I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s had family or friends who suffered through unexpected temps/weather in the south. Almost my entire family lives in Texas and this past week was not a pretty experience for many of them. Normally they’d make fun of themselves and we’d all laugh about how they just can’t stand the cold and how they don’t know how to drive on ice. But this was a much, much different situation. They simply do not have the infrastructure to support three to four days of single digit to negative degree temps WITHOUT power or heat, WITHOUT grocery stores, WITHOUT water, and WITHOUT gasoline for cars or generators. To make matters worse, when their water pipes busted, it caused shocking destruction because it is completely normal to run water pipes through the attic, in Texas. Stores closed, gas stations ran out of gas, and some people died in their homes (including a friend’s father).
In a discussion on one of my Texas friend’s Facebook pages, a mutual acquaintance shared that she was in a rare situation where she did not lose power and they ran their heater the entire week. Nevertheless, she started her dishwasher one evening and when she woke up, icicles were hanging from the racks. She’s originally from the north and confirmed that many negative experiences in Texas had more to do with home construction (very little insulation, water pipes running through attics, shallow pipe burial, water shut off valves being OUTSIDE the homes…) than anything else because she never ever had this type of issue with frigid temps in the north. In any case, while some had practically no destruction, many others will be rebuilding entire sections of their homes. It will certainly take a long time for statewide repairs to be completed. 😞
If you’re a new visitor today, WELCOME! On Mondays, I participate in a weekly meme sharing what the kids and I have been reading. 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!
I have a question: How do you all keep up with your Goodreads shelves (AKA tags)? Do you set aside a specific time to shelve/tag a book for every category it falls into? Do you keep a running list of topics WHILE you’re reading the book? I’ve noticed some friends shelve/tag a book for over 2-3 dozen categories and I’m just trying to figure out how to organize these as well as possible without creating unnecessary shelves. I honestly wouldn’t have even considered some of these categories, but I see how appropriate they are in hindsight. So anyway, pleeeeease share any advice in your comments! 🥺
The Sea in Winter
January 5, 2021
The Sea in Winter was unusual in the fact that I didn’t really notice the usual narrative arc (with a building climax) we normally expect from a middle grade novel. However, I think Maisie Cannon has a lot to share with readers in the aftermath of an injury that will greatly impact her life. We witness times when she is experiencing hopelessness as the whole world looks beak.
“School is boring. None of the classes mean anything to me. It’s the strangest thing to spend all this time in school, forced through all these mandatory lessons, despite the fact that most of these subjects lead nowhere.”
But with the support of her family, she learns to deal with her anxiety/depression while moving forward in her greatly changed life. I loved the closeness of her blended family and her relationship with her little brother is simply adorable! Intermixed in the story are details about the Makah Nation and their Native history. And in the end, Day provides a lengthy Author’s Note that helps provide more details about real life experiences.
The Train of Lost Things
March 20, 2018
This book was our read aloud over the last couple weeks. It’s a very somber book about love and loss. Marty’s dad has hospice care in their home and he has been given only days to live. So when Marty loses the last gift his father gave him, he knows he must do something to get it back. There was a story his father once told him about a magical train that carries lost things that were once our “heart’s possessions.” Therefore, late one night he packs his backpack and heads off to find it. Marty meets two young girls named Star and Dina aboard the train and they develop special relationships while searching for their items and sharing their intriguing stories. There are a number of “asides” in parenthesis throughout this story that sometimes interfered with reading the story aloud, but we worked around them. And sometimes it moved a little slow for young listeners to stay attentive. Nevertheless, the ending absolutely gutted me. It didn’t matter that I pretty much knew it was coming — the tears were unstoppable as I struggled to speak the final few pages aloud. Oh my. There’s also a comforting twist at the end that you sorta guess might happen, but it’s really cute how it plays out in the text.
I actually purchased this book from a used bookshop last year. Though I ordered a hardcover, they accidentally shipped a paperback ARC. 😂 So if there were a few changes in the final copy, I’m not aware of them.
(Amina’s Voice #1)
March 14, 2017
Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers
I read Amina’s Voice over the last week in preparation of second book in the series, Amina’s Song. In this sweet first book, readers get an opportunity to meet a Pakistani-American girl named Amina Khokar and gain an understanding of what her life is like growing up Muslim in the United States. While it’s obvious that Amina has a beautiful voice and is a talented pianist, she’s terribly shy and gets nervous about performing in front of anyone. She faces the normal trials of middle school, including her best friend becoming friends with the former “mean girl” in their class. Meanwhile, at home, her uncle is visiting from Pakistan and Amina discovers the vastly different interpretations of their holy scriptures.
We witness Islamophobia in big and small ways, including the terrible event in which their beloved mosque is vandalized and burned. However, the community comes through in supporting their Muslim neighbors by searching for the criminals and offering support in clean-up and rebuilding. The family interaction was simply beautiful and the description of foods and cooking will have readers’ mouths watering! And at the very end, we’re left wondering if Amina’s family will take a trip to visit the rest of their family in Pakistan. I’m excited to move on to book #2…
AWARDS: Texas Bluebonnet Award Nominee (2019), South Carolina Book Award Nominee for Junior Book (2020), Bluestem Book Award Nominee (2019), Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Middle Grade & Children’s (2017), NCTE Charlotte Huck Award Nominee (2018)
I learned an incredible amount of information from this book. Most of all, I discovered how uninformed I was about the conflict in Syria and how much I still need to learn. If I’d been reading it with my eyes, I would have been highlighting and taking notes in the margins just to make sure I didn’t forget pertinent details (for example, Islam vs. Islamism — very different things) or to keep various families straight in my mind. I also recommend keeping a map handy if you’re not familiar with the region because it will help in navigating routes of travel and the cities where each person/family landed. I was listening to it as an audiobook and kept moving forward, taking in what I could. But I am still tempted to go back through a print book just to digest more. Overall, it was a story that spoke of a resilient people who are still picking up the pieces and moving forward. The afterword (or epilogue?) provided details about Abouzeid and how the information was collected through interviews. It gave me much greater confidence in its authenticity.
Who Ate My Book?
June 9, 2020
Penguin Young Readers Group
Who Ate My Book? is a very simple early chapter book showcasing children and their pets. There’s “my goat,” “my fish,” and “my dog.” However, the naughty goat tends to photobomb each chapter, eating everything in sight. Many early readers are somewhat boring, but this one will certainly get kids giggling.
A New King of Wild
Zara González Hoang
April 21, 2020
Dial Books for Young Reader
Ren loves his life on the edge of the wild. He is entertained by his imagination and loves his privacy and freedom to become whomever he wants to be. So when he moves to the big city, he’s lost and terribly homesick. His new friend Ava must show him the magic — the “new kind of wild” he can experience even when he’s surrounded by brick and cement. The artwork was created with watercolor, colored pencils, and a bit of Photoshop magic.
Mike Lowery, illustrator
April 7, 2020
In this goofy picture book, knot is comparing himself to snake. Snake can slither, hiss, shed her skin, taste the air, etc. But knot cannot. However, what knot CAN do just might save snake’s life. With fun wordplay, this book will be a great intro to a discussion on what young children CAN do.
Carme Lemniscates, illustrator
March 31, 2020
Cowritten by Hillary Clinton and Chelsea Clinton, this book walks through memories of Chelsea’s experience gardening and enjoying nature with her Grandma Dorothy from the time she was a young child until her grandma was in her 90s. In the final pages, it turns the focus to Hillary’s experience as a grandmother, still enjoying nature and gardening with her grandchildren. The book is very large with full page spreads on every page. I love that you can get lost in the illustrations that appear almost like collages. The artwork for this book was done in mixed media.
You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
I really appreciated the balance of text to artwork in this picture book biography. Young children will learn just enough about Jane Goodall to yearn for more. The back matter has a timeline of Jane’s life as well as more facts about chimpanzees and links to learn more.
How to Be a Pirate
Brigette Barrager, illustrator
March 3, 2020
Bloomsbury Children’s Book
This book was a pleasant surprise for me. It begins with a young girl approaching her Grandpa because the boys said she couldn’t be a pirate. Her Grandpa, complete with vibrant tattoos, tells her the most important characteristics of being a pirate — bravery, quickness, fun, independence, and love. I deeply appreciate how this book challenges stereotypes. ❤️ The artwork was created with pencil, colored pencil, and ink washes composited in Photoshop.
To Be Read:
On Thursday, I started re-reading Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo, and illustrated by K.G. Campbell, as our morning read aloud. We hope to finish this one up just in time to watch the movie on Disney+ for our weekly family pizza movie night on Friday. And I just started a digital ARC of Amina’s Song by Hena Khan, which I’m already enjoying.
Please don’t forget to share any Goodreads or StoryGraph shelving or tagging experience if you have any advice! I know the sooner I get organized and begin putting new habits into practice, the better it will be for me long term. Thanks for your help!!