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Bri Meets Books

Children's and YA literature reviews.

This is not a review post, but rather an assessment on a title I feel is worthwhile, but that I was unable to finish.

I Learned a New Word Today….Genocide by Elizabeth Hankins is about Javier, a Mexican immigrant child. His class is learning of genocide’s mark on history, from Sudan to Canada to Germany. Javier, understandably, is very upset at what he’s learned. The entirety of the book is written as Javier’s journal, as he chronicles his feelings about genocide.

The summary of the book states “Then he overhears a conversation that triggers a mysterious chain of events at his school. Now Javier is faced with the reality that no one is immune to the consequences of genocide. And perhaps everyone has a responsibility to help end it, even himself.”

I was unable to get to this part.  For I Learned a New Word Today, while well written, reads like a textbook mixed with a narrative. Pages devoted to historical accounts of genocides are intermixed with Javier’s journal.  In these parts, I felt like I was reading an adult trying to capture a child’s voice for some very intense things.  And this is where I had to stop reading. Even at an easy 150 pages, this book proved to be too much of a challenge for me.  In the classroom environment, I can see it being an excellent teaching tool on genocide, the Holocaust, and other atrocities.  It’s obviously a title meant for discussion, and not read on one’s own.

Copy provided by the publisher.

Title: I Learned a New Word Today..Genocide
Author:  Elizabeth Hankins
Date: 2009
Publisher:  Key Publishing House
Pages: 150
Format:  Paperback

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