Thursday, July 2, 2009

Summer Reading Recommendation

I recently read the moving novel in verse, Aleutian Sparrow by Karen Heese. This deeply touching account of the Japanese attack on Alaska's Aleutian Islands in 1942, is told through the voice of Vera, a strong Aleut girl battling the consequences of government-enforced evacuation and relocation. Uprooted from their treeless coastal landscape and traditions, the Aleut people are forced to try to make a life for themselves in the dense, almost suffocating air of the inland forests. Without the tools for fishing, nor the proper resources to build up their community, the Aleuts are left with almost nothing but their wills to survive.

I cannot imagine a more perfect genre for this story. Poetry allows the unfolding of Vera's thoughts to happen as she is ready to share them. Poetry allows the reader to be patient and open to Vera's unique telling.

Vera is able to voice the experiences of struggle and death, courage, hope and love with a timing that only poetry can make possible.

The book jacket recommends Aleutian Sparrow for kids 10-14. I would place it in the older part of this rating, perhaps a 12 and up, as I think older readers would enjoy this book too.