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Esperanza Rising: Book Review

October 11th, 2015 by

esperanza-risingIn only a few days, Hispanic Heritage Month will come to an end. (Why is it 9/15-10/15 instead of an actual calendar month? I don’t know. Just go with it…) Before it’s over, I want to recommend an amazing novel that will give you a peek into the lives of Mexican immigrants during the Great Depression: Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan.

Full disclosure: I used to work at the company that published this book, and I contributed to a website with activities and materials about the book. But I would have loved Esperanza Rising regardless of how I discovered it! The story is full of twists and the characters are really believable, and it transports you to another time and place that you may not know much about:

Esperanza lives with her loving and wealthy family in Mexico. But tragically, her father is killed by bandits one night. Esperanza and her mother are forced to flee to California, where they must start over with nothing. They find a home with a camp of migrant workers, and Esperanza’s mom immediately takes on hard labor in order to make ends meet. But it’s harder for Esperanza to forget the past and the comfortable lifestyle she was used to in Mexico.

Luckily, Esperanza has a friend in Miguel, whose family moved from Mexico to the U.S. with Esperanza and her mother. But not everyone at the camp is a fan of Esperanza’s. And then things get even worse — and it’s up to Esperanza to keep herself and her mother safe, plus earn enough money to bring her grandmother to join them from Mexico.

If you’re a fan of historical fiction, you will love this book. But even if not, I think you’ll find it a fascinating and enjoyable read. Plus, I should mention there’s a little bit of romance too, if you’re into that!

Want to check out an excerpt from Esperanza Rising? You can do that at that website I used to work on!

Have you read Esperanza Rising or any of Pam Muñoz Ryan’s other books? Are you reading something else for Hispanic Heritage Month? Leave a comment and let us know!

— Karen

Esperanza means “hope” in Spanish. Karen’s name means “the pure one” and originates from the name Katherine!

More about Karen »

Romance Books You’ll Like-Like-Like!

February 10th, 2015 by

heartA long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…. Karen and Nancy put together a book list for romance titles!

Wait, it was definitely still in this local galaxy. But it was a rather long time ago, so I thought I’d give the list an update! Check out these fun books involving romance:

Okay, so there are 20 books on this list and I know that’s a lot, but don’t feel like you have to read them all before Valentine’s Day  romance and crush-worthy books are great all year-round! Have you read any of these books and fallen in love with them? Leave a review below!

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    icon_nancyNancy loves reading about love. Book idea: A book about a girl writing a blog entry about a girl who loves reading about love.

    More about Nancy »

    Books for Hispanic Heritage Month

    October 7th, 2010 by

    Have you ever heard of a month that runs from September 15 to October 15? Well, now you have — it’s Hispanic Heritage Month! It starts on September 15 because that’s the anniversary of independence of five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Plus Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on September 16 and September 18, respectively.

    So, for our celebration here at Kidsmomo, I’ve put together this handy dandy list of great reads for Hispanic Heritage Month! Or should I say buenos libros para Hispanic Heritage Month? Actually, no I shouldn’t, because you can’t hear me right now, but I’m pretty sure I have TERRIBLE Spanish pronunciation.

    But that doesn’t mean I can’t pick out awesome books! And here they are:

    Have you read any of these books? Leave a comment and let me know! Or better yet, submit your review for other kids to see!

    Happy Hispanic Heritage Month!

    — Karen

    Karen took Spanish class in high school, but unfortunately, she doesn’t remember much of it. What sticks in her mind most is that every time she read about Chichen Itza, she thought to herself, “chicken pizza.”

    More about Karen »
    Hispanic Heritage Month poster from familymwr’s flickr

    Introducing… Books About “The New Kid”

    August 30th, 2010 by

    A fish out of water. In over your head. Thrown to the wolves.

    When you’re the new kid at school or in town, many sayings can apply — but none of them seem to capture the full experience. So instead, we offer up these books about being “the new kid” (in no particular order):

    1. Libby on Wednesday by Zilpha Keatley Snyder (Karen’s pick)
    2. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson (Nancy’s pick)
    3. Ellie McDoodle: New Kid in School by Ruth McNally Barshaw
    4. Allie Finkle’s Rules for Girls Book 2: The New Girl
    5. Hoot by Carl Hiaasen
    6. Belle Teal by Ann M. Martin
    7. A Friendship for Today by Patricia McKissack
    8. Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
    9. Firegirl by Tony Abbott
    10. Surviving the Applewhites by Stephanie S. Tolan
    11. Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
    12. Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan
    13. Doodlebug by Karen Romano Young
    14. So Totally Emily Ebers by Lisa Yee

    (And here’s a printable version of our New Kid booklist, for you to take to the library or bookstore, or send as a gift to friends in your old hometown.)

    If you’ve read any of these, send in your book review. Or send in a review of your favorite book about “the new kid.”

    UPDATE 9/14/10: We revealed the answer to our New Kid Mystery Book Theater in the “New Kids on the Block” Podcast, so take a listen if you want to know the answer. Or just tune in if you want to hear Nancy and Karen compete ina lightning round game where one of them is definitely NOT a very gracious winner.

    Skinny-Punch Books for the Summer

    July 23rd, 2010 by

    A while back, I read Forget Me Not by Coleen Murtagh Paratore. It’s part of the Wedding Planner’s Daughter series, and this particular installment takes place over the summer — but this post actually isn’t to recommend Forget Me Not as a beach read for the season. Instead, I want to recommend some of the books that the main character of Forget Me Not likes.

    Confused? No, you haven’t entered The Twilight Zone. You see, in Forget Me Not, Willa loves reading what she calls “skinny-punch books” — books that are short but pack an emotional punch. NOT books about diet beverages, as you might have first assumed. (HA HA! I slay myself…)

    Here’s Willa’s list of skinny-punch winners:

    • Bronx Masquerade by Nikki Grimes
    • Edward’s Eyes by Patricia MacLachlan
    • Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan
    • Green Angel by Alice Hoffman
    • The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes
    • Locomotion by Jacqueline Woodson
    • Love that Dog by Sharon Creech
    • Missing May by Cynthia Rylant
    • True Believer by Virginia Euwer Wolff
    • The Whipping Boy by Sid Fleischman

    And I also want to add some of my own skinny-punch faves:

    • Granny Torrelli Makes Soup by Sharon Creech
    • Secret Letters From 0 To 10 by Susie Morgenstern
    • The BFG by Roald Dahl
    • Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan
    • Beezus and Ramona by Beverly Cleary

    Have you read any of these? Or do you have your own skinny-punch picks? Leave a comment and let me know!

    — Karen

    Karen used to love Hawaiian Punch when she was a kid. Now she prefers root beer. Especially if you put some ice cream in there. Yum…

    More about Karen »

    Kick-Butt Girl Power Books

    March 16th, 2010 by

    In honor of Women’s History Month, we’re celebrating Girl Power here at Kidsmomo!

    From a wrongly accused witch, to a girl who really does have magical powers…

    From a foster child fighting to connect with her real mom, to a child of nobility fighting to break free from her parents’ rules…

    From a daughter on a quest to help her parents, to an orphan struggling for her own survival…

    The stars of these recommended reads (in no particular order) are amazing role models for March or any month:

    1. A Crooked Kind of Perfect by Linda Urban (Karen’s pick)
    2. The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare (Nancy’s pick)
    3. The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly
    4. Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin
    5. Matilda by Roald Dahl
    6. Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan
    7. The Girl Who Threw Butterflies by Mick Cochrane
    8. The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson
    9. Catherine, Called Birdy by Karen Cushman
    10. Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce
    11. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
    12. Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren
    13. Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell,
    14. A Long Way to Go by Zibby O’Neal
    15. The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi
    16. There’s a Girl in My Hammerlock by Jerry Spinelli
    17. Nancy Drew series by Carolyn Keene

    If you’ve read any of these, send in your book review. Or send in a review of your favorite Girl Power book!

    UPDATE 3/30/10: We revealed the answer to our Girl Power Mystery Book Theater in the “You Go, Girl!” Podcast, so take a listen if you want to know the answer. Or just tune in to hear Karen yell, “GRRRL POWER” a few times too many!

    Flan de Almendra (Almond Flan)

    February 27th, 2010 by

    If you ask me, this food fight doesn’t seem very fair. My selection was inspired by the soulful and heartstrings-tugging Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan, but meanwhile, Karen picked a recipe that’s been used as a magical projectile weapon. @_@ (That’s my look of worry and shock.)

    But there’s no use in worrying now when there’s almond flan to be made! You know what would cheer you and me up?  Saying the word “flan.”  Flan, flan, flan! Shout it with me! Fuuuuuuh-laaaaaaaaan!!!

    Click on my photos to see my step-by-step flan formation:

    To continue having flan fun, grab your parent and see if you can do this recipe justice:

    See More…

    Romance Books You’ll Like-Like

    February 9th, 2010 by

    To: Kidsmomo Reader
    From: Your Secret Admirers

    Will you be our Valentine?

    We’ve gathered up this list of books involving romance to show how much we love you. Some are focused on budding relationships, and others just happen to feature couples we like — but all of them are 100% Cupid-approved. So here they are (in no particular order):

    (By the way, your flowers and chocolate are in the mail.)

    1. Best Friends and Drama Queens (Allie Finkle’s Rules for Girls, Book #3) by Meg Cabot (Karen’s pick)
    2. Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen (Nancy’s pick)
    3. Absolutely Normal Chaos by Sharon Creech
    4. Stanford Wong Flunks Big-Time by Lisa Yee
    5. Kiss Me Tomorrow by Susan Shreve
    6. Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan
    7. Princess Academy by Shannon Hale
    8. Drums, Girls & Dangerous Pie by Jordan Sonnenblick
    9. Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
    10. Romeo and Juliet — Together (And Alive!) at Last by Avi
    11. Once Upon a Marigold by Jean Ferris
    12. The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo
    13. Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast by Robin McKinley
    14. Which Witch by Eva Ibbotson

    If you’ve read any of these, send in your book review. Or send in a review of your favorite book involving romance!

    UPDATE 2/16/10: We revealed the answer to our Romance Mystery Book Theater in the “All You Need Is Love” Podcast, so take a listen if you want to know the answer. Or just tune in if you want to hear how Nancy used to behave around boys she liked (OMG, soooooo embarrassing!).

    Timeless Historical Fiction

    September 28th, 2009 by

    You young’uns have it sooooooooo easy these days. When we were kids, we had to walk to and from school every day, uphill both ways, in the snow and rain — and umbrellas and coats hadn’t even been invented yet! Okay, just kidding, we had umbrellas and coats. And we both grew up in California, so there was no snow. BUT we really did suffer back in olden times — no internet! *GASP*

    Thank goodness things have changed! Because if you want to know what life was really like in the past, now we can harness the internet to tell you about these awesome historical novels (in no particular order)!

    If you’ve read any of these, send in your book review and we may read it our podcast:

    1. A Long Way From Chicago and A Year Down Yonder by Richard Peck (Karen’s pick)
    2. By the Great Horn Spoon by Sid Fleischman (Nancy’s pick)
    3. Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
    4. The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
    5. Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan
    6. Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko
    7. The Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder
    8. A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park
    9. The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi
    10. My Brother Sam Is Dead by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier
    11. Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan
    12. The Midwife’s Apprentice by Karen Cushman
    13. Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson
    14. The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare
    15. Dave at Night by Gail Carson Levine
    16. Dragonwings by Laurence Yep
    17. Lily’s Crossing by Patricia Reilly Giff
    18. Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene
    19. Ida Early Comes Over the Mountain by Robert Burch
    20. The Dear America and My Name is America books

    Or send in a review of your favorite historical novel!

    UPDATE 10/5/09: We revealed the answer to our historical fiction Mystery Book Theater in the “History Repeating” Podcast, so take a listen. You’ll find out all about this awesome historical novel, plus get an additional book recommendation from a kid like you!