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 had a wonderful Earth Day! This past week we also gathered up books from home and the library that might somehow fit with the Earth theme. It was also our first week to service our lawnmower, mow the grass, and begin planning out what we want to do in our flowerbeds. Aaaaaaand believe it or not, we’re now expecting up to 12″ of snow over the next three days!! *sigh*
On to my reading… I’m sharing six new books from my reading this week, including the soon-to-be released Up For Air by Laurie Morrison. I hope you’ll find something to add to your TBR pile.
Up For Air
May 7, 2019
Amulet Books, an imprint of
Thirteen-year-old Annabelle is the fastest swimmer on her middle school swim team, but she struggles terribly with her academic school work. She has tutors and special learning plans with her school administrators to keep her grades as high as possible. Clearly, she’s not enjoying anything about school outside of swimming. Now that she’s been invited onto the high school swim team, she’s feeling a bit more confident in her skin. She’s particularly interested in Connor, an older high school boy who has definitely noticed that she is no longer the little “hummingbird” he knew, before. Annabelle enjoys the way he looks at her rapidly developing body and she is willing to go the extra mile just to get more of his attention.
Annabelle’s experiences and desires were spot-on for her age — she is clearly someone who wants to grow up more quickly than she should, but does this mean she must leave behind her younger friends? She faces mature high school topics as she learns about her friend’s eating disorder and attends a beach party where everyone is drinking alcohol. However, Annabelle reaps painful lessons after making some impulsive decisions. And as we so often learn during adolescence, the pain may be exactly what is needed to get her focus back on track.
I really enjoyed Up For Air and think it will be an especially great title during the upcoming summer months with so much swimming and beach visits. There’s been a bit of recent discussion in Teacher-Librarian circles about those readers (usually around 8th to 9th grade) whose reading interests are often too old for middle grade literature and yet they’re not quite mature enough for young adult literature. This book will be a really good bridge for these readers — providing a small window into realistic high school experiences without diving too deeply. For that reason, I would say it’s appropriate for both middle school AND high school libraries.
My thanks to Amulet Books and NetGalley for offering an e-ARC so that I could provide an honest review. This title will release on May 7th — go order it now. I doubt it will stay on the shelves!
We Set the Dark on Fire
Tehlor Kay Mejia
February 26, 2019
Katherine Tegen Books
Daniela Vargas (Dani) is a student of the Medio School for Girls. She was born across the border, but her family yearned to give her a better life. Therefore, she got into the school with forged identification papers. Dani has already been given a shocking marriage proposal by one of the leading bachelors of a high political family. Now, all she has to do is make it through the graduation ceremony and then she will be the Primera wife in a top-notch family.
About the school: The purpose of the Medio School for Girls is to prepare women for their future roles as wives. Husbands take on two wives: the Primera and the Segunda. The Primera does not let emotions control her actions and she firmly handles the business aspects of her husband’s life. The Segunda births and raises children, providing a relaxing home for the husband. The two wives function as a team with their husband to make up a fulfilling marriage and household.
As graduation/marriage draws near, Dani discovers there’s a new verification process for identification papers and she’s in imminent danger of being discovered. It’s at this point that she is approached by someone from a resistance group who offers to clear her name so she can have the life she wants. But does this leave her in their eternal debt?
This is a very fast-paced book that was difficult to put down. Don’t be surprised by the cliff-hanger ending that is sure to leave readers eagerly anticipating the release of book #2!
February 19, 2019
Feiwel & Friends
Twelve-year-old Riley has been admitted to an inpatient treatment center for her anorexia. The book is written as her detailed journal as she documents what has happened in the past and what is currently happening in the treatment facility. She meets a wide variety of girls of all sizes and ethnicities — each one forced to face their own demons. While in the facility, Riley is required to eat everything she’s given, she cannot exercise, and when she urinates she must have someone standing outside the door while she counts aloud (to prove she isn’t secretly vomiting her food). The journey is a very honest depiction of the shame, fear, and anger experienced during treatment. And it’s downright heartbreaking listening to the internal battle. Also shared are the difficult family interactions and frustrations with insurance providers who don’t see an eating disorder as a medical condition unless you’re in eminent danger.
It should be noted that this is an #ownvoices book as Jen Petro-Roy is an eating disorder survivor. I didn’t actually know this until I’d finished the book — so all along I kept wondering Is this really the type of thing they do in these facilities? It’s an insightful and important book — both a window and a mirror for the many experiences associated with discovering and addressing an eating disorder.
September 13, 2016
Balzer + Bray
I placed Naomis Too on my #MustReadin2019 list and didn’t realize it was book #2 in a series. So in book #1, Two Naomis, we meet two 10-year-old girls named Naomi: Naomi Marie and Naomi Edith. Their parents met and fell in love and so they want the two girls to get to know each other. Without their knowledge, their parents enroll them in a technology camp where they must work in teams to program games. Uh oh. Bad move, mom and dad. They’re the same age and seem to have a lot in common, but neither appreciate being forced into a friendship. Over the course of the book, both families work on coming to grips with the previous divorces and having better overall communication. I’m excited to get my hands on book #2 just as soon as it’s available at my library (I’m next on the “holds” list – YAY).
A Boy and a House
September 11, 2018 (in English)
You’ll definitely want to add this title to your list of wordless picture books for young and older readers, alike. A young boy appears to venture out into the city after dark. Where is he going? What’s he doing? (And did you notice when his backpack came off?). It was so satisfying to explore all the details on every page — hidden keys, messages written on the wall, the activities of neighbors (and mice!). I won’t spoil the story ending, but I can share there’s a cat and paper airplanes involved. 🙂
The detailed illustrations are rendered in sepia coloring, except for splashes of muted reds. I was disappointed to not find information on how the artwork was specifically created, but I’ll share one page spread as an example of what to expect, below:
Have I Ever Told You?
Anna Horvath, illustrator
January 8, 2019
Tilbury House Publishers
This book is so much HAPPY! I would have to place this title in the category of “possible Graduation Gifts” because, while it’s a sweet book to read with a young child, it’s also a gorgeous set of reminders to gift a grown teen who is heading off into the world. The pages speak of the child being loved, being special, being fun to listen to, etc. Then there are a series of important life instructions on how to do the right thing, even in tough situations. It’s so innocent, but also very meaningful.
The illustrations are quite creative and inviting. There is a beautiful mixture of skin tones throughout each page and playful animations occurring atop each hand. I did not see information on how the artwork was created, but I’ll provide one page-spread as an example:
To Be Read:
This next week I plan to finish reading Just South of Home by Karen Strong, Caterpillar Summer by Gillian McDunn, and Fox & Chick: The Quiet Boat Ride and Other Stories by Sergio Ruzzier.