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 wanted to take just a moment to say this #IMWAYR community has been a great encouragement for me throughout 2018! I was excited to “be here” every single Monday to witness your adventures and share my own. And despite a very difficult fall semester, I was happy to finish reading 305 books as I found new ways to squeeze in good reading time at home, on campus, and places in between. I also figured out how to use our online Overdrive audiobooks (and discovered I could easily listen to books while cleaning and cooking – YAY). Needless to say, I am very much looking forward to a new year of reading and blogging with you all!
This year I’ve jumped on the #MustReadin2019 bandwagon. Carrie Gelson of There’s a Book for That hosts this community, and it’s not too late to join up! If you’re interested in seeing my list, it’s available HERE.
On to this week’s reading…
September 25, 2018
G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Oh my goodness, this was amazingly SPOOKY and yet totally appropriate for most middle grade readers who enjoy an exciting hair-raising adventure. This story follows the 11-year-old experiences of Ollie. Ollie has recently lost her mother and everyone at school seems to think she has cracked. She appears to be nearly friendless at the beginning of this book when her 6th grade class goes on a fall field trip to an old farm. But no one could have ever guessed what events would occur in the following hours.
“When the mist rises, and the smiling man comes walking, you must avoid large places at night. Keep to small.”
Arden completely captured the atmosphere of being in middle school in autumn — school bus ride, a creepy local legend about mysterious deaths, leaves, pumpkins, scarecrows, some bullying, the sporty kid in your class (who you may or may not be attracted to), a scary old bus driver spouting nonsense, etc. The personalities of each character were well-developed and the reader is given just enough information to keep them guessing throughout. I enjoyed this one so much and definitely plan to read book #2 in the series: Dead Voices. This one might make a fun read-aloud just before Halloween! (And speaking of Katherine Arden, I should mention I’ve also added The Bear and the Nightingale to my #MustReadin2019 list, so I look forward to writing about more of her books this year. YAY!)
Fresh Ink: An Anthology
Lamar Giles, editor
August 14, 2018
Crown Books for Young Readers
Fresh Ink is an anthology that includes ten short stories, a graphic novel, and a one-act play. These offered wonderful representation of diverse populations, including Black, Asian-American, queer, Native, Muslim, Japanese, Iranian, Latinx, and trans (written by Schuyler Bailar, Melissa de la Cruz, Sara Farizan, Sharon G. Flake, Eric Gansworth, Malinda Lo, Walter Dean Myers, Daniel José Older, Thien Pham, Jason Reynolds, Aminah Mae Safi, Gene Luen Yang, and Nicola Yoon). There was an important Foreword by Lamar Giles which explained what life was like, growing up reading and yearning for realistic characters to represent him (especially black characters who weren’t stereotyped). And this proclamation really set the tone for the remainder of the book. While I enjoyed some stories more than others, I should mention that I listened to the audiobook narration and it helped bring some of these characters and stories to life. Each story had a different narrator: Guy Lockard, Kim Mai Guest, Dominic Hoffman, Dion Graham, Ron Butler, J.B. Adkins, Henry Leyva, Donabella Mortel, Raymond Lee, Sunil Malhotra, Kirby Heyborne, Nick Martorelli, and Bahni Turpin. I really hope this one will be a much-needed window and mirror for future readers!
The Rosie Project
(Don Tillman #1)
January 30, 2013
Simon & Schuster
I can’t tell you how happy I am to have checked this book out (audiobook) on Overdrive when it came available. It was my only “adult” read for the week and was utterly delightful!
Don Tillman is a brilliant (middle-aged?) socially challenged genetics professor who was once described as being a dead-ringer for Gregory Peck (from the time of Atticus Finch). He has a very rigorous daily and weekly schedule he plans out to the minute and never once thinks of getting married until an elderly woman he looks after tells him he would make a fabulous husband. So he sets out on The Wife Project and plans to basically use the scientific method to find his perfect mate by questionnaire. Meanwhile, Rosie Jarman walks into his office one day, looking for anything but a mate. She needs help discovering the identify of her biological father. And naturally, Don is the perfect genetics genius to get her search off the ground. This really sets the scene for all that comes after. NOTE: Many reviewers have claimed that Don has Asperger’s Syndrome or that he falls somewhere on the autism spectrum in The Rosie Project, but when interviewed on the Penguin Randomhouse website, Simsion said he purposefully did not diagnose Don. He said diagnosis tends to make us focus on the syndrome instead of the character.
Don is not a bunch of symptoms – he’s a quirky guy who probably would be diagnosed as being on the Autism spectrum – but I don’t claim to be an expert. The citation for the Victorian Premier’s Award said Don had “undiagnosed Asperger’s” and I say “undiagnosed except by the judges of a literary award.”
Now, I won’t lie — I went into this one blind. I don’t recall knowing anything about this book before I started it and so it felt a little slow until chapter 5 or 6. But after I caught on to the rhythm, I couldn’t help but to love Don and appreciate his way of seeing the world. I LAUGHED. OUT. LOUD. sooooo many times and really need to find another friend who has enjoyed this one so that we can giggle together over certain unforgettable parts. I didn’t want to stop the story and may have even found additional jobs around the house just to excuse my listening until I finished it. I already have book #2 on audiobook and can’t wait to carve out some listening time over the next two weeks! Movie rights have been optioned to Sony Pictures.
To Be Read:
I’m hoping to at least get to the following four books in the coming week. Anything else will be icing on the cake!