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.
Dear Rachel Maddow
June 5, 2018
Feiwel & Friends
Dear Rachel Maddow is the story of Brynn Haper during one year of high school. At 17 she has a rough home life (with a father who took off long ago and a step father who hates her), she’s mourning the loss of her older brother, she’s doing poorly in school, and she has to face her ex-girlfriend every day in the halls of school. Brynn sends an e-mail to Rachel Maddow as part of a school assignment. But after she gets a response, she starts using Rachel Maddow’s name as the person to write her private journal entries to — so she begins by drafting email after email in a saved “draft” file to document this year. This story line moved quickly and explored a wide variety of themes, including: loss, abuse, romance, politics, and there was even a mystery to be solved. I did a bit of reading around about Kisner’s inspiration and thoughts behind this book (because, even though this book is NOT about Rachel Maddow, I’m certain I’m not the only one who would love to know if Rachel Maddow has read this book) and I discovered that Kisner used to be up all hours of the day/night with her first baby. Rachel Maddow’s show always seemed to be on when she needed something to watch. And it sounds like Maddow, unknowingly, provided great comfort through those early years. Dear Mr. Henshaw was mentioned in one inspiration article, as well. So I added that to my week’s list of reading. I never discovered any articles about Rachel Maddow reading this book. I’d still love to know what she thought about a book that mentions her name (repeatedly…).
Dear Mr. Henshaw
I hadn’t planned on reading two “Dear…” books in one week, but as I mentioned above, this one came up in one of the article about Dear Rachel Maddow. So I decided to read it on a whim. Leigh Botts is not happy about his parents’ divorce. To make matter worse, he is moved to a new town where he has no friends in 6th grade (and someone keeps stealing parts of his lunch!). Leigh is given an assignment to contact a favorite author. He picked Mr. Henshaw and is happy when he eventually hears back from him. Once Mr. Henshaw learns that Leigh wants to become an author, he convinces Leigh to work on his writing by keeping a journal. So Leigh decides to start his new journal by writing entries addressed to Mr. Henshaw. Through his many journal entries, plus a few real letters written to Mr. Henshaw, we discover the depths of Leigh’s loneliness, his hopes and dreams, and his love and heartbreak for his dad. I can’t remember if I read Dear Mr. Henshaw back when it first came out. I would have been 11 years when it was published, so it was likely very popular for my age group at the time. In any case, I’m glad I read it this week. It was the 1984 Newbery Medal winner and really hit a soft spot in my heart.
Fox & Chick: The Party: and Other Stories
April 17, 2018
Children’s Picture Book
My kids fell in love with Elephant and Piggie this last year, So after hearing this book was written in the same style, I knew I had to check it out. This 46-paged book has three separate stories: The Party, Good Soup, and Sit Still. In the first story, Fox learns that “May I use your bathroom?” doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone! In the second story, Chick learns that Fox must really like him if he’s chosen not eat him. And in the third story, Fox and Chick discover that paintings of landscapes are easier to complete than portraits of little chicks. 😉 This book is perfect for young readers who are excited to try out their first early chapter book. The soft illustrations are rendered in pen, ink, and watercolor. Here’s one spread:
The Blacker the Berry
Joyce Carol Thomas
Floyd Cooper, Illustrator
July 1, 2008
Joanna Cotler Books
An Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
Children’s Picture Book
This is a picture book of poems and artwork celebrating the many shades of black skin. Each spread showcases a different child with a poem about their specific coloring. The young children often share wisdom or sayings passed down by their mother, father, or other ancestors. Most of these poems include berries, including raspberry, huckleberry, coffee berries, cranberry, mulberry, blackberry, boysenberry, etc. These pages are so heartwarming to read and beautiful to look at — a must for any children’s library!
To Be Read:
I started A Reaper at the Gates (book #3 of An Ember in the Ashes) last week and am still working on it. My friend (and fellow #imwayr participant — Elisabeth of The Dirigible Plum) loaned me her copy of Sunny, so I’m ready to start that this week, too! Also, I’m trying to get through the textbook for a brand new course I’m teaching this fall semester (though this may take until school begins, at the rate I’m going).
What are YOU reading?