Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Mini Middle Grade Reviews: Salt & Zero Tolerance

Salt: A Story of Friendship in a Time of War 
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Release Date: July 23rd, 2013
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: ARC from Publisher

Anikwa and James, twelve years old in 1812, spend their days fishing, trapping, and exploring together in the forests of the Indiana Territory. To Anikwa and his family, members of the Miami tribe, this land has been home for centuries. As traders, James’s family has ties to the Miami community as well as to the American soldiers in the fort. Now tensions are rising—the British and American armies prepare to meet at Fort Wayne for a crucial battle, and Native Americans from surrounding tribes gather in Kekionga to protect their homeland. After trading stops and precious commodities, like salt, are withheld, the fort comes under siege, and war ravages the land. James and Anikwa, like everyone around them, must decide where their deepest loyalties lie. Can their families—and their friendship—survive?

In Salt, Printz Honor author Helen Frost offers a compelling look at a difficult time in history.

This was a very interesting look into the lives of two completely different boys during a time of war. Though they live side by side, their cultures and individual histories are so opposite. This is what made the story of their friendship so powerful to me.

I have to say that I am not a fan of poetry at all, but I actually liked it in SALT. Each narrative was written in a different form, which initially I thought kind of strange, but it worked out very well. There was an explanation given at the end for the two different forms, which really led me to appreciate it a lot more.

A powerful story presented so simply will leave the reader pondering the importance of friendship.

Zero Tolerance
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Release Date: June 18th 2013
Genre: Contemporary
Source: ARC from Publisher

Seventh-grader Sierra Shepard has always been the perfect student, so when she sees that she accidentally brought her mother's lunch bag to school, including a paring knife, she immediately turns in the knife at the school office. Much to her surprise, her beloved principal places her in in-school suspension and sets a hearing for her expulsion, citing the school's ironclad no weapons policy. While there, Sierra spends time with Luke, a boy who's known as a troublemaker, and discovers that he's not the person she assumed he would be--and that the lines between good and bad aren't as clear as she once thought. Claudia Mills brings another compelling school story to life with Zero Tolerance.

I’m not sure what to think about this book. Having been homeschooled my whole life, I’ve never had to deal with anything even close to this. I’ll keep politics out of this, because when politics come into play, things never end well. I’ll just keep it short and simple by saying that I think it’s unfortunate that things like a well intended policy to protect others is capable of punishing others for trying to do the right thing and keep others safe, which is what the policy was there for anyway.

I really admired Sierra. She reminded me of myself, and was obviously a bright, intelligent character. What I admired most about her was the fact that she never stopped fighting for herself, and when the issue grew into a larger deal than it needed to be, she didn’t hide in the shadows, but stood for what she knew was right. We need more girls like that in society.

For sure, Zero Tolerance is a thought-provoking story for readers of all ages.

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