When the Sea Turned to Silver

Lin, G. (2016). When the Sea Turned to Silver. New York: Little, Brown and Company.

Folk tales are told through the spine-tingling adventures of Pinmei and her trusted family friend, Yishan. When the Sea Turned to Silver opens with Pinmei and her grandmother, the village’s storyteller, talking at home one night. Her 28449045grandmother tells Pinmei that even though she is a very quiet child, when it is time for you to do something, you will do it. Later that night, soldiers burst into their hut to kidnap the grandmother! Pinmei and Yishan urgently set off for one escapade after the next in a venture to find and bring her home.

This instant classic holds so much substance; it begs to be read and reread, saved in a special spot up on the bookcase. Each chapter heading has an illustration relating to one of the fifteen Continue reading

The Ruins of Gorlan

Flanagan, J. (2005). The Ruins of Gorlan. New York: Philomel Books.91yg6kzecwl

“An ordinary archer practices until he gets it right. A Ranger practices until he never gets it wrong.” -Halt, The Ruins of Gorlan.

The Ruins of Gorlan is the first in a witty and humorous series called Ranger’s Apprentice that takes place in the medieval times. The story follows a young orphan named Will and carries us through his apprenticeship to a grim Ranger named Halt during a very dangerous time. Rangers are an elite intelligence force that operates for the King in a country called Araluen. Their uncanny skill in archery, and their ability to become unseen whenever they want makes them a revered force among the country. If a criminal hears the words “King’s Ranger!” Continue reading

A Time of Miracles

Bondoux, A. (2010). A Time of Miracles. New York: Delacorte Books for Young Readers.7932010

Koumaïl’s story begins with the Terrible Accident. Gloria is picking peaches in the Republic of Georgia when she hears a screeching noise, looks up to see an explosion, and runs to discover a trainwreck. She unearths a French woman who is about to die, holding a baby to her chest, begging Gloria to care for him. That baby is Blaise Fortune, and Gloria takes him and calls him Koumaïl.  Koumaïl loves Gloria, who is a giving, no-nonsense, strong woman. He often asks her to tell his story, and she does – “always in the right order” as she says. It’s actually these stories which end up helping him survive and which demonstrate that hope is fundamental.

They are desperately poor and life gets much more difficult and complex five years later when the Soviet Union collapses and Gloria decides she and Koumaïl, or Monsieur Blaise as she sometimes affectionately refers to him, must flee as refugees from the civil unrest, determinedly making their way westward toward France. This begins a five year journey on foot across the Caucasus (between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea) and Europe where they meet many unforgettable people and have many dangerous experiences. But there is a secret about Blaise’s past. The story he slowly learns about the truth of his family is entangled in the violence during the civil unrest, and revolves around Gloria’s love. She has been a good mother to him all these years, sacrificing and finding extraordinary means to give him the best she can. Continue reading