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!
This week my family finally watched the documentary about Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood, Won’t You Be My Neighbor? It was an incredibly moving experience and I think I cried silent tears throughout the entire thing. I was born in the 70s and have very fond memories of watching Mr. Rogers, but there’s no way I could have ever known the back story. My family is big on documentaries, watching them all the time. But if I had to choose only one to watch this past year, it would be this one. I highly, highly recommend watching if you haven’t already.
On to my reading week…
The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise
January 8, 2019
Henry Holt & Company (BYR)
This book was just as outstanding as I’ve heard. I started out savoring it… reading a handful of chapters the first 2 days. But then suddenly I couldn’t put it down until everything was resolved. Wow, did it grab me and pull me in!
Twelve-year-old Coyote and her father, Rodeo, are trekking across the country in an old school bus named Yager with no particular destination in mind. How did they end up in a bus, you ask? They lost Coyote’s sisters and mother in a tragic accident just five years ago. To escape the pain of such a devastating loss, they legally changed their names and started a unique adventure. And they haven’t been back “home,” since. However, Coyote receives devastating news from her grandmother and must find a way to return home in just 4 days to fulfill a promise — a promise that Rodeo simply won’t understand. On their journey they take on a variety of passengers and face unexpected obstacles the entire way. Without spoiling anything, I love that Coyote makes her very first friend and bonds with her “dad” in a way she never imagined possible. Over the past year I read The Honest Truth and Good Dog, and Dan Gemeinhart plucks my heartstrings every time, leaving a stream (or river) of tears. But his books aren’t just sad, they’re also filled with comic relief that speaks so strongly of those middle grade years. I will read everything he writes!
NOTE: This one also has the following song “Be Set Free” in the story, so I had to hunt down an old video of Langhorne Slim singing it with just a guitar (like Rodeo does in the book).
Two Can Keep a Secret
Karen M. McManus
January 8, 2019
I enjoyed One of Us is Lying so much last year that I knew I had to read her next murder mystery novel, Two Can Keep a Secret. This one had several layers of mysteries from different years going on in the very same town, but somehow it all worked beautifully. First, the twins’ aunt went missing before they were even born, then teenage Lacey Kilduff was strangled just five years ago, then at the beginning of this story there’s a hit and run death that remains unsolved, and finally, over the course of the book a fourth person goes missing. The story is told from two different perspectives: Ellery Corcoran’s and Malcolm Kelly’s. Seventeen-year-old Ellery and her twin brother, Ezra, have moved in with their Nana (back at their mother’s hometown of Echo Ridge) while their mother is going into drug rehab. Ellery is a murder mystery reading buff, so she brings a lot to the table when it comes to figuring out who-done-it. Malcolm is a native of Echo Ridge and his older brother, Declan, was a former suspect in the murder of Lacy Kilduff. One of McManus’s strengths is her ability to distract the reader into considering the guilt of every person. I kept wondering how all of these murders would be solved simultaneously, but she pulls it off. A fun, fast read that kept me seriously guessing right up until the last couple chapters.
I purchased this book years ago and used it in my 1st and 2nd grade classrooms when I was teaching in public schools. Every day we examined a new dilemma and talked out the scenario until we had good ideas on ways to deal with each issue. This was a great book for its time (published in 1993) and even proved helpful through 2003 when I was still using it with my students — using problem solving skills and collaborative discussion. However, as I read it again with my own children in 2018-2019, I realized that some of these situations are outdated. There are loads of new technological dilemmas that kids are bombarded with that could be included (if Linda Schwartz were to make an updated and revised edition). I would also love to see sources (websites, books, etc.) provided that students could peruse after each discussion for further consideration on each topic. Nevertheless I did like it, overall, and hope to find a good replacement now that we’re finished reading it.
Alrighty, I finished book #4 in this AMAZING series and I (apparently) liked it better than others have. YAY! This one was told from a unique perspective — the king of Sounis. The whole thing feels like one huge retelling of what happened to him. And if you haven’t yet read books #1, #2, and #3 then I won’t spoil anything for you. I’ve just started book #5 and I’m quite excited to complete the first five before book #6, the final installment of the series. It will be published March 19, 2019.
To Be Read:
I’m still working my way through Game Changer and will likely finish that this week. I’ve also started Thick as Thieves (book #5 of The Queen’s Thief series) and I hope to finish The Unteachables, too.
What are YOU reading?