Smackdown Books 2018

Wolf Hollow
Salt to the Sea
The Serpent King
Optimists Die First
The Hate U Give
Orphan Island
Dan vs. Nature
The Female of the Species
Upside Down in the Middle of Nowhere
Paper Girls, Vol. 1
The Passion of Dolssa
The Distance Between Us
When We Collided
Louis parmi les spectres
Girl in the Blue Coat
Defy the Stars

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Is it Night or Day? Vs. Bamboo People

Two books, both about the way in which wars change the lives of children. Is it Night or Day? is a story based on true events of the author's mother and her voyage out of Nazi Germany to America in 1938. The second book, Bamboo People is set in Myanmar, formally known as Burma, as a young boy is captured and forced to become a child soldier.

Is it Night or Day? begins with the onset of the horrors of Germany during World War II and a Jewish family planning to send their daughter to the safety of America. The main character in this story, Tiddy or Edith when she arrives in the United States, is forced against her desires to leave her home and family and live with an unknown aunt and uncle in Chicago. This will be the last time that Tiddy will ever see her family as they will not escape Germany and join her before being sent to a concentration camp. The story is filled of many episodes of ways in which Tiddy is faced with the discrimination shown to Jews during this time in history both in Germany and the United States. As a resource for understanding the reasons for Jewish exile and persecution in Germany, this is a weak example. If however, you are looking for a story about a young girl searching for identity, compassion and understanding in a new land with an unsupportive, uncaring adoptive family, then this would be a good choice.

Bamboo People by Mitali Perkins is the story of war and aggression in a part of the world that has been filled with armed conflict for decades. The newspapers are full of stories of human right infringements and continued fighting between the Myanmar army and the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) of Thailand. In this story, Chiko, a young man living with his mother in a large city in Burma, is captured and forced to join the military as a child soldier. His story continues through training in an isolated jungle camp and eventual insertion into the zone of combat. During this time Chiko learns the stories of other child soldiers as friendship are created. At the same time in Thailand, another young man is part of a rebel force who has been fighting against the Burmese army. The lives of these two will eventually become one as both sides of the conflict are presented. I found this book a very interesting look into the way in which young men are forced to become part of armies and the issues behind the use of children as soldiers. As a story, it was refreshing to read a book about boys that does not involve a strong female character who “rescues” them or an involved love relationship. Basically a book about boys for boys but still captures the bonds of friendship and comradeship.

Overall winner, Bamboo People.


  1. Just learned of a week-long online book discussion for Bamboo People, with special visit on one of the days! Registration is available via While I have traveled through Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Malaysia, I have never been to Burma and look forward to reading this story.

  2. The true story of a child soldier in A Long Way Gone is a big hit with my grade nines. I'll have to check this book out!
    (And is anyone else wondering what Arlene is doing posting comments at 4:54 AM????????)

  3. A Long Way Gone! That's the title. And as for the 4:54 AM, it should actually be 5:54 as the time stamp that Blogspot puts on my comments is incorrect and I haven't gotten around to changing it! (I wondered if anyone was going to point that out!)