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 want to thank everyone for your sweet comments on my daughter’s guitar/singing performance that I embedded in my post, last week. After the show that Sunday, we had a blizzard hit on Wednesday that closed all our schools and many businesses for 3 days (4/10 to 4/12), but we slipped out of the house in the middle of the storm to grab up a couple print copies of the local newspaper story for her scrapbook. It’s quite fulfilling watching children find and explore their many passions in life!
It’s Monday! What am I reading? Well, to tell you the truth, I am mostly reading with my ears (audiobooks), presently. I had a mishap with my glasses while shoveling snow from our PREVIOUS blizzard in April. One of my lenses popped out and couldn’t be found in the piles of snow (WHY was I even wearing them out there?!). I’ve been using my old reading glasses over the last three weeks and it’s been no fun at all. They estimated a cost of $105 to replace just one plain plastic lens with no coatings or anything. That was simply out of the question right now. BUT! I’m happy to report that after most of the snow melted, we found the lens sitting right in our driveway. I still need to have it thoroughly cleaned and reattached, but that should take no time at all (and will be FREE!!). I’m feeling pretty lucky right now! On to my reading week…
On the Come Up
February 5, 2019
Balzer + Bray
Sixteen-year-old Bri has had a pretty rough life. She lost her father when she was only 4 years old, and her mother was strung out on drugs for a very long time, requiring Bri and her older brother, Trey, to live with their grandparents. Before Bri’s father died, he was becoming a rap star in the community. So as Bri begins to show her rapping talent and strength, she is constantly compared to her father. But she is definitely her own person – not wanting to ride on anyone’s coattails!
Bri’s and Trey’s mom hates the fact that her past life with drugs has held everyone back. It destroyed her relationship with their grandparents and makes it nearly impossible to get a job anywhere. Who wants to hire a past drug addict? And yet, Trey has done everything “right” from the beginning. He went to college, got the degree, and still ended up back at home, delivering pizzas just to help his mom and Bri make ends meet. Nevertheless, he has a hefty college loan payment to make each month and so they still experience hunger and the loss of electricity, even when they’re scraping everything they can together every single month. There are times when everything feels so hopeless, but that’s such an important point to the story — to witness just how miraculous it is to get “on the come up” in this life.
On the Come Up tackles a number of issues, including: sexism, racism (including racial profiling within a high school), economic inequality, gang activity, gun control (including guns in the schools), gossip/rumors, and more. NOTE: While not a sequel, this story does appear to take place in the same community as The Hate You Give, and some passages allude to things that took place there in the past. In fact, I kept waiting to hear Starr’s name (but it doesn’t happen — sorry!). This story, however, is quite different from THUG and will be a sobering window for many of our youth who cannot yet wrap their minds around the multiple obstacles Bri’s family faces, every day.
Laurie Halse Anderson
March 12, 2019
Penguin Young Readers Group
I am beyond happy that I took the time to listen to this audiobook, actually narrated by Laurie Halse Anderson. How was it? It was painful, liberating, fierce, comforting, peaceful, and… so very inspiring. Shout is a free verse poetry memoir that provides a strong narrative, even referring back to Speak, at times. It’s absolutely stunning to hear about Anderson’s personal life/family experiences, as painful as they were, and see such wisdom in her current reflection. I don’t know why I never read Speak, but I definitely will after this experience. It’s books like this that make me want to write. Or better yet, to SHOUT!
Amber Ren, illustrator
March 5, 2019
Hyperion Books for Children
This is a lovely picture book about chance happenings in our lives as well as cause and effect. In this story, it starts with the “BECAUSE” that inspired the composers of the beautiful music, then later the “BECAUSE” that inspired the orchestra members to learn to play and to come together, and so on. So many people and events play a valuable role in an ultimate performance of brilliant music. And then that performance goes on to be the “BECAUSE” behind another great achievement and achiever.
There’s usually a domino effect in our lives that can be traced back to something or someone (or many someones) long ago who impacted our lives. Perhaps, with children, this story will inspire them to be looking out for their own “BECAUSE.”
Of the many touching parts of this book, I adored the author’s dedication “To the memory of Charles M. Schulz, my BECAUSE.” Ahhh, the feels. Furthermore, I’m always delighted to add one more music picture book to my list for my “teaching music in the elementary classroom” college course. I’ll provide one page-spread, below:
Maria Karipidou, illustrator
March 12, 2019
Walker Books US
A Division of Candlewick Press
PLEASE BE AWARE: Angry Cookie has experienced several very unfortunate events, back-to-back, in the last day. So please understand, you’re meeting Angry Cookie at a low point. A very low point. But if you make it to the end of the book, Angry Cookie discovers that you hung in there, even when confronted with a grumpy, mean, moany, sulky, horrid, and angry cookie. The book showcases the fact that sometimes the best thing we can do is listen patiently while our friends heal from a rough patch. (Angry Cookie is not identified as male or female, but Angry Cookie goes to a barber for a haircut and has a roommate named Barbra who is referred to as “her”.)
The humorous artwork in this book was created digitally. Here’s one example:
William Wakes Up
Chuck Groenink, illustrator
February 5, 2019
This book is a sequel to William’s Winter Nap, published in 2017. Both books showcase rhyming text and the counting of animals. In book #1, more animals are added to the bed for a long winter nap. However, in book #2, the animals are subtracted from the bed, one at a time, AND in a different order than they were added in the first book. Furthermore, there’s one sneaky animal who might be pretending to be asleep while all the others take care of the work.
This story could be used with children to supplement a discussion of hibernation, the start of spring, addition/subtraction, the importance of everyone lending a helping hand, or even comparing/discussing the change-up in order of animals between the two books. The softly colored artwork was created with pencils and Photoshop. I’ll provide one page-spread as an example, below:
Arrr, Mustache Baby!
Mustache Baby series
Joy Ang, illustrator
March 5, 2019
Imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
In this new installment of the Mustache Baby series, Baby Billy and Baby Javier sail across the seven seas (or the community swimming pool) to find treasure. During their adventure, things go awry and they end up becoming mean-spirited PIRATES! Toward the end, we read: “AVAST! The pirates were caught and forced to stand trial!” MEANING, their parents pulled them from the water and placed them in separate timeouts for naps. In the end, everyone is playing happily together again and all is well.
The artwork in this book was created digitally. I’ll provide one spread as an example, below:
To Be Read:
I’m excited to be finishing Up For Air, this week. It’s due for publication in May and has been an enjoyable read, thus far. I am planning to start on Two Naomis before I read Naomis Too, which is on my #MustReadin2019 list. I also picked up a colorful picture book named Splatter from our local public library and I am slowly working my way through Who Wrote the Bible? with my husband. He’s read the original, repeatedly, for a Literature of the Bible course he teaches at our college. Now he’s re-reading this one with me (an updated edition). This will probably take a few weeks for me to digest because it covers a great deal of information.