I’ve been reading too many great books lately not to share them! Weekly the folks at Teach Mentor Texts host “It’s Monday! What are you reading?” It’s a chance to recap what I’ve read in the last week and a peek at what I’ll be reading in the week ahead. This is my first go at joining in . . . I can’t promise it will be weekly, but I’ll give it a go!
Some Great Picture Books From Last Week
Peter Brown has been a favorite among Twitter kidlit folks that I follow, but I’m just now catching up with his picture books. What great fun! Check out the spirited and funny Lucy the Bear in You Will Be My Friend, and the charming story of urban renewal in The Curious Garden, both from Little Brown Kids, in 2011 and 2009 respectively. Ages 4-10.
I’ve long been a fan of the illustrations of Helen Oxenbury (We’re Going on a Bear Hunt and Farmer Duck), so I was delighted to see Twitter and Goodreads friends recommend the picture book illustrated by her and written by Peter Bentley: King Jack and the Dragon. In this book a group of preschool aged boys, led by Jack, with an even younger brother in tow, build a fort and have wonderful imaginary battles with dragons and beasts that remind me of Maurice Sendak’s Wild Things. The boys are (mostly) fearless and the illustrations are great. Published 2011 by Dial Books. Ages 4-7.
I’m familiar with Kate DiCamillo’s chapter books for children (Because of Winn-Dixie and The Tale of Despereaux), but I didn’t know that she had a picture book, too, until I was browsing the library shelf and saw her familiar name. Louise, The Adventures of a Chicken, is expressively illustrated by the talented Harry Bliss. Told in a cute “chapter” format, the book tells of Louise’s longing for adventure, but then her craving for the comforts of home. Both the text and illustrations weave in some humor amidst the adventure. Would make for a great class read aloud. Published by Joanna Cotler Books, 2008. Ages 5-9.
Middle Grade Chapter Books
The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate is a special, special book about friendship. I won’t tell you too much about it, other than it is told from the point of view of Ivan, a silverback gorilla who has been raised by humans and is on display at shopping center. A rather depressing life you would think, but Ivan is full of creativity, love, and hope. I HIGHLY recommend this book as a read aloud to kids 8 and up, or for independent readers 9 and up. I read it aloud to my 10 year old. She’d beg me to keep reading, and many times, we both clapped and cheered out loud. The Ivan in this book was inspired by the real Ivan, who lived at a shopping center in Tacoma, Washington until finally being moved to Zoo Atlanta. I went to college in Tacoma and recall taking a trip to see Ivan . . . needless to say after reading this book, I’m glad Ivan is in a better place. Published 2012 by Harper-Collins.
Coming up this week . . .
Smoky the Cowhorse, by Will James. Newbery Medal 1927. Horse story. I hear it’s better than some of the other 1920s Newberys but not great in today’s kidlit world. I’m way more excited by this book:
Wonder by R.J. Palacio. This book has been the talk of the children’s literature world even before it was published. Many are saying it should be required reading for anyone in middle school and above, and yes, the adults should read it too. We’re doing it as a whole family read aloud on our upcoming spring break. I’m hoping there will be lots of good discussions. Published by Knopf 2012.
The book trailer below gives you a good idea about the powerful message in this book: