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!
We’ve really appreciated your sweet comments and prayers during this time of my husband’s illness and quarantine. He has stayed locked away for over two weeks and is still feeling a bit stir crazy, but he appears to be past the worrisome cold/flu symptoms for over 24 hours, now (and he hasn’t had a fever in over a week). If all goes according to as planned, he’ll be able to able to rejoin the world before this weekend. YAY!
Thank you so much for visiting, today. This week I’m sharing a number of books that were published over the last two months. I hope you find something of interest to add to your reading “wish” list. I look forward to making the rounds to see what is on your bookshelf!
(The Overthrow #1)
March 10, 2020
Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
A+ for creep factor!! Bloom is the first book in a trilogy (book #2 should be released in September). The story centers around three teens: Anaya, Petra, and Seth. Each of them have unusual traits which come into play once their nation discovers they are under attack. The invasion comes in the form of rain. But how and why, I can’t exactly say without spoiling the story. It’s a very hard-to-put-down sci-fi that I believe will be quite popular. Another interesting tidbit to know — much of this story mimics what we’re experiencing right now with COVID-19: the US blames China, there’s no toilet paper in the bathrooms, the Ministry wants to handle investigation, the government declares a state of emergency, there are worries about food production and world reserves, the southern hemisphere isn’t hit as bad, people are stocking up on grocery items, they’re wearing masks in the stores, the hospitals are overloaded, the economy is failing, and eventually school is cancelled. It was weird thinking about how this book was written well before we knew anything about COVID-19! Anyway, I will definitely show up for book #2! This was my first Kenneth Oppel read, but now I really want to pick up some of his older work. Very well written and addictive!
The Lonely Heart of Maybelle Lane
March 3, 2020
Knopf Books for Young Readers
This was an audiobook “read” this week that was a last-minute impulse-grab. It was beautifully narrated by Catherine Taber and, at only 6 1/2 hours, it’s a very quick listen. Maybelle was raised as an only child in a single-parent home. She’s fascinated with recording interesting sounds and she collects/records them on special occasions, sorta like keeping a diary. Her mom is a singer-songwriter and has always been a bit secretive about Maybelle’s father. Maybelle never met him, but she knows his voice so well because she heard it on a voice mail recording (and listened to it over and over and over). So imagine her shock when she hears that same voice on the radio one day. She continues to listen to her dad’s radio program and discovers her dad’s radio station is doing a music/singing competition in Nashville. Could she actually meet her real father without her mom knowing? And next thing we know, she’s loaded up and on her way to Nashville with her commanding next-door neighbor and an annoying boy from school tagging along. This road trip was my favorite part of the story because she gets to know her two travel mates in a way that never would have happened by just living next door to them. Over time, they learn more about the past. And they collectively pave a better road for each of their futures. It’s written with sooo much heart — highly recommend for middle grade readers!
The List of Things That Will Not Change
April 7, 2020
Wendy Lamb Books
I sure kicked my week off with some intense, realistic fiction novels. The List of Things That Will Not Change follows 10-year-old Bea through the aftermath of her parents’ divorce. They reassured her that they would always love her and she was given a green notebook that she could use to write down everything that will NOT change. But the truth is, there are many things that will change. For example, her father is remarrying. And the man he is marrying has a daughter Bea’s age. She has always wanted a sister, so she’s elated. Nevertheless, the transition is awkward — how does her mom feel about her dad remarrying? And will Bea’s new sister even like her? Rebecca Stead addresses so many important issues in this book, including homophobia, the complications of having two different homes, and the normalization of therapy.
March 31, 2020
Quill Tree Books
Raw and gripping. Seventh-grader Efrén Nava has his hands full when his mother is suddenly deported. She always made sure everyone looked their best (always bathed, having perfectly pressed clothing, etc.). So the entire family is suddenly in limbo and struggling to survive while figuring out how to be reunited. Efrén’s best friend, David, is running for office at his school, but so is their classmate, Jennifer. And Efrén is faced with the fact that Jennifer will make a great leader because she’s organized and passionate about important real issues. Does he stick by his best friend or support who will be the best leader? In the meantime, Efrén’s father raised the money needed to transport his mother back. But the journey through Tijuana, to get Efrén’s mom the money, will be incredibly dangerous. Will all this be worth it in the end? I mean, after all, their country is more concerned with eggs being cage-free than they are people being cage-free.
This is a very emotional read, but important for developing empathy — both a mirror and a window. Ernesto Cisneros shares, on Goodreads, that he wrote this book for his daughter: “…so she could see that people of color, people of Mexican descent, are worth writing and reading about. I wanted her to see her world depicted in a book.”
When We Were Vikings
Andrew David MacDonald
January 28, 2020
I’ve heard a lot of buzz about this book the last few months, so I picked it up without knowing much about it. I saw some readers referring to it as young adult and/or coming of age, therefore I was a little caught off-guard when it was so much more “adult” than I expected. Twenty-one year old Zelda was born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) and she’s completely obsessed with Vikings. She’ll stop at nothing to protect her tribe. After the death of their mother, Zelda and Gert moved in with an abusive uncle. But now the two of them live together, alone, and they’ve adopted strict rules that make Zelda’s life easier to manage. Gert’s life has been anything, but easy. Thankfully, he was awarded a scholarship for college after writing an essay about his life with Zelda. So when Zelda discovers that Gert is failing out of his classes and has resorted to inappropriate methods of income, she takes matters into her own hands to get their tribe back on track. The story explores Zelda’s relationship with her boyfriend, Marxy, as they plan to have sex for the first time. And we see the inner workings of her therapy sessions, as well as the community center where she interacts with other adults with developmental delays. Zelda is a courageous young woman in this story. And while I honestly struggled to connect with her in the beginning, I admit I cried through the ending.
March 31, 2020
In only a few words, this darling picture book reveals that bedtime woes stem all the way back to the Stone Age when little ones tried every trick in the book to extend the routine. Cava Dada’s baby doesn’t want a rattle, or blanky, or a rock-a-baba. But he does want a 2-ton bedtime story. And one of the funniest parts of the story is when Cave Dada is exhausted and finally says: “Dada feel cry too”! LOL The back matter tells us that Brandon Reese used his own experiences as inspiration for this story. The illustrations were rendered in colored pencil, gouache, and Adobe Photoshop. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:
This is one of the more creative nonfiction picture books I’ve ever read. And what an important time to read it — just as the US is gearing up for another presidential election. The Goodreads synopsis explains: “When George Washington became the first president of the United States, there were nine future presidents already alive in America, doing things like practicing law or studying medicine. When JFK became the thirty-fifth president, there were 10 future presidents already alive in America, doing things like hosting TV shows and learning the saxophone.” This presentation format helps highlight the fact that each of our presidents were normal humans, just like each child reading the book. I really, really like how Messner presented the information by years and I think it will resonate with children. Back matter includes more Presidential information and includes an extensive Bibliography. A must have for any children’s library!
The illustrations in this book were rendered digitally. I’ll provide a couple spreads to serve as examples of what to expect, below:
Like the Moon Loves the Sky
Saffa Khan, illustrator
March 10, 2020
Written in rhyming text, the sweet book shares the love and hopes of a mother for her child(ren). Each page showcases something the child feels, has done, or what she hopes they will do, from planting gardens to expressing gratitude. The word “inshallah” is repeated throughout this book and in an Author’s Note we are told this Arabic for “if God wills it.” The author shares: The phrase “inshallah” is something I say throughout my day when making any plan or wishing anything for the future… The illustrations in this book were primarily rendered digitally, with ink for strokes and texture. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:
To Be Read:
I’m currently reading an advance readers copy of The Space Between Lost and Found by Sandy Stark-McGinnis, which is schedule to be published on April 28th. I’m still in the middle of Girls & Sex by Peggy Orenstein. Very important information — highly recommend at this point, but I won’t fully review until I’ve finished it. And I’m also hoping to start both Wink by Rob Harrell and The Elephant’s Girl by Celesta Rimington, due to be published May 19th.
I also have A Wish in the Dark by Christina Soontornvat, Black Brother, Black Brother by Jewell Parker Rhodes, and If These Wings Could Fly by Kyrie McCauley sitting on my virtual bookshelf. So they’re next on my list if some extra time clears up over the coming week.
Reading Challenge Updates:
Goodreads Challenge 2020 – 119/200