Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Odette's Secrets

Odette's Secrets
By: Maryann Macdonald
204 Pages
Ages: 10-14

Odette is a young girl when World War 2 breaks out. Odette's Secrets lets you see what life for her was like. From the very beginning of it when movie news reels featuring Hitler would receive cheers to posters showing up all over Paris. Maryann does a phenomenal job of telling Odette's story in a way young readers will understand and connect with. 

Through the book you get not only the war's affects on Paris, but how it affects the children. History comes alive in a way children can comprehend. Odette's Father goes to fight for France, but is quickly captured by German soldiers. Her Mother also goes to work for France, but in a more secretive way, by helping other children in trouble find places to hide. 

You travel with Odette as she is sent to live in the country- along with numerous other children, unbeknownst to her at the time. There she is kept safe, but must learn to take on an entirely different identity: that of a Christian, instead of a Jewish girl. You get to see what life was like for her- the good and the bad.

Odette's Secrets takes you through the entire length of the war. The whole time you feel as though you are there with her. You are with her as she leaves a dangerous Paris and you are there when she returns to it after the war is over. You embrace the beloved reunions and the heartbreaking losses of those Odette knew. Mostly, you are there as Odette tries to make sense of all that has happened to her and the world. Is she Jewish? Is she Christian? Can she be both? 

This book is a great learning tool about World War 2, but it will, no doubt, start conversations about all aspects of that time. While the devastating aspects of what Jewish people endured are glossed over, they are mentioned. Odette's story is largely true, which Maryann MacDonald tells you about in an author's note she includes in the book. 

Friday, February 1, 2013

The Hocus Pocus Hotel: The Return of Abracadabra

Hocus Pocus Hotel: The Return of Abracadabra
By: Michael Dahl

Welcome back to The Hocus Pocus Hotel! This visit will find you searching for a boy who appears to have vanished during a magic trick. But did he really disappear or is it really just smoke and mirrors? You also get a front row seat to a battle over the hotel. Mr. Abracadabra is the owner, but if he can't tell how a fellow magician did a trick he'll become the former owner of the historic hotel.

Once again Michael Dahl delivers a truly magical story. Not only do you get to visit ones you met through The Hocus Pocus Hotel, but you get to interact with some of them a little more. All the magic and magic trick reveals that you loved from the first book are in this one, as well.

I loved reading The Return of Abracadabra. I didn't want to stop once I started. The illustrations were great, the chapters were the perfect size for young readers. The story was captivating and interesting for children and adults alike.