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!
BIG NEWS: It looks like we really are moving! After looking at homes over the last two years, and having two options fall through, we began to wonder if this would ever happen. There aren’t many affordable larger homes that come up for sale in our town, to begin with. But about two weeks ago a home that was previous well out of our price range had a hefty price drop. So we finally asked our realtor for a viewing and VOILA! It had the perfect room arrangement and location for our needs. We made an offer, they countered, we countered back, and we eventually came to a verbal agreement just last Friday. So we’re now in a slight state of shock as we begin packing up 14+ years worth of stuff for a family of seven while finishing prepping our current home for sale. Interestingly enough, our move-in date might very well coincide with our 25th anniversary. How crazy is THAT?! Needless to say, I will be forfeiting much of my summer reading time and my blog may lack coherence and depth over the next two months. We’d love your positive thoughts, moving advice, and prayers as we navigate these murky home selling/buying waters!
Thank you for visiting today! Whether it’s a new release or an older title, I always hope readers will find something of interest to add to their wish list.
May 5, 2020
G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Don’t let that cutesy cover fool you, there’s more than meets the eye in this hard-hitting story. Tess and Frankie are fraternal twins, but Frankie will openly share that she has certain needs that Tess does not. For example, Frankie doesn’t ever like to be touched, loud noises bother her, and she needs a very reliable routine. Frankie is also well aware of the fact that she has trouble making friends. That’s why she’s so bothered by the fact that Colette is no longer her friend. And why is that? Ooof. This story has a slowly unfolding mystery that kept me glued to the narration! With such young characters, this story was far deeper than I anticipated. I especially liked that it is told from a neurodiverse character’s perspective. It’s so important to have books like this in the world to serve as both a mirror and window for readers. My thanks to Libro.fm for providing me the audiobook of Tornado Brain!
We Dream of Space
Erin Entrada Kelly
May 5, 2020
I was looking forward to reading this book, especially considering the fact that the three Nelson-Thomas siblings were around the age I was during the historic launch of the Challenger. Cash, Fitch, and Bird are all very different children, growing up together in a rather unhappy home. Cash keeps failing 7th grade and if he keeps this up, he’s going to fall into a grade level below his younger siblings. Fitch is a crazy ball of anger — he struggles to keep himself calm when the littlest things attempt to set him off. And Bird is a thoughtful science geek, constantly dreaming of space. Her goal is to become NASA’s first female shuttle commander, some day. We all know what happened to the Spaceshuttle Challenger, but as the story led up to that fateful day, there was so much hope in what that launch would accomplish. It was incredibly sad to witness Bird’s stunned response to the incident as she began to spiral away from her deepest dreams. But it’s in those shocking moments that family so often jumps in to help us hold it together. Does the Nelson-Thomas family have what it takes to recognize what she needs? There’s so much to discuss in this story. I can’t wait to see what other readers think — particularly those who were in middle school and high school during that historic moment. There were so many pop culture things mentioned in this story that took me right back to that time period. For example: Slimfast, Diet Tab, trading stickers (huge hobby!), hacky sack, ThunderCats TV show, and Miss Pac-Man. This was definitely a walk down memory lane while getting an intimate glimpse into the lives of the Nelson-Thomas family.
The Bear Must Go On
Brandon Todd, illustrator
March 17, 2020
The Bear Must Go On is a cute picture book about four forest animal friends who “leap before they look.” While meticulously planning out every detail of putting on a show from the curtain to the tickets to what food will be served, they invited everyone in the forest to attend and forgot one very important detail: TO PLAN A SHOW!! But don’t worry, together these furry friends were able to discover the things that truly matter when performing on stage. The artwork in this book was created digitally. I’ll provide one page spread to serve as an example, below:
Old Rock (Is Not Boring)
February 4, 2020
G. P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Old Rock can teach younger listeners a thing or two about perspective. Hummingbird, Spotted Beetle, and Tall Pine hound Old Rock over how boring his life must be since he doesn’t fly, or see much, or dance. But his long years have shown him so many wonderful things, which he shares with his friends. Most of all, he is not even a little bit bored sitting in such a nice spot at the edge of a clearing in the middle of a forest. The back matter provides a “historical fiction” timeline of Old Rock’s life, beginning 1.8 billion years ago when old rock was formed under the earth’s crust and ending with present day Old Rock, sitting in the forest. The illustrations in this book were done with casein on watercolor paper and a bit of digital painting. I’ll provide one page spread to serve as an example, below:
The Word Pirates
Steven Kellogg, illustrator
September 24, 2019
Neal Porter Books
These creepy-looking pirates may scare us with their need to steal words and eat them. But once they are forced into a duel with a word wizard (author), they learn they simply cannot match the power of words. She throws lines at them from books like Jack and the Beanstalk, The Three Little Pigs, and Where the Wild Things Are. When they head off to their own little island, they discover that even ruffians can learn to read and WRITE! 🙂 The artwork in this book was created with a variety of materials including colored inks, watercolors, colored pencils, and acrylic paints. I’ll provide one page spread to serve as an example of what to expect, below:
With the help of fantastic artwork, an entire story is told in opposites, like big/little, near/far, and over/under. I loved the way this was created because parents or teachers can simply remove the words and have children figure out what the set of opposites is supposed to be on each page. Such a fun story! We don’t learn how the artwork was created, but I’ll provide one page spread to serve as an example of what to expect, below:
Home Is a Window
Chris Sasaki, illustrator
April 23, 2019
Neal Porter Books
What an appropriate read for our family’s current situation. Moving away from the only home my children have ever known won’t be as easy as it sounds. Sooo many memories are made in a house. But in this book, a young girl celebrates all of the lovely things that make up a home that are NOT dependent on a single location. For example, “Home is a table with something good and the people gathered there. Home is washing, rinsing, and drying, and whenever a dish gets broken, someone to help you sweep.” I love it! The artwork for this book was created using digital tools. I’ll provide one page spread to serve as an example, below:
Baby Dragon, Baby Dragon!
Lena Podesta, illustrator
March 26, 2019
Nancy Paulsen Books
In this picture book, a young dragon swoops through the castle, upsetting everyone. So a young girl leaves her chores and spends the day going on an adventure with the dragon. Toward the end, she shows the dragon how to stay calm so they can eat dinner in the castle. Nothing really spectacular happens other than keeping the dragon safe and busy, so I got the feeling the dragon was maybe a metaphor for a younger sibling that needed taming? Also, with the way this is written with short phrases on each page, it really felt like it was supposed to rhyme (but it doesn’t). I thought it was just me, but found it funny that other reviewers were commenting on the same odd feeling. In any case, my young dragon lover will definitely enjoy this book — particularly since it’s a GIRL spending the day with the dragon. The illustrations for this book were made using pencil, ink, and gouache, and with the help of a computer. I’ll provide one page spread to serve as an example, below:
My Happy Year by E. Bluebird
March 12, 2019
What a lovely nonfiction book documenting a year in the life of a Bluebird. Written from the perspective of a baby Bluebird, each page documents the date, starting June 1st (“Today is my birthday!”) and going through June 4th of the following year. We learn about what baby Bluebirds eat, when their eyes open, when they get feathers, how they learn to fly, when they fly south, and so much more! Front matter includes a migration map and more details about the Bluebird, while the back matter includes a glossary of terms and plans for building your own Bluebird house. The artwork is gorgeous with some close up illustrations mixed with large landscaped scenes. It was created with acrylic ink on Strathmore paper, digitally enhanced. I’ll provide one page spread to serve as an example, below:
February 26, 2019
The is one of the more unusual books I’ve read. Monkey appears to be sitting in circular tree where little orange balls keep popping out at the top. Each orange ball equals a minute. And every time his arms circle around the tree, another one pops out. The entire time, the orange minute balls are teasing the Monkey:
“Ha-ha. You missed me”
“…you are a slowpoke”
“we are running circles around you, Monkey!”
When Monkey finally catches an orange minute, he starts to eat it. But then all the minutes sport wings and happily fly away. Not even joking. LOL But alas, we need books of all types and this one could be a fun addition to math lessons on telling time. In the back matter, there’s a section on Monkey’s Rainforest Friends, sharing more details about other animals that can be found in a tropical rainforest. And truthfully, it wasn’t until I read that page that I went back through the book and noticed there are other animals hiding on the pages. So there’s some environmental science cross-over that can be used in here. The last page talks more specifically about calculating time with seconds, minutes, hours and days. The artwork in this book consists of digitally combined collages of painted and cut paper. I’ll provide one page spread to serve as an example, below:
To Be Read:
I finally started Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman and I am thoroughly enjoying it, so far! This week I plan to finish listening to A Place to Belong by Cynthia Kadohata. And I have a magnificent pile of picture books from my college library, so I will be reading several of those, including Facts vs. Opinions vs. Robots by Michael Rex and I Am Just Right by David McPhail.