Friday, December 31, 2010

The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry, illustrated by Lisbeth Zwerger

A patron recommended this book for children. It is a timeless tale of love and sacrifice about a poor couple, Jim and Della, living at the turn of the 19th century. They love each other so much that they are willing to let go of their most precious possessions - Jim, his gold watch from his grandfather and Della, her beautiful long hair - in order to give the other a very special Christmas present... The story is touching and it reminds me of the true meaning of a gift.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

I am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced

This is the biography of Nujood, a young girl from Yemen, a country in the Middle East. She comes from a poor family and was still a child when her father arranged for her to be married to a man 3 times her age. She tells her story with embarrassment and bravery. Unable to bear a life of beatings and cruelty she tries to get help from her family. Her family was unable to help her because they felt if she left her husband the family's honor would be damaged. She was asking everyone and anyone if they could help her. Her father's second wife told her she should go the courts. She felt her only choice for a better life was to seek help from a judge. This was really an unusual thing to do as almost half the girls in Yemen are married underage, and being children they have very little knowledge of what alternatives they have. Nujood's story is an encouragement to

other girls in her situation who might want to seek help.

Nujood's situation is still precarious. She lives again with her parents and siblings. They have some improvement to their lifestyle with moneys from her book and help from organizations, however Yemen, being in a war zone, is a dangerous place to live. So her education and future are up in the air. Nujood plans to keep trying by doing homework, being a good student, and working hard so that she might go to college one day.

This book was an eye opener. You really get a feel for what life is like for someone living in another culture and socio-economic background. You come away wishing you could help change deeply embedded customs and admiring this little girl for her courage.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Celebrate the Season 2010

This is a non-fiction book with many beautiful illustrations of how you can decorate and cook for for Christmas. First I just paged through the whole book enjoying the various crafts, table settings, gifts to make, beautifully wrapped presents,and recipes for tasty goodies. Then I decided to go ahead and use an idea for making tags for presents. I had gotten turquoise and red wrapping paper for all my presents, so the tags I made had a background of red or turquoise (which I salvaged from my scrap booking supplies). I glued on acrylic gem sparkles using the first initial of every family member that I was wrapping presents for. People with the same first initial have their names written on back of the tag. I snapped a whole in the top with a paper punch, and put a silver string through (stolen from my embroidery supplies). When all the presents are under the tree the tags add just a little bit of beautiful sparkle to make our holiday bright.