Thanks to Jen and Kellee at Teach Mentor Texts for hosting the meme “It’s Monday! What are you reading? From Picture Books to YA”. Check out Jen and Kellee’s site to see what others are reading through their posted links. You can also find posts from folks using the hashtag #IMWAYR on Twitter.
Click on the cover images for the synopsis of each book.
I read so many great picture books I don’t even know where to start this week! I’ve organized them by my star rating at Goodreads.
Really Great (5-stars on Goodreads)
The Monsters’ Monster by Patrick McDonnell (2012)
With every book I read, I’m becoming an even bigger fan of Patrick McDonnell. I love this book on many levels. It has fantastic and expressive illustrations that my comic loving 8 year-old noticed are very Mutts-like (McDonnell’s comic strip). It also has a cute story line of bad little monsters creating a really big, really nice monster, despite their best intentions of creating the baddest monster around. Great messages about friendship, kindness, and gratitude abound. I also love this as a mentor text for expressive and descriptive writing. Kids of all ages can benefit from a reading of this book with McDonnell’s well executed phrases filled with great word choices and adjectives. Some examples:
“They hoisted their creation into the stormy sky, where a lightning bolt sent a powerful jolt through the creature.”
“Monster wiggled his stubby monster fingers and tapped his clunky monster feet.”
“The rascals dashed after Monster, trying to keep up with his long strides down the mountain.”
And most importantly, these little things from McDonnell make for a super enjoyable picture book!
The Quiet Place, written by Sarah Stewart and illustrated by David Small (2012)
Another lovely, lovely book from Stewart and Small. Young Isabel emigrates to America with her family from Mexico and misses much about her homeland. She is overwhelmed by all the newness of place, of the language, and of her loneliness. The story, like Stewart and Small’s The Gardener is told through letters to her beloved Auntie Lupita back in Mexico. Isabel finds solace in her Quiet Place, which is lovingly constructed of cardboard boxes. And there, as shy Isabel writes, reads, and plays with her toys, she begins to find her voice and sense of place in her new community. A great book to share.
Great (4-stars on Goodreads)
C.R. Mudgeon, written by Leslie Muir and illustrated by Julian Hector (2012)
C.R. Mudgeon is a hedgehog who likes the slow and comfortable pace of his very predictable life. He is quite rattled by his new and very animated neighbor, Paprika, who is quite his opposite. A cute story of friendship building and the idea of trying things outside your comfort zone, all great things to share with kids, because for many those skills don’t come naturally. I love the cute, but not cutesy detailed illustrations. Fellow reading friend, Maria at Once Upon a Story, pointed out that you need to watch C.R.’s sweater closely over the course of the story!
Crafty Chloë, written by Kelly DiPucchio and illustrated by Heather Ross (2012)
Chloë isn’t a sporty girl, and she didn’t really figure out dance class either, but she is really good at making and crafting things. She uses her great talents to make a gift for a special friend, despite having reservations about it being homemade. Her real charms show when she reaches out to an unlikely friend. Cute story with nice messages.
Dog in Charge, written K. L. Going and illustrated by Dan Santat (2012)
This one is lots of fun. Dog is very good at being a dog, and expects dog-like behavior from the cats for which he is babysitting. Funny. Animal loving kids with either as a pet will get a good laugh out of this one.
The Circus Ship, by Chris Van Dusen (2009)
I loved the rhyming text and wonderful detailed drawings. Kid’s will enjoy this tale of a circus ship sinking and the animals moving ashore. At first, they are not such welcome guests in the small town, but soon the townspeople embrace them. Van Dusen’s delightful and sometimes whimsical animals reminded me a lot of Graeme Base’s animals in books like Jungle Drums and Enigma. Kids will adore the two page spread near the end where the animals have cleverly hidden themselves. I’d recommend this for preschool – third grade.
Good (3-stars on Goodreads)
Because Amelia Smiled, by David Ezra Stein (2012)
A little girl’s smile sets of a chain reaction of kind and thoughtful behaviors in others, often complete strangers to each other. A great message on how sharing a little bit of your own happiness and joy can inspire others. The loose illustration style wasn’t my favorite, but I suspect kids will like it, as the figures have a more youthful feel to them. This would make for a nice grade school read aloud and discussion. I love the author’s dedication: “To You: Pass it on!”
Lester’s Dreadful Sweaters, by K.G. Campbell (2012)
I adored the whimsical illustrations in this quirky story. Lester’s cousin knits ghastly sweater after ghastly sweater for him, and he just wants it to stop. There were a few awkward page turns where I felt a bit confused and wondered if I missed something, and had to go back to see if I missed a page, but alas, I didn’t. It is a wordier picture book, so I’d recommend this for 3rd grade and up.
This graphic novel geared for grades 2/3 and up is great fun. Great vocabulary and funny illustrations. Binky is certain he is destined to be a space cat. The story follows his preparations as he continues to live with his beloved humans. This is the first in a series and my third grader can’t wait to read more about Binky! (2009)
A fantasy-adventure novel for middle graders
This story was a lot of fun, and I think it will be a big hit with readers who have enjoyed Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. Alex is a junior super villain and member of Cloak, a once underground evil society that is now making a bid to return to power and destroy their enemies, The Rangers of Justice. He soon realizes the world of good vs. evil is not so clear-cut as he becomes friends with a Junior Ranger. Super exciting fight scenes. This is the first in what will surely be an exciting series. I’d recommend for fourth grade and up. (2012)
I have these two graphic novels for upper middle grades and middle school in the library bag.
Other reading will include some Caldecott books from the 1950s as well.