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!
I’m having a hard time believing I’ve skipped over a month of blogging while moving our family of seven into a new home and starting back to teaching at the college. It’s all been too much for me. …too much overwhelm to simply sit down at my laptop and start organizing what I read and what comes next on my list. In fact, there are books that I finished reading this last month that I’ve had to question whether I actually finished (initially, I couldn’t remember some of the plot lines without notes!! 😮 EEEK). Yet here I am, on the last Monday of August, downing the java and making myself take the first crucial steps back to my beloved IMWAYR community. I’ll be posting late today, but I really hope to get better settled into the weekly reading/blogging grove during the month of September.
On the home front, we may have gained over twice the amount of living space we had before, but you’d never know it because our formal living room and several other spaces are still piled with boxes. About two weeks into unpacking, I decided I was done. Like, that’s it. Time’s up. Now I’m half considering just moving the remaining boxes all into the garage and seeing if we miss anything before Christmas. I’m pretty sure that’s a valid decluttering strategy, right?
On a more serious note, August 31st is always a tough day for me, so I need a moment. It’s the day my dad very unexpectedly passed away. Eight years may seem like a long time. Nevertheless, I still remember the details of that morning as if it all happened yesterday. Chadron was battling three forest fires and one was creeping closer to our city limits, threatening to evacuate our whole town. Early that morning, my dad called me to check in, again, to see if we were okay. I was the last one he called before he was found unconscious at the middle school, having presumably suffered a heart attack or pulmonary embolism. We’ll never know. Grief is hard work, this I know. I grieved for years, read all about how to heal from loss, went through grief therapy, as well as GriefShare sessions with my mom, and still my heart breaks today when I remember the utter feeling of helplessness and despair felt when we discovered he was gone. He was a great husband to my mom, a loving and invested father to me (and my brothers), and an all-round fantastic human being. Thank you for giving me a moment to honor his memory, this morning.
I’m glad you’ve visited, today! I read some good novels this last month while packing and unpacking, ranging from middle grade to young adult to adult literature. And I picked up a good stack of children’s books from 2019. I’ll share a few this week and hopefully one of them will catch your attention and make it onto your reading wish list.
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Six Angry Girls
August 18, 2020
Feiwel & Friends
The title to this book may turn some readers off. Our society gets uncomfortable at the idea of a girl being “angry.” But sometimes anger is a crucial emotion for causing change. The novel is written from two perspectives. First, we have Raina Petree, who is madly in love with her boyfriend of 5 years. And just a week after she agrees to sleep with him, she finds out he’s been cheating on her. This is not how she expected senior year to go. Then there’s Millie Goodwin, who goes to the same school as Raina, but they’ve never really talked before. However, one day Raina overhears Millie crying in a locked bathroom stall. She cautiously decides to check on the crier and make sure she’s okay before leaving. And as luck would have it, this tiny act of courage kickstarts the entire rest of the book, luring in six different girls from the same school who really, really need one another. There’s fun with feminism knitting (“anatomical yarning”), mock trial competitions, moving theatre performances, LGBTQIAP+ representation, a librarian who knows how to make something out of nothing (fundraising), and everyone’s story is important in the end. I wasn’t sure if I would get into this story, but it’s fun being pleasantly surprised by a book!
What You Wish For
July 14, 2020
St. Martin’s Press
I’ve definitely been on a Katherine Center kick this past year with Things You Save in a Fire and How to Walk Away. I like that her contemporary romance stories are funny and lighthearted, while the characters still have emotional depth and realistic flaws. So I was pleasantly surprised when Netgalley approved an audiobook ARC of What You Wish For. Samantha (Sam) Casey moved to Galveston from California recover from her unrequited crush. Life in Galveston is pretty quaint, working as a librarian and living with a sweet widow who treats her like family. Until one day when her old crush makes an unexpected appearance in her new school district and she is beyond shocked. However, crush guy is not the same person she adored in California. Not even a little bit. Does he even remember Sam?
You’ll have to read the book to catch all the surprises in this one, but Thérèse Plummer’s narration was stellar as usual. Her voice and interpreted inflection add such volume to the story. I will forever hear Plummer’s voice if I read a print copy of one of Center’s books. At the very end, I was delighted to hear Center’s inspiring author’s note (narrated in her own voice), so don’t forget to listen to the very end if you listen to this audiobook: “It’s work, but it feels like play. It’s true for writing and it’s true for reading. The only compass you can follow is your own.” My thanks to Netgalley for providing me an audio-ARC of this book.
Starting From Seneca Falls
June 23, 2020
Random House Books for Young Readers
Both Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Frederick Douglas are brought to life in this fast-paced historical fiction story about two unlikely friends during the 1800s who participate in the women’s suffrage movement. Readers will hear more about the Irish Potato Famine, realities of the Poor Houses, the plight of orphans, and even the Erie canal. It was suspenseful and quite informative, so don’t be deceived by the cover and length, which might indicate it’s solely intended for young children. No, this book will be very enjoyable for older readers, as well. Don’t miss the historical note at the end!
May 26, 2020
Katherine Tegen Books
Whoa. This was so much heavier than I anticipated. I mean, I thought Front Desk had some heavy moments as a middle grade novel, but Parachutes is definitely a full on young adult or new adult novel with much more depth. It is so beautifully and painfully written. I just wish every young adult would read it. It covers a number of topics in the span of about 500 pages: privilege, cultural expectations, sexuality, racism, sexual assault, poverty, rape culture, classism, and there’s LGBTQIAP+ rep. This one will need to simmer a while and it would be fantastic for group discussion. And you cannot read this book without reading the Author’s Note at the very end as the story is deeply personal for Yang. I’ve so much respect for her ability to share the pain of her personal experiences within this fictional story!
The Secret of White Stone Gate
(Black Hollow Lane #2)
March 3, 2020
Sourcebooks Young Readers
Last year I picked up book #1 in this series, The Mystery of Black Hollow Lane, and I was lured into the story very quickly. Since it’s a second book in a series, I cannot share much about the plot without spoiling book #1. However, for those who know nothing about this series, I’ll share a clip of my review last year:
Emmy lost her father on her third birthday and her “parenting expert” mother has shipped her off to Wellsworth boarding school when her work (in the US) gets incredibly busy. Emmy struggles to blend in and eventually stumbles upon a secret society and ancient artifacts that seem related to her personal family history… I’ve heard some think this is a Harry Potter rip-off, but I wouldn’t go that far. There are definitely similar elements, especially considering the main character is attending a boarding school in England where there are mysteries and secrets. But there’s no magic (at least so far) and the story offers enough unique components to make it its own story. I believe Harry Potter fans will dive into the charming Wellsworth world and I’m excited to continue with the series when book #2 is released!
Julia Nobel has my attention. I’ll look forward to what she writes, next!
A Father’s Love
Yee Von Chan, illustrator
April 9, 2019
When I was younger, most books showcasing a parent and a child focused on the mother figure. So I’m always pleased when I find modern picture books breaking the mold and emphasizing the importance of the relationship a child has with their father. The main theme of this book is that a father’s love is always there in many forms. Using rhyming poetry and metaphors, each page shares a different color and animal focusing on the father caring for their young. The back matter provides more information on each of the animals highlighted in the book, providing more details on how the father takes care of the young. Awww! There are so many amazing fathers I know, today, including single fathers who will deeply appreciate this book. I love you, daddy! ❤
The artwork for this book was done in hand-drawn outlines with pencil and pen, then colored digitally. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:
Raise Your Hand
Alice Paul Tapper
Marta Kissi, illustrator
March 26, 2019
This cute picture book is written by a sixth grader in Washington D. C. The story documents her experience of coming up with the “raise your hand” initiative in her Girl Scout troop. Her idea ended up becoming a national patch which landed her even on the news station. I appreciate that she documents both the good and the bad to implementing this idea – such a great book to discus in a classroom of both girls and boys as we all consider how our gender plays into the school classroom experience.
The book doesn’t share how the illustrations were created, but I’ll provide a page spread as an example of what to expect, below:
To Be Read:
I just got a pile of new picture books through ILL, so I’m looking forward to diving into some new titles I’ve been waiting to read. I’m also right in the middle of listening to Anger is a Gift by Mark Oshiro as an audiobook. Then I hope to start reading an e-ARC of Millionaires for the Month by Stacy McAnulty!
Reading Challenge Updates:
Goodreads Challenge 2020 – 217/250