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!
It’s so difficult for me stay on top of blogging over the holidays, so I’m posting rather late again this week. But THANK YOU for visiting today. I’m excited to be reviewing a brand new book called I, Cosmo by Carlie Sorosiak, along with a number of other titles I got my hands on. Whether it’s a new book or older title, I hope you find something of interest to add to your reading wish list this week!
December 24, 2019
Walker Books UsS
Absolutely fantastic! I know this was intended for the middle grade audience, but I adored the story — laughing out loud and tearing up throughout. Cosmo is an older golden retriever and he’s the one who narrates this story. His boy, Max, is struggling with the realization that his mom and dad aren’t getting along and they might eventually split up. So Cosmo feels it’s his responsibility to hold the family together. The story comes at this topic from a unique position, showcasing how divorce impacts everyone (including our beloved pets). I love how expressive Cosmo is and how he reads and interprets common human actions. I’ll admit that I was nervous because Cosmo is getting up there in age, but this story has a happy ending and will soon be a favorite in children’s and middle grade libraries. I also appreciated the note at the very end, encouraging readers to first look at shelters and rescues when they want to adopt a dog. I highly recommend! My thanks to NetGalley, Carlie Sorosiak, and Candlewick Press for providing an ARC in exchange for my honest response.
The 12th Candle
October 8, 2019
Katherine Tegen Books
Sage Sassafras is plagued by the Contrarium Curse, meaning that she and classmate Priscilla Petty get the opposite in luck. Believe it or not, the curse actually began a full generation ago when their mothers were struck by pink lightning. However, on Sage’s twelfth birthday, she receives a magical birthday candle complete with a long list of rules on how to get magical wishes fulfilled. Can Sage simply wish away the Contrarium Curse or will there be extreme consequences? This was a wonderful story that included great lessons on poor life choices, friendship, relationships with parents, and much more. I really enjoyed this one and look forward to reading Tomsic’s The 11:11 Wish very soon!
An American Marriage
January 29, 2018
There’s so much pain and heartbreak in this story, but it’s written quite beautifully and realistically. Celestial and Roy are a young, black couple, navigating life in the south when Roy is abruptly accused of rape. Everyone who knows Roy knows there’s no way he could have committed this crime and he even has a strong alibi, but the trial doesn’t go as expected and he is sentenced to 12 years in jail. Celestial is devastated, but she decides to continue being marriage to Roy while running her very successful business.
“My prayer for you is for peace, which is something you have to make. You can’t just have it.”
The relationships are so strongly written in this story, the internal thoughts and pain are deeply felt, and the family ties are quite apparent. This was one of the final books on my #MustReadin2019 list and I’m very glad I was able to squeeze it in at the last minute. Check out that list of rewards!
AWARDS: National Book Award Nominee for Fiction (2018), Audie Award Nominee for Audiobook of the Year (2019), Los Angeles Times Book Prize Nominee for Fiction (2018), Women’s Prize for Fiction (2019), Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Fiction (2018), NAACP Image Award Nominee for Fiction (2019), Aspen Words Literary Prize Nominee for Longlist (2019), The Orwell Prize Nominee for Political Fiction for Longlist (2019), Clara Johnson Award for Women’s Literature (2019)
Dan Santat, illustrator
June 5, 2018
We finally got a copy of Drawn Together at my local library and now I see what I’ve been missing all this time! This is a beautiful story of a young boy and his grandfather overcoming language barriers by using art in place of words. The artwork is stunning — some with colors half-filled in, as if the drawing is still happening while you’re reading it. Wow!
AWARDS: Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Picture Books (2018), Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature for Literature for Picture Book (2019)
The artwork in this book was created in traditional mixed media and composited on the computer. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:
July 18, 2017
While this picture book may appear to be a simple rhyming and counting book, it’s much more than that. As the first half counts up to 10, we mostly just see dogs sitting in the pictures by themselves. But on the countdown from 10 to 1, we begin seeing the dogs interacting with potential adopters. Because today is adoption day! ❤️ I’ve shared that we lost our fur baby, Sophie, back in October and that we’re currently fostering another pup (with the potential to adopt). I cannot overstate how much appreciate I have for all those who give of their time and energy to find families for homeless dogs — there are many jobs including transportation, medical care (spay, neuter, vaccinate), foster families, dog walkers, running events to help find homes, and organizing social media and other forms of advertising. To my knowledge, our local chapter is entirely run by volunteers. Please consider checking out your local shelters to see if you can lend a hand!
The artwork in this book was created in ink, using brushes and pans; it was then composed and colored digitally. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:
Everyone Walks Away
February 14, 2018
This book is quite thought provoking and took me some time to digest. Frank is alone as everyone walks away. He keeps noticing Tilly, Paul, and Milan having fun without him. Eventually, Frank goes home and cries into a pot. He adds sugar to his tears and, over the course of two or three hours, he transforms his tears into jam. Then he sets up a cart with tea, toast, and the jam, and invites his friends to join him for a snack. They accept his invitation and, as we turn to the very last page, we see just the cart with crumbs and dirty cups. Frank is no longer at home and I’m left believing he’s off playing with the friends who previously walked away. Once I get past the gag factor of tear jam, there’s a lot to unload and discuss here. Sometimes we need to step away from the things that hurt us. Sometimes solitude is healing. Sometime we can use our sorrow to generously let people into our lives. And sometimes friends don’t even realize they’ve been leaving us out. From reading other reviews, I understand that it’s important to trust children with stories like this and that they understand and interpret more than we expect. But I can also understand why some may not appreciate this story, initially. For example, I shared it with my 16 year old who immediately responded with: “So… he’s feeding everyone his tears? That’s not very sanitary.” 😂
I’ll provide one page spread as an example of what to expect from the illustrations in this picture book:
Lucy Rush Cummins
July 24, 2018
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
This is a Halloween story about a little pumpkin that is perfect in every way, except for the fact that he has a stump, and not a stem. As all the other pumpkins on the shelf get sold off through the week before Halloween, Stumpkin is left behind. But never you worry, Stumpkin ends up being A-okay. Oh this one is so very CUTE! I’ll have to pull it out again next October and go pick out a “very nearly” perfect pumpkin when we make our jack-o’-lanterns. OH! And this book has some serious weight to it — thick, heavy pages. With mostly shades of black and white, the artwork showcases splashes of orange, green, and yellow. The illustrations for this book were rendered in gouache, pencil, ink, and brush marker. I’ll provide one page spread as an example of what to expect, below:
To Be Read:
This week I plan to finish reading my ARC of Farah Rocks Fifth Grade by Susan Muaddi Darraj and I hope to keep working on the last 5 books of my #MustReadin2019 list while I put together my 2020 list.
Reading Challenge Updates:
Goodreads Challenge 2020 – 4/200
I’ll work on my #MustReadin2020 list this week!