Tag Archives: Elvira Woodruff

Hello, Dolly!

20 Dec

This week, I book talked books with dolls. This gave me a chance to talk about my favorite Christmas book on Monday.

Monday: The Christmas Doll by Elvira Woodruff

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Tuesday: The Dollmaker of Krakow by R. M. Romero

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Wednesday – our last day, so I mentioned three:

The Friendship Doll by Kirby Larson

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Doll Bones by Holly Black

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Took by Mary Downing Hahn

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Journeys On the Oregon Trail

15 Apr

This week, my class set off on a book club adventure along the Oregon Trail. I started by introducing the five books they could choose. I gave a short book talk about each, then set a set of he five books on each table, giving theme ample time to look through to find a good fit book. Their choices were:

Ranger in Time:Rescue on the Oregon Trail by Kate Messner (by far the most desired book)

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Thunder Rolling in the Mountains by Scott O’Dell and Elizabeth Hall (not exactly an Oregon Trail book, but there is a connection)

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Dear Levi: Letters from the Overland Trail  by Elvira Woodruff

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Rachel’s Journal  by Marissa Moss

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The Stout Hearted Seven: Orphaned on the Oregon Trail  by Neta Lohnes Frazier

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Then they had to fill out a form naming their first and second choices and why each would be a good book for them. Some of their reasons were excellent. Here are some samples.

“When we talked about Native Americans, I had questions that went farther. I would like to know how they were pushed out of their own land .”

” I like books with a map and journal books.”

“I enjoy books where people have to go on a hard life-or-death mission.”

“I want to know the feeling and how hard it can be to have to survive alone.”

“Time travel is right next to impossible.”

“It is teaching you about the Oregon Trail and it is also doing fantasy at the same time.”

“I could see how other people come together and help each other live.”

 

They didn’t all get their first choice, but everyone got their first or second choice, and so far, everyone seems happy with their book.

 

 

 

 

Orphans and Poor Children

8 Jan

Every year, I have the kids in my reading and/or writing group participate in the Library of Congress’Letters About Literature contest. The kids write letters to an author telling how a favorite book impacted their life. The letters are often poignant, but this year I had one that made me burst out laughing. The author, a girl, was writing to Elvira Woodruff to tell her how  The Christmas Doll changed her life. In the letter, the author tells Woodruff that use had long wanted to be a poor orphan, but The Christmas Doll cured her because their life was so difficult. The author reads a lot. Mostly books about poor orphans it seems. I read a lot about going to boarding school when I was in school and & wanted to go myself, so I totally understand her desire to be like the characters she reads about.

A few weeks after reading this letter a colleague asked me why there were so many books about orphans or that have a character who dies. She has a sensitive niece and they were trying to find a book that wouldn’t upset her too much.

I’m reading Rooftoppers  by Katherine Rundell right now. Orphans & poor children.

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It is a very good read, but reminded me of a number of other books, especially a few written by Eva Ibbotson.

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I just read The Great Trouble by Deborah Hopkinson  and  The Real Boy by Anne Ursu. Orphans & poor children are there, too.

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So, I wonder, what are your favorite books with orphans and poor children?

My favorite Christmas middle grade novel

24 Dec

Have you ever read this one?

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I have recommended this to many girls. If you love Hallmark Christmas card ads that make you weep, this is right up your alley.

In this heartwarming Christmas story, ten-year-old Lucy and her six-year-old sister, Glory, escape from the harsh life of the Grimstone Union workhouse for orphans into the streets of London. For a while, they become mudlarks in the filthy River Thames, searching for bits of things to sell. When they find a beautiful doll by the river’s edge, they fall in love with it — and it leads to a Christmas miracle.

You could pair this with Deborah Hopkinson’s The Great Trouble.

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Eel has troubles of his own: He is an orphan and a mudlark, being hunted by Fisheye Bill Tyler, and a nastier man never walked the streets of London. And he’s got a secret that costs him four precious shillings a week to keep safe.

But even for Eel, things aren’t so bad until that fateful August day in 1854—the day the Great Trouble begins. Mr. Griggs, the tailor, is the first to get sick, and soon it’s clear that the deadly cholera—the “blue death”—has come to Broad Street. Everyone believes that cholera is spread through poisonous air. But one man, Dr. John Snow, has a different theory. As the epidemic surges, it’s up to Eel and his best friend Florrie to gather evidence to prove Snow’s theory before the entire neighborhood is wiped out.

Part medical mystery, part survival story, and part Dickensian adventure, Deborah Hopkinson’s The Great Trouble is a celebration of a fascinating pioneer in public health and a gripping novel about the 1854 London cholera epidemic.

This one is sitting on my shelf right now, waiting patiently for me to read it.

Randy Ribay

YA author, teacher, nerd

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