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!
Garbage Island: The Nearly Always
Perilous Adventures of Archibald Shrew
October 9, 2018
Boyds Mills Press
I was thrilled to win this book in a giveaway conducted by Unleashing Learners. Mr. Popli is responsible and dependable. As mayor, he wants his island to thrive in peace. It’s clear that every action he takes is carefully planned in an effort to keep the animals of Garbage Island safe. Archibald Shrew, on the other hand, is impulsive and reckless. However, he is incredibly gifted in his ability to make things from nothing. Archie looks at a pile of garbage and only sees possibilities. But he does tend to break a lot of rules and constantly find himself in trouble with his community.
While there are multiple other characters with well-developed personalities that add depth to the story, these two friends carry this book, providing both meaningful and humorous dialogue from start to finish:
“Archibald,” said Mr. Popli.
“Didn’t I suggest that we install the steering mechanism on the inside?”
“Yes. Yes, you did.”
“Is it okay if I choose this moment to say I told you so?”
“Only if it makes you feel better about our upcoming death.”
“I think it might.”
“Then by all means, go ahead.”
“I told you so.”
The dialogue is such fun to read and the story provides a good backdrop for discussions of having empathy for an enemy (or someone very different from us). The detailed descriptions of the islands, of various inventions, and of the other animals and insects, coupled with the occasional black and white illustration, had me fully involved in this tale. The story has a sequel on the way and I, for one, intend to follow-up to see where Garbage Island takes us, next! My thanks to Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Learners and to Boyds Mills Press for doing the giveaway that allowed me to win this book. If you visit the publisher’s website, they have an PDF Educator’s Guide (look for it in GREEN) that you can download to help guide classroom discussion.
Dragons in a Bag
October 23, 2018
This is a highly imaginative urban fantasy. The story begins just as Jaxon’s mom is heading to court to appeal an eviction notice. She drops him off at “Ma’s” house, as she asks her to watch him for the day. Jaxon, not knowing any difference, refers to the elderly lady as “grandma.” But he was completely wrong on that one. Jaxon learns that his mom grew up with Ma when her own biological mother needed help. But what he’s about to learn about Ma will blow his (and maybe your) mind. This is fast-paced tale featuring magic, time travel, dragons, dinosaurs, undiscovered family, and plenty of mystery to go around. Book number 2 in this series is scheduled to come out in 2019!
September 11, 2018
Louie’s father brings home a sickly newborn mini donkey and Louie is just sure he can nurse the donkey back to health. We quickly learn that Louie was born pre-mature weighing in at only 3 pounds. The hospital and his parents had to work hard to keep him safe until he was old enough to go home. Because of this history, there seems to be a special connection between he and the newborn donkey. Louie names the donkey Winslow, and by helping the tiny donkey he’s comforted when thinking about his older brother, Gus (who is in the army far, far away).
Louie makes a new friend named Nora. But Nora is very awkward around Winslow and initially seems obsessively certain that the donkey is going to die. We discover that Nora has experienced painful loss and that she actually wants Winslow to do well. She’s just nervous about getting attached: “You get attached to something and it always gets taken away!”
This is such a heartwarming story weaving together family connection, friendship, dreams, loss, hope, a tinge of romance, and one amazing mini donkey with a severe fight for life.
Sibyl Graber Gerig, illustrator
September 1, 1999
As my class has been selecting picture books appropriate for studying music, I’ve come across some really wonderful children’s books — old and new. This one is from the late 90s, but definitely worth sharing. Fiddlin’ Sam is a very talented man, so incredibly gifted that he could fiddle away others’ worries, cares, and even their pain. Throughout the story, Sam comes to know people all over the Ozarks. He faces joy and he faces hardships. And he just hopes that he will find someone to pass his gift on to before his life is over.
“This ain’t a gift, Son. It’s a loan. You gotta pass the music along.”
The illustrations are stunning — some up-close images look almost like a photograph. The artwork was was done in watercolor on paper. I’ll provide two examples, below:
You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
The Brilliant Deep: Rebuilding the World’s
Coral Reefs: The Story of Ken Nedimyer
and the Coral Restoration Foundation
Matthew Forsythe, illustrator
April 3, 2018
This nonfiction picture book shares the work that Ken Nedmyer has done with the coral, starting from when he first became interested as a child, all the way until his adulthood. Nedmyer eventually figured out a way to replenish failing reefs by planting coral he had grown. The back of the book includes a lot more information that will be interesting to both child and adult, so don’t miss it!
To Be Read:
I’m a little over halfway through WUNDERSMITH (almost 300 pages in) and I WANT ALL THE NEVERMOOR BOOKS TO BE PUBLISHED NOW!!!!! I thoroughly enjoyed book #1, but I’m digging #2 just as much, if not MORE! I’m so excited to hear there are still 7 more books to come after this one. I’m also hoping to start THE BELOVED WILD, a new historical fiction book by Melissa Ostrom. Isn’t that cover breath-taking?!