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 can’t believe that Jarrett J. Krosoczka is in my little town, today! I mean, we have less than 6,000 people living here (many are college students) and he’s HERE of all places! In fact, my colleague and fellow #imwayr community member, Elisabeth of the dirigible plum, is actually picking him up from the airport and driving him TWO HOURS to our college this morning. I can’t wait to listen to his talk and get my copy of Hey, Kiddo signed! ❤
It’s been another good reading week. Thank you for visiting and I hope you find something to add to your reading list!
Our Wayward Fate
October 15, 2019
Seventeen-year-old Ali Chu has worked hard to blend in at her “white” school in Indiana. In fact, she’s repeatedly ignored racist comments and laughed things off as no big deal. But when a new boy comes to her school, another Taiwanese American student named Chase, it quickly becomes apparent that she cannot continue to stand by and say nothing. Throughout this story, Ali finds herself being defined by others and confined to relationships she has no choice in. And this is where the larger part of the story dwells as Ali must take a stand on multiple fronts. Over time, she becomes stronger and finds ways to stay up for herself at school, at home, and even as she travels abroad. There is a budding romance in this story as well as chapters from an ancient folktale woven between the modern tale, but it was the history and the mystery that drew me into this one. I also appreciate a YA story where parents can be seen as humans and where family dynamics are challenged and slowly become more hopeful. I’m happy to recommend this one!
Apple In the Middle
August 2, 2018
North Dakota State University Press
This book was on my #MustReadin2019 list, so I was very pleased when my library purchased it. I initially struggled to get into it, because it wasn’t exactly what I was expecting. Nevertheless, once I hit the halfway point, I really wanted to read the rest. Apple Starkington was born to a Native American mother and caucasian father, but her mother died the same day she was born. She’s currently a high schooler in Minnesota and her wealthy surgeon dad and step mom have decided to drop her off at her Native American grandparents’ house for the summer while they go off on their belated honeymoon.
What I enjoyed: Having Apple grow up in the “white” world of Minnesota and then visit the reservation for a whole summer to discover her Native American roots was a great way to explore common misconceptions and to address cultural appropriation. For example, Apple asked what costumes they would wear to the PowWow. She also learned how inappropriate it is to ask someone “how much Indian” they were — because even if Apple was only half Native American, she was still 100% family. The lessons went on and on throughout this story. I adored Apple’s Native American family. There was so much love and acceptance in her extended family and the story was incredibly descriptive for all the senses.
What I struggled with: 1. Apple had never met her Native American grandparents before and knows practically nothing about their culture when she’s dropped off with little warning. This seems highly unusual. 2. As far as we know, she does not hear from her parents all summer long. 3. Apple is very sarcastic and an inner jokester during narration, which would be fine except that it comes out in constant asides (usually squeezed into parenthesis… lots of interspersed parenthesis within this story that slow things down). 4. Without spoiling anything big, I’ll just say that we discover mystical Native American powers–like seeing images of people’s private lives without their knowledge. And this somewhat changes the realistic elements of the story halfway through. 5. There was a very difficult event near the end and I’m not sure I understand why it had to happen. 6. You know the saying show me, don’t tell me? I wish there was more showing as some of the dialogue felt a tad preachy, at times.
Overall, this is an important #ownvoices book, even if there were elements that I found troubling. However, it was Dawn Quigley’s debut middle grade novel, so I’ll be very interested in seeing what she writes on down the road after gaining more experience and feedback on this book.
August 4, 2002
My family says I watched the Coraline movie with them years ago, but I didn’t remember that, except for maybe some faint memory of button eyes. Of course, during that year I was a full-time student finishing my second master’s degree while preparing to give birth to my fourth baby. So I might not remember a lot of details. Anyway, I wanted to see the movie before Halloween this year and figured I should go ahead and read the book, first. Due to it’s age and popularity you don’t need my summary, but it’s so dark and spooky and an all round great story leading up to Halloween! And did you know that Neil Gaiman narrates the audiobook, himself? His voice was quite entertaining and I love that accent. (Here’s what Gaiman has to say about this accent on his blog: “I used to have an English accent. These days I have a transatlantic accent, of the kind that the Americans think is probably English, the English think is probably American, and the Australians and New Zealanders know is neither an Australian nor a New Zealand accent.“)
AWARDS: Bram Stoker Award for Best Work for Young Readers (2002), Hugo Award for Best Novella (2003), Nebula Award for Best Novella (2003), Locus Award for Best Young Adult Novel (2003), World Fantasy Award Nominee for Best Novella (2003)
Mythopoeic Fantasy Award Nominee for Children’s Literature (2003), Dorothy Canfield Fisher Children’s Book Award Nominee (2004), Child Magazine Best Book of the Year, Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards for Best Publication for Teens/Tweens (2009), Elizabeth Burr / Worzalla Award (2003)
September 17, 2019
Katherine Tegen Books
When I started this book I sorta expected it was going to be too similar to Property of the Rebel Librarian or Ban This Book. Yet, while it had similar school “banning” experiences, it was its completely own story and more suited for the YA crowd.
TRIGGER WARNING: attempted suicide
12-grader Clara Evans attends a private high school called LA, located in Tennessee. She’s a volunteer in the school library and, while snooping one day, she discovers a banned books list that is supposed to be a secret to students and the general public. Similar to the two previously mentioned books, Clara runs an unlib (underground library) out of unused lockers. However, there are several important side stories going on, simultaneously, which really make this story an important one. For example, one of the students is struggling with the decision to come out as gay. Another doesn’t want to be pigeon-holed into one category in the school.
Some important themes came out that highlighted the need to not feel alone, to have empathy for others, to not judge because we don’t know the whole story, and so much more. A number of books were mentioned, such as Speak and The Perks of Being a Wallflower, but there’s also a fictional book continually discussed called Don’t Tread on Me and I kinda wondered if Dave Connis might make this a side writing project because the characters are discussed so many times that they felt like part of the story and like this book actually existed. In any case, I found this story very engaging and am happy to recommend it for the high school library!
A Stone Sat Still
August 27, 2019
Oh my, I loved this new picture book from Brendan Wenzel– yet another book on various perspectives that are all a different version of the truth. Both children and adults will enjoy looking over the minute details of this book, page-by-page, discussing how the stone could be so many different things at once — colors, sizes, and purposes changes, depending on perspective. Many will see similarities to his They All Saw a Cat book or other books like Seven Blind Mice.
The artwork in this book was created with a variety of media, including cut paper, colored pencil, oil pastels, marker, and the computer. The illustrations are so very different from page to page, but I’ll provide just one spread as an example, below:
This nonfiction picture book is packed with details and humor. Readers will learn about the three different croc families and how to tell the differences in them by the shape of their snouts, how their teeth look, and where they can be found. Then it breaks down into more details, such as why some crocs keep small rocks in their stomaches, how they use their webbed feet, how they take care of their young, and their diets. Some of the pages are especially busy with the regular text and continual discussion by various characters, so I was worried it wouldn’t go over well with my 5 year old. However, she loved it. She was completely engaged and went on to take the book with her and do her own crocodile artwork. The back matter includes a few extra details as well as a small section for further research. The illustrations in this book were created using pen and ink with digital coloring. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:
Bo the Bat
September 5, 2019
Bo the Bat is a cute new nonfiction picture book about, you guessed it, bats. In rhyming text, the storyline follows Bo as he attempts to teach young children about bats so they won’t be so afraid of him. For example, he explains echolocation (though I wish the book would have used the actual word because we taught this one in kindergarten), spreading pollen, and how many pesky bugs are eaten by bats. The back matter includes more details for young readers to explore. This is one book I would have enjoyed added to my “batty” shelves for our kindergarten bat unit. And the illustrations of Bo are just too stinkin’ cute! I’ll provide on page spread as an example below:
Currently Reading/To Be Read:
I’m finally hoping to start this one. It’s been on my list for WAY too long. Can’t wait!
Reading Challenge Updates: