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!
August 28, 2018
Farrar Straus Giroux
Meet Mavis Jeeter, an almost 11 year old whose mother has taken on a wide variety of jobs for years. At the beginning of Wonderland, Mavis’ mom has taken a new job as housekeeper for the Tully family. And as luck would have it, the Tully family has a daughter who is the same age as Mavis!
Rose Tully is a shy worry wart who does seem to fit in anywhere. Her closest friend is Mr. Duffy, the gatekeeper of their community. But after the loss of Mr. Duffy’s beloved dog, he is extremely depressed and unreliable. Thanks to the arrival of Mavis, the two girls can now concoct and carry out their brilliant plans to brighten Mr. Duffy’s spirits and hopefully even save his job.
A great adventure awaits in this one, for sure! While there was more sadness than I anticipated, it was an important multi-layered story that will encourage discussion about family expectations, dependable friendships, aging, loss/grief, and income disparity.
You Don’t Know Everything, Jilly P.
September 25, 2018
Like most 7th graders, Jilly P. thinks she has most things in life figured out. But as a white, straight, hearing young adult, she must soon come to grips with the fact that she’s incredibly privileged. Jilly is given the opportunity to learn a lot about life by bearing witness to the oppression her friends and family experience by simply being black or by living in a same-sex marriage or by being born deaf.
I was pleased to see this story address microaggression in a very helpful way, including unintentional discrimination. For example, Jilly’s aunt is black and she gently guides her to better understand the oppression and pain she experiences daily, even when the comments weren’t intended to be hurtful. This allows Jilly to consider her personal responsibility in future racist encounters. In an Author’s Note at the end, Gino says:
“In a world in which so many books are unconsciously written for white audiences, this book is consciously written for white people as a catalyst to talk about modern racism and police violence in the United States.”
This book is nothing if not ambitious, addressing a number of diversity issues and responsibilities our youth face. However, I was impressed with the coverage of the deaf community. I’ve had friends in high school and college who were deaf (who gifted me with my unique name sign), I enjoyed years of attending church services where everything was in sign (no audible sound), and my foreign language in college was ASL. Sadly, this culture is too often misunderstood and, most definitely, underrepresented in children’s and young adult literature. I’m pleased when I see this title like this making their way into the kid lit world!
September 4, 2018
Nancy Paulsen Books
Growing up in New York City, 6th grade Bryan knows what is “tight” for him, in a good way — no drama and reading about super heroes in his comics. He’s a pretty chill kid who has never been in a fight and is obviously very close to his mom. Nevertheless, when he bumps into the wrong kind of friends and finds himself constantly in compromising situations, that gets him “tight” in a whole different way — wound up and feeling crazy. Now he must juggle secrets, question his friendships, and confront an almost uncontrollable rage.
Tight will be an excellent path to discussing friendships, competition, parental relationships, and conflict resolution. There’s also a lot of dialogue about comic book heroes, which will resonate with a large number of middle grade and YA readers. NOTE: Super heroes are discussed at length. And if I recall correctly, there is also a discussion of someone pulling up Luke Cage on TV. I’ve not read any of the Luke Cage books, but I thought it worth mentioning that the recent Netflix version is intended for adult viewers, only.
They Say Blue
March 1, 2018
In prose that could arguably be poetic at times, a young girl notices all the colors in her world. She describes the sky, water, clouds, flowers, and even her hair. The artwork is just lovely — so imaginative and varied between pages. The illustrations were made with a combination of acrylic paint on watercolor paper and photoshop. I’ll provide two page spreads, below:
Old MacNoah Had an Ark
Jill Newton, illustrator
January 8, 2008
This is an older title that I found this week as my music class is gearing up to go through piles and piles of musical children’s literature. This book is exactly what it sound like: the song from Old MacDonald that’s been altered for Noah. I expected it to be the same old, same old. However, the pages brought the humorous reality of that many animals being stuffed together for so long on the same boat. So I’ll have to share one page-spread that kinda made me giggle. I mean seriously, it would have been rough after a while. But we don’t really talk about that, do we? LOL
To Be Read:
I didn’t get in as much reading time as I had hoped to last week, so I’ll finally start Grenade this week. YAY! I am also excited to read two new ARCs that will be published in November. I still have a huge pile of music-related picture books, so I’ll be sharing some of those over the coming two months.