Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Mira's Diary: Lost in Paris

Title: Mira's Diary: Lost in Paris
Author: Marissa Moss 
Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
Publication Date: September, 2012
Genre/Format: Sci-Fi, Historical Fiction/Novel
Goodreads Summary: Mira is shocked when she receives a postcard from her missing mother from Paris. Her father decides it's time for a trip to France to search for her. While visiting Notre Dame, Mira touches a gargoyle and is whirled into the past. There she meets the famous painter Degas and catches a brief, shocking glimpse of her mother. Mira begins to suspect that her mom didn't run out on them but is a prisoner of the past. Can one family on an incredible worldwide adventure stop a plot in time?
What Jen Thinks: I can't imagine how frustrating it would be to be in Mira's shoes! Her mom disappears and then she finds herself thrown through time and trying to make sense of what she has to accomplish without much guidance. I like how Mira makes do with what she is given and she is pretty brave throughout it all. 
     For an adult read, I read Madame Tussaud semi-recently and loved it. I love historical fiction when I can become engrossed in a story but learn about history at the same time. I was thoroughly captivated by Madame Tussaud's story. I had no idea the role she played in the French Revolution, no idea that she was anything more than the cheesy wax museums that exist today...and no idea where in time the French Revolution happened compared to the American Revolution. (It's sad but true...I remembered a lot of the events that are outlined in Madame Tussaud but honestly had no idea it all happened after the American Revolution.) As I read Mira's Diary I kept thinking of Madame Tussaud and even of Marianne Malone's The Sixty-Eight Rooms and it's sequel. All of these books would make a great mother-daughter book club discussion. There is a French history connection in all of them. I never thought about reading multiple books with a similar topic and then discussing them. I think it would make for a fun discussion between a mom and her daughter. Sharing similar historical information but reading some of the same books and some different books. Love it! 
What Kellee Thinks: I was enthralled by this smart, yet still accessible middle grade novel. Once I began it, I did not want to put it down. I cannot wait for the next book which I hope will be in my hands sooner than later. 
     The book was not only packed with an interesting concept (Mira and her mother travel through time to try to right wrongs that haven't happened yet), but the book was filled with information about late 19th century Paris, French history and art. Although some may feel like there was information overload, I found it all so fascinating. I am primarily sucked in when a book includes history that is less well known and that is exactly what this book did. Do you know about the Dreyfus Affair? After reading you will. I was also so excited to read a book so full of art history and art elements. Each page includes sketches from Mira and throughout the book you meet incredible artists such as Degas, Monet and Rodin. A cast of characters that is better than any fiction. This part of the book actually reminds me a lot of Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris except Mira is trying to fix something instead of fixing herself. 
     One wish I had while reading was wanting to see the artists' works as each artist was introduced. I was blessed enough to have an art-filled childhood so I could picture many of the pieces; however, many students do not have that background knowledge. I would love to see a non-fiction companion book that includes more history on each artist including copies of their artwork to really connect the students with the brilliant pieces that are being discussed in the novel. 
Read Together: Grades 4 - 8 
Read Alone: Grades 5 - 10
Read With: Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier, The Wright Three (series) by Blue Balliet, The Sixty-Eight Rooms (series) by Marianne Malone, We Are Not Eaten By Yaks (series) by C.A. London, Madame Tussaud by Michelle Moran (adult historical fiction)
Snatch of Text: "Dad was right - [Notre Dame is] truly a wonder of the world...
     Usually when you go into a building, it's lighter or darker, cooler or warmer than outdoors, but it's still part of the same world. Stepping into Notre Dame was like changing time zones or countries, crossing some magical border. A hush filled the cavernous, echoey space of the cathedral, despite all of the voices of tourists murmuring and people praying, as if the sound was absorbed into the bones of the building itself.
     Light streamed in from the windows like a physical presence, the kind of light you think you can reach out and touch...The air itself felt still and chilled by the stone all around. The walls were stretched thin between the pillars that soared into a vault overhead, like the skin of a massive beast taut between its ribs." (p. 14-15)

Mentor Text for: Plot development, Research, Activating Background Knowledge, Making Connections, Expository, Personal Narrative
Writing Prompts: Research one of the artists mentioned in the book, write about his or her life, artwork, beliefs, etc. Write about a time in your life when you had to trust your instincts, when you weren't sure what to do but had to make a decision based on what felt right to you in the moment. 
Topics Covered: History, Paris, Art (Photography, Sculpture, Drawing, Painting), Jewish ghetto, Notre Dame, Eifel tower, Madeline books, Anti-semitism, Degas, Van Gogh, Mary Cassatt, Monet, Gauguin, Seurat, Renoir, Manet, Whistler, Toulouse-Lautrec, Rodin, Patriotism, Oscar Wilde, Emile Zola, Zionism, the Dreyfus Affair, Military, Conspiracy, Human Rights, Justice system, Journalism, Race/Religion
Jen and Kellee *heart* It: 

**Thank you to Sourcebooks for providing a copy of Mira's Diary for review**

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