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.
Like many, the last few days have been full of sadness and tears for the horrific situation in Connecticut, and reading just wasn’t a huge priority. Additionally, we received word that a 1o-year old friend of my daughter was rushed to our major trauma hospital last Monday for bleeding in the brain. Her family waits in agony after almost a week to get her vital signs stable enough to even evaluate her prognosis with an MRI. So much sadness. My heart just hurts. Why the kids? Why? This morning, my sister-in-law, a special education teacher, brightened my spirits a bit with her Facebook post: “Ready to go ensure that my kids at school feel safe & loved this morning!” So THANK YOU to all of the teachers who do so much to make my girls and all of their students feel very loved and very safe. For now we hold them closer, and maybe us parents and adults will even be the ones to ask for one more book, or one more chapter in that read aloud.
This is classic Van Dusen with cheery, imaginative illustrations and great rhyme that make it fun to read aloud. Jack imagines the wonderful and wacky house of his dreams. It would make for a great kick-off to a writing prompt of “If I built a house…” (2012/Recommend for grade K-3)
I waiver between a 3-star and 4-star rating on Goodreads with this one, which many people are touting for either the 2013 Newbery or Caldecott Awards. This is a lovely, albeit hard to classify book. Is it a picture book? Short chapter book? Memoir? Realistic fiction? Beautiful illustrations accompany lyrical text in short little chapters. It captures the anticipation and pure delight one family takes in the evolving season of ice and all the family traditions it brings. Some of my reservations about the book are about the gender stereotyping for the activities; girls are limited to figure skating, and only the boys play hockey. I try to overlook this as it being reflective of the author’s own experiences, but it bugs me all the same. I’d have a hard time recommending it my hockey obsessed New England friends, because the their girls and their feminist leaning mother would be outraged at the premise. As lovely as it is, I’m curious to hear about kid appeal from others. My own Pacific Northwest, downhill ski loving daughter didn’t care for it. I’m not sure how much kids will connect to it if they don’t already have some strong connections to snowy/cold/icy winters and all the joyous activities they can bring. (2012/Recommend for grades 2-8)
Middle Grade Novel
This is the 1939 Newbery Medal winner from Elizabeth Enright who wrote one of my all-time favorite series, The Melendy Quartet (including The Saturdays and The Four Story Mistake). While I still prefer the stories of that series to this one, I found it a sweet story of one girl’s seemingly magical summer of adventure. I know many contemporary readers might find the quiet plot lacking, but I’ll discuss this more in an upcoming post about 1930s Newbery books. Needless to say, it was a highlight for me in this decade! (1938/Recommend for grades 3-6)
Non-fiction for older readers
Imagine for a minute an Indiana Jones who was hunting for new or rare plants instead of archaeological artifacts. You would have many of the scientist explorers described in Anita Silvey’s terrific The Plant Hunters. I really liked the organization of the book and found the discussion of the plant hunters’ motivations both personal and scientific to be super interesting. Lots of great photographs and paintings. (2012/Recommend for grades 5-10)
Upcoming reading . . .
I’ve started this Young Adult novel about British spy captured by the Nazis, which librarian and Twitter friend Hannahlily adored, and many others have on the Best of the Year for YA lists. It’s unique voice took awhile to adapt to, but it is quickly growing on me.
Beyond that, I’m not sure where my somber mood is going to take me as we roll into winter break for my kids. I’ve got mountains of recommended books looming at me from the bookshelves, though!