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!
Kat Greene Comes Clean
August 22, 2017
Kat Greene is keeping a secret that is eating her alive from the inside out. Her mom cannot stop cleaning their house and washing her hands (until they are raw). This unusual behavior is interfering with their lives and, while Kat knows she should tell someone, she’s afraid her mom will be institutionalized and then she will be forced to live with her dad and his family, permanently. At the same time she’s facing these difficult home troubles, she’s also having a rough time at school. Her class is performing a play from her favorite book, Harriet the Spy, and she landed the most unimpressive role. Even worse, her best friend suddenly won’t speak to her. Because boys. Thank goodness she finds an outlet by emailing with her middle school counselor!
It’s always hard to come to terms with our parents’ imperfections, but Roske’s story beautifully demonstrates how the proverbial village can collectively raise a child without destroying child/parent ties. I am always thankful when a middle grade novel showcases teachers and other adults as allies. What a crucial message for children who fear grown-ups too much to reach out for help. If you haven’t yet had the pleasure of meeting Kat Greene, you’ll want to add this sweet middle grade title to your list!
Marie Miranda Cruz
October 2, 2018
Meet 12-year-old Nora, a Filipino child living in a dire situation. Her father died when they lost their home in a fire, she is now living in a cemetery, her mother is nowhere to be found, and robbers have attacked her and stolen her prized possession. And you thought YOU were having a bad day?
Thankfully, Nora discovers there are people in her community who will lend a helping hand and treat her as family. For example, her closest friend in the cemetery, Jojo, risks his life to help Nora regain her treasure. Nora wants to obey the instructions of the well-meaning adults who ask her to stay home and be safe, but she knows that if she was ever in a dangerous situation, Jojo would come for her. The heart-pounding climax of this story follows Nora on a very dangerous journey through the city and into the unknown in an effort to save her friend’s life.
There were moments where I felt such sadness, reading this book. This story provides in-depth exposure to the reality of loss, constant danger, hunger, no medical care, and homelessness — there’s so much to discuss after reading this one! But despite the horrific scenarios in this story, the characters have such drive and determination. They will persevere! NOTE: I read that Marie Miranda Cruz got the inspiration for this story from reading a blog post about a real-life missionary from Kentucky who journeyed to the Philippines and discovered an orphaned child who lived in a cemetery. This isn’t entirely fiction — it is the reality for some!
Music Content and Strategies for Elementary Classroom Teachers
Dawn S. Baker & Patrick A. Garrett
This is the textbook we used for my Music for the Classroom Teacher course, this semester. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, this course has become mandatory as regular music classes (and certified music teachers) are slowly being removed from many smaller schools as they must cut corners. To keep music in schools, regular classroom teachers are now introduced to the five major concepts of music (rhythm, tone color, dynamics, pitch, and musical form). This book provides teachers with classroom activities, resources, and tools to help integrate music education into the regular self-contained classroom. I just finished the textbook, last week. And aside from one chapter that I eliminated from our weekly studies, I felt like it came full circle. It was almost entirely b&w text, lacking any color and containing maybe 4 pages of b&w photos. But the price was right and it covered the fundamentals quite well.
The Happiest Book Ever
October 11, 2016
In this crazy little picture book, a very motivated narrator asks the reader to help get frowny frog to smile. For example, we are asked to “give the book a good shake” or to read jokes in the back of the book to get the frog to smile. But despite all we try (and the color and flare and flowers and sparkles), sad-faced frog keeps his natural frown. At one point, the narrator even puts a smilie-faced post-it over frog’s face and then later photoshops frog out of the picture, entirely. But then we discover that the book is very unhappy without frowny frog being included. In the end, frog forgives the narrator and holds a big blue balloon to end the story as “the happiest book ever.” I’m going to have to get my hands Shea’s The Scariest Book Ever, next!
While I could not find a note on how the artwork was created, it looks at least partially digitally rendered. I’ll provide one example, below:
How Many Kisses Do You Want Tonight?
Ivan Bates, Illustrator
April 1, 2004
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
This book is a really nice “night night” book that integrates night time cuddles and counting. Each page spread showcases a different animal mother or father asking their baby how many kisses they want before bed time. It goes from one up to ten and then the final two pages are of a human daddy and his little girl (who wants a hundred kisses) and then of a human mommy and her little boy (who wants a million kisses). This is an older book that I picked up at a rummage sale, but I realized I hadn’t yet read it to our daughter until this week. She adored it, so we’ll have to add it to our regular bedtime reading rotation.
The illustrations were done in watercolor and colored pencil on Winsor & Newton Lana paper. I’ll provide one page-spread as an example, below:
To Be Read:
This week didn’t exactly go as planned and I didn’t get as far along in my novel stack as I had hoped. So in the coming week I plan to finish reading Just Under the Clouds by Melissa Sarno along with The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang. If I have time after that, I will start Lu by Jason Reynolds.
What are YOU reading?