Book Review: Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Book Review: Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens (2019) 5 Stars *****

Delia Owens, a wildlife scientist in Africa, has astounded the world with her first novel Where the Crawdads Sing. Set in the Outer Banks marshes of North Carolina in the 1950s and 1960s, we meet six year old Kya, who has been abandoned one by one as her mother and siblings escape a drunken, abusive, irresponsible, neglectful father and literally leave her to fend for herself, each deciding to heal their emotional turmoil and physical pain in some other place, leaving the baby of the family as someone else’s responsibility.

By the time she is ten years old, Kya’s father also just walks away without explanation, leaving Kya without money, resources or hope. An outcast living in isolation and shame, Kya draws on her inner strength to find ways to generate income so she can eat and buy gasoline for her little boat that is her lifeline to the rest of the world. The Marsh Girl, as she is derisively called, grows up to be a beautiful, self-educated woman, loved and abandoned by two very different men, leaving emotional scars never to be healed, and embroiling her in scandal that haunts her for a lifetime. The ending of this book might surprise you, but then again, maybe not. Any reader understanding Kya’s innate intelligence and inner turmoil would never expect anything different from her.

Being an industrious, resourceful child, Kya generates income by selling mussels and smoked fish which enables her to subsist mostly on grits and whatever root vegetables she can grow in her marshy garden. Tate, a kind neighbor boy, teaches Kya to read, brings her books, and quietly looks after her from afar as they grow into adulthood. Kya is also befriended by Jumpin’ and his wife Mabel, an African-American couple in the rural south, who unobtrusively help and protect the proud and independent Kya. Kya’s accomplishments surpass all expectations. Living in the modern world is not an option. Kya’s beloved marsh offers a place of comfort and safety and a pathway to critical acclaim.

This book is filled with beautiful sensory images, metaphors, and similes.
Some examples:
*A floating mat of duckweed colored the water as green as the leafy ceiling, creating an emerald tunnel.
*Suddenly the ocean’s face—gray, stern, pulsing—frowned at her.
*Egrets took flight, a line of white flags against the mounting gray clouds.
*…Kya eased alone through the sea toward the village, the sky in a frumpy sweater of gray clouds.
*As evening fell, she took her blanket and slept in the marsh, close to a gully full of moon and mussels, and had two tow bags filled by dawn. Gas money.

Where do the crawdads sing? “Just means far in the bush where critters are wild, still behaving like critters.” The author emphasizes the differences between marsh and swamp. Its symbolism extends to Kia’s life journey. Keep this in mind while you enjoy the book.

 

Please let me know your thoughts. I’d love to hear from you. You can email me at author@elainedonadio.com.

I wish you all a life inspired by the wonder of the world around us. May you find and live your truth, in harmony with people, nature and the environment. May you be a force for good and a source of love and comfort. May the world be a better place for you having lived and loved here.

All rights reserved 2019

Book Review: The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

Book Review: The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah 4 Stars ****

Also appropriate for Young Adult Readers

Written by the author of The Nightingale, this book also has a magnetic pull on the reader with its sympathetic characters and wild, untamed setting in the Alaska of the 1970’s. A wonderful, but sometimes repetitious story, often undeveloped, melodramatic events, too many hints about what the future holds, confusing innuendo, and rather abrupt contrived ending made this 4 Stars for me instead of the 5 Stars it should have had. Please don’t misunderstand. This is a terrific book.

Thirteen year old Lenora (Leni) Allbright abruptly leaves city life behind as her parents inform her they will start a new life in the wilderness of Alaska. Leni’s father, Ernt, a POW and Vietnam veteran suffering from severe post traumatic stress, has inherited a small house in the Alaskan wilderness from an army buddy who was killed during his captivity as a POW. Ernt views this as a saving grace, Cora, Leni’s mom, goes along with whatever she feels will make her husband happy, while Leni expresses skepticism that a change of scenery will improve her father’s psyche. Leni is the only one of her family grounded in reality and her fears prove to be prophetical.

Leni’s family is totally unprepared for life in the wilderness. With the help of caring, experienced neighbors, they begin to learn basic survival techniques. They must carry a knife and/ or gun at all times for protection from bears and wolves. The family learn to hunt, trap, fish, grow and store their own vegetables, chop wood, pilot boats, ride snowblowers, read the sky for signs of storms, and try to keep their balance with the unusually long days and nights according to the season. They live without electricity, central heating, and indoor plumbing. Trips to the outhouse are dangerous at night because bears lurk in the woods. Walking and driving are treacherous. It’s possible to fall through the ice and into crevasses and never to be found. And yet, they come to love this land and its people.

Leni forms a deep friendship with Matthew who is the only child her own age in the town. This friendship leads to love and romance. Leni’s father becomes increasingly more violent, plotting, controlling, and reclusive while Leni’s mother continues to live in denial as she provokes her husband’s jealousy by her flirtations with Matthew’s divorced father. It would be impossible to summarize what happens without spoiling the story. The reader is subjected to great emotional upheaval as we fear for the safety and well-being of all the characters in the book. This is a heart-wrenching tale.

We have a sense of being there since the descriptive passages  give a clear sense of life in the wilderness—its loneliness and dangers. The last few chapters come and go quickly and abruptly. Is the ending realistic? In some ways the possibilities exist, but how probable is this “happy” ending?

Please let me know your thoughts. I’d love to hear from you. You can email me at author@elainedonadio.com.

I wish you all a life inspired by the wonder of the world around us. May you find and live your truth, in harmony with people, nature and the environment. May you be a force for good and a source of love and comfort. May the world be a better place for you having lived and loved here.

All rights reserved 2018

 

Please Join Me! April 29 Authors Fair-Port Washington Library, LI, NY

Please join me!
Sunday, April 29, 2018  

2:00-4:30pm

Port Washington Public Library  
1 Library Drive  Port Washington, NY
Lapham Meeting Room
516-883-4400

        Meet local self-published authors and learn about their latest works. Books will be available for purchase.

My Book Titles

The Science Project
The Ocean’s Way
Who Do Voodoo?
The Ocean’s Way Poetry Companion
Sojourn Into The Night—A Memoir of the Peruvian Rainforest

Questions? Visit elainedonadio.com or email me at author@elainedonadio.com.

I wish you all a life inspired by the wonder of the world around us. May you find and live your truth, in harmony with people, nature and the environment. May you be a force for good and a source of love and comfort. May the world be a better place for you having lived and loved here.

All rights reserved 2018

 

 

Arbor Day: Making It Real For Kids

Arbor Day: Making It Real For Kids

Looking for hands-on back- to- nature activities for kids? Arbor Day, celebrated this year in the US on April 27, is a perfect time to reconnect with nature, especially trees which clean our air, provide shade, housing, and sustenance and, are fun to climb! That’s just the beginning.

The April, 2018 Long Island Edition issue of Natural Awakenings contains a great article “Into The Woods-Nature Helping Kids Build Skills and Character” by April Thompson. We gather information about “youth organizations that encourage survival skills like tracking food sources, making fires and shelters; indigenous knowledge of local environments and life’s interconnectedness; physical and other challenges to heighten sensory perception; sharpening observation and awareness of animal behaviors during hunting by ‘foxwalking’, ‘owl vision’, or during self-protection by staying still like a rabbit or coyote; or using natural patterns of day and night and seasonal changes to tune in to the rhythms of nature.”

Where can you find the organizations that offer these experiences? Checkout “Earth Native Wilderness School, 4 Elements Earth Education, Wild Earth, Wilderness Awareness School, Coyote’s guide to Connecting With Nature, The Tracker School, Children & Nature Network, and Earth Skills Alliance.”

Plant trees. Celebrate trees. Climb trees. That’s what today is all about. Maybe you’ll be inspired to go further into the back-to-nature movement. The future belongs to our children and grandchildren. Let’s build awareness and a sense of connection and responsibility for our future decision makers.

Please remember, saving the planet goes beyond reuse, recycle and reduce. It also involves how we treat each other and the world in which we live.

One person, one experience at a time.

Please let me know how you do. I’d love to hear from you author@elainedonadio.com.

I wish you all a life inspired by the wonder of the world around us. May you find and live your truth, in harmony with people, nature and the environment. May you be a force for good and a source of love and comfort. May the world be a better place for you having lived and loved here.

All rights reserved 2018

Literacy Scores Down? I Can Help

Welcome to my blog!

Literacy scores down? I can help. ElaineDonadio.com is an invaluable resource.

Need ideas for using my middle grade books? Please click here to visit my website/blog for lesson ideas and study guides. Tie-ins with science, social studies, and literacy.

*Whole class reading activity, much like a text book. I’m still a proponent of the balanced literacy and whole language movements where students imitate the activities of the characters in the books. The science presentations can act as a springboard to an actual student activity.

*Small group discussion. Each book can be presented to the rest of the class as a play, Readers Theater, science fact presentation according to chapter contents, individual reports, a multimedia presentation, chart presentations, etc.

*Independent reading and/ or book reports.

*Supplemental classroom reading can serve as material for class discussion, report or presentation.

*Multiple intelligences can be addressed by allowing presentations of the book plots or actual science or social study facts through the visual or performing arts. How bout a dance of the dolphins? Or a play about how creatures interact in their environments? A song telling the life cycle of an insect? A watercolor representation of the underside of a horseshoe crab? Creating a costume to demonstrate how creatures can be camouflaged in their worlds? A news flash detailing the dangers of fracking on the environment? A puppet show detailing the swamp biome?

*Instead of traditional text –books, use my books. Perhaps, the students can write letters to one another or to friends and family telling what they’ve learned. Create a class newspaper account of a day in the life.

*Brainstorm a combination of modalities to be presented at a school assembly.

*Utilize the formula poems found in The Ocean’s Way and The Ocean’s Way Poetry Companion as a model and have the students present facts in this same format.

*Conduct an author study to compare and contrast my books with one another or with books by other authors.

* Create a diorama or model to show relationships, life cycles, or habitats.

*Design a travel brochure for the places the book characters visit.

*Vote for a class president using the book characters as candidates.

 

Book Titles The Science Project, The Ocean’s Way, Who Do Voodoo?,
The Ocean’s Way Poetry Companion, 
Sojourn Into The Night-A Memoir of the Peruvian Rainforest

All titles are available for preview and purchase at Amazon and Barnes & Noble websites. Available in digital and paperback formats.

Questions? Call 718-746-0758 or click here to email.

All rights reserved April, 2018.

What’s It All About? Sojourn Into The Night—A Memoir of the Peruvian Rainforest by Elaine Donadio

What’s It All About?

You can preview and purchase  Sojourn Into The Night—A Memoir of the Peruvian Rainforest at Amazon or Barnes & Noble websites for a digital or paperback copy, or you can visit Smashwords.com for a digital copy.

Sojourn Into The Night—A Memoir of the Peruvian Rainforest

 

Travel to the rainforest of Peru as the original photos in this watercolor journey help tell the story in this unrhymed,  poetic narrative which captures the stillness of the night and my delight in seeing unique creatures secure in their own world.

Awestruck by the beauty of the Peruvian rainforest, I behold what is hidden in plain sight. Aided by the full moon, the stars and three flashlights, the jungle guide traces the almost imperceptible – camouflaged creatures, unseen but for the probing lens and heightened senses of this mentor who, among the cacophony of undefined sounds amid ambiguous paths with buttress roots spread wide, staunch soldiers in their mission as lianas reach up with wooden fingers in communion with arboreal giants, quietly courses ahead in this exalted forest with depths of knowledge and intuition surpassing my own.

A teacher by profession, I become the student in this unfamiliar great biome, learning facts but also becoming aware of my limitations as a sentient being, capable of looking but incapable of seeing but for the gentle guidance of one who communes with nature.

My books are primarily geared to middle grade readers, but this book may be best suited to 12-adult (Nothing is X rated!).  They’re loaded with well-researched science facts and are appropriate for classroom study and/ or  supplemental or independent reading assignments with tie-ins for science, literacy and social studies. The secret of their success is their ability  and purpose in allowing the reader to have fun while learning—experiencing the world through the eyes of the characters—journeying with a friend, in a sense. Content area reading is what it’s all about.

Please visit my website ElaineDonadio.com  for study guides for this book. You can use the book for some of your answers, but you will have to do outside research, also.

Questions or comments? Please email me at author@elainedonadio.com. I’d love to hear from you.

Happy reading!

All rights reserved 2018.

 

 

What’s It All About? Who Do Voodoo? by Elaine Donadio

What’s It All About?

Series: The Montgomery School Kids

Book Three –  Who Do Voodoo?

You can preview and purchase Who Do Voodoo? at Amazon or Barnes & Noble websites for a digital or paperback copy, or you can visit Smashwords.com for a digital copy.

 

Who Do Voodoo? is a mystery intended for middle grade readers, especially 10-12 year olds.

Jesus and voodoo. Party and prayer. Love and betrayal. Twelve year old NYC boy, Phil Williams, struggles with conflicting messages when, entrusted by his grandmother in the role of Icebreaker, he visits estranged family in New Orleans as he sets out to restore the family relationship and ends up rescuing his great-aunt from the grips of death at the hands of an unforeseen evil presence. With his best friend, Nestor, in tow, Phil encounters a series of strange events. Is it Voodoo? Or scare tactics by mere mortals? And why?

Phil’s visit to the Land of Pirates results in a plan of action and determination to follow clues to solve the mystery. His investigations lead him to the source. Wanting to be viewed as a hero, Phil refuses to involve the police and unduly places everyone at the merciless hands of the culprits. Help comes from a hovering presence just in the nick of time.

Phil learns his strengths and weaknesses as he struggles to put the jumbled puzzle pieces in play. His appreciation of true friendship is apparent as his love of family and New Orleans are renewed.

He visits Jackson Square, St. Louis Cathedral, the French Quarter, Mardi Gras World, the crypt of the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans, Jean Lafitte Louisiana, the Audubon Aquarium and Riverwalk. Phil learns about Louisiana’s history, swamps and the state’s concerns for environment and wildlife. He now understands the far-reaching effects of “fracking” and why environmentalists and public safety representatives are so strongly opposed.

If Phil had it to do all over again, what would he have done differently? Probably nothing.

My books are primarily geared to middle grade readers. They’re loaded with well-researched science facts and are appropriate for classroom study and/ or  supplemental or independent reading assignments with tie-ins for science, literacy and social studies. The secret of their success is their ability  and purpose in allowing the reader to have fun while learning—experiencing the world through the eyes of the characters—journeying with a friend, in a sense. Content area reading is what it’s all about.

Please visit my website ElaineDonadio.com  for study guides for this book. You can use the book for some of your answers, but you will have to do outside research, also.

Questions or comments? Please email me at author@elainedonadio.com. I’d love to hear from you.

Happy reading!

All rights reserved 2018.

 

Study Guide 5- The Ocean’s Way by Elaine Donadio

Chapters 14-18.

Please see my Nov. 2, 2017 blog post for the updated study guide schedule.

You can preview and purchase The Ocean’s Way at Amazon or Barnes & Noble websites for a digital or paperback copy, or you can visit Smashwords.com for a digital copy.

This is the last study guide for this book. You might want to purchase Who Do Voodoo? to be ready for our next focus book for January.

Holly and Jasmine have experienced many changes. Holly in particular is deeply affected by what she has learned about dolphins and pilot whales giving her a new understanding of how each person can contribute to the balance of nature and the preservation of the environment.

 

These questions are based on Chapters 14-18.

 

1. List at least five facts you learned about manatees. What has the state of Florida done to insure their safety?

2. List at least five facts you have learned about pilot whales. In what ways are pilot whales like humans? In what ways are they different? What is it about pilot whales that make them so vulnerable? What other creatures can you think of whose behaviors could lead to their own downfall?

3. How are donations used to help rescued sea creatures in Florida? Why do you think the government and people of Florida attach so much importance to maintaining the safety of the wildlife in their state?

4. Design a fundraising campaign in your school and/ or community to help raise money to help in the rescue of stranded sea creatures. Decide how to raise the money. Create a poster. Research marine rescue organizations. Choose one to be the recipient of your monetary gift. You do not actually have to put this plan in practice, but please do the plan either way.

Which creatures need rescuing where you live? What could you do to help?

5. Take a look at Holly’s poem about the ocean on the last two pages of Chapter 18. Explain Holly’s fascination with the ocean. Design a T-shirt to capture Holly’s message using a slogan, images, and words to attract attention.

6. Holly and Jasmine have both changed from the beginning, middle, and end of the book. How has each one changed? What influenced these changes? Do you believe these changes are temporary or permanent? Support your answer.

If you had to choose one thing to change about yourself, what would it be? Make a decision now to accomplish this goal. Research. Analyze. Plan. Do.

 

Spoiler alert: I will not be providing the answers for the questions. If you’re a serious adventurer, then you will discover the world on your own. Support all your answers with facts found in the book or outside resources. Seek and you shall find!

Next: Who Do Voodoo? Study Guide 1. See you on Dec. 30, 2017!

You can email Elaine Donadio at author @elainedonadio.com

All rights reserved 2017.

Study Guide 4- The Ocean’s Way by Elaine Donadio

Chapters 10-13.

Please see my Nov. 2, 2017 blog post for the updated study guide schedule.

You can preview and purchase The Ocean’s Way at Amazon or Barnes & Noble websites for a digital or paperback copy, or you can visit Smashwords.com for a digital copy.

Holly and Jasmine visit marine parks and are treated like special guests. They learn a lot about dolphins, alligators, wetlands, ecosystems, the environment, and the balance of nature.

 

These questions are based on Chapters 10-13.

1. Go to the fourth page of Chapter 10. Answer the ten questions about dolphins. Include answers from Chapters 10 and 11, the Internet, and any source books you may have. Check your answers on the sixth page of Chapter 10.

2. Make a Venn Diagram to compare and contrast dolphins and alligators. If you had to live your life as one of these creatures, which one would you choose? Why?

3. What are wetlands? We learn that alligators are apex predators. Describe the food chain among the creatures of the Florida swamps.

4. What would happen if the Florida wetlands were destroyed? Explain the effects on the environment and ecosystems. How would the world be affected if alligators became extinct? How would the world be affected if dolphins and pilot whales became extinct?

5. Choose a creature living in the South Florida swamps. Research facts and list them. Using these facts, create a Tanka poem to tell about your creature. Use the Tanka poem about the swamp in Chapter 13 as a model. See the formula below.

Tanka Poem – 5 lines

Line 1  – 5 syllables
Line 2  – 7 syllables
Line 3  – 5 syllables
Line 4  – 7 syllables
Line 5  –  7 syllables

 

Spoiler alert: I will not be providing the answers for the questions. If you’re a serious adventurer, then you will discover the world on your own. Support all your answers with facts found in the book or your own research. Seek and you shall find!

All rights reserved 2017.

You can email Elaine Donadio at author@elainedonadio.com

Next: The Ocean’s Way Study Guide 5. See you on Dec. 31, 2017!

Study Guide 3: The Ocean’s Way by Elaine Donadio

Chapters 7-9.

Please see my Nov. 2, 2017 blog post for the updated study guide schedule.

You can preview and purchase The Ocean’s Way at Amazon or Barnes & Noble websites for a digital or paperback copy, or you can visit Smashwords.com for a digital copy.

 

The girls have gotten past some of the tension they experienced at the beginning of the story. They finally are having fun together. Yay!

 

These questions are based on Chapters 7-9.

 

1. Holly is impatient with Jasmine’s fear of water, but Holly decided to have her own fun in the pool. What do we learn about Holly from this? Think about a time when your fear impacted a friend’s good time. What thoughts went through your head? Tell how your friend reacted. What changes did you make in your behavior as a result of this experience?

2. Discuss how the characters begin to loosen up while in Miami, now displaying different sides of their personalities. What do you believe accounts for this change in behavior?

3. Compare and contrast your behavior at school, at home and at different social and public places. What aspects of your personality remain the same? What changes? What would you say to someone who accused you of being phony by acting different ways in different places? What conclusions might be drawn from your analysis in answering these questions?

4. We begin to better understand Holly and Jasmine’s friendship through their interaction at the pool, the hat store and the beach. Describe their relationship. What do you notice about the way they treat each other? How is this the same or different from the beginning of the story? What do we learn about friendship from observing their behavior?

5. When Holly touches the silver dolphin pendant around her neck, what memory is being triggered? What does this tell us about Holly? Pay attention to other times in the story when Holly takes the same action to see if touching the pendant always has the same effect.

What special object in your life gives you the same feelings as Holly’s dolphin pendant gives her? Explain.

If Jasmine were to receive a special pendant to wear around her neck, who would give it her? What would that symbol be? Why?

 

Spoiler alert: I will not be providing the answers for the questions. If you’re a serious adventurer, then you will discover the world on your own. Support all your answers with facts found in the book. Seek and you shall find!

All rights reserved 2017.

You can email Elaine Donadio at author@elainedonadio.com

Next: The Ocean’s Way Study Guide 4. See you on Dec. 21, 2017!

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