It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 04/30/2018 #imwayr

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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!


A-Land-of-Permanent-GoodbyesA Land of Permanent Goodbyes
Atia Abawi
January 23, 2018

This book — it’s a MUST in a young adult library. It was a difficult read because I know this stuff is reality for many people. But we need to understand these inside truths to have a better grasp on what is and isn’t happening. The story begins with Tareq in Syria (where his home was bombed) and follows him on his journey through Turkey and Greece. We witness the story from the viewpoint of “destiny” as narrator, which allows the reader to witness the chorus of voices ranging from the refugee to the “helpers” who come from all over the world to stand on the frigid shores of Greece, welcoming and ministering to all refugee survivors. There were dozens of little details that I was not completely aware of, including the many ways refugees (and their children!) are taken advantage of during the worst moments of their lives. Horrible, horrible examples were shared that disgusted me. But I’m still grateful to have a more well-rounded understanding of what has taken place (and of what is STILL happening, today). These people have experienced the worst nightmare possible and will never fully recover. Ever.

He didn’t want to stay another minute; the sea kept tormenting him. No matter how much he rattled his head, the memories were far stronger. They were all he could see. And the truth is, they will never fully fade. He will continue to have flashbacks and nightmares throughout his life. The memories will fill him, making him anxious. Some humans can shrug off stress better than others. But when your soul feels too much, that trauma makes a home in your heart. But it’s not a weakness or even an illness. To feel so much means you can find empathy–when you can sense the pain of others, that is a power to hold on to. That is a power that can change the world you live in. But it’s also a power that comes with burden and pain.

Tareq’s journey is painful, but powerful. There are moments of despair, but also of rejoicing. And I know these characters will stick with me for a long, long while. They are far too important to forget — both those who reached their destination AND those who were lost during the journey.

Much of what we learn about Middle East violence here in American comes through the filter of white journalism. This book offers a different perspective which is so important for young adults. Atia Abawi is a foreign news correspondent living in Jerusalem. She experiences much of this violence first hand and was raised by refugee Afghan parents. She really did her research for the various individual voices in this book (which is especially made evident in her acknowledgements). A Land of Permanent Goodbyes currently has at least three starred reviews (Kirkus, School Library Journal, and Publisher’s Weekly). I hope to see it making an appearance on the shelves of all my local libraries!


Science-of-Breakable-ThingsThe Science of Breakable Things
Tae Keller
March 6, 2018

The Science of Breakable Things is going to be one of my very favorite middle grade novels of 2018. I’m already confident about that. The story is fantastic and realistic and heartwarming and heartbreaking all rolled together. It follows Natalie, a 7th grader, whose botanist mom is suffering from severe depression. Natalie struggles to understand what this actually means and teeters on thinking her mom just doesn’t care about her anymore. Natalie’s best friend is Twig and together with Dari, a sweet, nerdy boy from their science class, they enter an egg drop competition. All the pieces fit in the story — the brokenness of Natalie’s mom, the broken pieces of so many eggs, the heart-wrenching experience of not being understood, and the human need for best friends who really “get” you. It all comes together beautifully in this story. Natalie and Twig have such a quirky (but realistic) middle school friendship. I couldn’t help but love them both:

I forced myself to speak before the words got all gunked up in my throat. “My mom’s depressed,” I explained to Twig. The word depressed felt funny coming out of my mouth. I’d never said it before, and saying it made the whole problem sound too simple. I felt Twig stiffen for a few moments, trying to figure out what to say, and I worried I’d said too much truth–that I’d scared her away. But then she softened and said, “That’s why you’ve been sad.” I hadn’t realized until then just how sad I was, and hearing her say it cracked something open inside me and I started to cry. “I’m sorry,” I said, even though I wasn’t sure why I was apologizing. Twig didn’t respond, just kept cracking invisible eggs over my head and running streams of fingertip yolk through my hair.

^^Just typing this review makes me want to read it all over again. And I typically don’t re-read books. As I disappeared into the story, I was 12-year-old me again—laughing aloud and sobbing tears. So yeah, Tae Keller has dazzled me in one of my very favorite genres. I seriously can’t believe this is her debut novel. More please, Tae!!


Not-So-Different

Not So Different: What You Really Want
to Ask About Having a Disability
Shane Burcaw
Matt Carr, Illustrator
November 7, 2017

I’ve read some great picture books this week, but I am really excited about this one. Shane Burcaw has spinal muscular atrophy. He has become a speaker and author, making it his mission to help bridge the gap between the average able-bodied person and those who are physically disabled. On his website Laughing At My Nightmare, he says, “I’m 25 years old, and I have a disease called Spinal Muscular Atrophy that will eventually kill me.” On his website, he promotes humor and positivity, but he is also very honest about the types of daily frustrations he faces. In this book, he uses text and photographs to answer a variety of common questions, sharing how his life is similar and different from most people:

Not-So-DifferentANot-So-DifferentB

This book is important because it’s natural for kids to have questions about other people who look or act differently. However, very few feel confident enough to walk up and attempt to get to know them. Burcaw makes it evident that he’s just another human being in need of friendship and respect.


To Be Read:

RefugeeOut-of-Wonder

These are two books I’d love to finish this week. Anything else I finish will just be icing on the cake. What are YOU reading?

23 thoughts on “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 04/30/2018 #imwayr

  1. Looking forward to The Science of Breakable Things. I really need to get my hands on Shane Burcaw’s book. I read about half of his YA nonfiction book a couple of years ago and liked it but just ran out of steam. I know I can manage the picture book version, and I like the way he combines humor and serious reflection and explanation.

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    1. Thank you for mentioning his YA nonfiction book. As I was reading about Shane Burcaw around the internet, I got a glimpse of how much he has touched others through his books, his visits, and his online presence. I really think this picture book will be incredibly helpful for the younger crowd in elementary/youth libraries (and can be easily teamed up with fictional stories like Wonder and Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus). That said, I also read a number of other people, including people with disabilities, arguing over how they felt about his message of humor and positivity. I suppose, if nothing else, I have realized that unless I experience it myself, I’ll never understand what it’s like to have to rely 99% on someone else to do everything from eating to rolling over in bed. And there’s no way everyone in that category will feel the same way about their experience.

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  2. Thanks for sharing “A Land of Permanent Goodbyes”, a new title that I know I will want to read, no matter the sorrow. We all need to know what’s happening! And thanks for the other two, also. I know of them, still on my list!

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    1. So true on knowing what’s happening! I thought I had a pretty basic understanding of what’s happening in the Middle East and with refugees, but this book was very educational for me. It also makes me realize how much more I need to read on the topic. Thanks for stopping in today, Linda!

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    1. Me too, Jane! They’re incredibly helpful in the development of empathy. I sure wish my childhood reading had been as broad as what’s available today. I want to take advantage of it ALL!

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  3. I thought that Not So Different was a pretty good book that might help young readers understand others a little better. I definitely would like to read the two novels on your list this week!

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    1. Yes! If nothing else, it can help open up the discussion. And I think it would be helpful when teamed up with fictional middle grade or young adult novels on the topic. I hope you enjoy the other two novels. While I absolutely fell in love with The Science of Breakable Things, BOTH were very good books. Thanks for stopping in, Jana!

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  4. A Land of Permanent Goodbyes sounds heartbreaking, but I really want to read it!
    The Science of Breakable Things is in my library system and I love a good MG novel!
    At the age of 25, with five small children, my father was injured in a work accident and used a wheelchair for the rest of his life. I am really looking forward to Not So Different: What You Really Want to Ask About Having a Disability, and have put a hold on it at my library.

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    1. My goodness, what a shocking injury that must have been for your father! One thing that Shane Burcaw brings up is how important (and expensive) his wheelchair is. He asks readers to always ask him before they touch his chair. I could see how children don’t realize the importance of the wheelchair. They often see a toy. He also walks the reader through all the parts to his wheelchair so they’ll understand the various functions. It’s a very helpful step to bringing people together. And I highly recommend the two novels, too! Thanks for stopping by, Cheriee!

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    1. After enjoying Land of Permanent Goodbyes, I knew I needed to read Refugee next. It’s a tough topic, but I’m learning so much and I look forward to sharing these stories with my kiddos. I hope you find A Land of Permanent Goodbyes on audio! Have a great week and thanks for swinging by, Sue!

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    1. You and me both on that stack, Laura! However, I have to admit that summers are usually busy with all sorts of outdoor activities from gardening to house painting to camping to… I probably get more reading done in the winter months when we’re trapped inside on so many snow days. Still, a girl can hope. Right? Heehee! I hope you do get to The Science of Breakable Things. I can’t wait for my oldest two kiddos to read this one. ❤

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  5. Ugh – I had a Land of Permanent Goodbyes from the library and kept renewing bc it kept getting pushed to the side. Maybe this summer I can get to it. I also need to read The Science of Breakable Things. So many books….

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    1. I was one of those weirdos who had the real book and a copy on kindle so that I could go back and forth when I needed to. HAHA! I sometimes do that, especially when we’re on a road trip (since I don’t have good lighting for reading real books when driving in the dark). Anyway, both novels were very good, so I hope they make it onto many TBR lists for this summer. I’m about to have to return probably 3 books that I’ve had out for longer than I intended to and haven’t yet started. Maybe they’ll let me re-check them one last time, though. I should probably join overcheckers anonymous or something… Have a great week and thanks for stopping by, Michele!

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  6. I don’t read much YA, but A Land of Permanent Goodbyes sounds right up my alley. Your review brought to mind a book I loved, When the Moon is Low by Nadia Hashimi. It’s about a mother and her three children forced to flee Afghanistan. Like the boy in your book, they have to go through Turkey and then Greece and of course much happens along the way. Plus, the elder son has a huge role in the story to very similar premises.

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    1. Susie, I’m so glad you brought up When the Moon is Low. It sounds so much like A Land of Permanent Goodbyes. Now I want to read it! Nadia Hashimi is also a first generation American and has written at least some MGlit/YAlit (like The Sky at Our Feet). So she definitely has perked my attention! 🙂 Thanks for the shares this week and for swinging by!

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