Author: Kurt Vonnegut
Narrator: Ethan Hawke
Published: March 31, 1969
Audiobook: 6 hours 2 minutes
Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Listened To: August 3-7, 2023
Jessica’s Rating: 2 stars
Slaughterhouse-Five, an American classic, is one of the world’s great antiwar books. Centering on the infamous World War II firebombing of Dresden, the novel is the result of what Kurt Vonnegut described as a twenty-three-year struggle to write a book about what he had witnessed as an American prisoner of war. It combines historical fiction, science fiction, autobiography, and satire in an account of the life of Billy Pilgrim, a barber’s son turned draftee turned optometrist turned alien abductee. As Vonnegut had, Billy experiences the destruction of Dresden as a POW. Unlike Vonnegut, he experiences time travel, or coming “unstuck in time.”
“And so it is”… Slaughterhouse Five was not for me. For me it seems that Vonnegut is an acquired taste. Slaughterhouse is a short book but also a very hard read. I only finished it because it is a book club read, I most likely would have never picked it up otherwise. Maybe my opinion of it will change after we have our meeting on this one and I hear what the other ladies have to say.
Maybe it was that I did not know the history of Dresden or I am not a fan of symbolism, but it just did not work for me. The novel was also non-linear which can make it harder to read if you are not enjoying it. And then there are aliens and time travel…. Slaughterhouse is a classic that most people seem to enjoy but I just really struggled. It is semi- auto biographical for Vonnegut as he served during WWII.
I listened to an older audiobook version which was narrated by Ethan Hawke. His narration was fine, and it actually helped me get through listening. There was also an interview with Vonnegut. The main thing I got from that interview is that Vonnegut is NOT Billy Pilgrim. Billy Pilgrim was based off of a real person: Edward R Crone Jr, who actually died at Dresden. That was interesting to find out.
Though not for me, maybe this classic will be for you. “And so it is”…
The Fire Cat
Series: The Cat Club
Author: Esther Averill
Illustrator: Esther Averill
First Published: 1960
Reviewed By: Cristina
Pickles the fire cat to the rescue! Pickles is a young cat with big paws who wishes to do big things with them! When he’s adopted by the local firehouse, Pickles works hard to be a good fire cat. He learns to jump on a fire truck. He learns to help put out a fire, and he even helps out in a rescue. Beginning readers will cheer as Pickles gets his wish and finds something big to do with his paws. With sweet illustrations from author-illustrator Esther Averill, this Level One I Can Read book is perfect for children learning to sound out words and sentences. Whether shared at home or in a classroom, the short sentences, familiar words, and simple concepts of Level One books support success for children eager to start reading on their own.
Pickles is a stray cat who has big paws and no idea what to do with them. His favorite pastime is bullying kittens smaller than himself. But when he finds himself stuck up a tree in a storm, a new friend helps him find a better way to live. Will Pickles do great things with those big paws like his friend hopes he will?
The Fire Cat is a classic beginning reader book. As in, it was Ms. Cristina’s favorite book in first grade! This is a nice book for chapter introduction as well. There is an illustration on each page to encourage readers. Pickles learning to use a fireman’s pole is one of the best! While the story is about a cat becoming a fire cat and working with the fire department, it is also a story with some great Social Emotional Learning opportunities. Homelessness, bullying, kindness and giving someone a chance to prove themselves, self-esteem, community–it’s all there for discussion if you want to use the book in that manner. Otherwise, it’s just a great story for first-third graders. Who am I kidding? I’m an adult and the story still makes me smile![Top]
Where the Sidewalk Ends
Author: Shel Silverstein
Reviewed By: Cristina
Come in… for where the sidewalk ends, Shel Silverstein’s world begins.
Shel Silverstein, the New York Times bestselling author of The Giving Tree, A Light in the Attic, Falling Up, and Every Thing On It, has created a poetry collection that is outrageously funny and deeply profound.
You’ll meet a boy who turns into a TV set, and a girl who eats a whale. The Unicorn and the Bloath live there, and so does Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout who will not take the garbage out. It is a place where you wash your shadow and plant diamond gardens, a place where shoes fly, sisters are auctioned off, and crocodiles go to the dentist.
Shel Silverstein’s masterful collection of poems and drawings stretches the bounds of imagination and will be cherished by readers of all ages.
Poetry often gets overlooked for young readers, but it can be a great stepping stone from picture books to chapter books, or comprehension practice for older readers. And, you know, poetry can just be fun to read!
Shel Silverstein is a very popular poet for children. This happens to be my favorite collection of his works. With poems about ice cream, pirates, doing chores, going to school, Silverstein’s poems are something children can relate to in their own lives. Some of them are just plain silly, some are very thoughtful, and some have a little lesson in them. He also draws illustrations to go with them. (The crocodile in the dentist chair is one of my favorites!) If your reader is thinking they are getting “too old” for bedtime stories, or you don’t have time for a whole book or chapter of something, try reading a poem together instead. This is a great collection to get them hooked on poetry![Top]