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!
This week has been better on the unpacking front. We made it through many more boxes, moved more items to the correct place in the house, and even took several trash bags full of clothing and odds/ends to a local rummage room over the weekend. We ordered our new washer/dryer (which won’t be delivered for a few weeks) and are arranging for our piano to be moved in very soon. It’s exhausting and tedious work, but I do believe there IS light at the end of the tunnel.
After taking a month off blogging this summer, I’m not pleased with the recent changes to WordPress. My posts are taking longer to publish because I’m having to go into the HTML coding and alter things that are not converting correctly. What a MESS! Anyone else in the same boat? Maybe I just need to block out more time to play around with it. Grrrrr!
On with the show…
Thank you for visiting, today! This week I finished one young adult novel, three middle grade novels, and a small stack of picture books — I’ll share seven of them. Hopefully you’ll find something of interest to add to your reading wish list!
The Land of the Cranes
Narrated by Dani Gonzalezx
September 15th 2020
My thanks to Libro.fm for providing this Audiobook ARC. The story is a beautiful intermixing of English and Spanish. Lyrical and poetic, the words invite us to experience the world of 9-year-old Betita while she and her mother are captured by ICE and sent to live in extremely cold conditions, on hard cement floors, with only a metallic “cape.” Disease and lice ravage the refugees as they eat nasty mush and are called horrible names. The title, “Land of the Cranes” alludes to Aztec legends Betita’s father shares about cranes. It’s a metaphor for her family who have come home to America and who can now fly in safety and freedom. However, their experience with ICE clips their wings as they’ve been seeking political asylum.
I would call this book an #ownvoices book because, while Aida Salazar wasn’t detained by ICE, she was brought to the states as an undocumented child. Over time, her family got their green cards. But her family understands the fear and treatment of those coming in from Mexico in search of safety. She based this historical fiction story on the real life stories of many migrant children whose families were seeking asylum before they began living the nightmare in ICE detention centers. In many ways, this story reminded me of Santiago’s Road Home, released just last May. The story is painful, but moving. This title will release tomorrow, September 15th.
You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through the print book or audiobook through Bookstore Link HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.
Before the Ever After
Guy Lockard, narrator
September 1, 2020
Nancy Paulsen Books
Listening Library (Audible)
This new middle grade contemporary realistic fiction novel in verse took my breath away. I had to stop a few times to talk about it with my husband. Wow. It’s about the devastating fallout a family experiences due to a brain disease known as CTE. ZJ’s father is a pro football player. He plays tight end and is a hero to all ZJ’s friends. Their house is the place to be as his father treats everyone like they belong. However, there’s a painful shift that takes place over many months/years as his father begins experiencing headaches, mood swings, confusion, depression, aggression, and terribly memory loss (even to the point of not knowing his own son). At the end, the Author’s Note shares about the discovery of CTE and thanks Dr. Omalu for his research that allowed us to better understand the condition. I’m so glad for a middle grade book that examines football injuries and these resulting experiences — from a time when someone is completely healthy, all the way through the devastating effects on an entire family, neighborhood, and country. Woodson’s carefully crafted words bring home the pain experienced by a child who loses his father, even though he’s still right there in the room with him. It definitely made me want to watch the movie Concussion, again. My thanks to Libro.fm for providing this Audiobook. This title was just released this month and is currently available in bookstores.
Anger is a Gift
May 22, 2018
My goodness, there’s a lot to unpack in this book. Moss (Morris) Jefferies is now in his sophomore year of high school. But back when Moss was a child, his father was murdered by law enforcement even though he wasn’t doing anything wrong. So today, Moss suffers from panic attacks that can be triggered from time to time when he encounters police officers. He experiences one of these panic attacks when he and his friends happen across a protest. And this experience also happens right as Moss meets Javier, who he is immediately attracted to. At the same time, Moss’s school has begun treating students like criminals — searching their lockers, installing metal detectors, having all-day patrol officers with guns, etc. Eventually, these high schoolers come together, with the support of their community, in an effort to stop the unfair treatment and provide a safer learning environment. Change is necessary. And anger is a gift.
I am worried about saying too much to spoil the story, but I just love the relationship between Moss and his mother. So often YA literature doesn’t allow for this level of closeness and mutual respect, so it was a welcomed aspect. There are important messages in this book that need to be shared with the world. And there was so much representation for a variety of communities like Black, Latinx, and LGBTQIAP+, so a number of readers will be able to relate to this cast of characters in ways they normally cannot relate to in YA literature. However, with a HUGE cast of secondary characters, it requires a lot of focus. I’ve witnessed other readers refer to the story as “police and white people bad, everyone else good” — and I suppose I can see this perspective, as well. Unfortunately, it may mean the crowd who really needs to read this story will be turned off when they are unable to relate to any of the characters. But maybe not. The story is a bit on the long side and these teens are having incredibly polished discussions about political activism, which occasionally comes across as preachy (as opposed to teens simply trying to figure some of this stuff out, together, and arriving at some meaningful conclusions). But one very important message that I hope everyone walks away with is that activism may be brutal, but it can also create much-needed change.
The One and Only Ivan
(The One and Only Ivan #1)
Patricia Castelao, illustrator
January 17, 2012
My Children’s Literature students have been studying award winners this month, and we started off this last week with our first Newbery winner: The One and Only Ivan. Of course, this isn’t my first time to read the book, but I wanted to review it so that I could be reminded of elements and be prepared to listen to what the class thought as they are to discussing the Newbery Award criteria. I’ll leave the detailed examination to them, but the story examines the humans, first and foremost. Also explored is the treatment of animals through both humor and pain. Ivan is just so lovable and relatable! In the Author’s Note, Applegate shares more about the real Ivan and which parts of this story were fact and which were fiction. If you liked the One and Only Ivan, be sure to read book #2: The One and Only Bob, which I reviewed last May. Also, my family really enjoyed the new movie on Disney+. Check out the trailer:
March 5, 2019
This one is such a great book for parents of toddlers. This wild mama is chasing her wild baby all over the place, starting from their very first “wild stretch.” The book shares that the author wrote this book as a homage to her daughter who was “a fearless, impulsive, wild baby.” Very cute! Reminds me of this video I remember seeing a couple years ago:
The artist used digital ink to create the illustrations for this book. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:
Lost and Found Ducklings
February 12, 2019
Brother and sister duckings venture off to explore the woods with their new nets. But before too long they’re lost and cannot find their way back home. The forest full of animals come together and begin calling for Mama and Papa Duck, but ultimately it’s the “Peep! Peep! Peep!” of the ducklings that bring the parents to them. This one is about community, but also about the bonding of children and parents. The artwork was created with watercolors, gouache, and ink. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:
Good Night, Wind
Linda Elovitz Marshall
Maëlle Doliveux, illustrator
February 26, 2019
Based on a Yiddish folktale, this story follows the wind through its many adventures throughout the year. The Author’s Note is located at the very beginning of the book and explains all about the original “Der Vint, Vos Iz Geven In Kas” tale this story is based on. I really wish the book shared how the artwork was created. It looks like digitally manipulated collage, but I don’t know for certain. I’ll provide one page spread to serve as an example of what to expect, below:
Olive & Pekoe: in Four Short Walks
Giselle Potter, illustrator
March 5, 2019
This is an ADORABLE early chapter book that follows Olive and Pekoe as they face four different experiences. One dog is boisterous, playful, and impatient. The other dog is older, calm, and reassuring. Oh my, I want this book in my home collection! Watercolor, ink, and color pencils were used to prepare the full-color artwork in this book. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:
The Lion Who Wrote History
Walter Dean Myers
Floyd Cooper, illustrator
January 24, 2017
I missed this picture book biography by Walter Dean Myers back when it was published, so I was thrilled when one of our tri-college libraries ordered a copy. The artwork is detailed and inviting, following Douglass from his birth as a slave until he served the United States government in Washington and as consul-general in Haiti. Children and adults will appreciate the storyline and the beauty of the illustrations.
“Frederick listened carefully to the Auld children. They spoke clearly and directly, and he knew that it was because they had also read the words they used. He felt that reading could make a difference in how a person lived.”
The back matter includes a timeline of Frederick Douglass’s Life, a Bibliography, and a copy of the document signed by Auld officially freeing Frederick Douglass. The artist used erasers & oils on board to create the illustrations for this book. I’ll provide one page spread to serve as an example, below:
Chicken in Charge
(Zoey the Chicken)
Shahar Kober, illustrator
March 5, 2019
This is an I Can Read book about a farmer leaving the farm with the chicken in charge. Chicken has a perfect plan on what to do for the lambs — feed them, bathe them, and put them to bed. Sounds simple, right? HA! Not exactly! It’s a humorous little story that will appeal to beginner readers. There’s no mention of how the artwork was completed for this book, but I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:
Grace Maccarone, Translator
Kelly Loughman, Translator
March 19, 2019
Paul is the farmer in this unique little picture book. What readers learn, most of all, is that Paul works hard on his farm while everyone else rests. However, in the very end, when Paul begins to despair, friends appear when he needs them most. I’ll provide one page spread to serve as an example of what to expect from the artwork, below:
To Be Read:
I am loving Millionaires for the Month and I hope to be ready to review The Toll by next week, as well. I’ll also share The Shark Report (Benny McGee and the Shark), which I checked out mid-summer and lost during our move. I’m so happy it turned back up just yesterday. YAY!
Reading Challenge Updates:
Goodreads Challenge 2020 – 239/250