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!
Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day! This is the first year that we have officially cancelled all classes and planned some bigger-than-usual events for students to attend. For example, in addition to our regular march up Main Street and open mic opportunities, hip-hop artist Ali Tomineek will perform on campus this afternoon and then will give a keynote speech later in the evening. And we’ll also have a screening of the movie Southside With You which tells the story of the first date of Barack Obama and Michelle Robinson (Obama) and is “set against the back drop of community organizing and civil rights activities in Chicago.” Hopefully these and other events will inspire greater awareness and discussion about the Civil Rights Movement, modern racial discrimination, and ongoing nonviolent activism.
This week I’m sharing only one novel and a few picture books, including a review of an ARC I received of Cats vs. AI Pets by Lian Sommer. Whether it’s a new book or an older one, I hope you’ll find something of interest to add to your reading lists.
Cats vs AI Pets
My thanks to Lian Sommer for providing a digital copy of this picture book. This is the story of a little girl named Anna. She lives in the year 2087 and relies heavily on her robot. The story shares how her body works differently from her robot’s body (he uses cameras to “see” and he is powered by battery, etc.), but she’s heavily invested in spending time on her robot rather than living in the moment with others. Eventually, Anna’s parents give Anna a cat. At first she doesn’t know what’s so special about a cat, it simply exists! However, over time she finds a warmth and connection with her cat that she couldn’t find in her robot. After spending a bit of time unplugged, Anna knows there’s a time and place for the use of her robot. But she also learns the importance of avoiding distractions and enjoying simple pleasures. Books like these are a great way to open the floor for family discussions about the ways we use technology and the types of real life interactions we might miss out on if we exclusively communicate online.
NOTE: Lian Sommer was working a stressful desk job, spending most of his days with only online interaction. He became compelled to quit his job and write books for children to help them learn to use technology in a responsible way. To find out more about his work or to join his mailing list, please check out his website at https://www.aipets.com.
The artwork was created using a Wacom tablet, Corel Painter and Photoshop. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:
I Can Make This Promise
October 1, 2019
This debut middle grade novel is about a young girl named Edie who is desperate to learn more about her Native American heritage. She knows her mother was adopted when she was a baby, but her mom will not share anything about her family of origin. One day, Edie and two friends are rummaging around in her attic when they find a box of letters with a photo of a woman who looks nearly identical to Edie. Furthermore, they discover the woman’s name is Edith! Prepare yourself for a beautiful journey of self-discovery combined with the very sad history that ignited The Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978.
NOTE: In October of 2018, I reviewed an ARC of Beyond the Green by Sharlee Mullins Glenn. But after receiving feedback from reviewers, this title was pulled from printing by Charlesbridge. In a nutshell, the story was heavily based on Glenn’s real-life experience since her family adopted a 5 month old Native American child back in the 70s. Therefore, her book was written more from the perspective of a white family who was mourning their adopted child being “taken” from them, years later, and given back to a family she didn’t know. It was easy to see some similarities between these two stories, but the experiences were from complete opposite sides of the adoption experience. (And, scarily, the cover art to both books is actually kinda similar.) In any case, if you’re interested in reading Glenn’s unpublished book to learn about her experience and perspective, I’m told that Circle Dance, published in 1998, is an earlier version (20 years earlier!) of Beyond the Green.
You can add I Can Make This Promise to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.
The Little Green Girl
April 2, 2019
I need more picture books like this in my life!! In this imaginative story, “one bright morning” a seed blew into Mr. Aster’s garden. And while Mr. Aster didn’t appreciate unexpected things, but he decided to take on the new seed and nurture it. While he carefully tends to her needs, he talks to her, welcoming her to his home and garden, teaching her about the world around her. When he discovers that the garden is too small for the little green girls’ needs, he makes yet another change in his routine so that she can travel the world and find the satisfaction she so deeply desires. I would have never imagined this is Lisa Anchin’s very first book — it’s so wonderful! I’ll definitely be keeping my eye on her work!
The lush illustrations in this book were created with acryla gouache and pencil. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:
March 26, 2019
Neal Porter Books
This nonfiction book is an excellent resource for children learning all about water in its many forms, including the water cycle. Additionally, it’s written in a way that both established readers AND emergent readers can enjoy. Amidst the prose of each page, a new word is shared to go with each illustration. Younger children can use context clues to decode the word while older children can read the details. The artwork is exactly what I love to see in a children’s nonfiction book — just enough details to thoroughly intrigue a young reader, but not overly complicated. Be sure to examine the back matter for more information on water forms, the water cycle, how to conserve water, and where to go for more reading.
The artwork for this book was made with brush and sumi ink. Color was added digitally. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:
Harold is turning seven years old, but his grumpy, emotionally distant parents do not like birthday parties. In fact, Harold has never had one before. This year turns out much different than normal, however, because his parents decide to hire Mr. Ponzio to arrange a party that will make their son happy. Mr. Ponzio is the person everyone goes to with their problems, so whatever he does should work out fine. Things quickly get wild and crazy!! However unexpectedly, the insanity that transpires solves more than just getting a birthday party. The story is completely unrealistic, but highly imaginative.
The artwork was created using gouache, oil, collage, and wax pencils. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:
To Be Read:
Ever since reading Torpedoed, last week, I’ve been wanting to dive into Lifeboat 12 by Susan Hood. I also just got a copy of Just Like My Brother by Gianna Marino, so I’m looking forward to reading it this week.
Reading Challenge Updates:
Goodreads Challenge 2020 – 19/200