Kellee Moye, of Unleashing Readers, and Jen Vincent of Teach Mentor Texts, decided to give Kathryn’s (at Book Date) “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?” meme a kidlit focus, reviewing books in children’s literature (picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, or anything in the world of kidlit). If you enjoy this type of reading, join in every Monday!
I started my week with The War I Finally Won by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, and it certainly did not disappoint. I’m going to be careful here as I don’t want to spoil anything for those who still want to read this series (book #1 is a Newbery honor book). The story line picks right up where the last book left off. Ada and her brother, Jamie, are somewhat in limbo — not knowing where they will permanently live. Ada is facing potential surgery and Lady Thorton has offered a cottage on her estate for a short-term living arrangement. Ada is growing up, both physically and emotionally, as she continues learning how to face her deep anger and fears. We meet a new character named Ruth, a Jewish girl from Germany who has been separated from her family and brought to Susan for extensive math tutoring. But since Ruth is also from Dresden, she is pretty much hated by the entire English community (thinking she might be a German spy). We learn more about the entire Thorton family in this book, including Jonathan (who makes a secret visit, back from the war). And while this sketchy summary may sound very dry as I attempt to avoid spoilers, the book is NOT. It’s full of twists and turns, healing and heartache. And yes, I spilled many tears as this book drew to a close. Bradley is uncertain whether there will be a third installment to this series, so I’ll definitely keep my ear to the ground!
Last week, Cheriee of Library Matters suggested I read When You Reach Me (winner of the 2010 Newbery Medal) by Rebecca Stead before I re-read A Wrinkle in Time with my kids this month. So this was my second novel of the week. What a fun and quirky little book! It’s 1979 and Miranda is a 6th grader who carries a copy of A Wrinkle in Time practically everywhere, discussing various scenes from the book. One day while walking home from school, her best friend, Sal, is punched in the stomach by someone he’s never even met before. And thus begins a crazy, complicated mystery that weaves together past, present, and future. There’s a hodgepodge of details ranging from Miranda’s friend not eating her carefully packed school lunch to a crazy homeless guy who stands on the sidewalk of her block, kicking into the street day after day. At first, it seems like a string of randomness, but everything is important! NOTE: After I read this book, I was looking back at Donalyn Miller’s published review of it (from July of 2009) and she says, “If this book does not win a Newbery medal, I will eat a paperback copy of A Wrinkle In Time…” HAHA!
By the way, When You Reach Me is currently on a $1.99 Kindle sale on Amazon. I only found out just before publishing this IMWAYR post, so hopefully it will still be there at this price for anyone interested in grabbing a digital copy. Don’t be confused by the different book cover for the e-book. It threw me off for a minute, but it’s the same book.
One lovely children’s book I read this week was My Beautiful Birds by Suzanne Del Rizzo. What initially grabbed my attention was the artwork which was created with polymer clay and acrylic. Pictures are the first thing young children learn to read in books, so I never underestimate the impact of beautiful artwork. But this book also has an important message about families escaping from Syria. The story follows a young boy named Sami after his homeland is bombed. His pet birds escape and memories of them follow him throughout the story. After a long journey by foot, Sami’s family starts a new life with gardens and games and shops and even a school for the camp’s children. But some fears and terrible memories remain with him as he fights his emotions to feel safe. In the end, a new batch of refugees make their way to the camp and Sami reaches out to welcome and befriend another child who is feeling sad and scared. This story is more optimistic than what many refugee families face (not nearly as distressing as Aylan Kurdi’s little body washing ashore after his family’s boat capsized during their attempted escape), but it still offers a deep sense of loss for children who cannot even fathom what people from other nations are currently experiencing. Don’t miss the author’s note at the end as it provides valuable information on displaced families around the world. For example, as of July 2016, 65.3 million people are displaced. Wow!
I have to share at least one spread from the book as an example of Del Rizzo’s talent:
To Be Read:
This week I’m starting off with the following books at the top of my stack: Their Eyes Were Watching God, The Belles, and Last Day on Mars (book #1 of the Chronicle of the Dark Star series). Something old, something new, and something in between…
Plans are good and all, but I should mention this is a unique week as it’s SPRING BREAK for the college which means my husband and I are both having LOTS of whole family time together. So who knows how much reading I’ll get in this week. 🙂 I’m also re-reading A Wrinkle in Time as a read-aloud with my kiddos, so it will be fun to witness their reactions before seeing the movie as a family.
Happy reading, everyone!