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!
I’ve been keeping up with the “musts” in my life with my home and coursework, but I haven’t had much time at all to read this week. Nevertheless, I’ve been slowly gathering up picture books that relate to music for my students to use in their future “music for classroom teachers” course projects. I had to ask permission from two other colleges to Interlibrary Loan a large number of these music books at the same time and, thankfully, they are happy to help. I was thrilled to come across at least two more at a local library that I won’t have to ILL. YAY! Hope you find something you might enjoy…
Blue Grass Boy
The Story of Bill Monroe, Father of Bluegrass Music
Edwin Fotheringham, illustrator
March 6, 2018
Calkins Creek/Highlights/Boyds Mills Press
This is a picture book biography of Bill Monroe. Bill grew up the youngest of eight children in the bluegrass state of Kentucky. His eyes were crossed which is why people believe that his ears worked so well with music. His mother died when he was just 10 years old and he found comfort in music after he found an old mandolin lying around. When he was 16, his father died too — that’s when he moved in with his Uncle Pen and began playing in regular performance gigs. Bill also met Arnold Shultz, said to be the most famous traveling picker in the area — gifted with the blues. This is when Bill learned to slide notes and enjoy unique rhythms. Eventually, Bill starts The Blue Grass Boys with a guitarist, a fiddler, an upright bassist, a mandolin, and at last, a banjo. Aaaand the rest is history!
In the back, there’s a longer biography over Monroe’s life, along with a very detailed bibliography for further reading (including several black and white photos of Bill, his family, and even Arnold Shultz). The brightly-colored illustrations are digitally rendered. You’ll find one example, below:
Carrie Schüler, illustrator
October 11, 2017
Another great children’s picture book focused on musical aspirations, Leo’s Gift is the story of a young boy who has the talent of playing the piano by ear. Leo’s big sister, Meredith, is forced to practice piano for 30 minutes every night when one day she discover’s Leo’s talent. She would prefer to play basketball, but clearly Leo would love to learn all about music. Leo happens to meet Mr. Alonzo, the music teacher, while he’s waiting for Meredith to get out of basketball practice. And over the course of the entire basketball season, he continues to meet with him to learn and practice. By the end of the story it is Christmas time and Leo gets an opportunity to share a special song for everyone to sing. It’s a very sweet story and will probably be meaningful for those still seeking their special talent (or those needing a little nudge in the direction of practicing on their skills).
I have to say that the artwork by Carrie Schuler is so creative and FUN to look at. There’s so much going on here with patterns and textures, that I could spend all day examining every element of all 15 spreads in detail. Schuler’s bio says that she’s known for layered, textural illustrations composed of ephemera she collects. I’ll share just one spread to showcase her work, below:
Gabrielle Grimard, illustrator
September 5, 2017
Second Story Press
This is a VERY short picture book at only 24 pages. Yet with hauntingly beautiful illustrations, it is an incredibly POWERFUL telling of how First Nations’ Peoples were treated as they were removed from their parents’ homes and their Cree words were stolen:
Where did they take you, Grandpa? she asked. Away to a school that was cold and lonely, where angry white faces raised their voices and their hands when we used our words, he answered. They took our words and locked them away, punished us until we forgot them, until we sounded like them. Harsh sharp words. So different from the sound of our beautiful ones.
This story gave me chills at one point and brought tears to my eyes. I’m confident this one will stick with me. NOTE: Melanie Florence is of Cree heritage and in her dedication she ends it with “And for my grandfather.” So depending on her personal upbringing and experiences, this may be an #ownvoices story.
I wish I could share more than one spread, but there are only 11 spreads TOTAL in the entire book — meaning I would definitely break copyright (even for “fair use” claiming educational reasons). So if you haven’t yet read this one, I hope you can grab a copy and enjoy the gorgeous artwork and heartfelt words:
Tectonic Plates Are on the Move
Jia Liu, illustrator
January 1, 2018
We’ve been experiencing some mild earthquakes in our area the last few years, so I was happy to see a children’s picture book on the topic. This nonfiction book very simply walks the child through an explanation of tectonic plates with bright childlike illustrations demonstrating concepts like the earth’s crust, the continents, and where the tectonic plates meet. Very large font will make this book easier for young children who are still identifying individual letters. A brief glossary is available in the back as well as a brief bibliography and guided reading activities. Tectonic Plates Are on the Move is a picture book set to music, so there’s sheet music and a CD available in the back cover. I’ll provide one spread, below:
To Be Read:
I’m still working on these two books — Every Shiny Thing is a middle grade novel and Dream Country is a young adult novel. Both are quite engaging, I just haven’t had long stretches of reading time this week. I can’t wait to share them with my readers, next week! 🙂