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!
The Boy, the Bird, and the Coffin Maker
by Matilda Woods
May 1, 2017
This was an enchanting tale about a good man who loses everything and becomes a coffin maker by necessity. Alberto lives alone in the quaint town of Allora where the houses are painted in bright colors and the fish practically fall from the sky (they live right off the coast). One day Alberto notices something out of the ordinary and he decides to solve a little mystery. He discovers a young boy and his brilliant bird. Throughout the book, we hear a story within the story as Alberto slowly reads an old book to the young boy. Eventually, there’s a spark of fantasy that transforms this tale into magical realism. I loved that the various townspeople came to life with vivid personalities — we know what behaviors to expect and exactly which people are trustworthy. Woods also provides an occasional illustration throughout, adding to the cozy feel of the town. It’s such a sweet, unique, and enjoyable tale. NOTE: There’s also an abusive child/parent relationship in this story. And while explicit descriptions of the abuse aren’t discussed, the fear is very much present. Overall, I can say I found it very engaging and I am honestly surprised that I’ve not heard a lot more about it before now!
An Ember in the Ashes
by Sabaa Tahir
February 9, 2016
As I mentioned last week, I’m joining Sue’s (at Book by Book) Big Book Summer Challenge and trying to complete a few 400+ paged books that have been in my TBR pile. I purchased An Ember in the Ashes a few months ago and since the third book in this series (A Reaper at the Gates) was released just this month, this had to be the first in my challenge. It follows the alternating first person narrative of Laia and Elias:
Laia and her brother, Darin, are “Scholars” who live in a village with their grandparents (both of their parents are deceased). Scholars are known to be fairly peaceful people who are usually poor and illiterate. As the story begins, Laia’s home is bombarded by Mask soldiers who kill her grandparents and take her brother hostage. Laia barely escapes with the clothing on her back. In an attempt to save her brother’s life, she agrees to be sold into slavery among the aristocrats as a way to spy for the Resistance. Unfortunately, this means she has to become the Commandant’s slave. Who’s the Commandant, you ask? Nastiest she-devil character I’ve ever encountered in any book to date. Her other slaves have been maimed, killed, or they’ve committed suicide. The future does not look good for Laia as long as she remains in the Commandant’s household.
Elias Veturius was taken from his home as a young child and raised at Blackcliff in hopes of becoming a “Mask.” Masks are the highest form of soldiers — the final product. They suffer extremely brutal training throughout their childhood, leaving many candidates dead along the way. Nevertheless, in the opening chapters of this book, Elias has finally concluded his training and is graduating as an official Mask. Even though he’s at the top of his game and now among the most highly respected in the Empire, he only wishes for true freedom. This is a wish that could get him killed. Oh, and guess what: Elias’ biological mother is the Commandant!
This story is full of gore, magical elements, some beauty, and pure evil. There’s mild language, some passionate kissing, mention of prostitutes, and mentions/threats of rape (though no actual scenes). There are a number of fights/battles and some horrific punishments to both the soldiers and slaves, which is why I would say this book is definitely for older readers. I really enjoyed it and was elated to get my hands on the 2nd book on Saturday. I’ve started book #2 and am far enough in to see that it picks up pretty much right where book #1 ended.
Also… I just have to share this recent tweet:
by Peter H. Reynolds
August 16, 2011
Ahhhh, this book! Last week I mentioned Reynold’s Happy Dreamer and the same friend also loaned me this one. An important thing to know is that this book was commissioned by the Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center (SARRC), which promotes a more empathetic understanding of individuals with autism. In the beginning, a young boy is sitting alone at recess, watching and listening to all the kids play on the playground. He keeps saying, “I am here” to himself while seeing all the happy kids having fun together. He begins to make a paper airplane out of a piece of paper that floats his way and as he throws it, he imagines himself playing with the kids and having a lot of fun. And wouldn’t you know it, a little girl notices his form of communication and runs over to play with him. All the feels, y’all!
As I was researching I’m Here, I came across an interview that Mr. Schu did with Dr. Paul Mullen about this book. I highly recommend reading the interview and considering the many ways all children communication. It’s amazing how a simple shift in our attempts to bond (as educators, librarians, parents, neighbors or friends) can make all the difference. You can find the interview HERE. Due to copyright violation, I normally discourage the use of Youtube videos that publicly display/read a book in its entirety. However, the animated video of this book embedded at the top of Mr. Schu’s blog was created with Peter H. Reynold’s oversight and permission. So enjoy!
To Be Read:
This week I’ll be working on A Torch Against the Night (An Ember in the Ashes #2). I’m not sure if I’ll finish it this week, but it would be great if I could also squeeze in The Wild Robot Escapes before I have to return it. If you’re interested in joining the #BigBookSummer challenge, check out Sue’s post and be sure to link up.
Have a great reading week, everyone!