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 had a pretty eventful weekend as we decided to put our tree up on Saturday and cook an early Thanksgiving dinner on Sunday. Then right in the middle of cooking, our hot water heater began overflowing water all over the place. I’m talking gallons of water spreading all across our basement floor. Even after we placed a container under the overflow spout, it filled in about 10 minutes so that we had to keep dumping it. FINALLY, it stopped. We’ll have to call a plumber out this week to make sure this won’t happen again, but I’m so glad we caught it when we did!
Thank you for visiting, today! Over the past week, I enjoyed one middle grade novel, two “parenting teens” books, and several new picture books. Maybe you’ll find something of interest to add to your reading list.
Wendy Lamb Books
August 4, 2015
I really enjoyed this middle grade realistic fiction novel focused on four middle school friends: Bridge, Emily, Tabitha, and Sherm. Additionally, there are chapters included about a fifth character who is revealed at the very end of the story.
Stead’s writing is simply amazing. I can’t get over how real these characters feel — so three dimensional! Bridge miraculously survived a terrible accident a few years ago and she’s finally rejoined her friends in school. Emily has filled out with curves and is finding herself being lured into a dangerous game of attraction, including cyberbullying. Tabitha is very headstrong and sometimes comes off as abrasive, but she cares about everyone and wants the world to work better than it does. And Sherm is struggling with abandonment (his grandfather left the family). His portion of the story is told in letters to his grandfather.
Once I finished the book, I wanted to go back and re-read portions. For example, the fifth secret person’s chapters didn’t seem very connected to the main story until the very end, so I kept guessing and changing my mind about who it was until the final leg of the story. It would be interesting to see what details I might pick up the second time through. I don’t want to spill too many details for those who still plan to read it. However, I’m very glad to recommend this one!
AWARDS: Dorothy Canfield Fisher Children’s Book Award Nominee (2017), Milwaukee County Teen Book Award Nominee (2016), Boston Globe-Horn Book Award Nominee for Fiction (2016), Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Middle Grade & Children’s (2015), Rebecca Caudill Young Readers’ Book Award Nominee (2018)
Boys & Sex:
Young Men on Hookups, Love, Porn, Consent,
and Navigating the New Masculinity
January 7, 2020
I know I usually review children’s and teen’s books on my blog, but I’m also a parent of two teenagers and this book came highly recommended for parent reading. So wow. It was incredibly eye-opening. I really thought I had a good finger on the pulse of teenage thoughts and behaviors. After all, I was one — right? However, this book blew me away. I highly recommend it for anyone with children growing up in the U.S., though it focuses primarily on upper high school and college-aged boys. Also, the book may center on interviews with boys, nevertheless there’s overlap with female thoughts and experiences.
The truth is, the “sex talk” is no longer primarily about the birds and the bees (not that it should ever have been one talk). Parents simply won’t be equipped to discuss the new sexual landscape without some serious reading and research on what’s happening TODAY. This book contains loads of information about hook-up culture and the prevalence of porn (which greatly impacts sexual expectations), even with young boys being easily exposed. Also well documented is the use of alcohol and online interaction. My main complaint would be that Orenstein only interviewed 100 boys, even if she scattered them throughout the country and tried to have a nice variety of experiences. I know that seems like a lot, but I wanted to hear from more. Perhaps there will be continual new editions, though. Still, the research and interviews were pretty solid on what’s actually happening among today’s kids. And we should all take note when boys are saying that they WISH their parents (especially their dads) would have talked to them more about sex — not just the physical, but especially the emotional aspect of sex.
Here’s one excerpt that really brings the point home:
“After nearly a decade of reporting on teenagers and sex, if I know anything for sure, it’s that parents just have to get over it. I know it’s awkward. I know it’s excruciating. I know it’s unclear how to begin. You may have never even been able to have such conversations with your own spouse or partner. I get that. But this is your chance to do better. Discomfort and embarrassment are not excuses to opt out of parenting (quick tip: talk during physical activity. Or, even better, in the car: you don’t need to look at each other, plus they can’t escape). Despite their eye-rolling, ear-plugging, and other superficial resistance, teenagers consistently say that they do want such information from parents, and that they benefit from it. I know from experience that’s true: boys often told me that our conversations had dramatic, ongoing, sometimes therapeutic impact—and I was a total stranger. So, rather than fixating on how discussing physical and emotional intimacy makes you—and your son—want to sink into the earth, consider the opportunity it creates for a closer relationship, to show him that you are genuinely there for him, to display openness, strength, and perseverance in the face of messy realities. How, after all, will he be able to have those challenging conversations as an adult if you don’t pave the way now?”
I definitely recommend. And if you do read it, let’s talk — I need a virtual book group to break all this information down with me! lol
Girls & Sex:
Navigating the Complicated New Landscape
March 29, 2016
I honestly don’t know how you’d read one of these books without the other. While I felt Boys & Sex was more informative for me, the two books really compliment one another. There’s some overlap, but it’s mostly exploring the difference in the sexes (in a very general sense). My husband and I both read these books and our oldest (17) is now reading them as we continue our open ongoing discussions. Overall, the Girls & Sex book was helpful in seeing how teen girls now view sex. While girls were belittled and called “slut” for having sex back when I was in high school, today they’re belittled and bullied by both girls and boys for being prudes if they refuse it. The personal experiences were quite informative! The only thing I remember complaining about (to my husband) in regards to this book was how the purity culture movement seemed to be deemed the primarily response to sex by those in the Christian camp. A good bit of time was focused on an abstinence ceremony where a young girl promises to abstain from sex until marriage with her father making a commitment to protect his daughter’s purity while giving her a ring to wear (until she either breaks her promise or gets married). The description was cringy and I guess I was just disappointed that this fundamental/conservative activity seemed the primary representative of all Christian faiths.
Whatever books you read to prepare for the reality of a changing adolescent sexual landscape, if you’re a parent of a teen or college student — PLEASE don’t avoid this topic! Equip yourself with knowledge on what’s actually happening out there, today.
Lawrence Schimel, translator
November 1, 2020
Amazon Crossing Kids
I won this little treasure in a Goodreads give away earlier this month and was shocked when it arrived within a week! There are very few words in this story but WOW do they say a lot. A young girl is outside, hanging clothes on the line with her mom, when she tells her mom about a passageway in their yard that provides warmth and knowledge and safety. The depth of this book hit me the second time I read through it and tears sprang to my eyes. Because it’s a story of loss — particularly it appears that she’s with her father on the other side of the passageway. I find it interesting that throughout the discussion, the mom is continuing to do what we often see as a mundane chore (laundry). However, that’s also a nod to the fact that life goes on for the living. Work still must be done, but talking with children about loss and security is so very important. I may be reading into the illustrations a bit, but the colors in the book spoke volumes to me. They’re mostly grays with a splash of red until toward the end when there’s some green and yellow. The mom is wearing a gray dress with white snowflakes on it. The sheets/clothing they are hanging on the clothesline have autumn leaves all over them, which the young girl passes through when she goes into the passageway. Then the last thing they hang on the clothes line is green with yellow (fish?). The last page is simply the two sets of sheets folded neatly on the dining table with the father’s black hat sitting on top of them. Oooof! I adore this sweet little book and am so thrilled we now have a copy to keep in our home. The illustrations were rendered in acrylic on paper.
Butts Are Everywhere
Heather Fox, illustrator
September 29, 2020
G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Need I even say that this book was the favorite picture book of the week for the Miller family?? Talk about giggles! It turns out, there really are butts everywhere. Some are small, some are big, some are hairy, wrinkly, smooth, or pointy. They have different uses and there are soooo many different names for a butt. This one is clever and sure to be a huge hit among young children! The artwork for this book was created digitally.
I Am Every Good Thing
Gordon C. James
Nancy Paulsen Books
September 1, 2020
I really enjoyed this beautiful book, written by the authors of Crown: An Ode To The Fresh Cut and dedicated by Barnes to Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin, EJ Bradford, Jordan Edwards, Michael Brown, Jordan Davis, and Julian Mallory. This book celebrates all the wonderful things young black boys are, ending with “I am worthy to be loved.” The illustrations were done with oil paints.
Brooke Smart, illustrator
September 1, 2020
Rise X Penguin Workshop
I grabbed up this cute little board book about things families do together:
On blankets in the grass
Listening to the wind
Not saying anything
This is apparently the first in a series of three, so I’ll look forward to seeing the remainder of this series. The art was created with watercolor and gouache and edited in Photoshop.
Ramona Kaulitzki, illustrator
August 18, 2020
In rhyming text, this lovely picture book showcases a wide variety of families who are waiting on a baby to grow and be born. The illustrations showcase mothers and fathers of many races and abilities as they prepare for a new addition to the family. This one will probably be appreciated more by adults than children, maybe as a fun way to announce a pregnancy to others, but there’s some great diversity to point out in this artwork, including mix-raced families, multi-generational celebrations, same-sex parents, families with no children, families who already have several children, a father in a wheel chair, etc. Each turn of the page compares the size of the growing baby to a fruit or vegetable, giving a young child a better idea of the current size. I also appreciated the variety of homes and landscapes showcased. The artwork for this book was done digitally in Photoshop.
July 14, 2020
Viking Children’s Books
Grumpy bear is not happy that it’s raining. It’s dreary and everything is drenched. He notices all the terrible things about the rain and refuses to think there’s any silver lining to the situation. Until… something begins to change. The cute artwork for this book was drawn in pencil and colored digitally. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:
The Wolves in the Walls
Dave McKean, illustrator
August 5, 2003
Somewhere over this past month, someone recommended this book for a child interested in wolves. We recently watched Coraline and so I knew it would probably be creepy, but I’m afraid it was just a bit too much for my daughter. It’s such an imaginative world with a way to live within the walls of a house and some added humor along the way.
McKean’s artwork is so creative, but it was also quite dark (and “freaky”) for my 6-year-old. In fact, she refused to read it with me, so I enjoyed it with my 10 year old and we had plenty of conversation about the illustrations and story. I think it was the faces and shadows that did her in. LOL Since this is a longer-than-usual picture book, I’m permitted to share two page spreads, below:
To Be Read:
We are heading into Final Exams week and Thanksgiving, so I’m not sure how much I’ll be reading. Nevertheless, I am still working on Hollowpox — trying to savor each chapter as I know I’ll be waiting ages for book #4. I have also ordered some new picture books, so hopefully they’ll arrive before the official break begins, too.
Reading Challenge Updates:
Goodreads Challenge: 318/350