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!
Upcoming Releases: There are always books I’m looking forward to being released, but two very big series have releases in October and I’ve been anticipating both for a looooong time: (1) Return of the Thief (The Queen’s Thief #6) by Megan Whalen Turner, which is due for publication October 6th, and (2) Hollowpox: The Hunt for Morrigan Crow (Nevermoor #6) by Jessica Townsend, which is due for publication in the U.S. on October 27th. So if you are looking for an excellent series to jump into before the next book is released, these are both very engaging series with excellent world building, memorable characters, and complex relationships.
Thank you for visiting, today! This week I’ll be sharing one YA book, two middle grade novels, and six picture books. I hope you’ll find something of interest to add to your reading wish list!
Millionaires for the Month
September 1, 2020
Random House Books for Young Readers
My thanks to Netgalley and Random House for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review. This is the story of an unlikely friendship forged by a twenty-dollar bill. Benji is fairly wealthy, he’s the tallest kid in his class, and quite outspoke. Felix, on the other hand, is small, quiet, and his single-mom obviously struggles, financially. Happenstance places both boys in the right place at the right time to be thrown into a game of spending millions in free cash. The catch is, they have to spend over $5,000,000.00 in 30 days or they lose it all. Oh, and did I mention there are a number of rules they must follow. For example, no real estate, no jewelry, no art, and whatever they buy must be used by the boys (so no gifts for others). Easy peasy, right? WRONG! Because they cannot tell a soul about the challenge. Just imagine being the parents of THESE boys as they burn through millions in mere WEEKS!
While I admit I wasn’t enamored by the cover art, the story was captivating right up to the end. I believe the book will make an excellent middle grade read aloud – kids will be talking in class, in hallways, at lunch, and after school as they come up with ways THEY would have made the challenge work, despite the strict rules. But there’s more to this story than money and math. The family relationships and management of an unusual friendship are both insightful and touching. McAnulty writes so well for this audience! And be sure to check out the math information and charts available in the back matter.
Something to Say
Lisa Moore Ramée
Bre Indigo, illustrator
Sisi A. Johnson, Narrator
July 14, 2020
Balzer + Bray
For such a short middle grade novel, this one addressed several deep topics. Eleven-year-old Jenae thinks she possesses the power to do things to others without even touching them. She is certain she’s the reason her brother is injured, the reason her grandfather is ill, and she’s even sure her powers will allow her to manipulate her teacher into not giving an assignment she hates. But ultimately, the story isn’t really about a magical gift at all. It’s a story of family love and devotion, a story of fear and vulnerability, and a story that encourages the reader to look at all sides of an issue before holding so tightly to only one opinion. I adore Jenae’s friend, Aubrey. He’s this sweet, devoted, and yet awkward new kid who has latched onto Jenae. He is doing everything in his power to be kind, supportive, and inclusive. But Jenae won’t have it. Many young readers will identify with her fear of being truly seen — and the fear of rejection. And personally, as a performer who has suffered from stage fright more times than I care to admit, Lisa Moore Ramée nailed the emotional and physical exhaustion of confronting those horrific situations. My thanks to Libro.fm for providing me this audiobook so that I could review it on my blog.
(Arc of a Scythe #3)
November 5, 2019
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
“People are vessels. They hold whatever is poured into them.”
Indeed they do. Oh my goodness, how can this series already be OVER?! At 625 pages, I feared this final book would feel like climbing a mountain. Simultaneously, I hoped it would be a momentous climax because the series was outstanding. Of course, I cannot share any of the details without spoiling books #1 and #2, but there were so many twists and turns. I was really invested in some of these characters (and happy to say goodbye to others). Also, I am completely jealous of IMWAYR host Kellee getting to meet Neal Shusterman this year. I may or may not have had tears in my eyes when I read about that author visit last March. Over the last year I’ve enjoyed Dry and the whole Scythe series. What Shusterman deliciousness shall I begin, next? I’m considering his Unwind series, so if you have any experience with it, please sound off in the comments.
The Very Last Leaf
Jennifer Davison, illustrator
August 1, 2020
Fall is my favorite season of the year. As the weather begins to cool down and the colors change, I look forward to so many yearly traditions. So The Very Last Leaf was a welcomed book to my monthly stack. Lance Cottonwood is a leaf, standing proud and determined while all the other leaves let go and fall to the ground. This one brave act is the final thing he must be graded on in leaf school. Everyone does it, it’s totally natural, but he’s not having it. There’s an internal emotional struggle before he finally gives in. And, of course, the bigger discussion here is the fear of death. Whether children will make that connection without discussion, I’m not sure. But there was a scattering of scientific vocabulary (photosynthesis, deciduous, etc.) in the story that would also lend this text as a good companion for the study of life cycles. My thanks to Netgalley and Capstone Editions for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.
I Am Brown
Ashok K. Bankerax
Sandhya Prabhat, illustrator
March 3, 2020
This cute picture features Black children of various sizes, cultures, families in each page spread — celebrating their accomplishments, foods, homes, clothing, etc. No two “brown” children are exactly alike in each page spread. The point being that each child is unique and amazing, just as they are. I’ll share one page spread as an example of what to expect, below:
The Shark Report
(Benny McGee and the Shark #1)
February 4th 2020
Benny’s class is studying sharks and it has made him very fearful of swimming in the ocean. His assignment is to write about sharks, but he’s in for a surprise because a shark follows him home from his trip to the beach. It doesn’t take long before Benny realizes that sharks are pretty friendly and that he has nothing to fear, after all. He spends the day playing with the shark, which he names Mr. Chompers. However, he’s having so much fun that he forgets to write his shark report. Oops! I won’t spoil the ending, but at on the final page it says “coming soon…” so I’ll be looking for book #2 before too long.
In 1854, twenty-four year old Lizzie Jennings was kicked off a streetcar, illegally. The rules were that Black people could ride the regular streetcars as long as no Whites objected. She’d been born free and was a respectable school teacher. And no one objected to her riding. After her dismissal, a white man ran up to her and gave her his contact information in case she wanted him to testify on her behalf. And on February 22, 1855, her court case, Jennings v. Third Avenue Railroad Company, was heard and won. It was the first recorded court case won in the fight for equal rights on public transportation — 100 years before the well-known Rosa Parks encounter. The back matter provides far more details, including the fact that her attorney, Chester A. Arthur, went on to become the 21st President of the United States. In addition to the Author’s Note, there’s also a Bibliography, and an Artist’s Note. The soft illustrations for this book were done in watercolor on hot-press paper. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:
Max the Brave
Max Series, Book 1
E.B. Lewis, illustrator
June 5, 2014
I’ve not had the pleasure of reading any of the Max books until this week. This is such a great series for allowing the reader to know and understand something that the main character does not. It will get children giggling since they know exactly who Mouse is, even when Max overlooks Mouse. The artwork is very simplistic, but quite expressive and funny. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:
Max at Night
Max Series, Book 2
E.B. Lewis, illustrator
January 7, 2020
I bet children everywhere are loving this one before bedtime! Max has done everything he’s supposed to do before bedtime and now he just needs to say goodnight to everyone. But where is Moon? So simple, but so effective. I’ll share one page spread as an example, below:
To Be Read:
This week I would like to start Hatch by Kenneth Oppel, which is book #2 of the Overthrower series. And with the passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, to honor her memory this week I’m reading Ruth Bader Ginsburg: The Case of R.B.G. vs. Inequality and I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark. I also have No Truth Without Ruth: The Life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg on ILL order, so hopefully that will come in before the weekend.
Reading Challenge Updates:
Goodreads Challenge 2020 – 248/250