Every Falling Star

Every Falling Star

By Sung Ju Lee

Amulet Books:  New York, 2016.

Genre: Non-Fiction  North Korea

Grades: 7 and Up

Pages 314

There not many books written about life inside North Korea and when this one debuted a couple weeks ago I knew I needed to read it!  This a powerful memoir of Sung Ju Lee’s life in North Korea.  In the beginning of the book there is a brief history of 20th century North Korea which helps to set the stage for the story.  The country of North Korea is home to about 24 million people and of that 24 million about 72% belong to the military. Military service is mandatory for women to serve 7 years and men to serve 9 years. This is where 10-year-old Sung Ju Lee’s story begins, as his father was in the military an28818317d his mother a school teacher.  They had a very comfortable life, a roomy apartment, a good education, a pet dog and occasional trips to the amusement park.  But one day his mother told Sung Ju that they were going on an “extended vacation”—they packed up some belongings and took a train north.  What Sung Ju did not know that his family had been sent away (somehow his father had offended the government)—they now lived in deplorable conditions and since North Korea was in the midst of a famine, food soon ran out.  With no food and little hope Sung Ju’s Father tried to sneak over the border to China to find work and mother went to visit a sister to see if see could find food—neither of them returned. Now at the age of 12,
Sung Ju is an orphaned and had to run the streets with hundreds of other boys just like himself.  They formed gangs in order to effectively steal so that they could get enough food to exist. This is a survival story of a young boy determined that there was something more in life for him. The amazing part for my students reading this book will be that this book takes place in the early 2000’s—it is North Korea as it exists today.  The author often states that some facts he cannot give as it would mean certain death for friends and family that still live in North Korea today.  It is an eye opening book not to be missed.

Some violence in this book and they refer to Night Flowers (prostitutes) but no details are given.  It is a great book for grades 7 and up!


Fatal Fever: Tracking Down Typhoid Mary

Fatal Fever: Tracking Down Typhoid Mary

By Gail Jarrow

Honesdale, Pennsylvania:  Calkins Creek, 2015.

175 Pages  Grades 6 and Up

Always looking for a great narrative nonfiction books and Fatal Fever kept me engaged while being a great source of information on typhoid fever, immigration, and sanitation back in the late 1800’s-to the early 1900’s. Great details on those who were tracking and those who were on the front line of fighting typhoid fever. Pictures and political cartoons add the perfect visuals for the reader!fever                              Mary Mallon was just fourteen when she left a very hard life in Ireland for the hopes of something better in the United States.  She lived briefly with an aunt and uncle until they died and then she became a cook for wealthy New York families.  New York quickly became oversaturated with immigrants, thousands that lived in terrible living conditions.  Ithaca, New York was one of those cities where the sanitation was beyond horrible.  Typhoid fever was becoming epidemic.

Mary Mallon was a cook where mysteriously the families she served often came down with typhoid fever and some even died.  George Soper was a young man who was the leading scientist who led the fight against typhoid—he had worked miracles in Ithaca and now was trying to track down this “cook” who was spreading typhoid fever wherever she went. As the story goes, Mary tried to stay away from the authorities, claims she never had the disease, and was a tyrant when they wanted to test her.

Read about the manhunt and how Typhoid Mary was spreading this awful disease.  A great narrative nonfiction.

Could use this as a kick off for mandatory vaccinations.

Tracking down evidence from the book to make a case against Mary Mallon.

The right to detain/isolate them like a criminal for being a carrier of an illness.

Author Website