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!
It has been a very strange December, so far, with warm daytime temps in the 60s. The weather service isn’t even predicting a white Christmas for us, which is crummy news for this former Texan who has loved the white Nebraska winters these past 15 years. Furthermore, lately I feel like I’m running errands all day long, but making little progress. I wake up, grab a cup of coffee, start on my to-do list, and suddenly it’s time to start preparing supper. Days are running together and my reading time is now primarily after I climb into bed late at night (unless I find an audiobook I can listen to while I do errands). In any case, I truly loved the few books I got to this week and I hope you’ll find something to add to your reading or holiday gift list.
It’s no secret that I’m very attached to the Nevermoor series. One of my favorite childhood movie scene memories is from The Neverending Story. Near the beginning, there’s a bookstore owner talking about a very special book to a young boy who has just escaped some bullies. Once the bookstore owner turns his back to answer a phone call, the boy grabs the sacred book and runs for the door. Shortly thereafter, he climbs a ladder to the dark, chilly, and spooky attic of his school and settles in for an adventure of a lifetime — reading all. day. long. I turned 12 the year the movie was released and, even then, it was easy to see the power of suggestion — the power we wield as librarians, teachers, and bookshop owners every time we talk with reverence about a book that was meaningful to us. I read so many wonderful books every year and rarely feel comfortable comparing favorites. However, if I were that bookshop owner in December 2020, the book I would have spoken about in hallowed, hushed tones would be the first book of the Nevermoor series. For me, this series holds all the adventure, shock, comedic episodes, and even sorrow that I could ever hope for in an upper middle grade series. The writing is just so clever with imaginative world building, complex relationships, witty AND sincere dialogue, advanced vocabulary (great bridge between MGlit and YAlit), and charm to boot!
Some have pointed out a couple similar story components to other books or series, yet there’s plenty of originality in this storyline with perfectly imperfect characters who mature, over time. And while it may not actually be “neverending,” with 9 books planned for the series, it will provide many, many hours of pleasure reading. I normally shy away from MG books of this length, but the thought-provoking twists and turns keep me well invested until the very end. In fact, in book #3 I was so into the story that as I reached the final few pages, I felt a strong sense of depression settling in. Because it was over AND WE DON’T EVEN HAVE AN ESTIMATED RELEASE DATE FOR BOOK #4. 😭
While I waited on my pre-ordered book to arrive (a full day late, tyvm!!), I couldn’t help but to re-read book #2 (Wundersmith). This time I read it with my ears and the audiobook was fantastic — great music and narration, throughout. No spoilers, but Morrigan has definitely grown on me over these first three books. I adore her quirky patron, Jupiter, and can’t get enough of the family at Hotel Deucalion, including Morrigan’s moody bedroom. Yes, rooms can have their own personalities. Also… pretty sure I will need to adopt a huge gray cat (and name her Fenestra). I sure wish we at least had a title for book #4, but I’m relieved to know that Hachette Children’s Group has signed a deal for books 4, 5, and 6 in this series. It was also announced that the film rights were sold to Fox and Drew Goddard will be writing the screen adaptation. However, this whole deal was sealed before Covid-19 began circling the planet and so I’m hoping that nothing has changed on that front!
5+ ⭐s – GREAT series to read over a long holiday! I dare you to go see what awards Nevermoor has won and how many “best” lists it’s made. I’m just sayin’… 😉
The Vanderbeekers Lost and Found
(The Vanderbeekers #4)
Karina Yan Glaser
September 15, 2020
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
How wonderful to be reunited with not one, but two of my favorite series this week. Reading The Vanderbeekers Lost and Found was like pulling on a warm snuggly sweater and cuddling up by the fire during a snowstorm. I feel safe and comforted in every book of this series, even when the story ventures into scary territory. And these five siblings, their parents, and the quaint community they live within continue to grow into our hearts as we discover more about each character throughout the series. I won’t provide any spoilers for readers who have yet to read books #1 to #3, but just know that book #4 had me in heart-wrenching tears before the end. Be sure to have a box of Kleenex on hand!
In this gorgeous picture book biography, we learn about Willie Johnson and his gift of music. While he went blind at a young age, he was loved and encouraged to enjoy his gift where he invented unique techniques, like running his pocket knife along the strings to make a screaming sound. His music was considered so important for humanity that his song, Dark Was the Night, was included on the Voyager I space probe’s Golden Record in 1977. NOTE: I don’t know how you could read this book without listening to Johnson’s short, wordless song, Dark Was the Night. I highly recommend taking a quick listen HERE. The beautiful artwork was done in watercolor.
To Be Read:
I am super excited to finally be starting Sol Invictus (The Eye of Ra #2) by Ben Gartner. I’ve had this one on my list since finishing book #1 in the series. If you haven’t yet read book #1, what are you waiting for? Have you SEEN the list of awards it has won, so far? I also have a beautiful stack of 30+ new picture books to work on over the holidays, so I’ll be starting with the nearly wordless picture book, Hike by Pete Oswald. YAY!
Reading Challenge Updates:
Goodreads Challenge: 329/350