Archive for January, 2014

Angel Island: Gateway to Gold Mountain is “Equally Evocative and Informative”

 by Genevieve S.

61-U1Lj5g8L._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_Angel Island, off the coast of California, was the port of entry for Asian immigrants to the United States between 1892 and 1940. Following the passage of legislation requiring the screening of immigrants, “the other Ellis Island” processed around one million people from Japan, China, and Korea. In  Angel Island: Gateway to Gold Mountain — drawing from memoirs, diaries, letters, and the “wall poems” discovered at the facility long after it closed — the nonfiction master Russell Freedman describes the people who came, and why; the screening process; detention and deportation; changes in immigration policy; and the eventual renaissance of Angel Island as a historic site open to visitors. Includes archival photos, source notes, bibliography, and index.



Until I read this book I never knew about Angel Island; otherwise known as “the other Ellis Island.”  This book is wonderfully informative and contains pictures, poems and personal accounts written by asian immigrants about the many difficulties faced by immigrants seeking entry to the United States in the early 1900’s.  My daughter and I were both fascinated by the wealth of information contained in this book and I feel that it is worth reading.  Angel Island tells a story that is an important part of our history and should not be forgotten.

For the 30 years it was in operation, from 1910-1940, Angel Island Immigration Station served as the first step for hundreds of thousands of people seeking a new home and a new life in the United States. It was a bleak, unwelcoming introduction to the new land, and for many immigrants, primarily those from China, it was also a detention center. Many Chinese were held there for weeks or months at a time while they endured lengthy interviews and invasive medical exams in order to prove that they could enter the U.S. Freedman’s inimitable style and approach to nonfiction writing shines in this accessible, thoughtful history of Angel Island and its legacy in the American immigration narrative. Detailed descriptions of the island, the actual building, the events that took place there, and the people who passed through its doors are sprinkled with the emotional poems, quotes, and other writings that were discovered covering the walls of the areas where the detainees were housed. These words provide not only a unique perspective of the immigrants, but also a context for what was happening in the broader world, specifically the racist, xenophobic attitudes encountered by many new arrivals. Complemented by photographs, artwork, and primary sources, Freedman’s writing offers up a strong, engaging introduction to the subject of a more diverse immigrant population and the obstacles that were put in its way. Equally evocative and informative, this is an excellent choice for middle school libraries.

“Carefully researched and clearly written.”

“This is a clearly written account of a lesser-known side of American immigration history that may add to readers’ understanding of current political debate.”
The Horn Book Magazine


From 1910 to 1940, the Angel Island Immigration Station processed approximately 1 million Asian immigrants entering into the US, leading to it sometimes being referred to as “The Ellis Island of the West”. Due to the restrictions of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, many Chinese immigrants spent years on the island, waiting for entry. A fire destroyed the administration building in 1940, and subsequent immigration processing took place in San Francisco.

In 1964, the Chinese American community successfully lobbied the State of California to designate the immigration station as a State Landmark. Today, the Angel Island Immigration Station is a federally designated a National Historic Landmark.   It was renovated by the California State Parks, which re-opened February 16, 2009. Docent tours for school groups can be made by appointment.

This book is a thorough narrative, with personal vignettes and black and white archival photos.  It is reluctant-reader friendly. Most spreads feature one or more photographs, slightly oversized text, and generous margins, making this an appealing selection for readers who find nonfiction daunting.

“As immigration continues to be a major issue in America, this introduction to the Angel Island experience is overdue and, most of all, welcome.”
Kirkus, starred review


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Teen Beach Movie is entertaining and fun for all ages

18010_461459117257328_523031875_nHit the beach with Teen Beach Movie!

Confident, resilient surfer McKenzie and her carefree boyfriend Brady catch an epic wave which mysteriously carries them right into the retro surf musical movie “Wet Side Story.” Amidst the spontaneous song and dance, there’s trouble in paradise – it’s bikers versus surfers for control of the local hangout but Mack and Brady unwittingly interfere with the movie’s star-crossed plot.

Teen Beach Movie is a Disney Channel Original Movie that premiered July 19, 2013 on Disney Channel, starring Ross Lynch and Maia Mitchell. The movie was filmed in Puerto Rico. The first promo aired on February 15, 2013 during an extended episode of Jessie, with a full trailer airing March 15, 2013 after The Wizards Return: Alex vs. Alex.

In the movie Brady (Ross Lynch) and McKenzie “Mack” (Maia Mitchell), are high school sweethearts enjoying their time together surfing at the beach. Each time Brady mentions their best summer never ending, Mack looks guilty as if she is hiding something from him but he doesn’t notice it. After coming back inside McKenzie’s grandfather’s hut, McKenzie sees that Brady is a fan of the film “Wet Side Story”, a film set during the 1960s. In the film, bikers and surfers battle for which gang gets the privilege to hang out at Big Momma’s, a local diner and hangout. Mack, however, does not like such shows, viewing it as silly and illogical (as in the characters start singing about things for no reason and when they go in the water their hair never gets wet). Brady later learns that Mack made a promise to her aunt that after her mother died she would attend a private school and they were to leave the next day.

Brady is annoyed Mack never told him about this (which she regrets) and is very sad she will be leaving. Mack asserts that although going is her choice, she feels it is what she has to do, since it’s what her mom would want. She sadly informs Brady that they will have to break up since when she leaves they will be unable to maintain their relationship.

As Mack packs up to leave, she then decides to go and surf a few hours before the flight, as that day the 40-foot wave is going to hit the beach. Seeing that the waves are becoming too strong, Brady gets on a jet ski and goes after Mack, who is still in the ocean. When Mack tries to ride a fairly big wave, she falls off her board and submerges and Brady jumps into the ocean after her. The two are swept away and when they end up on another beach they find out they’ve been swept inside the movie “Wet Side Story.”

AMAZON REVIEW: To keep it short, Teen Beach Movie is a DCOM that definitely meets expectations for everyone! 🙂 The acting is believable and good, (which is a huge deal for newer DCOM’s!) and the music and dancing is so fun to watch and dance along to! People of all ages will enjoy this movie, especially people who are old enough to remember Annette Funicello, who this movie is actually dedicated to! It’s a refreshing new concept that comes off brilliantly on the screen. There is no DCOM that has been like it in quality or story to date and I am so excited to see what other sequels they may come up with for it! Watch this movie on Disney Channel or buy it first, you won’t be disappointed, whether you’re 11, 11 in your heart but a little older on the outside, or just plain old!

They watch as the real movie cast perform “Surf Crazy”, which Brady at one point joins, though Mack is just frazzled. Brady sees their situation as an opportunity to have fun but Mack finds it the opposite. Brady tells her there will be a storm and giant wave that could probably bring them back home at the end of the movie but Mack is reluctant to wait for it. They go into Big Momma’s, the movie’s diner and hangout and introduce themselves to the surfers just before the bikers appear and start the surf and turf war. Brady tells Mack about the war, and why it exists, though Mack is still the opposite of amused. The bikers perform a musical number, “Cruisin’ for a Bruisin”, which Brady actually joins in on after putting on a biker jacket, and for a small while, some shades. After the song, Mack and Brady are invited by surfers to come to a party at Big Momma’s later that night. Mack was about to say no, but Brady cuts in, and automatically accepts, which leaves Mack even more upset. Just then, their clothing are suddenly changed to fit the movie and Mack’s surfboard appears nearby them.

That evening during a dance in Big Momma’s where Lela (Grace Phipps) is singing “Falling for Ya”, Mack and Brady argue about staying or trying to find a way out and Mack decides to investigate on her own. However, they suddenly change the movie when the movie’s lead man, Tanner (Garrett Clayton), falls in love with Mack after she bumps into him and Brady catches the lead girl, Lela when she falls off the stage. This interferes with the movie’s plot, in which Lela falls into Tanner’s arms, not Brady’s and thus another feud between the bikers and surfers would start. Brady and Mack decide to make Tanner and Lela fall in love to fix things. Brady also tells Mack about the villains of the film, Les Camembert (Steve Valentine) and Dr. Fusion (Kevin Chamberlin), who are going to try to affect the weather to make the surfers and bikers leave so they can control Big Momma’s and turn it into a beach resort.

Click on image to read more about this title

Click on image to read more about this title

Brady, Mack, Tanner and Lela take part in a musical number, “Meant to Be”, where Lela and Tanner express their love for Brady and Mack, while Mack and Brady subtly suggest to them that there may be someone else they are really meant to be with. This however doesn’t work, so Mack and Brady decide to split up to convince Lela and Tanner to be with each other. That night Mack joins Lela and the other biker girls for a slumber party, while Brady hangs out with Tanner and the surfer boys at Big Momma’s. While talking about love and the opposite gender, Mack and Brady’s modern relationship views conflict with the 60’s views, which leads to the song, “Like Me”. The next morning, biker-dressed Mack and surfer-dressed Brady meet and discuss how they are not having any success. Later that night, Lela tells Mack that she actually would like to surf and Mack persuades her to do it despite surfing being something that Lela shouldn’t do as a biker.

SEE the must-have junior novel based on the awesome Disney Channel Original Movie “Teen Beach Movie”! When teen surfers Brady and McKenzie are magically transported into a 1960’s beach movie-inspired universe, they must try to blend in until they can find their way out. Will they make it back home? This exciting junior novel features an 8-page insert with color photos from the film!

Mack and Brady each have Lela and Tanner walk down the beach in opposite directions, though Mack suddenly notices waves vanishing and goes to talk to Brady. However, Les’ plan isn’t their only concern as they realize they are morphing into the movie when Mack falls into shallow water her hair does not get wet and then suddenly they are forced to perform a song, “Can’t Stop Singing”. After the song Mack and Brady are captured by Les Camembert and Dr. Fusion and taken to the villains’ lighthouse lair.

Lela and Tanner fall in love with each other while waiting for Mack and Brady and sing a reprise of “Meant to Be”. They soon realize that their friends have been kidnapped by Les and Dr. Fusion. They go to Big Momma’s and convince the bikers and surfers to team up and save Mack and Brady. Meanwhile at the lighthouse, Mack and Brady talk about their experience in the movie and Mack finally admits that she is glad that she came and is spending more time with Brady. She says that she really doesn’t want to go to college but she felt it was what she was “supposed to do”. Mack realizes that it is similar to her telling Lela to surf despite what she is supposed to do and Mack concludes that Lela is braver than her. Brady denies that, saying that Mack is the bravest girl he knows. After that, they sing their own reprise of “Meant to Be”.

The surfers and bikers then crash into the lair, free Mack and Brady and destroy the machine that the villains made. The movie’s plot returns to normal and Mack and Brady realize they are able to return home when they magically are wearing their old clothes again. After saying goodbye to everyone, Mack and Brady get on the surfboard and ride a wave, which submerges them and sends them back to the real world, where they see that no time has passed since they left. The 40-foot wave Mack was looking forward to is still about to approach her too.

Brady allows Mack to surf the giant wave and she successfully does and safely returns to shore. Her aunt appears, upset about Mack delaying their flight but Mack decides to spend the rest of the year on the beach with Brady, seeing that following her heart would still make her mother happy, even though she originally thought going to college was the right thing to do. Her aunt accepts her decision and everyone on the beach participates in one last musical number along with the other teens on the beach, “Surf’s Up”.

In a post-credits scene, Lela, Tanner, Butchy, Struts, Seacat and Giggles wash up into the real world. A modern day surfer thinks they’re lost and allows them to use his cell phone, which they marvel at as they try to use it.

Jack and Annie Fight Crocodiles Down The Nile In the Newest Installment of the Internationally Beloved Magic Tree House Series

9780375870279_p0_v1_s260x420Jack and Annie are back in the newest  Magic Tree House adventure, MAGIC TREE HOUSE #51: HIGH TIME FOR HEROES by Mary Pope Osborne  and the nonfiction companion, MAGIC TREE HOUSE FACT TRACKER #28: HEROES FOR ALL TIME by Mary Pope Osborne and Natalie Pope Boyce, with illustrations in both by Sal Murdocca.
In their latest expedition, brother-sister duo Jack and Annie are in Egypt in search of Florence Nightingale, the famous and beloved nurse. While Jack and Annie seek the secrets of greatness, Florence Nightingale finds the inspiration for the choices that made her famous.

Magic Tree House #51: High Time for Heroes features Jack and Annie back in Egypt, still seeking the secrets of greatness for Merlin. This time they will meet the great nurse, Florence Nightingale, on her trip to Egypt that served as the inspiration for the choices that made her both famous and beloved.

The Magic Tree House books, with their fiction and nonfiction titles, are perfect for parents and teachers just starting to get into the “Core Curriculum.” With a blend of magic, adventure, history, science, danger, and cuteness, the topics range from kid pleasers (pirates, the Titanic, pandas) to curriculum perfect (rain forest, American Revolution, Abraham Lincoln) to seasonal shoe-ins (Halloween, Christmas, Thanksgiving). There is truly something for everyone here.

The companion to HIGH TIME FOR HEROES, MAGIC TREE HOUSE FACT TRACKER #28: HEROES FOR ALL TIME is filled with true stories of historical heroes like Florence Nightingale, Martin Luther King, Jr., Ghandi, Harriet Tubman, Susan B. Anthony, and John Muir and includes photos, illustrations, and tips for further research.
Mary Pope Osborne is an ardent advocate and supporter of children’s literacy, and the award-winning author of more than 100 books for children and young adults, including novels, retellings of mythology and folklore, picture books, biographies, and mysteries. Her award-winning Magic Tree House series is an international phenomenon that has sold 120 million books worldwide since its debut in 1992, and has been translated into 32 different languages in over 30 international markets. 

The Magic Tree House series is an award-winning series of children’s books written by American author Mary Pope Osborne.

The series consists of two groups. The first group consists of books 1-28, in which Morgan le Fay sends Jack and Annie, two normal children from Frog Creek, Pennsylvania, on numerous adventures and missions with a magical tree house in order to help free Morgan from a spell, solve four ancient riddles to become Master Librarians, and save four ancient stories from being lost forever. The second group, referred to as the Magic Tree House “Merlin Missions,” begins with book 29, Christmas in Camelot. In the Merlin Missions, Jack and Annie have quests from the ancient wizard Merlin the Magician. These books are longer than the previous 28, and some take place in fantasy realms like Camelot. Kathleen and Teddy are two apprentices who befriend Jack and Annie during their adventures, with one of these adventures being to free Teddy from a spell. The two occasionally join Jack and Annie, and when they don’t, provide them support instead.

Altogether, there are 51 fiction books. In addition, a number of nonfiction companions, called the Magic Tree House Fact Trackers, have been published. The fact trackers are coauthored by Mary Pope Osborne, her husband Will Osborne, and sister Natalie Pope Boyce. The fact trackers supply a non-fiction background for several of the topics explored in the fiction books.

The animated film Magic Tree House, produced by Media Factory, premiered in Japan in October 2011 and was generally released there on January 7, 2012

The Velveteen Rabbit – A New Edition for Readers of All Ages

Click on image to read more about this title

Click on image to read more about this title

Do you remember the first time you read THE VELVETEEN RABBIT? The magical story of a stuffed bunny yearning to be real and the vivid feelings of loneliness, longing, love, and friendship seem to strike a chord with all who read it. Now new readers, children’s literature lovers, collectors, and fans of the story can enjoy Margery Williams’ unforgettable classic in a lush, gift book edition  that includes the classic illustrations as colorful as they were in the original 1922 edition.

Artist William Nicholson’s original art hops off the page in this latest version, which contains illustrations digitally re-scanned from a rare 1922 first edition housed in the Morgan Library of New York City, and gives readers a real look at the true luminosity and subtle details of the illustrations.

A handsome, cloth-bound case with foil stamping and a tipped-in color piece on the front cover encloses an unsurpassed printing on high-quality uncoated paper, restoring the book’s vintage and timeless feel and making this a truly one-of-a-kind gift, perfect for Easter, baby showers, holidays, and any day.

Sandra D. Peters wrote: “I seldom write reviews on children’s books, although I love them with a passion.”

My children are now mothers and my grandchildren are past young childhood. However, I believe that somewhere deep inside each of us remains a small child that still loves fairy tales, cotton candy, and walking barefoot in the grass. This book was one of my children’s favourites, along with “Charlotte’s Web;” both were also my own personal favourites. When my children were six years old reading this book became a nighly adventure until I knew the words by heart. For the reviewer who rated the book with a one star due to a spelling error, my heart goes out to you; you have sadly missed something very important – the message. The book is not about spelling, editing or lack thereof; it is about encouragement and love.The book tells the story of a toy, sawdust-filled rabbit who wishes with all his heart to become real. The message contained in this book is poignant, heart-warming and touching, and one that you will never foreget as long as you live. It is a story of beauty, wonder and love. Any child who misses out on “The Velveteen Rabbit” is missing out on one of life’s greatest lessons. I cannot say enough good things about this wonderful, wonderful book and highly recommend it to children…and the grown-up child in all of us.

“Hague’s warm paintings give a soft sheen to Williams’s classic story. Ages 5-10. ”  –Publishers Weekly

A stuffed toy rabbit (with real thread whiskers) comes to life in Margery Williams’s timeless tale of the transformative power of love. Given as a Christmas gift to a young boy, the Velveteen Rabbit lives in the nursery with all of the other toys, waiting for the day when the Boy (as he is called) will choose him as a playmate. In time, the shy Rabbit befriends the tattered Skin Horse, the wisest resident of the nursery, who reveals the goal of all nursery toys: to be made “real” through the love of a human. “‘Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.'” This sentimental classic–perfect for any child who’s ever thought that maybe, just maybe, his or her toys have feelings–has been charming children since its first publication in 1922. (A great read-aloud for all ages, but children ages 8 and up can read it on their own.) Review

(Doubleday / on sale January 28, 2014 / $19.99)

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