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 have broken amazing records all across the U.S. with early voting. But if you haven’t yet voted, be sure to get out by tomorrow and VOTE!!!!!! Last week I shared my pile of election books, so if you’re still looking for something to share with your children or students, check out the “Election Day” list at the bottom of THIS POST.
This week I read The Time of Green Magic by Hilary McKay, The Canyon’s Edge by Dusty Bowling, and a pile of new-ish picture books. Hopefully you’ll find something of interest to add to your reading list.
The Time of Green Magic
July 28, 2020
Margaret K. McElderry Books
I didn’t quite know what to expect since McKay is a new-to-me author, but what a wonderful magical realism middle grade book! It was an especially nice escape from the current pandemic and polarized political climate we’re currently facing. In a nutshell, it’s the story of two broken families merging as one. Taking on step parents and step siblings already isn’t easy, but combine that with financial concerns and attempting to find a new home and it can be quit trying. But these step siblings slowly begin to work together, understand one another, and protect each other with fierce devotion. When they find their perfect home to be a large ivy-covered house, off the beaten path, unusual things begin to happen.
At times, this felt like an older book, with lyrical phrases that yearn to be spoken aloud. However, it was clearly set in modern day (with mentions of things like the iPhone 4, etc.). There are also nods to other important works of fantasy, such as Narnia and Harry Potter, which will especially be fun for children who are well-read.
The description of the relationships and concern for others is so very realistic, therefore it was easy to feel an attachment to each character. For example, I felt the young romantic urges of Max and the story made me believe there really are Granny Graces out there who aren’t biologically related to you, but who would sacrifice their livelihood to raise you in love (and who would, undoubtedly, give their life for yours). There was also depth in the discussion of mistakes and consequences when two boys damage their relationship and the pain lingers and continues to make life far more difficult than it should be. Overall, the story was ominous, magical, sometime dark, but very hopeful.
One thing to know about Hilary McKay is that she started out life as a voracious reader. After university training in Botany and Zoology, she became a biochemist in an Analysis Department. She only quit work when she decided to spend more time with her children and she had a burning desire to WRITE! I share this because it helps me better understand her beautifully crafted world in this story — she’s studied far outside the realm of children’s literature and it is quite evident in her writing.
My thanks to Netgalley, Margaret K. McElderry Books, and Hilary McKay for providing me with an e-ARC so that I could review this book and write an honest review. I’m happy to recommend this book and it is currently available in bookstores and online.
The Canyon’s Edge
September 8, 2020
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
I’ve loved everything Dusti Bowling has written. She has an amazing way of seeing into the middle grade mind and bringing out both emotional depth and laugh-out-loud humor in a single line. So beware: this story is quite different from anything I’ve read of Bowling’s, to date. Written mostly in-verse, it’s a survival story that takes place in a secluded canyon in the Arizona desert. Nora’s life has already faced serious tragedy before the beginning of this book, so a hike through the canyon should be no big thing. Right? Wrong. Nora will have to fight for her life, with her mind hanging on by a single thread, wandering between past and present, before deciding whether she really wants to live.
“The most powerful thing I have to fuel my climb is anger.”
There are moments of utter pain and devastation in this book with little relief until the very end. So I urge young readers to keep going all the way to the very end, because it is hopeful and will likely encourage the examination of what is most important to YOU in this life.
I Am Enough
Keturah A. Bobo, illustrator
March 6, 2018
Balzer + Bray
In rhyming lyrics, this is a picture book about self-empowerment. With gorgeous multi-cultural illustrations of young girls in brightly colored clothes who share a common belief in themselves. The artist used acrylic paint on board, scanned into Adobe Photoshop with digital chalk backgrounds, to create the illustrations for this book.
Desert Girl, Monsoon Boy
Archana Sreenivasan, illustrator
May 12, 2020
G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
What a beautiful book comparing and contrasting two young Indian children, raised in very different climates. One is not better than the other, just different. Lovely artwork drawn either in panels or with one landscape scene hovering over the other. The illustrations for this book was drawn in pencil and painted digitally.
Ten Fat Sausages
Tor Freeman, illustrator
February 1, 2018
Clearly, I was not aware of this nursery rhyme about ten fat sausages. In this book, the sausages are all alive and watching one another die. They take matters into their own hands and try to find ways of surviving the frying pan. It’s intended to be comical, but I understand why some find it dark. I mean, they keep dying off either by falling off a fan, getting eaten by a dog, getting caught in a blender, etc. Ewww. LOL
This Is Gus
August 8, 2019
Macmillan Children’s Book
Gus is a grumpy old dog. There’s not much he likes, including birthday parties or playing. But when a new puppy comes into his life, the puppy is pretty sure he’s changed Gus so that he likes everything the puppy likes. This would probably be a great book for discussing problems with interpreting or misunderstanding other’s feelings. There’s no word on how the artwork was created, but I’ll provide an example, below:
The Weather’s Bet
March 31, 2020
This story is said to be a retelling of retelling of Aesop’s fable The Wind and the Sun. The wind, rain, sun compare one another’s abilities to see who will win. In the illustrations, you’ll find characters of Chinese pictograms. The artwork was created from torn handmade and magazine paper.
The Box Turtle
February 11, 2020
This is an adorable picture book about a sweet little turtle named Terrance who was born without a shell. Instead, he uses a cardboard box. However, after he’s teased about his box, he goes on a mission to find a new shell. In the end, he cycles back to his original “shell” as he learns that he perfect from the beginning. Great discussions will be had about opinions and social/peer pressure. The precious artwork was created with Prismacolor pencils, acrylic paint, and a boxful of digital tricks.
February 4, 2020
Bloomsbury Children’s Books
I’ve read Percival’s Ruby Finds a Worry and have his Perfectly Norman on my list. So I was glad to get my hands on Ravi’s Roar. This one will be a good conversation starter about anger management. Because when Ravi gets very angry, he turns into a ferocious tiger! The illustrations are simply delightful and don’t miss the author’s note at the very end. The artwork was created digitally using Kyle T. Webster’s natural media brushes for Photoshop and a selection of hand-painted textures.
To Be Read:
I am still reading Hollowpox: The Hunt for Morrigan Crow, which is book #3 in the Nevermoor series. And I’ll be working on finishing Girls & Sex: Navigating the Complicated New Landscape by Peggy Orenstein. Outside of these, I’ll probably pick a new audiobook to begin while I wait for a new batch of picture books to come in.
Reading Challenge Updates:
Goodreads Challenge: 301/300 << time to raise my goal