Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson

2009 Scott O'Dell Award
2008 National Book Award Finalist

Some authors are one-hit-wonders. You know the type. They write something brilliant for their first novel and then, sadly, they just keep getting worse with each novel. It's like being in a train wreck on a blind date.

Thankfully, Laurie Halse Anderson is not one of these writers. She started out with Fever 1793 and now, six books later, has written the epic Chains. Anderson has crossed all boundries in her writing; time, gender, taboo, and now race. Many times I will enjoy a book. I'll smile and it will give me warm fuzzies. A great book will blow me away and stay with me for weeks, months, and I can't wait to put it into the hands of the nearest student, because I know that they will love it as much as I did. Chains is a great book.

Thirteen-year-old Isabel and her sister Ruth are cheated out of their promised freedom when their master dies and are unscrupulously sold upriver to the Locktons, a loyalist New York City couple. Isabel's thoughts are consumed with keeping Mrs. Lockton happy as she runs errands for her new masters and tries to conceal Ruth's frightening illness, that if discovered, would have her sister sold elsewhere. Freedom for her and Ruth is at the forefront of her mind, and when she is given an offer by a young rebel slave Curzon, Isabel starts to spy on the Locktons. This sets off a chain of events right as the Revolution is headed to New York.

The first book in a trilogy, Chains is a mesmerizing read, full of intrigue and passion. You feel for Isabel and Ruth, their loss of freedom when they are sold like cattle, Isabel's fierce protection of her sister, and her harrowing mistery and pain when she is publicly branded. She holds no loyalty to either Tory or Patriot, she simply wants to be free.

But what side will break her chains?

Monday, April 6, 2009

Around the World in 80 Books (give or take a few)

Travel around the world with childrens books! Click on the above map and it will lead you to a larger version of this world map. Each region and that will lead you to a middle school book list for that region.

I will update this as often as I can.