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!
Yesterday was a bittersweet day for my family. My grandfather passed away (Sunday) — he had been slowly diminishing over the last several years (dementia), so we are happy that he has been released from his pain and suffering. However, this world has already been missing him as he loved his family dearly and he touched so many other lives around the world and across the country. The “sweet” part of yesterday is the fact that it was also my older daughter’s 15th birthday. So we enjoyed the celebration of her life with cake, ice cream, and special gifts. She informed me she had been calculating conception dates and realized that Christmas of 2002 must have been a “cozy time” for me and her daddy. LOL Ahhhh, the joys of raising teenagers. On to share a selection of my reading for the week…
A Reaper at the Gates
(Ember in the Ashes #3)
June 12th 2018
I finally finished book #3. Woohoo!! And it was, in my humble opinion, the best of the series so far. I wish I could give a thorough synopsis without any spoilers, but it’s likely that I’ll reveal something if I say much. So quickly… This book follows the paths of Laia of Serra, Elias, and The Blood Shrike — rotating narration between the three (until the very end where two new characters take over the last chapters). We finally discover a few important pieces to the puzzle, like how Cook is connected to someone imporant, why the ghosts that won’t pass on are so dangerous, and what the Nightbringer has promised Keris Veturia. And Laia eventually discovers where the last piece of the Jinn star is hiding. But will it be too late to save the Scholars by the time all is revealed?
“Curse this world for what it does to mothers, for what it does to daughters. Curse it for making us strong through loss and pain, our hearts torn from our chests again and again. Curse it for forcing us to endure.”
The painful prophecy seems to play out seamlessly, despite all counter efforts. And if the rest of the foretelling comes to fruition, then we’re in for a horrible book #4. But I have every confidence that Tahir will pull off a winning conclusion to this series. Can’t wait!
The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle
January 23, 2018
Katherine Tegen Books
Middle Grade Literature
This is my new middle grade book crush (I am a bit flighty when it comes to firm one-book-commitment, so other middle grade books mustn’t get jealous). I started it on a whim a few days ago and quickly fell in love with this kid. Mason is dyslexic and regularly experiences synesthesia (with his form, he sees colors based on his emotions). He is also terribly sad because his very best friend, Benny, died last year by stepping on a bad ladder board and falling from Mason’s treehouse — or at least they think that’s what happened. No one is sure and Mason feels like maybe he’s to blame. Mason meets a new kid at his school named Calvin and they develop a truly beautiful, trusting, and adventurous friendship (which Mason really needs because he’s accustomed to being picked on by some bullies). But one terrible day, another shocking incident happens and everyone is wondering, yet again, if Mason is to blame. Throughout the story, the school librarian is allowing Mason to “write” his story by using a talk-to-text software. He has such a sweet, optimistic, and innocent view of the world. And it’s eventually this writing that helps everyone understand a part of his story that no one even thought to ask about. There’s also an unexpected darkness to this book that caught me off-guard, but one of the most important lessons comes through when one of his bullies takes a stand against the others. And suddenly there’s a gut-wrenching realization for everyone involved.
One reason why this book touched me so deeply is because one of my brothers is dyslexic and dysgraphic. He has had multiple experiences, similar to Mason’s, and I couldn’t help but see my sweet little brother through this narration. I remember other children calling him an idiot from a very early age — kids who didn’t understand that we all think and process things differently. One time a substitute even slapped him across the face in front of his 3rd or 4th grade class, thinking he was playing stupid (thankfully the principal marched down to the classroom and fired the substitute on the spot). Needless to say, exposure to these characters is crucial for developing empathy in children. Thank you, Leslie Connor!
Snail & Worm Again
March 28, 2017
HMH Books for Young Readers
This was laugh-out-loud funny! This 30-paged book is divided into three stories: Snails Wings, The Mirror, and Snail is Sad. I hate to merely describe it as being like Elephant & Piggie, but that’s become my go-to for the type of picture book humor that’s both funny, but also a little sobering (because it’s often about real-life problems). I like that these different scenarios can open the door to discussing childhood problems because young readers will laugh, but also understand the issues. Laughter is good medicine! And snail and worm will truly be relatable to adults and children, alike. I just checked this one out from my library and now I can’t wait to share it with my children and hubby. The illustrations are rendered with acrylic on pastel paper, collage, and digital media. And in case anyone was worried, there’s a notation that “no snails or worms were harmed in the making of this book.” What relief! I must own ALL the Snail & Worm books, now.
Kate Kiesler, illustrator
HMH Books for Young Readers
I guess this is an older title from the 90s, but the book appeared to be brand new to our library and the artwork quickly caught my attention. Poor spoiled little temple cat is spoon-fed everything in life, but all he really wants is to be free and loved. So he escapes his temple and explores the world on his own. The beautiful illustrations were rendered in oil paint. I’ll provide two spreads as examples, below:
To Be Read:
I am LOVING The Benefits of Being an Octopus by Ann Braden. I’m not quite finished, but I’ll be posting a review for the grand release very soon. I also just barely got started on Where the Watermelons Grow by Cindy Baldwin. But I’m hooked and hoping to finish that this week, too. Also, I’m listening to and watching Peter & the Wolf with my music students, this week. Oh how well I remember that story and the music from my childhood. Do you?
Have a wonderful reading week, everyone!