Thursday, November 15, 2007

National Book Award Finalist: Touching Snow by M. Sindy Felin

This post reviews another of the finalists for the National Book Award for Young People's Literature which was awarded last night to Sherman Alexie for The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (reviewed in my post of November 13).

"The way to avoid being picked on by high school bullies is to kill someone."

It's a hard-knock life for real for middle child Karina, caught between dutiful older sister Enid and bright, pious Delta, her hard-working Haitian immigrant mother and her step-father "the Daddy," who beats them all mercilessly, even the babies Roland and Gerald, for violating any of the household's capricious rules.

When Enid is attacked so violently that her aunts and grandmother fear for her life, an anonymous caller tips off the welfare authorities and the police, who charge Gaston with child abuse. Fearing the loss of his income and their modest but safe house in a New York suburb, Karina's family encourages her to deny the abuse by claiming that Enid's injuries are the result of a argument between the sisters.

When Gaston returns to the household, the sisters turn to a local community center as an after school refuge, where Karina has found an ally in Rachael Levinson, the director's daughter. But as they dress in costumes to go to Rachael's Halloween party, the Daddy's imminent attack on Karina forces the girls to make an irrevocable decision, one which will change their lives forever.

This is a moving first novel which from its first words draws readers into a river of hypnotic dialog and description. Dealing honestly as it does with a girl's coming of age in a family caught between their Haitian customs and life in America, poverty and hope, subjugation and freedom for women, and the ultimate choice between two evils, Touching Snow is a tough novel worth of its designation as finalist for the 2007 National Book Award.

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  • i need to read a book to my daughter's nursery class(3-4 yr. olds). i would love for it to be interactive (like"we're going on a bear hunt." i know about rosen's new book. i was hoping for something else. do you have a suggestion for me?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:11 PM  

  • How about I KNOW AN OLD LADY WHO SWALLOWED A PIE, reviewed here on November 11? If your reading comes after Thanksgiving, you could fall back on any of the good versions of THERE WAS AN OLD LADY WHO SWALLOWED A FLY.

    Also there's FIVE LITTLE MONKEYS JUMPING ON THE BED (Christelows's version is good). A Christmas/snow story that has some pick-up lines is Tony Johnston's FIVE LITTLE FOXES AND THE SNOW.

    By Blogger GTC, at 11:45 PM  

  • Oh, and (if you can find a library copy) THE LADY WITH THE ALLIGATOR PURSE has a repeating refrain. It's shelved with poetry, but it's very short.

    Back in October I posted on Linda Williams' book THE LITTLE OLD LADY WHO WAS NOT AFRAID OF ANYTHING. Although it works for Halloween, it doesn't mention that holiday, and the pumpkin with a face is called a "pumpkin head," not jack-o'-lantern. The parts assemble themselves into a scarecrow, and the setting is definitely late autumn, so it's good up to Thanksgiving.

    I used it with Kindergarten, and it was a blast. I read it to my almost 3-year-old grandson, and he could repeat the clothing sequences after a few repeats. If you can dress in brown shoes, green pants, white shirt, white gloves, and black hat, it's also a good workout with colors, and the kids love to do the motions ("stomp, stomp," "wiggle wiggle," "shake shake," "clap clap" and "nod nod," which can be done from a story circle if they put their feet in front of them.)
    The book is widely available in bookstores and libraries.

    By Blogger GTC, at 8:21 AM  

  • wow! you were a great help-thanks...i will definitely take you up on the suggestions. i love this blog!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:55 PM  

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