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.
It’s been many, many weeks since I’ve posted. Things have been decidedly off track for a variety of reasons, but that’s a whole another post. The good news is, through it all, I’ve been reading. This last weekend, I was able to go to the American Library Association’s Mid-winter meeting, here in Seattle, where I had an Exhibit Floor pass. It was fun to connect with many Nerdy Book Club friends in person and visit the publishers’ booths. I’m back and getting my blogging sea legs back. The last week have been inspiring to me as a reader. Today’s post is filled with some reading highlights since I last chimed in for “It’s Monday!”
By Salina Yoon
Now, if this one doesn’t bring a smile to your face, I’m not sure what will. This is a lovely, sweet message of a friendship shared between two unconventional friends. Darling illustrations and a great message about giving from the heart. My eight year old and eleven year old daughters loved this one, too. And good news for Penguin fans, I saw at the ALA Mid-winter Exhibit hall that there is another Penguin story coming out later in the year, Penguin on Vacation! (2012/preschool and up)
Written by Patty Lovell and illustrated by David Catrow
Hooray for Molly Lou’s return! I adored the first book, Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon, which was published 2001. In this one, Molly Lou abandons her collection of toys for homemade, imagination-filled ones thanks to messages from her grandma about the unplugged toys of her youth. Molly Lou’s creations are creative and colorful, and engaging. She also helps convince a neighbor child to set aside her electronic toys, and both learn to appreciate the uncomplicated toys as they play together. A great message and a healthy look at outdoor/natural play. (2012/Ages 6 -10)
Written by Jesse Klausmeier and Illustrated by Suzy Lee
I had been hearing from Goodreads and Twitter friends about the charm of this book and was happy to have a few minutes on the ALA Exhibit floor to stop and read it. This will be a sure crowd pleaser and smile inducer for all who read it. A very clever book design will have you re-thinking the “book-within-a-book” concept. Kudos to Chronicle Books for yet another terrificly designed children’s book. (2013/preschool and up)
Written by Michael Buckley and Illustrated by Dan Santat
With a wild imagination and IMMENSE bravery, Kel Gilligan faces the harrowing challenges of daily life that include things like having a bath, getting dressed by himself, and eating broccoli. Such a fun story to share outloud and kids will connect with the content. Dan Santat’s illustrations, as always, are impressive and worth lingering over for the little details. (2012/preschool – age 10)
By Peter Brown
Peter Brown is such a great illustrator and captures whimsy, joy, and humor so well. This is funny twist on a “child wants a pet” story, with the bear as child. This will surely be a giggle and smile inducer for readers. (2010/preschool – age 10)
Middle Grade Novels
By Christopher Paul Curtis
I really enjoyed Deza Malone’s story, and think that Curtis has such a gift for creating a strong sense of setting. Like his Newbery Medal winning book, Bud, Not Buddy, it takes place in Michigan (and Gary, IN) during the depths of the Depression. While Deza makes a brief appearance in Bud, Not Buddy, it certainly isn’t necessary for you to read that before picking up this book. Deza’s brightness and curiosity are infectious and you begin to root for her very early on as obstacle after obstacle are thrown at her and her family. My only complaint is that the ending felt a little hurried to me, and I wish a bit more time had been spent flushing out her father’s motivations, but overall, I was charmed. I found myself enjoying this story a lot more than Bud, Not Buddy, because of the lovely Miss Malone. (2012/Ages 10 and up)
By Joan Bauer
This is a great story that will have strong appeal to girls in grades 4-8. Foster and her single mom work hard to rebuild their troubled lives in a new town. A whole host of endearing characters join in to lift them up. I love the cooking metaphors and lessons Foster learns through her love of cooking. (2011/Ages 9-13)
By Brian Selznick
I enjoyed this a lot, and appreciated not knowing a whole lot about the plot beyond that one character’s story is told through images and the other character’s story is told through text. I loved how the stories intertwined at the end, and Selznick’s illustrations are mesmerizing. From a wow factor, I need to give The Invention of Hugo Cabret a slight advantage as I was really entranced by that story, but this however was a great read! (2011/Ages 9 and up)
By Rebecca Stead
The consensus amongst myself and my two daughters, for whom this was a read aloud was, “Oooh, that was really good.” Like other reviewers, I think it is best not to give too much away from a plot perspective. Rebecca Stead reveals her hand carefully and slowly, and has you uttering, “How clever!” a lot. (2012/Ages 10 and up, or 9 and up as a read aloud)
At almost 500 pages, this was a very long running read aloud for my 8yo daughter. We both enjoyed this suspenseful and often complex tale which revolves around four very clever and resourceful children as they try to outwit the evil plottings of Mr. Curtain. I certainly plan to check out the subsequent titles in the series, but perhaps just not as a read aloud! (2007/read aloud: 8 and up, strong independent readers: 9 and up)
Young Adult and Adult
By Elizabeth Wein
This was fascinating historical fiction that focuses on the interrogation of a British female agent caught in German-occupied France and her friendship with a fellow British female pilot who flew her there. I admit it took me a bit of time to get used to the narrative voice with the switches between first person and third person, but it was worth being patient. I’d recommend this one for readers with a good background knowledge of World War II. As a note for younger readers who might pick this up, there is some torture violence, and the prisoner’s circumstances are pretty harrowing. Adult fans of historical fiction, especially WWII, should check this out. (2012/age 15 and up)
For adults. Definitely a suspenseful, page-turning thriller, with lots of good twists and turns. As someone who reads a lot of children’s literature, I was struck by how despicable I found the main characters. As I’ve told others, it’s nasty adults behaving badly, which is certainly not something I’d say about the many middle grade novels I read!
Upcoming . . .
Ack! So many books, so little time. At the ALA meeting I picked up many ARC (advance reader copies) of books that I want to pass on to my kids’ classrooms, but selfishly I want to read them first. And my hold shelf arrivals are over-runneth with lots more. Here is what is at the top of the stack . . .
For middle grades: The sequel to the funny and enjoyable Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom . . . arriving in April 2013.
Young Adult: This will be my first David Levithan. I hear I’m in for a treat.
Do share what you are reading! Have a great week!