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 Mad Wolf’s Daughter
March 6, 2018
12-year-old Drest is the youngest child in a family of Scottish warriors. In the opening pages of this book, knights from another kingdom are invading the land. Drest’s father tells her to hide while he and his sons are all captured by the enemy and shipped off to Faintree Castle. Once the dust settles, Drest decides to take a wounded prisoner and head off to rescue her family. Over the course of her journey she learns that her father is known as the “mad wolf” of the North. He is both hated and loved by different villages based on the various stories told from town to town. She and her companions face many dangers on their path. But time and time again, Drest is proven brave and noble–willing to risk her life to do the right thing:
There is not a Knight Truer more more chivalrous in Faintree Castle than you, Drest. I could not ask for a better guard.
As Drest nears her family’s captors, an uncomfortable question grows in her heart as she wonders about her father’s and brothers’ past choices. Is her family honorable or not? This story moved quickly and definitely kept my attention. I was impressed with the character development for a middle grade book and I’m really looking forward to book #2.
The Adventures of a Girl Called Bicycle
June 5, 2018
A young girl called Bicycle is taken into a “mostly silent” monastery and is raised among the nuns and monks. One day they discover a used bicycle for sale which Bicycle purchases and names Clunk. After some time, her guardian, Sister Wanda, realizes that Bicycle does not have any friends outside the monastery. Therefore, she signs Bicycle up for a camp where she’s guaranteed to develop some relationships. But Bicycle wants nothing to do with forced social interaction and she intends to make friends with her idol, Zbigniew Sienkiewicz, a famous bicyclist. So she packs up Clunk and heads off on the adventure of a lifetime — riding from Washington D.C. to California to meet Zbigniew. Talk about ADVENTURE!! Plus, there’s a bit of bad AND good luck that will guide her on her journey.
Have you ever noticed that? Something seems like bad luck at one point, but it turns out to be good luck later on. Or vice versa. Luck is a very tricky thing.”
Overall, this story was incredibly clever and witty (even if completely bonkers at times). While mostly realistic fiction, there were some rather unusual characters on this adventure — along with an unexpected twist with artificial intelligence. This one was a fun read!
Zora and Me
October 12, 2010
This story captivated my heart, this week. It probably helps that I already adored the writing in Their Eyes Were Watching God, because this story revisits Eatonville, Florida (an all-black community) where a young Zora Neale Hurston is coming of age with some of the most delightful, wise, and dependable friends you’ll ever meet in middle grade literature. In this tale, full of mischief and myth, the town of Eatonville faces a murder mystery that Zora, Carrie, and Teddy attempt to solve. Zora loves to read, explore the woods, listen in on adult conversations, and spin stories that even SHE believes. However, is Zora telling one of her fantastic stories this time, or is she telling the honest truth? Only time will tell…
There were so many meaningful moments I wanted to capture in this story. I’ll just share a couple quotes that hit home for me:
Until that moment, I believed that what I carried inside of me was just myself and nothing of other people, not even the ones I loved. If I ever had the nerve to open up my heart, I thought I’d be faced with nothing but a tall, round-faced brown girl with coal-black hair. I felt that alone. But on the hem of this experience, wrapped in Mrs. Hurston’s embrace, I got up the nerve to take a peek into my heart, and to my surprise I didn’t find that lonely picture of myself. What I found there was much bigger. I found all of Eatonville.
One more that initiated a conversation with my husband this past weekend. Such truth:
I don’t know how to explain that moment except to say that, before the moving pictures and before the radio, folks were accustomed to silence; we even used to hug up on it once in a while. I never thought of it as special then, that we could just sit and stare and luxuriate in the comfort of our own thoughts. Without time to think, we wouldn’t have had anything to talk about in the first place.
Ahhhh, such a creative, fictional depiction of Zora Neale Hurston’s childhood life! The detailed descriptions of conversations felt authentic for the post-Civil War era. Additionally, the childlike interpretation of adult black/white racial interactions was well crafted — quite valuable for middle grade historical fiction. I felt a special connection to Carrie as she narrated this chapter of her life with Zora. I should also add that this novel is the first project ever endorsed by the Zora Neale Hurton Trust that wasn’t authored by Hurston, herself. I’m very much looking forward to reading book #2 which will be published in September.
I was excited to get my hands on this book, this week. What is well known about Ada Lovelace is that she fully understood the whats and ifs behind the modern computer well over 100 years before it became reality. But her childhood and family happenings were quite interesting, as well. Her father was THE Lord Byron who fled England when Ada was still a baby. So her mother, Lady Byron, did everything she could to make sure Ada didn’t develop a “dangerous” imagination, like her father. So she pushed her to study mathematics and abandon her imaginative interests. Eventually she met Charles Babbage and they developed a long, close friendship where they encouraged each other as thinkers. And from this growth Ada eventually wrote her famous notes on the “Analytical Engine” that she believed would process not only numbers, but could also create pictures and music. The back of the book provides two pages of “More to the Story,” information about Ada’s many names, and more reading sources. In the colorful, flowery artwork we often see a bright-eyed Ada surrounded by mathematical equations. These illustrations were created with gouache and india ink on hot-press watercolor paper. Here’s one example of the sweet artwork:
To Be Read:
I’ve just discovered I’m teaching a new college course this coming semester, so I’ll be a bit busy over the next month devouring a new textbook and outlining the fall semester. Still, I’ll make some time for personal reading. I didn’t get to Zora and Me: The Cursed Ground last week, so that’s first on my list. Then I hope to at least start into A Reaper at the Gates (An Ember in the Ashes #3).
Have a wonderful reading week, everyone!