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 hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday season! We’ve been busy baking, playing games, and watching movies. But I’ve been able to squeeze in a little reading, as well.
Mary Rand Hess
October 2, 2018
Swing is the story of a lovesick teenager named Noah who is scared to tell his good friend, Sam, that he has feelings for her. Noah happens up on some older poetry (written many years ago) between two lovers and it inspires him to begin expressing his feelings artistically. Without his knowledge, one of the poems makes its way to Sam. And this spark abruptly ignites an unexpected fire full of passion and… confusion.
Having read Kwame Alexander’s books, such as The Crossover and Rebound, I was already familiar with the beautiful interweaving of poetry and prose throughout the narrative. However, I especially enjoyed getting to listen to Alexander as narrator on the audiobook. He obviously knows the characters so well and he used jazz music throughout to add to the emotional energy in the story.
August 14, 2018
Tai and Mila (AKA Bean) are best friends and neighbors who live in Pirates’ Cove. But these two young women are oh so different. Tai loves living in Pirates’ Cove. She is accustomed to the rhythm and purpose behind everything in the neighborhood. Mila has just arrived from spending the entire summer at her aunt’s house and she would be happy if she never had to return to her home. Throughout the story, Chase reveals a very complex friendship that teeters on being “done” — often leaving a lump-in-the-throat over things deeply felt, but not openly shared. In this story, we read of music, ballet, sports, romance, multi-generational families, dealing drugs, non-existent parenting, and sexual assault (with a nod to the #metoo movement as friends learn of the importance of speaking out and standing up for those too afraid to do it on their own). This is an important story that balances on the fence between middle grade and YA adult.
August 14, 2018
The year is 1946, and young Langston is mourning the loss of his mother AND his home in Alabama when his father suddenly moves them up to Chicago. Even worse, they have to leave behind Langston’s grandmother. While Langston is bullied in school and rarely feels like he belongs, he discovers that the public library welcomes everyone — including blacks. This is a huge surprise because that was not the case in Alabama. Over the course of the story, Langston returns to the library repeatedly and eventually discovers works by Langston Hughes (and other poets). His father claims his name was just something his mother liked, but after digging around where he should be looking, Langston uncovers some details that reveal everything he needed to know. It’s an emotional story, but not too heavy for middle grade readers — an important look into The Great Migration and how it impacted so many families who hoped to give their children more opportunities than they had in the rural south.
September 5, 2017
Norah Levy is a cancer survivor returning to public school after two years of treatment for leukemia. As she returns to 7th grade, everyone is surprised and she feels much like an outsider (having missed out on so many changes). Even worse, her two closest friends sometimes feel like strangers and the school wants to bump Norah up a grade level (because she got so far ahead in math and science while homeschooling). When Norah agrees to take the 8th grade classes, she meets Griffin — a new 8th grade student she soon develops a crush on. And while Norah is working hard to to avoid being “cancer girl” in her 8th grade classes, she knows it will eventually come out and she just hopes Griffin won’t abandon her once he discovers who she really is. Oh my, I had all the feels for Norah. This one is really hard hitting and addresses a topic that NEEDS to be represented in middle grade literature.
Carmela Full of Wishes
Matt De La Peña
October 9, 2018
Penguin Young Readers Group
Carmela is following her older brother throughout their town, running his daily errands. He seems annoyed as she’s following along, caught up in her own world. But once she is injured, he is very attentive and concerned. The book showcases hope and dreams as Carmela finds a dandelion and is prepared to blow out the seeds and make her big wish. The artwork in this book was created with acrylic paint, collage, and a bit of digital manipulation. Here’s one page spread example, below:
E.B. Lewis (illustrator)
October 14, 2010
This is such a sweet book, based on a true account. Young Steve Satlow meets his new neighbor, Jackie Robinson, and helps him decorate his Christmas tree. Jackie learns that the Satlow family doesn’t have a Christmas tree, so he decides to go out and buy them one. However, there’s a reason the Satlows do not have a tree — they are Jewish and do not celebrate Christmas. In the end there’s sincere discussion followed by laughter. I love knowing these two families went on to be very dear friends for many years. This is a great book about recognizing and celebrating differences around the holidays.
To Be Read:
I’m about halfway through Snow in Love and I also picked up A Place for Pluto and Thank You, Omu! just before the holiday began. So I’ll happily squeeze these titles into our busy family holiday week. Until next week…