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!
REMINDER: If you haven’t yet voted on Goodreads Choice Awards, go do that right now. Today is the LAST DAY! 📚 ❤️
With that out of the way, I sure hope everyone had a great weekend. If you celebrated Thanksgiving last week, I hope you were able to spend it with those you love. We had all the regular traditional foods, family games, some movies, we took a quick family photo in our living room with our tree trimmed, and we finally ordered our Christmas cards (which will also double as our “new address” cards, this year). Still, I squeezed in a little bit of reading, so hopefully you’ll find something of interest to add to your reading list.
Closer to Nowhere
October 6, 2020
G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Wow, this one really hit me in the gut. It was the perfect time to read it, too, since they were preparing for Thanksgiving dinner near the end. The story focuses on Hannah and her cousin, Cal. These two couldn’t be more different from one another, even though they look very much alike. Hannah lives in a home with a loving mother and father, she’s an accomplished gymnast, and she’s very popular at her school. Cal’s father is in prison and his mother (who was twins with Hannah’s mother) recently died. While Cal seems quite intelligent and clever, he doesn’t appear to be accomplished at anything except for making jokes and pulling constant pranks. So when he must move in with Hannah’s family, it shakes everyone’s routine up.
The relationships here are so intricate and we witness mistakes, growth, and reconciliation. There’s also very real fear of the unknown and everyone must come to terms with their need for one another. This story beautifully addresses numerous topics, such as death, abuse, incarceration, blended families, homelessness, marital problems, multigenerational conflicts, and alcoholism, and drug addiction. I can’t say enough good about Closer to Nowhere. Even that cover is gorgeous!! I rated it 5-stars and would gladly put it on my re-read list!
Becoming Muhammad Ali
Dawud Anyabwile, illustrator
October 5, 2020
Jimmy Patterson &
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Books for Young Readers
I was excited to get to listen to this biographical book, written in both verse and prose, as an audiobook. Cassius Clay knew he was destined for greatness from a very young age. He was motivated, disciplined, and even arrogant at times. However, he was also charming and showed true leadership skills, even in his younger years. While he faced racism and difficulties in school, he remained focused on the development of his skills in the fighting ring. Furthermore, he had the undying support of his friends and family who always knew he would one day be known all over the world. This was a fun read, giving everyone an entertaining look into Cassius Clay (AKA Muhammed Ali) up into his teen years.
A Pig, a Fox, and a Fox
(Pig & Fox #3)
September 29, 2020
Pig and Fox clearly like one another in these super easy, rhyming stories, written in three parts. Fox has a fox doll and he likes to play tricks on Pig. But somehow, Fox always ends up getting injured. The stories were definitely reminiscent of Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner (except that there’s no death wish).
Are You Eating Candy Without Me?
Draga Jenny Malesevic
Charlotte Bruijn, illustrator
August 11, 2020
Oh my, this one will be a huge hit with kids! Okay, but let’s be serious here. We really can’t be certain of what our parents did while we were gone. Were they breaking rules? Did they boss people around? Or were they, perhaps, throwing parties? In this adorable picture book, four young children imagine the many activities their parents or grandparents are doing without them. This one would be a great discussion starter on character (what we do when no one is watching). The book doesn’t share details on how the artwork was created, but it appears to be digitally rendered in some fashion.
Shirley Chisholm is a Verb!
Rachelle Baker, illustrator
July 28, 2020
Dial Books for Young Readers
Shirley Chisholm was the first Black woman in Congress and she also sought the Democratic nomination for president. She had conviction and spoke with bold determination. Young readers will learn about her role in programs like Head Start (which helps 3 and 4 year olds get ready for Kindergarten), WIC (which assists Women, Infants, and Children in need of food), and the national school lunch program. There are soooo many great and empowering quotes from Chisholm, like:
If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.
However, this book isn’t just about Chisholm. It’s a call to figure out what your verb is — what will you speak boldly about? What road will you pave for others to travel on? The artwork in this book was created digitally with Procreate on an iPad Pro, and with the help of countless cups of Earl Grey tea and biscoff cookies.
Beginning with the initial “birth” of a honeybee, this gorgeous book takes the reader on a detailed tour of their entire lifecycle, with special focus on the worker bee. I was fascinated from start to finish, learning about how many days each job endures, the importance of each part of the bees body, how they communicate, and how long they live. The book uses a sweet bit of humor, anticipating the reader’s eagerness for the bee to fly. 🙂 The back matter shares even more detailed information, including a section of links to videos for kids to watch like stages of life HERE and an inside look at the hive’s queen, drones, and workers, including the Apis bees waggle dance HERE. The lovely artwork for this book was made using oil paint on paper.
We Are America:
A Tribute from the Heart
Walter Dean Myers
Christopher Myers, illustrator
May 3, 2011
One of my continual prayers during this entire election season is for healing of my nation. The division seems worse than ever and I am concerned about what happens next as I hear discussion of truck driver’s strikes, or worse, people advocating civil war. So there was something rather soothing in this book of poems, focused on America’s struggles through the ages to live up to our ideals. Written in lyrical free verse, and with interesting use of white space, many famous quotes are interspersed with illustrations of historical people and events. The back matter was quite helpful by expounding on each showcased quote and sharing its historical significance. Additionally, there’s an entire page of art notes sharing the details of each painting and individual. The Author’s Note and Artist’s Note appear just after the title page and set the tone for the entire book, explaining personal experiences and examination of history, which eventually led to the birth of this book. With those words in mind, it can be a rather powerful and comforting read.
To Be Read:
I really hope to finish both Vanderbeekers #4 and Hollowpox before the end of the week. Then I would like to start Sol Invictus by Ben Gartner — due for publication in February. It should be an excellent reading week!
Reading Challenge Updates:
Goodreads Challenge: 325/350