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!
NOTE: I noticed, on Saturday, that the audiobook of The Mystery of Black Hollow Lane is currently on sale for $3.99 through Chirp. I don’t get any compensation for sharing this information, I just remember really enjoying this one last summer (I read it in print format and book #2 in the series will be released in March 2020).
This week, I was pleased to check off two more great books from my #MustReadin2019 list: Scythe by Neal Shusterman and The Serpent’s Secret by Sayantani DasGupta. The only problem is, now I want to jump to the next book in each of those series! LOL In any case, that brings me to having read 33 out of the 42 on my “must read” list. Just six more weeks to go!!
Thank you for visiting, today. Whether it’s a brand new book or an older title you missed, I hope you find something of interest to add to your reading wish list!
(Circus Mirandus #1)
June 2, 2015
I missed this book back in 2015, so I’m in catch-up mode. First, I must thank Netgalley and Dial Books for re-releasing this ARC and approving it for my reading enjoyment, this month.
Circus Mirandus follows young Micah Tuttle into the final days of his Grandpa Ephraim‘s life. The backstory is interspersed throughout the story, sharing Ephraim’s grand childhood adventure at Circus Mirandus and the miracle he was promised by the Man Who Bends Light. Now that Ephraim is in his last days, he must cash in his one miracle. However, he is so sick that he cannot leave his home — especially with bitter Aunt Gertrudis guarding his room like a hawk. So young Micah teams up with his new friend, Jenny Mendoza, to hopefully save the day. But will Micah find the magical circus before time runs out? For no one can see the circus if they do not truly believe in it.
This is a beautiful story of friendship, of sacrifice, and especially of the boundless love between a grandfather and grandson. It’s also the story of painful choices and the hope of redemption. For half of the story, I had a painful lump wedged in my throat and I knew tears were inevitable. But oh the love… What a very special “must read” middle grade book! Did you know that book #2 to this series, The Bootlace Magician, was just published last month?
AWARDS: Mythopoeic Fantasy Award Nominee for Children’s Literature (2016), Texas Bluebonnet Award Nominee (2017), Pennsylvania Young Readers’ Choice Award Nominee for Grades 3-6 (2017), Keystone to Reading Book Award Nominee for Middle School (2017), Dorothy Canfield Fisher Children’s Book Award Nominee (2017),
Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Debut Goodreads Author (2015), NCTE Charlotte Huck Award Nominee (2016)
The Serpent’s Secret
(Kiranmala and the Kingdom Beyond #1)
February 27, 2018
Wouldn’t it be amazing to discover a middle grade series with a smart, strong female lead, flooded with non-stop action and adventure, all intermixed with Indian folklore? Well, look no further, DasGupta has you covered! Kiran wakes up on her 12th birthday, hops on her school bus, and has no reason to expect it’ll be anything other than a normal day. But when she returns home and is met by a snot-nosed rakkhosh demon and two princes, she begins to think maybe the mythological stories her parents always told her were more than just stories. This adventure is full of riddles and heart — I absolutely gobbled it up. I’m late to this series, but am definitely interested in diving into book #2 (which was released in February) and book #3 (which will be released this March).
AWARDS: Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Middle Grade & Children’s (2018)
(Arc of a Scythe #1)
November 22, 2016
Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers
I find myself constantly late to some of the hottest series out there, and Arc of a Scythe is no exception. I mean, just look at the long list of awards listed below this review! Since the final book in this series was being released this month, I figured it was time to start reading book #1. And WOW did I enjoy it! It’s a simple concept: humanity has conquered death. There’s no illness or starvation. Aging exists, but you can turn the corner and revert back to younger years at any time. Nevertheless, the world still needs to eliminate a certain number of people every year to prevent overpopulation. Scythes are trained in numerous ways to glean their subjects — knives, poisons, hand-to-hand combat, electrocution, etc. But for the most sincere of scythes, the hardest decision lies in selecting the victims.
Citra and Rowan are two teenagers selected to become scythe apprentices. Neither wants the job, which is exactly why they were chosen. After a year of training, one of them will be awarded a full scythe position while the other returns to their previous life. I hesitate to say too much, but it’s dark, has wonderful world building, and there’s so much grit with these characters. I heartily recommend book #1 and I cannot wait to start the next one of the series: Thunderhead.
AWARDS: Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire Nominee for Roman jeunesse étranger (2018) (2019), Michael L. Printz Award Nominee (2017), South Carolina Book Award Nominee for Young Adult (2019), Rhode Island Teen Book Award (2018), Lincoln Award Nominee (2019), Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Young Adult Fantasy & Science Fiction (2017), Missouri Gateway Readers Award Nominee (2018), Premio El Templo de las Mil Puertas Nominee for Mejor novela extranjera perteneciente a saga (2017), Rebecca Caudill Young Readers’ Book Award Nominee (2020)
Eric Fan, illustrator
Terry Fan, illustrator
September 3, 2019
I’ve read more than enough frightening books about scarecrows, but this is nothing of the sort. This adorable scarecrow is lonely, but he serves his purpose by scaring away animals and protecting the crops. One day the unexpected happens and it turns out there’s more than meets the eye to the old scarecrow. Gentle rhyming text matches the gorgeous, soft illustrations in a tale that beautifully expresses loneliness, friendship, compassion, and love. Additionally, it’s a story that can be shared throughout the year as it discusses the various seasons the scarecrow stays put.
The artwork was created using pencil, ballpoint, and Photoshop. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:
Filled with expressive, sketch-like illustrations, this book briefly chronicles the history of the first dive of the Bathysphere as created and used by Otis Barton and Will Beebe. This really paved the way for the deep sea work we know of, today. But it was cutting edge at the time. The development was fascinating and the first trip was, I must say, slightly terrifying — not only were the two men in an extremely confined space, but there was some equipment malfunction that easily could have ended their lives. The back matter was so amazing, featuring historical black and white photos with more details than the picture book could share. Along with author/illustrator notes and sources, there was an intriguing section from Constance Carter, Beebe’s former zoology assistant for some of his work in the Caribbean. So definitely take some time to explore the back of this book!
The artwork in this book was done in pencil, watercolor, gouache, and ink. However, the back matter explains in vivid (and humorous) detail the research and artistic process for the illustrations. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:
AWARDS: NCTE Orbis Pictus Award Nominee (2019)
The Pigeon HAS to Go to School
July 2nd 2019
Pigeon really doesn’t want to go to school. He uses every excuse in the book to demonstrate why it’s a bad idea. I mean, he already knows everything, he’s not a morning person, he might not like it, and his head might pop off! In this hilarious take on school anxiety, we eventually see that pigeon has every reason to be excited about starting school. A cute must-read to kick off the school year!
I’ll provide one page spread as an example of Willems hilarious artwork:
Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs
September 4, 2012
Balzer + Bray
Since I’m already sharing one book by Mo Willems this week, why not another? I recently picked this funny older title up from our local rummage sale. My younger daughter has a thing for dinosaurs and so I figured she would be excited. The story is a retelling of the classic Goldilocks and the Three Bears, but adapted for dinosaurs in place of bears. The dinosaur family has, clearly, heard of Goldilocks and they purposefully set up their home so that this little trespasser will invade their space and stay long enough to be captured. It’s an adorable ending with separate morals for children and dinosaurs.
In the end, I wouldn’t say my 5-year-old “loved” this one because it’s geared toward a more mature group of children (plus adults!!) who can capture all the sarcasm, inside jokes, and some of the bigger words. But she did still like it and laugh at the pictures while we read it. In a couple years we can return to it and she will probably pick up on more of the humor. That said, be sure to move your eyes all over the page to discover hidden jokes in the illustrations!
I’ll provide one page spread as an example of Willems humorous artwork in this book:
AWARDS: Irma Black Award Nominee (2013), Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Picture Books (2012)
To Be Read:
I am looking forward to the release of The Queen of Nothing (book #3 of The Folk of the Air trilogy) by Holly Black, tomorrow. My pre-ordered copy better be in my mailbox before supper so I can snuggle up and read late into Tuesday evening! I’m also hoping to start Hearts Unbroken by Cynthia Leitich Smith, and I’m currently listening to Look Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks by Jason Reynolds on audiobook. I’ll plan to review the picture book Memphis, Martin, and the Mountaintop by Alice Faye Duncan next week, and the college library just sent me a message saying five more picture books I ordered have arrived. So who knows what else I’ll get to… 🙂