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 us every Monday!
Children of Blood and Bone
by Tomi Adeyemi
March 6, 2018
Children of Blood and Bone was my main focus for this week. I wondered about all the hype and HOPED I wouldn’t be disappointed. I wasn’t. 🙂 This story is a West-African inspired fantasy that follows two sets of brother/sister siblings in the fictional land of Orïsha — one set of siblings is royalty and the other is not. It’s told from the perspective of three characters: Zélie, Amari, and Inan. You’ll read of vivid bloody battles, of the various gods of Orïsha, of the journey to restore magic, of complex family issues, and there’s even a wee bit of romance. Adeyemi addresses racism in a unique, compelling fashion through an all-black cast. Simply trade hair color in Orïsha for skin color in America and it’s not dissimilar to what I’ve witnessed right here at my home. In fact, at the conclusion of this book, Adeyemi discusses what real-life racism experiences compelled her to write this book. I should note that I read this book with my ears (digital audiobook). Bahni Turpin has to be one of the most gifted readers I’ve ever heard. She has a huge cast of characters hidden within her voice — all easy to distinguish from one another. Additionally, she spoke the ancient Orïshan language from the book (which I never would have been able to read aloud on my own). I had downloaded the “free sneak peek” from Amazon back (which was released in November), but I must say Turpin breathed such life into the story with her beautiful dialects and vocal talents. I’m very much looking forward to book #2!
by Barbara O’Connor
August 30, 2016
Wish is a heartwarming story of 11 year old Charlie. Charlie’s father is in prison and her mother has what appears to be some form of depression mixed with selfishness. Therefore, Charlie has been removed from her home and placed in her aunt Bertha’s and uncle Gus’s care until her mom can get back on her feet. Charlie knows all the ways you can make a wish (four-leaf clovers, eye-lashes, etc.) and we learn that she wishes the same “secret wish” every single day of her life. She is befriended by Harold, a neighbor and classmate who helps her capture a skinny, stray dog who she names Wishbone. Charlie learns a great deal about unconditional love and reliable friendship and, in the end, she and Harold both discover that wishes really can come true.
Bertha knelt in front of me and took both my hands in hers and said, “Your mama loves you very much, Charlie. But sometimes, she just loses her way.” Loses her way? I’d be happy to draw her a map to show her the way back to being my mama again.
NOTE: This book would work especially well with Granted by John David Anderson, as they’re both fairy new and both about a variety of wishes (but told from two different perspectives: the wish-maker and the wish “Granter”). Any other recent middle grade “wish” books you might recommend?
By Jason Reynolds
August 30, 2016
I originally wanted to read Patina, but a friend suggested I start with Ghost since it is the first book of the series. I’ve now had this book sitting on my shelf for about two months and I had NO idea what treasure I was missing until this week. Ghost is the story of Castle Cranshaw (AKA Ghost), who has had a rough home life that has caused him to run, both physically and emotionally. He harbors a great deal of anger which manifests itself in poor behavior at school. One day, Ghost happens to glimpse the track team’s practice and, in an interesting turn of events, he’s invited to join the team. But wait! He’s a basketball player, not a runner. Right? I adored this book. The characters are interesting and the story is moving. I’m so happy that Jason Reynolds is writing for middle graders! I now have the next book, Patina, sitting on my TBR shelf. Can’t WAIT!
By David Almond
I cannot remember where I first heard of Skellig, but I knew it was an older Printz honor book with a long list of other literary awards. If you haven’t read it yet, then I suggest you don’t find out too many details before you pick it up. Part of the charm of this book is the “not knowing,” in my opinion (which is something I might not have appreciated when I was a younger reader). The story follows Michael, a 10 year old whose family just moved into an old house that needs a lot of work. Michael’s baby sister was born too early. She’s very sick and may die. They haven’t even named her, just in case. Michael’s neighbor, Mina, is homeschooled. She teaches Michael a great deal about free-range learning and demonstrates a driving passion for discovery as opposed to being “schooled” with lesson plans and assigned activities intended for a large classroom of children.
At lunchtime I went to her front garden. She was sitting there on the lawn, on a spread-out blanket beneath the tree. She had her books, her pencils, her paints scattered around her… “The mystery man,” she said. “Hello again.” She had a book open at a skeleton of a bird. She’d been copying this into her sketchbook. “You’re doing science?” I said. She laughed. “See how school shutters you,” she said. “I’m drawing, painting, reading, looking. I’m feeling the sun and the air on my skin. I’m listening to the blackbird’s song. I’m opening my mind. Ha! School!”
Michael and Mina befriend an unusual being found in Michael’s old garage, and thus begins an attempt to rescue and restore a seemingly wounded spirit. There’s a rare beauty to the writing as Almond weaves in quotes from William Blake throughout the development of Michael’s and Mina’s friendship. I’m still surprised that such a large story was told in so few pages. I easily read it during a family drive on Saturday and I’ve passed it on to my 14 year old in hopes that she’ll breathe in the heart of this book, as I did. After reading Skellig, I am adding Kit’s Wilderness to my TBR list since it took the Printz award (and others) for 2001. Also, there’s a prequel to Skellig called My Name is Mina that I hope to read in the next few months!
One Day, The End: Short, Very Short, Shorter-Than-Ever Stories
by Rebecca Kai Dotlich
Illustrated by Fred Koehler
October 6, 2015
This picture book makes my mama heart SMILE! There are super cute (digital) illustrations throughout the book with a sentence on each 2-page spread that could technically be an entire story by itself. Each page layout looks different as we follow a little brown-haired, pig-tailed girl going through many every day adventures — some quite mischievous. Most illustrations are atop boldly-colored backgrounds beginning with banana yellow, and going through turquoise blue, lavender purple, pink, brown, etc. These short “stories” are sometimes wittily hidden right within the illustrations. I think many emergent readers will thoroughly enjoy this book, but the same could be said for moms and dads of busy, messy, adventurous Littles. I borrowed this copy from our library, but now I WANT THIS BOOK (probably because the little girl depicted here is SO MUCH my little girl, who just turned 4 this month)! Here are three of my favorite spreads:
To Be Read:
Since I liked the beautiful writing in We Are Okay, my friend Elisabeth (at The Dirigible Plum) suggested The Disenchantments as another great Nina LaCour book. I just started it over the weekend and I’m really enjoying it! I would also like to finish The Ethan I Was Before by Ali Standish. Next week I’ll also discuss the picture books I mentioned as TBR in last week’s #imwayr post.
Have a great reading week, everyone!