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!
I’m so exhausted. And in pain. I don’t remember the last time I’ve worked this hard in the hot sun, but the house is beginning to look pretty great — at least from the outside. The inside is a whole different issue, so we’ll handle one thing at a time. With such a limited timeframe, it seems insane to stop working to blog. However, I simply can’t let a week slip by without writing a quick #imwayr post and checking out what the rest of the community is up to. Last week I discovered it was the exact halfway point in the year and I was running behind on my #MustReadin2019 list, so this week I finished two more books from that pile. I’ll have to make this more of a priority in future weeks.
The Oceans Between Stars
(Chronicle of the Dark Star #2)
February 13, 2018
Walden Pond Press
I became enthralled with Emerson’s Chronicle of the Dark Star series, last year. It’s wonderful to see a science fiction series that doesn’t dumb down the terminology for middle graders. Additionally, the story is intricate woven, but feels fast-paced. I’m very pleased to learn that my 13 year old son now wants to read it. YAY! Quick rehash from book number one, Last Day on Mars: The story starts in year 2213 and we learn that Earth is gone and all remaining humans fled to Mars. Liam’s and Phoebe’s parents are part of the scientific team who discovered a new solar system to terraform that will sustain humans long-term, so they prepare to make the lengthy journey. In the meantime, the two main characters discover proof of another intelligent being just before the sun dies. And now it appears that their sun might not have died on its own–perhaps there were other forces at work. We are left on a cliffhanger where The Oceans Between Stars picks up.
Aaaaaaand the second book did NOT disappoint! I don’t want to spoil anything for those who will soon dive into this series, so… Liam is attempting to reconnect with his little sister, who left Mars before he did. He continues to experiment with a special watch he found and learns there are multiple outcomes to his future, depending on what he chooses. We learn a lot more about Phoebe’s family, as well, and the theme of this book revolves a great deal around human behavior and the power of trust. These are a few of the quotes I bookmarked from book #2:
“Trust is a power adaptation of three-dimensional beings. The hope or belief in something. It’s your engine for still making a choice when you don’t have all possible information.”
“If there’s anything I learned in all those history lessons I had to sit through on Mars, it’s that [the human] species doesn’t have the best track record when somebody else is living on the land that [they] want.”
“One of the unfortunate things about a life lived in only three dimensions is that you do not know how or when you are going to die. You’d be surprised how much easier things are, knowing how long you have and what part you play.”
There’s such depth to the relationships in this series. These books need to be in both middle grade and upper teen collections. I plan to squeeze in book #3 just as soon as possible!!
Thirteen Reasons Why
October 18, 2007
I can’t believe this book has been out for over a decade! Due to its popularity among teens, I guess I’m glad that I finally got to read it. In short, teenage Hannah Baker releases recordings that discuss her specific reasons for committing suicide (and has the audio tapes secretly released after she’s already gone). Many of those reasons were specific actions of other schoolmates — some actions were typical mindless things that happen daily in high schools all over the world, so teens can really relate to these experiences. That said, I’m not sure anyone in that mental state would have the capacity to carry out such an elaborate and vindictive plan. Maybe, maybe not.
Back when the Netflix adaptation of this book was released, my daughter was 13 (almost 14). ALL her middle school friends had watched it and she was begging for us to let her. Knowing the seriousness of the topic, my husband and I watched it alone, first. And we decided that since she was so young, we preferred she read the book before watching it on television. I mean, there’s some real nastiness between the characters — not to mention rape. And we initially thought these experiences would be easier to first experience in text. Now I’m not so sure. Because while the book is interesting, I didn’t quite connect with the Hannah Baker in the book the way I did with the Hannah Baker of the television series. For some reason, she sounds even more vindictive and angry in text. Anyway, it’s a very important topic and I know this one was quite meaningful for teens to discuss over the last decade, so I’m glad it’s made an impact on so many and initiated important discussion. But this is one of the very few cases where I actually enjoyed the Netflix version more than the book. I haven’t watched beyond season one, though. If you have, let me know what you think!
AWARDS: Georgia Peach Book Award Nominee for Honor book (2009), California Book Award for Young Adult (Silver) (2007), South Carolina Book Award for Young Adult Book (2010), Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis Nominee for Preis der Jugendjury (2010), Lincoln Award (2013), Missouri Gateway Readers Award (2010), Oklahoma Sequoyah Award for High School (2010)
Mixed: A Colorful Story
July 3, 2018
Henry Holt and Company
This little picture book is the story of three communities of very different people who each think they’re the best. The Reds, Blues, and Yellows eventually decide to live in different parts of the city. Until one day when two colors “mix” and start a whole new trend. Some are angry about this attraction, but over time the colors all catch on. This book is in a similar vein to Splatter by Diane Alber, but it’s a little more obvious that Mixed is basically about humanity. My one complaint would be that it ended kinda abruptly. Nevertheless, it’s still a sweet book that will be a great addition to any children’s library.
The artwork was rendered with black India ink with brush and acrylics on Rives BFK paper. I’ll provide one example, below:
Jon J. Muth
March 1, 2003
Someone from our #imwayr community (I think it was Cheriee!) recently mentioned this version of Stone Soup being their favorite. I was able to ILL this through our college this summer, and now I know why it’s a favorite! Instead of focusing on tricking people, its purpose is on community and the value of fellowship. In the back matter, the author’s note briefly explains the traditional roots of Stone Soup and shares how Muth decided to use China as a setting in this retelling. Careful attention is given to the Buddha story tradition, including enlightenment and the three deities Hok, Lok, and Siew. And the color yellow, only worn by royalty long ago, is given to a little girl who we discover is quite exceptional. There are other little Easter eggs to find along the way, so be sure to slowly enjoy the illustrations in this one (and definitely read the back matter to understand the signs and symbols from China)!
The artwork was created with watercolor and ink. I’ll share one of my favorite page spreads as an example, below:
To Be Read:
I’m over a third of the way through All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr. It won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize and WOW is it good! It’s on my #BigBookSummer challenge list (531 pages), so I’m not sure what else I’ll squeeze in this week with all the house work.