Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Jefferson's Sons and Miss Kraft is Daft

My son is fighting a strep infection, so I’ve been confined to the house for the most part lately. Fortunately, we made a trip to the library last week, so we had some great company to keep us entertained.

Miss Kraft is Daft, by Dan Gutman, is a short, energetic read. It’s part of the My Weirder School series. A lot of fun for reading aloud, but the laughter that ensued caused my son’s throat to hurt, so we had to take it in short bursts.

This was the first book I had seen in the series, but my guess is that they work very well as stand-alones. The author and artist did a great job of creating an unbelievable tale of ridiculousness and weirdness, which is confined to a group of middle-grade students and their teachers. (Although mention of a parent or two crops up on occasion.)

In this bizarre tale, the math teacher becomes ill, leaving his class at the mercy of a very strange substitute/magician named Miss Kraft. She entertains the class with her magical skills, but manages to throw in a little teaching in the process.

The highlight is the ending, which leaves the door wide open for additional possibilities. Definitely a fun read, complete with gross factors that should appeal to the most reluctant readers.

My second selection is a complete contrast to the lightheartedness of Miss Kraft is Daft.

Jefferson’s Sons, by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, is a much longer and more serious read, but well worth every moment.
Jefferson’s Sons is a historical fiction relating a story of the illegitimate family of Thomas Jefferson. The story is told through the voices of several of his sons who were born through one of his slaves, and through the voice of another young slave who was not so fortunate.

The creation of this book must have involved an enormous amount of research, and that is reflected in the details. The author transported me to a time and a situation that I had limited knowledge of, and could never quite grasp. She did an amazing job of getting into the heads of these young boys and allowing me to experience their emotional turmoil.

I must confess that history has always been my least enjoyable subject, but if it had been approached in the way Ms. Bradley portrayed it, I would have eaten it up and begged for more. A very good read that I highly recommend.

So what are you reading this summer? I hope it’s something you will remember and recommend to others.


Cordelia Dinsmore


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