even heads for the Amazon himself to discover what happened to Fawcett's party. This masterpiece reads like a narrative, but is wonderfully researched. At times you find yourself reminded of the tales of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and H. Rider Haggard, Fawcett's contemporaries. A Reader's Corner Highly Recommended read. Boys especially should love this book.

Ratings: 9th grade - 10 out of 10 - AC (some mature thematic content).

Memoirs of a Geisha

Memoirs of a Geisha is by Arthur Golden. It's 1929 and in a Japanese seaside village a fisherman's wife is dying. He sells his two young daughter's to a local cannery owner, who sells them into slavery in Kyoto. The older to a house of prostitution, and the younger to a renowned geisha house. Golden's premise is that geisha is not the same as prostitute, but at times it's hard to tell the difference. This moving book is the story of Sayuri and her journey from a fisherman's daughter ripped from her childhood home, to one of the most famous geisha in Japan. Golden's book is well researched and those who know nothing about the geisha culture will learn much, even as they follow Sayuri's poignant tale.

Ratings: Adult - 9 out of 10 - AC (mature thematic content).

Sunday, February 8, 2015

With Rigor for All: Teaching the Classics to Contemporary Students

With Rigor for All: Teaching the Classics to Contemporary Students is by Carol Jago. A must read for all teachers of English. Along with Nancie Atwell's In the Middle and Kelly Gallagher's Readicide, I will be gifting a copy of this book to every student teacher I have from now on. This book is a quick and easy read, but is chock full of convincing rationale for teaching the classics to middle and high school students. Ms. Jago also addresses way to make the teaching of classics easier for students and teachers. It offers advice on testing, holding students accountable, and teaching them to love classics, or at least understand their importance and how to process them.

Ratings: Adult: 10 out of 10.

National Geographic Kids: Treasury of Egyptian Mythology

National Geographic Kids: Treasury of Egyptian Mythology is by Donna Jo Napoli. A fantastic introduction to Egyptian mythology. The illustrations are beautiful! A wonderful for book for "kids" of all ages.

Ratings: 6th grade - 9 out of 10.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

A River in the Sky

A River in the Sky is by Elizabeth Peters. The nineteenth book in the Amelia Peabody series. This book is set in 1910, pre-WWI. Ramses is in Palestine assisting on a dig and finds himself caught up in a German espionage plot. The War Office sends the Emerson's to Jerusalem to stop a possible German spy from antagonizing the locals by excavating on the Temple Mount. The two plots are, of course, connected. Fans of this series will enjoy this book.

Ratings: 9th grade - 8 out of 10 - P (profanity) - AC (some mature thematic content).

The Aviator's Wife

The Aviator's Wife is by Melanie Benjamin. This book is a fictionalized account of the life of Anne Morrow Lindbergh. It begins when she flies to Mexico to spend the holidays with her father, the U.S. Ambassador, and the rest of her family. While there, she meets Charles Lindbergh. The book follows their life together from their meeting until his death in 1974. A thoroughly enjoyable read about a less than perfect couple. Based on fact and well researched, this book is beautifully written.

Ratings: Adult - 9 out of 10 - P (profanity) - AC (mature thematic content).