June 2012 Archives

Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl

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Click for availability and more information The Diary of a Young Girl, by Anne Frank
When I was in high school, I read many classics, but I never read "The Diary of a Young Girl" by Anne Frank. I saw it under Downloadable Books on the Greenwich Library website so I downloaded it to my Kindle Fire. Somewhere along the way I'd heard it was the story of a young Jewish girl and her family hiding from the Nazis in World War II. It's more than just a story about victims of the Holocaust. It's also the story of a young girl coming of age with the backdrop of war. She has to go through adolescence without the benefit of freedom enjoyed by the average teenager. Yet, she is a typical young woman exploring her feelings, adjusting to changes in her body and trying to exercise her independence. The problem is that she has to live in close quarters hiding from the Germans over an extended period of time. Food becomes scarce as well as the other comforts of life. She dreams of becoming a journalist after the war. Her relationship with her parents is strained, and she gravitates toward a boy several years older than herself for comfort and affection. Meanwhile, they hear rumors about the progress of the war and who's winning. They're on a roller coaster ride of emotions as they wait for an Allied victory. It's easy to see why this book is considered a classic.

Click for availability and more information Unorthodox: the Scandalous Rejection of my Hasidic Roots , by Deborah Feldman
Deborah Feldman, in her first book Unorthodox: the Scandalous Rejection of my Hasidic Roots, gives a fascinating and very personal account of her childhood and adolescent life as a member of the extremely Orthodox Jewish Hasidic Satmar sect of Brooklyn, New York. Her very early life was shaken by both her mother and father's leaving her. Her father was mentally unable to deal with parenthood and her mother chose to leave the Satmar sect. Thus, Feldman was raised by her paternal grandparents, who both adhered to the strict Hasidic creed of living as a truly-religious person. Yet, early on, Feldman escaped the intellectual and social confines of the Satmar community and found refuge in a local library, where she became a voracious reader of any books she could find. The detail of the life she led in her early years gives the reader an extremely interesting insight into the rigors and total-control exerted by this community over its members. Her deeply-felt feelings of being totally dominated and isolated by the rules of life in the Satmar community as a younger person are strikingly recounted. Feldman marries and 17 and experiences many problems adjusting to married life within her community at such a young age. Eventually, she builds the strength to leave the Satmar community with a determination to live a productive and stimulating life totally separate from the Hasidic world. Her story is an endlessly fascinating tale of not only life within a confining world totally absorbed with living according to Hasidic principles, but also how one person, at a very young age, grew determined to leave it by relying on her belief she could live life freely without the binding dictates of religion. Unorthodox is highly recommended.

Click for availability and more information The Fabled Fourth Graders of Aesop Elementary School, by Candace Fletcher
A rowdy group of students and their teacher learn their lessons at Aesop Elementary. Each humorous chapter tells the story of one student or teacher and ends with an Aesop-like moral. Many of the tales will be familiar to readers, though are told with a new twist using these "fabled" fourth graders.

The Birthday Ball

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Click for availability and more information The Birthday Ball, by Lois Lowry
Princess Patricia Priscilla is bored, bored, bored. She devises a plan to escape the boredom, and makes her chambermaid switch identities with her so she can attend the village school as a peasant girl. She enjoys the life outside the castle walls and is not looking forward to her 16th birthday party, where she will have to decide who to marry among her suitors. A fun fairy-tale with many memorable characters.

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