Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Review - Crossing Stones by Helen Frost

Crossing Stones
Helen Frost
Francis Foster Books/FSG
184 pgs. (author notes, library book)

Muriel, Ollie and Emma relay the events leading up to WWI when two of their number decide to join the army. We also get a glimpse into the women's civil rights movement as it relates to Muriel's family.

This verse novel alternates between the voices of Muriel, whose words are shaped like a river, and Emma/Ollie, whose words are shaped like crossing stones. The "stones" also have a special rhyme scheme that the author explains in her notes. Each chapter is made up of several poems and covers a month from April 1917 to January 1918.

My Thoughts
My first thoughts on picking up this book were "not another war novel". This year's Newbery hopefuls are replete with them. Helen Frost writes about WWI but I've read about WWII, 9/11, and the War in Kosovo.

Crossing Stones alternates voices but in a way that's not disruptive to the book's overall tone. I found myself understanding both Muriel and Ollie's viewpoint because their characters are well drawn. You understand why they make the choices they do. Muriel is "plucky" but not overbearing and she's also thoughtful.

Mother: I have no intention of becoming the Mrs. Norman of your imaginary future. Who I am remains to be seen - and I alone intend to see it. (p. 15)

Ollie's young but tenderhearted.

To tell the truth, I don't care as much about their lofty goals as I do about
seeing my family again- there's a man on a bike, pedaling into the morning, bringing bread home to his family, I bet. (p. 60)

Through their eyes we also get a sense of the other characters.

The plot had just enough history to make it interesting but not boring. Each poem was like it's own little story within a story. The writing was so vivid and the story moved quickly. Frost didn't just focus on the homefront, what happened to the people left behind, but also gave us a little taste of the warfront as well as the suffragist's movement.

I really enjoyed Crossing Stones and can't wait to find Diamond Willow. I give it 4 copies. Bonus: Helen Frost lives in Fort Wayne, IN! Maybe we can do an author visit - if only I could find a curriculum use for this one...

Other Newbery hopefuls on War
Born to Fly by Michael Ferrari - rvw
Day of the Pelican by Katherine Paterson
Heart of a Shepherd by Rosanne Parry
Tropical Secrets by Margarita Engle - rvw

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for chatting! I love comments and look forward to reading yours! I may not reply right away, but I am listening! Keep reading and don't forget to be awesome!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Blog Design by Imagination Designs all images from the Saturday Stories kit by Lien