Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford – A Book Review

I have several places I go for book recommendations.  I was visiting one of those groups, made a long list of books to read and was requesting them from the library.

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As is often the case with popular books, one of them wasn’t currently available, but the library database suggested another, similar book to read “while I waited” for the initial book I requested.  That book suggestion was Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford, and I’m so glad I got to read this one!

This book alternates between the years 1942-1945 and 1986.  In 1942, Henry is the 12 year old son of Chinese immigrants who lives in Seattle.  His father is very loyal to China and hates the Japanese.  He follows the battles on a map, and he makes Henry wear an “I’m Chinese” pin so he’s not mistaken for a Japanese.  Henry’s parents put him in a nice school filled with Caucasian kids and only one other Asian, a Japanese girl named Keiko.

Because Henry and Keiko are “scholarshipping” as Henry’s dad says, they both work together in the cafeteria.  Soon, they develop a close friendship, but they don’t have much time to get to know one another as Keiko’s family is sent to an interment camp.

Yet, even this interference can’t keep the two apart.  When Henry’s dad finds out, he is furious and eventually stops talking to his son.

When the book goes to 1986, it follows the story of Henry, who has recently lost his wife and deeply mourns her.  He discovers that the old hotel that was in the center of Japanese town has been reopened after 50 years, and the new owner discovered that the basement was filled with the possessions of the Japanese families that were sent to interment camps.  Henry knows he must go and look for any possessions that might have belonged to Keiko and her family.

This story was sweet and romantic and sad.  I thoroughly enjoyed it, though I must say that Keiko’s time in the interment camps sounds much more pleasant that the experiences I’ve read from others in books.

I give this book 4.5 out of 5 stars on the Mom’s Plans’ scale.

Homeschool Review Crew: CrossWired Science

We’re always looking for new and dynamic science programs to engage our children, so we were excited to try out a brand new program, CrossWired Science.  We were able to review the Sound, and Fluid Dynamics units.

About CrossWired Science

CrossWired Science is a brand new, Christian-based, homeschool science curriculum.  In fact, during our review period, they were still adding units.  As the program is now, with two units, it can be used as a full science curriculum for three months; once they add two more additional units, which they are working on, the program can be used as a one year science curriculum.  The plan is to eventually have enough material that the program can be used for six years of science.

The program is good for ages 4 to 18.  The program has two levels–First Timers and Second Timers.  First Timers is specifically set up for those using the program the first time.  Then, after the students have gone through all of the First Timer materials, they can go back and go through the Second Timer material.  The Second Timers material covers the same topics as the First Timers, but at a much deeper level.

About Sound and Fluid Dynamics

Both Sound and Fluid Dynamics have 29 lessons.  In general, each of these units had several informational videos.  My daughter (4th grade) watched one each day and then took the quiz that followed.  Most quizzes were 10 questions long and were multiple choice.  My daughter found them a bit difficult; often she’d have to go back and rewatch the videos before she could answer all of the quiz questions.

After watching four videos and taking the corresponding quizzes, the next lessons are:

  • experiments,
  • research reinforcements,
  • general links, and
  • u choose.

I’ll talk later about the experiments.

In the research portion, a student must find a topic of interest related to either Sound or Fluid Dynamics, and research it and write up something based on their research.  The parent/teacher grades the work.

In general links, students are expected to watch two links and explain to family members, classmates, or friends, what the videos were about.

U-choose offers your child a variety of options from coloring a science related picture to reading one of the suggested books, to listening to one of the science related audios suggested, among several other options.

Our Experience with CrossWired Science

We reviewed two units, Fluid Dynamics and Sound Dynamics.  For 4 to 5 days a week, PB & J Girl (10.5 y.o.) used this program.  In general, she watched one of the videos and took the quiz that followed every day.

What We Liked about the Program

We both thought the videos were interesting, and videos are a good format for kids like mine that don’t get their information from reading but rather from listening and watching.

The program went deeply into two topics (sound and fluid dynamics), which my daughter hadn’t studied at all, so it was all new information for her.

I also appreciated that there were a variety of activities in the program.

What We Disliked about the Program

Science is not my favorite subject to teach; I especially dislike science experiments because I want things easy.  If I have a kit where all of the science experiment materials are in one place and the science experiment is clearly explained, I’m much more likely to have my child do them.

So, consider my perspective when I say that one of the the aspects of this program that I liked least were the science experiments.  The science experiments are complicated or not clear or required material I didn’t typically have around the home and couldn’t easily be bought at a local store.  For example, one experiment in Fluid Dynamics, Shark or Fish Dissection, required that I buy the shark or fish to dissect as well as the materials needed to do so.  Though the materials didn’t look that expensive, I never prepare that far in advance and I’m unlikely to order from a variety of different sources to get the material I need for a science experiment.

If you don’t have the same hang ups about science experiments that I do, you may love these science experiments because they’re very hands on and help children learn deeply.

The other thing I would like to see improved is that right now, I can’t go to the teacher’s page and get an at-a-glance view of how my child is doing.  I can see her quiz scores, but I have to click on each quiz separately to see the score.  I’d prefer to see them all on one page.

However, this program is still in development, and it’s likely that many of these kinks will be worked out.  I think this science program has potential, especially for larger families who would like to teach the same science to all of their children at varying levels.

I was one of 80 people to review CrossWired Science.  To read more reviews, click on the line below:

Sound, and Fluid Dynamics {CrossWired Science Reviews}
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