Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Nelson Mandela or Lucky Child

Nelson Mandela (DK Biography Series)

Author: Laaren Brown

DK Biography sets a new standard in children's paperback books, relying on bold photographs, energetic storytelling, and detailed sidebars and definition boxes to build an educational and entertaining series. These books are perfect for either the classroom or the living room. Each title features a celebrated leader who has impacted our world in a big way, from important politicians to inspiring civil rights leaders, great entertainers to groundbreaking artists. These men and women come from a diverse range of nationalities and generations, but all have played a crucial role in shaping our society. DK Biographies gain momentum from detail, delving into the small things - childhood hobbies, little known fears, hidden strengths - that make a person great. Most importantly, they encourage young readers to be curious about the world and those who have influenced it.

Nelson Mandela was the first black president of South Africa, and spent 27 years in prison in his fight against apartheid. His life is a shocking, stunning, and heroic story of the struggle for freedom in a divided society, and an inspiring example of one individual's power to bring peace to a nation.


A concise, readable overview of the life and influence of South African freedom fighter Nelson Mandela, this biography covers the man, his beliefs, and his milieu. Essential to the unfolding story are action shots that have the impact of a news report. In addition to details of his arrest and imprisonment, return to power, and second marriage, the text relates the influence of Mohandas Gandhi, Xhosa tribe members, Winnie Mandela, and Steven Biko. Contributing to the applicability of this work to the classroom are multiple adjuncts—a two-page illustrated timeline, bibliography, websites, and an index that links life events to the ANC Youth League, F. W. de Klerk, Jan Smuts, and Robben Island Prison. Thematic coverage substantiates world opinion about apartheid, police brutality, and nonviolent protest. A valuable work highly recommended for school and public libraries.

School Library Journal

Gr 6-9-These biographies are detailed but flawed. The chronologically arranged chapters cover major events in the men's lives, such as "Growing up in Gujarat" (Gandhi) and "Acts of Defiance" (Mandela). Numerous interesting photos and illustrations are included. Unfortunately, both books contain errors, such as incomplete Web site addresses in the "Works Cited" sections and incorrect quotes. Pretoria, where Gandhi lived for a year, is omitted from the map of South Africa, and the reason given for Mandela's separation from his first wife is not the same as that given in his autobiography. For books on Gandhi, stick with John B. Severance's Gandhi: Great Soul (Clarion, 1997). Most titles on Mandela for this audience aren't any better than this one.-Ann W. Moore, Schenectady County Public Library, NY Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Book review: Beginning JavaScript or F for Scientists

Lucky Child: A Daughter of Cambodia Reunites with the Sister She Left Behind

Author: Loung Ung

After enduring years of hunger, deprivation, and devastating loss at the hands of the Khmer Rouge, ten-year-old Loung Ung became the "lucky child," the sibling chosen to accompany her eldest brother to America while her one surviving sister and two brothers remained behind. In this poignant and elegiac memoir, Loung recalls her assimilation into an unfamiliar new culture while struggling to overcome dogged memories of violence and the deep scars of war. In alternating chapters, she gives voice to Chou, the beloved older sister whose life in war-torn Cambodia so easily could have been hers. Highlighting the harsh realities of chance and circumstance in times of war as well as in times of peace, Lucky Child is ultimately a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and to the salvaging strength of family bonds.

The Washington Post - Maria Elena Salinas

With all the innocence of a child, Ung speaks about the complexities of trying to understand American culture. She describes trying to be a kid in a place where she never quite felt she belonged. Ung reveals what it's like to go to school and have no friends, to be ridiculed for not understanding or speaking English and to live through it all while haunted by nightmares in which she relived the horrors of war … Ung's story is a compelling and inspirational one that touches universal chords. Americans would do well to read it, no matter where they were born.

Publishers Weekly

In her second memoir, Ung picks up where her first, the National Book Award-winning First They Killed My Father, left off, with the author escaping a devastated Cambodia in 1980 at age 10 and flying to her new home in Vermont. Though she embraces her American life-which carries advantages ranging from having a closet of her own to getting a formal education and enjoying The Brady Bunch-she can never truly leave her Cambodian life behind. She and her eldest brother, with whom she escaped, left behind their three other siblings. This book is alternately heart-wrenching and heartwarming, as it follows the parallel lives of Loung Ung and her closest sister, Chou, during the 15 years it took for them to reunite. Loung effectively juxtaposes chapters about herself and her sister to show their different worlds: while the author's meals in America are initially paid for with food stamps, Chou worries about whether she'll be able to scrounge enough rice; Loung is haunted by flashbacks, but Chou is still dodging the Khmer Rouge; and while Loung's biggest concern is fitting in at school, Chou struggles daily to stay alive. Loung's first-person chapters are the strongest, replete with detailed memories as a child who knows she is the lucky one and can't shake the guilt or horror. "For no matter how seemingly great my life is in America... it will not be fulfilling if I live it alone.... [L]iving life to the fullest involves living it with your family." Agent, Gail Ross. (On sale Apr. 12) FYI: Publication coincides with the 30th anniversary of the Khmer Rouge takeover. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Kirkus Reviews

Activist Ung's memoir of life after Pol Pot, a worthy sequel to First They Killed My Daughter (2004). Both of the author's parents, and many other relatives, were killed in the Khmer Rouge genocide. In 1980, Ung's older brother-sponsored by a local church-was able to leave Cambodia and settle in Vermont. He could afford to take his wife and one sibling with him, but that was all, so he chose the youngest (Ung) and left her beloved sister Chou behind. The two girls didn't meet again for another 15 years. Here, Ung tells both sisters' stories, chronicling her own adjustment to living in Burlington and Chou's life in Cambodia. The juxtaposition generally works well. The story of the older girl's arranged marriage, for example, is told against the backdrop of her sister's very American schoolgirl crushes, and Chou's attempts to get an education contrast effectively with Ung's comparatively luxurious studies at secondary school and then at St. Michael's College. Not surprisingly, the chapters about the author's personal experiences are more vivid. The scenes set in Vermont snap with vivid prose, and Ung imparts freshness to a fairly familiar immigrant's tale. Many of her new acquaintances call her Luanne instead of Loung, so Ung tries calling herself Luanne: "The name comes out of my mouth tasting like a spoonful of vinegar." Using food stamps at the Burlington grocery store imprints "shame stamps" on her face, marks that won't come off no matter how hard she scrubs. In one very funny scene, the excited girl rushes outside, barely able to move thanks to all her layers of winter clothes, shouting, "Snow! Snow!" to a blase neighbor wearing a light coat and sneakers who replies calmly, "No.Frost." When Ung feels embarrassed, or stupid, or frustrated, the reader won't be able to help empathizing. Chou, however, is two-dimensional, and the secondhand stories of her girlhood, though clear and interesting, remain just that: secondhand. Still, overall, here's a moving story of transition, transformation, and reunion. Author tour

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