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!
July 25, 2017
Refugee is the powerful story of three different children and their experiences fleeing their countries of origin. Josef is a 12 year old Jewish boy in the 1930s and his family is attempting to flee Nazi Germany to start over in Cuba. Isabel’s family is attempting to flee Cuba headed for Miami in 1994. And Mahmoud is a Syrian boy whose home has been bombed and they are attempting to flee Syria, headed to Germany in 2015. The stories continually rotate and each chapter is only a few pages long, making this an excellent book for a classroom read aloud. There’s also a neat twist near the end that brings this book to a beautiful conclusion, even in the midst of deep sadness. While I cried at the end, my heart was also so full. We humans are such a mixed bundle of beauty and ugly, but Gratz leaves us with hope. My only regret is that I didn’t read this one sooner. My 14 year old is now about 3 chapters in and I cannot wait to hear her thoughts at the end.
April 24, 2018
Ash Princess is the story of princess Theodosia, now called Thora since her capture. Thora is kept alive in the palace she grew up in after her people are defeated and enslaved. They call her Ash Princess to mock her since her mother was the Fire Queen. She’s repeatedly whipped in public when her people make mistakes and she’s also forced to attend all big events while wearing a crown made of ash (which drips ash all over her face and clothing). This is a story of a people preparing to rise up and take back their land. My longer Ash Princess review is available if you’re interested in reading more details without big spoilers.
I’ve heard other reviewers complain because it’s a story built on a common romantic trope about a magical people who’ve been conquered (like Children of Blood and Bone and many others). Nevertheless, the whole story is not focused solely on this trope and there are several major points where Thora doesn’t fall into the same “magical princess” stereotype. I felt the writing was quite beautiful at several crucial points and I will definitely look forward to reading book #2 (Lady Smoke) when it is released next year.
September 12, 2017
Warcross is a young adult science fiction novel set in a virtual reality gaming world. It’s very fast-paced with many twists and turns.
“Everything’s science fiction until someone makes it science fact”
Emika Chen is a bounty hunter, just trying to make ends meet since her apartment is past due three months and she’s being evicted. Her job mostly entails logging into a dark virtual world and hunting down people who make illegal bets over the popular Warcross games. One day she and her roommate are sitting in the virtual reality audience, watching the games, when she tries to play with a glitch (even though these games have the highest level of security and protections possible). Surprisingly, her glitch DOES work, throwing her avatar right into the middle of the game with half the world watching. Now Emika is facing phone calls and news reporters trying to find out what she did and who she really is. She also faces the possibility of being flown around the world to meet Mr. Hideo Tanaka, the creator of Warcross, for a high-security inside job.
“What’s the point of freedom if you’re just living in a miserable reality?”
Toward the end, there’s an unexpected twist that edges on dystopian. This could go in so many directions, so I’ll be especially interested in seeing what Lu does in book #2 (Wildcard).
Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets
by Kwame Alexander, Ekua Holmes (Illustrations),
Chris Colderley (poet), and Marjory Wentworth (poet)
March 14, 2017
Out of Wonder is the highlight of my picture book reads for this week. Kwame Alexander, Chris Colderley, and Marjory Wentworth wrote original poems in honor of past poets who have inspired each of them. There are six long pages in the back that provide biographical information on each of the poets they pay homage to in this book. I enjoyed reading these poems, letting the words roll over my tongue as my eyes explored the creative and bold artwork on each page. In fact, just last evening my youngest was struggling to settle down for bed. It was getting late, so I pulled out this book and began reading aloud. She looked at the pages and quieted while my voice fell into a soothing rhythm. I only made it to the seventh poem in the book before she slipped into dream land. Perhaps I should add this one to our regular bedtime reads. 🙂
Out of Wonder won the Coretta Scott King Award for Illustrator (2018). The beautiful artwork is done in collage on paper. I’ll post a couple examples, below:
To Be Read:
This week my husband and children are all home with me. I imagine we’ll be very busy spending quality time together out in this beautiful sunshine, running errands around town, and doing some much-needed prep/packing for our vacation next week. So I cannot be sure what reading time I’ll have for myself. Of course I have a large stack, just in case.
Have a wonderful reading week, everyone!