Tag Archives: empathy

The Unloved and the Forgotten: A Review of ‘Wolf Hollow’

“Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat.”—Saint Teresa of Calcutta

Grade Level


Review and Thoughts

Our story begins with Annabelle, a young girl who lives on her family’s farm during WWII.  Everything is fine for Annabelle and her family until a new girl, Betty Glengarry, arrives at a nearby farm and starts making trouble.  In fact, in my opinion, she is absolutely horrific.  She begins bullying and torturing Annabelle on her way to and from school and Annabelle is constantly afraid. Continue reading The Unloved and the Forgotten: A Review of ‘Wolf Hollow’

Try to Look at it From My Perspective: A Review of ‘A Tale of Two Beasts’

“For what you see and hear depends a good deal on where you are standing: it also depends on what sort of person you are.” ― C.S. LewisThe Magician’s Nephew

Interest Level: Ages 5 – 9

AR Level: 3.0

Review and Comments:

This is a story about two beasts who describe the same experience in their lives from very different perspectives. Continue reading Try to Look at it From My Perspective: A Review of ‘A Tale of Two Beasts’

The Burden of Affliction: A Review of ‘A Monster Calls’

“Without the burden of afflictions it is impossible to reach the height of grace.  The gift of grace increases as the struggle increases.”-St. Rose of Lima

Interest Level:


Grade Level Equivalent:


Review and Thoughts

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness is a story about a young boy named Conor whose mother is dying of cancer.  Conor is visited by an ancient monster, a yew tree, who lives in a graveyard close to his house.  The monster tells him that he will tell Conor three stories and then Conor must tell him the fourth story, which is Conor’s truth, or he will be eaten.  Conor is surprisingly not scared of this monster because he has seen another monster in his dreams and it is much more terrifying. Continue reading The Burden of Affliction: A Review of ‘A Monster Calls’

Sidekick Wanted: A Review of ‘El Deafo’

“There is a plan and a purpose, a value to every life, no matter what its location, age, gender, or disability.”—Sharron Angle

Suggested Grade Levels:

Interest Level: Grades 4-9

Grade Level Equivalent: 2.7

(As stated by Scholastic)

Review and Thoughts

El Deafo by Cece Bell is a cute novel written about the author’s own experience of dealing with becoming deaf at a young age.  This graphic novel chronicles her early life and explains how she became sick with meningitis as a child and lost her hearing.  Because the story takes place in the 1960s, some of the aids she receives are different than one might see today, but the situations with other people are all too familiar.  Friends, family, and teachers are unsure of how to treat Cece and she is unsure how to connect with them. Continue reading Sidekick Wanted: A Review of ‘El Deafo’

Life Spills Over For Better or Worse: A Review of ‘The Great Gilly Hopkins’

“No man is an island, entire of itself. Our lives are involved with one another, through innumerable interactions they are linked together. No one lives alone. No one sins alone. No one is saved alone. The lives of others continually spill over into mine: in what I think, say, do and achieve. And conversely, my life spills over into that of others: for better and worse.”  Pope Benedict XVI

Reading Level:

Grades  4-5

Review and Thoughts:

Foster Child: a child without parental support and protection, placed with a person or family to be cared for, usually by local welfare services or by court order. This is Gilly Hopkins.  Gilly, or Galadriel Hopkins, is an eleven year old girl who is starting over yet again in the third foster home in three years through circumstances beyond her control.  Gilly’s life experiences have forced her to create a list of rules written on her heart.  These rigid rules are what she fights to live by:

  1. I will accept no kisses or hugs.
  2. I will be clever and hard to manage.
  3. I will dare anyone to accept me or change me.
  4. I will be in charge of my own life.
  5. I will never appear the fool.
  6. I will never need help.
  7. I will be in charge of my education by making teachers treat me differently.
  8. I will be tough.
  9. I will continue to build a reputation and be proud of it.
  10. I will never attach myself to something that is likely to blow away some day.
  11. I will be Galadriel Hopkins – some day.

Continue reading Life Spills Over For Better or Worse: A Review of ‘The Great Gilly Hopkins’

Inside the Imagination of an Eight-year-old: A Review of ‘Ramona Quimby, Age 8’

“The ordinary acts we practice every day at home are of more importance to the soul than their simplicity might suggest.”  St. Thomas More

Suggested Grade Level

Grades 2-3

Review and Thoughts

Ramona Quimby, Age 8 by Beverly Cleary is a realistic fiction story about a girl named Ramona, her sister Beezus, and her parents. We are allowed a close up look at this family as they handle the pressures of everyday life, adjustments to new schools for the girls and the dad, money issues, and family responsibilities.  All of this is seen through the eyes and imagination of Ramona.

Ramona is a lively and dramatic character.  Throughout the story the reader gets an intimate glimpse into her thoughts and interpretations about the events in her life. Many times these thoughts are humorous and may sound familiar and at other times they are not very nice, like those of an upset eight- year-old.  What’s fair and not fair is always an issue with children, and Ramona is no different.  She just desperately wants to be “the clever young daughter who is doing her part to help the family,” but life and her perception of things seem to get in the way, and she struggles to uphold that promise to herself. Continue reading Inside the Imagination of an Eight-year-old: A Review of ‘Ramona Quimby, Age 8’

Let Us Not Forget: A Review of ‘Inside Out & Back Again’

“Dear friends, let us not forget the flesh of Christ which is in the flesh of refugees: their flesh is the flesh of Christ.”—Pope Francis

Suggested Grade Levels:

Grades 6-8

Review and Thoughts

Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai is a beautifully written coming-of-age story about a young Vietnamese girl named Ha.  While Ha is a young girl in Vietnam, she witnesses the fall of Saigon, escapes with her family to Alabama, and struggles to learn to adapt to a new life in America.  The innocent viewpoint of the young girl is a stark contrast to the seriousness of the war and of her position as a refugee.  The novel, which is written entirely in poetry, is simple and delicate and tells a story of survival and growth for Ha and her family.

The novel is broken into four parts.  Each part speaks of a different portion of Ha’s journey.  She tells about her life in Saigon before the North comes and her eventual escape from Saigon.  Next, she describes her terrible journey on boat floating at sea and nearly starving until she and her family are rescued by the Americans.  Her family’s “adoption” by a man in Alabama and their struggle to adapt to a new culture is a difficult one.  Finally, she accepts her family’s fate and learns to live as a young girl in Alabama. Continue reading Let Us Not Forget: A Review of ‘Inside Out & Back Again’