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!
We had a WONDERFUL family camp out this week! The weather was perfect, allowing us to hike, fish, paddle boat, play some basketball, wade in the creek, and roast nightly s’mores. When it became dark, we stayed up late (usually well after midnight) playing board games, giggling and snacking like crazy. I’m so glad we had such fun, bonding experiences this week! I’m convinced that everyone needs a little R & R.
Even though we were very busy with family activities, I was able to squeeze in the following books. I hope you’ll find them as enjoyable as I did!
Wendy Mass &
May 1, 2018
What a precious story! This is a tale of friendship, remembering who we are (or were), and finding our home. Livy is 10 years old. She is visiting her grandmother in Australia after being away for 5 whole years. After entering the bedroom closet, Livy finds Bob, a green creature who has been waiting for her since she last visited Australia. And he appears to be dressed in a chicken suit! As they become reacquainted, Bob discovers that this Livy definitely isn’t the same girl he knew 5 years ago. But together they must piece together many clues and experiences to figure out what they both have forgotten. It’s an incredibly unique, endearing, and hope-filled tale that kept me interested, page after page (I also kept wondering which parts Wendy Mass and Rebecca Stead contributed).
The Last (Endling #1)
May 1, 2018
Byx is a female dairne. Dairnes are talking dog-like creatures who walk upright, have pouches on their bellies, and who can always decipher whether someone is telling the truth. Unfortunately, dairnes are often hunted by humans for their thick, soft fur. In this elaborate fantasy world, a number of creatures may look like earth animals, but they can talk and think as well as (if not better than) humans. In book #1 of the Endling series, a band of creatures come together and embark on a long and dangerous journey to discover whether Byx is truly an Endling, the last of her kind.
After we ate, I lay on my back and watched the stars stake out homes in the endless sky. I felt strangely at ease, lulled into a comforting place without questions. For long minutes, I didn’t dwell on my past or fret about my future. I didn’t ask if I would ever again look into the eyes of another dairne. I just listened to the steady pulse of cricket song, throbbing like the earth’s own heartbeat.
While this is a suspenseful adventure with surprises around most corners, it also offers an occasional critique of humans — how we treat one another, how we treat animals, and the motivation behind our beliefs and decisions.
There are many scholars, but few seekers after truth. Humans believe the things that make them feel safe. They care little for difficult facts.
I didn’t want to put this one down, but since it’s about 400 pages long (and I was on a family camping trip) it took me four days to read it. I know the Endling is marketed as a middle grade series, but at times I think this reads more like a YA book (torture, cracking bones, spraying blood, burning flesh, and long descriptive passages of new villages they enter on their journey). But I predict many middle graders and high schoolers will be reaching for this one over the summer. I definitely enjoyed the story line and writing. And now I begin the long wait for book #2.
This nonfiction picture book is the story of “dazzle ships” and how they were used during World War I. We learn about the issues the British Empire was experiencing due to U-boats (German submarines) and the various solutions that were dreamed up to avoid more sinking boats. Dazzle boats were a unique way of camouflaging ships to disguise their precise location and traveling direction. This made it more difficult for U-boats to determine where to send a torpedo from far away.
There’s an important Author’s Note in the back discussing nonfiction research. Barton mentioned famous people who were not included in the book, provided a timeline of WWI, and briefly discussed the very little we know of the women who were part of these dazzle ships. Several black and white photos are included along with a bibliography for further reading. While Victo Ngai (the illustrator) is already a Forbes 30 Under 30 honoree and Society of Illustrators NY Gold Medalist, this is her debut picture book. The artwork in this book was created using mixed analog and digital media.
What an interesting piece of history this is! These tidbits are what help bring alive history lessons — we see past humans grappling with and solving problems. Even older students would find this fascinating. Dazzle Ships is a 2018 NCTE Orbis Pictus Honor Book and a junior library guild selection.
Her Right Foot
Shawn Harris (illustrator)
September 19, 2017
Her Right Foot is a nonfiction picture book story of the the Statue of Liberty. In over 100 pages it covers the original concept, the design, the final creation, and even explains how it started out brown in color and slowly turned green. The primary focus of the second half is about the meaning of the statue’s right foot (^^as seen on the cover of the book):
We know that around her feet are chains. They are broken chains, implying that she has freed herself from bondage. We know that Bartholdi wanted us to know this. He wanted us to see the chains. People have talked about the chains.
But few talk about the foot that is so obviously in mid-stride. About the fact that her entire right leg is in mid-stride. What does this mean? What does this mean that we often forget about this right foot, this right leg?
The artwork was rendered in construction paper and India ink. Here are three spreads as an example:
In the back, the author provides his research sources, a section for “further reading,” and some real photographs from the Statue of Liberty. I really enjoyed this book and imagine it will be quite useful in schools everywhere. While it’s historical and even humorous in places, it can also be viewed as a call to action — for children to be aware of how this nation is created from immigrants and how we can still be a refuge for those seeking protection. Her Right Foot is a Junior Library Guild selection for 2018 and also an NCTE Orbis Pictus Honor Book.
To Be Read:
I’m admittedly chomping (champing?) at the bit to start The Trials of Morrigan Crow (Nevermoor #1). Since it’s over 450 pages, I’m going to make this my main commitment for the week. Anything else I get to read will just be icing on the cake!
Have a wonderful reading week, everyone!