Thursday, March 24, 2005
Before we Were Free tells the somewhat autobiographical story of Julia Alvarez's cousin who lived in the Dominican Republic during the unstable days of the revolution. Her other wealthy and influential relatives fled to New York, but this girl's family stayed behind and helped plot the overthrow of the dictator. I'm not sure if kids will love this book, but I found it interesting because of my knowledge of Central America. This family lives in fear, later in hiding, and finally the mother and daughter escape to New York. The girl in the story is 12 years old, but I recommend the story for children ages 12 and up.
Bound is a retelling of a Chinese Cinderella story. Xing Xing lives with her stepmother and stepsister in a cave and is forced to work hard and take care of her stepsister whose feet are being bound. Xing Xing takes comfort in the fish in her pond that she believes is the spirit of her dead mother. Of course, the stepmother is evil and only wants the best for her own daughter, not for Xing Xing. I enjoyed the details of ancient Chinese life and religion, and the action that takes place when Xing Xing sets off to find a traveling doctor. The ending is predictible, but doesn't take away from a good story. Recommended for readers grades 5-8.