Monday, November 12, 2012

Middle Grade Monday-- Chained

ChainedKelly, Lynne. Chained.
8 May, Farrar, Straus & Giroux (BYR)
Nominated for the Cybils by Irene Latham

Hastin's sister is very ill with a fever, and his mother takes her to the doctor, even though his father has passed away and the family is barely surviving in rural India. In order to pay the bill, the mother goes to work cleaning the house of a wealthy man, but when he starts to abuse her, Hastin looks for another way. He is hired by Timir, an elephant trainer, who offers to pay the hospital bill in exchange for Hastin's work for a year. The first thing Hastin has to do is to trap a young elephant, and he feels so badly about separating Nandita from her herd that he promises to take care of her. This is difficult, since the training is harsh and Nandita suffers greatly from the cruelty. Hastin makes friends with the cook, Ne Min, but is forever getting in trouble and having more time added to his enforced servitude. Nandita is almost sold to another circus owner, and things might have improved for Hastin, but Nandita suffers a heat stroke. The sale is called off, and the abuse gets worse. Eventually, Hastin needs to decide is staying is the best option for both him and Nandita.
Strengths: This was a good depiction of the struggles that children in other countries face. The note at the end explaining that there are laws in India forbidding this kind of treatment of animals and children (but that they are ignored) is helpful. This would be a good book to read in conjunction with Tua and the Elephant.
Weaknesses: Cover is not appealing; when will publishers realize that this makes a HUGE difference? This is a good book, but not on a topic that students pick up on their own, so an appealing cover is especially crucial when trying to get this into students' hands.

It's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday at Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe and What Are You Reading? day at Teach Mentor Texts. Both sites have lots of links to reviews about books that are great for the 4th through 8th grader. It's also Nonfiction Monday, hosted this week at The Flatt Perspective.

Library Ramblings: Loved William Polking's The Trouble with Cybils post over at Nerdy Book Club. Since I need to read things other than Cybils' nominations as well, I've been keeping notes but not necessarily reviewing every single book, as I have felt compelled to do in the past.

Have continued with cleaning out dated technology. Just need the storage/work space. I am hoping that the fire marshal doesn't visit until after I get the six televisions on carts on their way. This is the main reason I am not waiting until March, as I usually do, to clean out. Since teachers have had LCD projectors in their rooms for two years, no one wants overheads or televisions. This has been a problem.

Weeding, however, is somehow easier. About 15 years ago, there was a huge shipment of Permabound books for the start of the Accelerated Reader program, and they weren't chosen with as much care as I would exercise, so most are no longer read. They look nice on the outside, but the pages are brown and crumbly and smell really bad! Not the sort of thing to enthuse children about reading!


  1. Thanks for the link to William Polk's Trouble With Cybils post. It was very funny. I knew a professor (one of my customers at the bookstore) who was on the Newbery committee. He had to read a book a day for a year. He said it was an amazing experience but he would never do it again.

    I've heard of Chained, but haven't yet read it. Good point about the cover!

  2. Chained looks like a very interesting read. I have a feeling my entire early of next year would be devoted to reading breathing and living Cybils picture books. :) I hope you're having fun with all your reading though. :)

  3. Cover appeal does make a huge difference - I agree. That cover wouldn't entice me to pick it up. It might appeal to kids who like animal books?

  4. I read Chained and thought it a great multi cultural read. I recommend it highly to middle graders.