Aside from two broken bones and a CAT scan of my daughter’s brain, it’s been a pretty great summer so far. My family has enjoyed cooking out, going to the beach (well, as close to a “beach” as you can get in Nebraska/South Dakota — it’s a lake with a sandy shore), camping, doing a big musical theatre production (Willy Wonka), going to some movies, getting a few performance gigs in the surrounding area (my 14 year old daughter is a singer-songwriter), going on lots and lots of walks and jogs, and so much more. We have just under a month left of mostly free time, so we’re looking forward to making the most of it.
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! With five children, my family reads a lot of books. So it’s nice to have a space to showcase some of what we’ve read, each week.
What Do They Do With All That Poo
Allison Black, illustrator
June 19, 2018
How excited I was to WIN THIS BOOK from Unleashing Readers, last month! This book is basically what the title says. It starts out introducing various sizes, shapes, and colors of animal poo. Then it goes on to explain what zoos can do with the poo, ranging from sending it to landfills, to having it scientifically studied, to using it as compost. The pages are full of bright-eyed animals, pooing in their zoo-made habitats, with lots of scientific information on what animals eat and how their poo is unique. I didn’t see a note on how the artwork was created, but it’s quite bold and colorful. Here’s one spread that talks a bit about turning poo into good compost:
My children were excited to see this book and started grinning as soon as I began reading the first pages. I’m certain this will be a much-loved book in homes and libraries, everywhere.
Mr. Mergler, Beethoven, and Me
April 18, 2018
This picture book is the story of a young girl who recently immigrated from China. One day while at the park, she and her father meet a man known as Mr. Mergler. They discover that he has taught piano lessons for many years. He offers to give the young girl lessons for free and her family accepts. Over the course of 26 lessons, they develop a special friendship and Mr. Mergler gifts his Beethoven bust to the young girl. For the sensitive child, beware: this story has some sadness in the end. Otherwise the story is sweet and the artwork is beautiful. Here are two examples of spreads:
A note inside the book says: “Inspired by events in the life of the real Daniel Mergler–a wonderful musician and inspiring teacher.”
Start with Art: Dinosaurs
While helping my kiddos submit their summer reading program paperwork last week, we discovered this treasure. My 4 year old daughter is obsessed with dinosaurs. She plays with dinosaur toys, dresses up like dinosaurs, and has become quite talented with her dinosaur artwork. So I thought she might enjoy a book that will guide her through drawing them. Oh my, she’s had soooo much fun!
Each spread has a new art project with step-by-step directions. It’s perfect for a young child to work through, even on their own.
Michael Ian Black
Debbie Ridpath Ohi, illustrator
April 29, 2014
I missed this one back when it first came out, but my youngest fell in love with it, this week. She’d ask me to read it, read it again, then she’d run off to read it, herself. Surely it’s not just my kids who wanted to be NAKED(!) when they were toddlers. Like, ALL the time! Here’s a couple of my favorite spreads:
Michael Ian Black
Debbie Ridpath Ohi, illustrator
As I wait for I’m Sad to arrive at my local library, I had to bring home I’m Bored for my family to enjoy, this week. If you haven’t already read this one, there’s a little girl who is absolutely bored. That is, until a random potato arrives and she suddenly has to PROVE that kids are fun. While random potato is utterly unimpressed, the kid readers will NOT be. 🙂 The images are rendered digitally. Here’s one example of a spread:
Making Friends with Billy Wong
August 30, 2016
This is the story of Azalea’s eventual friendship with Billy Wong — told from both perspectives. One day, the summer before 6th grade, Azalea’s mother loads her up at her home in Texas and drops her off at her Grandmother Clark’s house in Paris Junction, Arkansas. She will be staying the summer to help her grandmother. Azalea doesn’t even know her grandmother before this visit. And all she knows about Paris Junction is that everyone knows everything about everyone. She slowly becomes friends with a boy named Billy who is Chinese-American. Unfortunately, she also witnesses blatant racism toward Billy. The primary attacker is a boy named Willis. While Azalea wants to hate Willis for his rude behavior, she learns more about his family’s circumstances and realizes that kindness is important when someone is in need of help (even when you don’t think they deserve it). I really liked how Azalea had to build empathy for more than one person during this story as she discovered her own incorrect assumptions. And without spoiling anything big, I can share that in the end, Azlea has to decide if she’s willing to tell the truth about the innocence of another character she doesn’t like, even if it means possibly incriminating herself. This is definitely a historical fiction, sharing many of the attitudes and events of the 1950s. But sadly, some of these behaviors and beliefs still exist, today. I listened to this book on audio and I must say, the narrator’s voice and accent were quite pleasant. The story emphasizes the importance of considering all aspects of a person’s life before making an ultimate judgment. Also important is how it addresses forgiveness and the realization that people can change, for the better, over time.
I read book #1 last week and this week I was thrilled to have a chance to read an ARC of book #2 (due to be released in September). This is another fictional period in the life of a young Zora Neale Hurston. This one, however, has alternating narratives going between 1855 and 1903. In the beginning, we meet back up with Zora, Carrie, and eventually Teddy. But now they face a new mystery as Mr. Polk has been wounded and he speaks for the first time (he has always been a mute, to their knowledge). In 1903, the town of Eatonville is in trouble with a bunch of white men from the next town. But to understand WHY there’s a threat to Eatonville, we must have a firm grasp on what took place back in 1855 when slavery was the norm. The two different time period narratives provide a deep, rich story that builds in suspense until, finally, the two stories collide. And suddenly everything clicks into place. My GOODNESS I loved the second book even more than the first one. I might as well admit it: I cried. I really, really, really hope this series continues because the stories and characters are well-crafted and the history is important and powerful. I’m grateful to NetGalley and Candlewick Press for access to an e-ARC of this book. Separate review (with approved quotes) to come as we near the publication date.
To Be Read:
I keep getting sidetracked and starting books I didn’t originally commit to, so this week I’m going to fully commit to (FINALLY) starting book #3 of An Ember in the Ashes series: A Reaper at the Gates. Anything else I get to is just icing on the cake! I’m participating in the Big Book Summer Challenge (join us!), so it will be great to add one more 400+ paged book to my list.
What are YOU reading?