What has been good (if there is any silver lining here) is that you can read lots when there is nothing else to do except open up some cans for dinner and occasionally listen to the radio. So, here are some of the books I have managed to knock out. I suspect there will be more as they are giving us a 3-4 week window for restoring power. Hopefully, my flight to Utah for the ALSC symposium will be on time and I can get a hot shower in Salt Lake City!
There has been some discussion about CHAINS (Simon and Schuster, October 21, 2008)and its similarities to OCTAVIAN NOTHING. The time period is similar. Each has a main character, a slave, who yearns for freedom. And that is where the similarities end, folks. Our own Laurie Halse (rhymes with waltz) Anderson has returned to historical fiction as she did so ably with FEVER, 1793. Here is the story of Isabel, christened Sal by her miserable new owners. She and her sister Ruth had thought they would be freed by their former owner, but the woman's nephew sold them instead to a Loyalist couple bound for New York. There Isabel must endure criticism and cruelty. She meets anotehr slave, Curzon, who convinces her to spy for the rebels in exchange for her freedom. Things are more complicated that that, however.
I do not want to tell much of the story as LHA is a much more gifted storyteller than I could ever hope to be. The book is captivating. I know because I was straining my eyes in the dusk trying to finish the final few chapters before all light faded for the day. In some ways, reading this incredible story of the heroics of one person made me quit whining about the lack of electricity for a while. Isabel is a thoughtful, quick-witted young woman (hardly a girl) who longs for freedom and family even though both are so remote. However, dreams cannot be deferred too long. Isabel will be free.
Laurie's new picture book is about the astonishing feats of women during the American Revolution. It would make a wonderful lead-in to a reading of this novel. And, of course, for your truly GT readers, offer them OCTAVIAN next. What a glorious trio of books to engage readers in history. Given that those who do not know history are condemned to repeat the mistakes of the past, books such as CHAINS need to find their way into classrooms everywhere.