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 to share what you’ve been reading!
Our family is right in the middle of having the exterior of our house painted and WOW is it a disruption to our regular lives. I’m finding my personal schedule interrupted more often than normal, so I hope the next week will go more smoothly. The kids also seem more hyper than usual (primarily just excited to see the new paint color going on), so I just never know when I’ll be able to squeeze in some reading. This week I was able to finish The Mystery of Black Hollow Lane, Other Words for Home, Watership Down, and Charlie & Mouse Even Better. I look forward to hearing about what you’re reading!
The Mystery of Black Hollow Lane
(Black Hollow Lane #1)
March 5, 2019
Oooh, I really enjoyed this first book in a brand new series! Young Emmy lost her father on her third birthday and her “parenting expert” mother has shipped her off to Wellsworth boarding school when her work (in the US) gets incredibly busy. Emmy struggles to blend in and eventually stumbles upon a secret society and ancient artifacts that seem related to her personal family history. I don’t want to spoil anything, but I CAN say I flew through this story. I’ve heard some think this is a Harry Potter rip-off, but I wouldn’t go that far. There are definitely similar elements, especially considering the main character is attending a boarding school in England where there are mysteries and secrets. But there’s no magic (at least so far) and the story offers enough unique components to make it its own story. I believe Harry Potter fans will dive into the charming Wellsworth world and I’m excited to continue with the series when book #2 is released!
Other Words for Home
May 7, 2019
Balzer + Bray
Each person I’m friends with on Goodreads who already read this book gave it 5 stars, so I was excited when it came available for check out. Told in verse, we learn that Jude’s family is in danger. She and her pregnant mother leave their home (and father and brother) in Syria and head to the United States to stay with her aunt, uncle, and cousin. Once she enrolls in the local schools, Jude experiences America as a brand new Arab immigrant. Her accent, headscarf, and skin color may give her far more obstacles than many American children face, but she’s determined and optimistic.
Jude’s first impressions of America were quite insightful and I captured a number of quotes to remind me of the feelings I had while reading:
Clifton is filled with old, big houses. Aunt Michelle tells us that their house is over 100 years old and I can tell she is proud of this. But I’m not sure why. Everyone back home wants a new house, not an old one. When I ask mama about it, she says, “Americans don’t have much history, so they like things they think are old.”
“Hoping, I’m starting to think, might be the bravest thing a person can do.”
“I have learned Americans love to say “you know” and then stop talking. They force you to fill in the hard parts, the things they are not brave enough to say.”
I adored Jude’s voice and wisdom. More than once, she gave me an open window through which I considered my own thoughts and habits. 🙂 This is a very important addition to modern refugee reads! And since this was my first Jasmine Warga book, I’ll just add that it won’t be my last.
Puffin Books & Penguin Books
Years ago, when my husband first told me about Watership Down, he said that it’s important to remember that this story isn’t really about rabbits — that it’s really about people. Richard Adams claims this isn’t an allegory and that it was simply a story he created to entertain his daughters on a long trip, but I find that very hard to believe. In Watership Down, he crafted a beautiful, intricate tale that highlights the value of friendship, courage, wisdom, perseverance, and teamwork. Through his narration, I experienced empathy even for the cruelest of rabbits, and I found myself nodding in agreement at the judgment of humankind and our treatment of the world. I’m relieved that I don’t have to write a synopsis for the book because this heroic tale was huge (and I would later kick myself for leaving out some important detail). I’m very pleased that I took this summer to read it! It was on my #MustReadin2019 list and now I can watch the new Netflix original Watership Down series with my 11 year old. If you aren’t familiar with the series, you can watch the trailer RIGHT HERE.
Charlie & Mouse Even Better
Emily Hughes, illustrator
April 2, 2019
If you’ve loved the other books in the Charlie & Mouse, then I’d say you’re in for a treat with the latest addition to the series about two little brothers. Book #3 is focused on mom’s birthday — including picking out a present and resolving a cooking catastrophe. One thing we know for sure by the end of this book: Mom’s the best! It’s super cute and, of course, great for emergent readers who want simple text in chapter book format. The artwork was created by hand and with Photoshop. Here’s one page-spread as an example, below:
To Be Read:
Next week I’ll discuss With the Fire on High, Destination Moon, Mae Among the Stars, and Merci Suárez Changes Gears.