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!
What have I been reading?
The Bridge Home
February 5, 2019
Nancy Paulsen Books
Imprint of Penguin Random House
The Bridge Home shares the journey of Viji and Rukku, two young sisters who take to the streets of India after facing abuse in their own home. It’s a difficult read due to the heartache they experience along the way, but there’s also such beautiful writing of the close bond of these sisters (and bonds made with other homeless children). Their pain is so deeply felt as they miss their mother, face hunger, lack necessary health care, and yearn for an education. Padma Venkatraman wrote this book after numerous interviews with adults and children in India. It’s this type of story that not only encourages empathy for those in such dire situations (and thankfulness for what we have), but it also causes the reader to question what makes up a family. I highly recommend The Bridge Home — a touching and important read for 2019!
The Lost Girl
February 12, 2019
Walden Pond Press
Iris and Lark are twins, heading into the fifth grade. They may be identical, but they’re not the same. Lark is the artistic dreamer, while Iris is more practical. But they are the very best of friends and have always been together. This is the first year they will be placed in different classes and they are NOT happy about this turn of events. Iris has always been the caretaker of Lark, protecting her from those who don’t understand her. So she is especially worried about how Lark, the sensitive, creative, dreamer, will manage on her own:
School wasn’t about being creative. It was about doing what you were told. Most kids learn that by fifth grade, but Lark had not.
Both girls learn a lot about themselves throughout this story as they find their own path and pod, but they also learn some important things about one another. I carried a lump in my throat through some especially difficult passages and felt a constant hint of magic, throughout. This one will be so hard to keep on the shelves!
I won my copy of this book through a giveaway on Teach Mentor Texts. So thank you to Jen Vincent and Walden Pond Press for sending this one out, right away!
A Very Large Expanse of Sea
October 16, 2018
This story begins in the fall of 2002, just one year after the fateful events of 9/11. Shirin is a 16-year-old Muslim high school student who has faced her fair share of racism over the years. So when she meets Ocean (a wealthy, white boy) in one of her classes, and he seems genuinely interested in learning more about her, she’s skeptical of his motivation.
I trusted no one anymore. I was so raw from repeated exposure to cruelty that now even the most minor abrasions left a mark. The checkout lady at the grocery store would be rude to me. And her simple unkindness would unnerve me for the rest of the day. Because I never know. I had no way of knowing. Are you racist or are you just having a bad day? I could no longer distinguish people from monsters. I looked out at the world around me and no longer saw nuance. I saw nothing but the potential for pain and the subsequent need to protect myself, constantly.
As Sharin develops a friendship with Ocean, it’s clear there are some feelings of romance there. But whether or not Sharin will allow this to develop further is unknown. She, understandably, seems to hold everyone at arm’s length. Meanwhile, Ocean thinks everyone sees the world the way he does and that she should have nothing to fear.
…it was so hard for Ocean to stomach that the world was filled with such awful people. I tried to tell him that the bigots and the racists had always been here. And he said he’d honestly never seen them like this. That he never thought they could be like this. And I said, “Yes, I know. That’s how privilege works.” He was stunned.
If I could write this entire review with quotes, I would. 🙂 I found the story very meaningful — especially for me, due to some experiences my school faced in the aftermath of 9/11. Oh, and… the title of this book is a definition. I totally missed that until right as I finished the book (but it’s pretty cool, now that I know!).
I hope this one makes it into many high schools, public libraries, and college libraries to offer a window/mirror for those who need it, most. I’ve wanted to check out Tahereh Mafi’s Shatter Me series for a long time, now. And after this experience I think I’ll bump it up on my list!
My 4-year-old’s birthday is in three weeks, so it is the perfect time to read this new birthday book with her. This one is filled with Eric Carle’s expected bright, colorful artwork and you can find the Very Hungry Caterpillar crawling throughout the page spreads of flowers, presents, dancing, and cake. The 24-paged book is very small — easy to slip into a purse (and a perfect birthday gift for any little reader in your life).
I had high hopes for this book. Since 2007, I’ve taught an information literacy college course for K-12 teachers and education majors. After reading the book introduction and blurbs, I considered this a potential textbook to equip them with for use in their classrooms. Nevertheless, I was disappointed. That’s not to say there weren’t some important sections with useful data. It’s just that at times it came across as judgmental and openly partisan.
Heavily debated, multi-facet political topics were briefly mentioned as real world examples, but they lacked any depth or meaningful discussion from more than one position. Given the title, I expected there to be some political slant–I guess I just didn’t expect it to be so obvious. With many parents accusing schools of indoctrinating their children with political beliefs, I think this book might cause some undue tension. I definitely want to encourage our K-12 students to listen, debate, and problem-solve with one another, while also carefully examining their sources of information. But for the time being, I think we’ll continue to use multiple online sources to teach this topic.
To Be Read:
This week I’ll begin with The Book of Boy, The Swish of the Curtain (Blue Door #1), A Little Chicken, and Misunderstood Shark.