On Friday, my husband headed to Texas for my father-in-law’s memorial service. So with him out of town, I decided to make this my weekend of reviewing past posts and seeing where I failed to follow-up on comments. And that’s when I discovered just how badly I’ve dropped the ball. Ugh. I don’t know how many of my readers actually come back to read replies, but if comments calls for engagement or a response I’ll plan to do a better job of showing up in the future.
If this is your first visit to my blog, welcome! Today is Monday, and I regularly participate in a weekly #IMWAYR meme. 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!
This week I’m sharing a middle grade novel, a middle grade graphic novel, and a pile of picture books. Maybe you’ll find something of interest to add to your reading list.
Darcie Little Badger
August 25, 2020
I honestly don’t know how to talk about this book because it’s so different from just about anything I’ve read. It took me about a third of the book to get into the story, but then I was fully committed. This book showcases a Lipan Apache main character named Elatsoe (AKA Ellie) and the murder mystery integrates ghosts, vampires, spells, curses, and legends into the storyline. I loved the dialog and relationships and that dogs could be so loyal and powerful, well into the afterlife. This book was on my #MustReadin2021 list and it was well worth the wait! (Also, I didn’t even notice the cover had animal ghosts. I thought it was a girl wandering around in a blizzard!!!!!)
AWARDS: Locus Award, Best First Novel (2021), Andre Norton Award Nominee (2020), Lodestar Award Nominee (2021), Ignyte Award Nominee, Best YA Novel (2021)
October 3, 2017
This graphic novel was the story of a young girl searching for the secret to her cultural identity. Who was her father? How did her mother end up in America? Why won’t she go back to India? One day Priyanka finds her mother’s pashmina (scarf/shawl) and when she wraps up in it, she’s taken to a fantasy land where she gets to see a version of India. The story features black and white vs. colored panels as it flipped back and forth between real life and when the magical pashmina took Priyanka to the hidden world.
Jack Horner: Dinosaur Hunter
David Shephard, illustrator
August 15, 2021
Sleeping Bear Press
Jack Horner had undiagnosed dyslexia and struggled terribly throughout school, failing most of his classes while winning science fairs. His parents encouraged his love of dinosaurs by taking him places to search and dig. However, when he headed off to college, he again failed his courses. After fighting in Vietnam, he decided to keep chasing his dream of digging up dinosaurs and so he wrote to museums all over. He was hired by Princeton University’s natural history museum, who eventually sent him into the field where he was the first to find an intact fossilized dinosaur embryo. He named the new dinosaur species the Maiasaura. He later became an expert advisor for ALL the Jurassic Park movies!! 😮 The artwork resembled a graphic novel, at times. I think this book will be a huge hit in elementary schools, everywhere!
You Know How to Love
Rachel Tawil Kenyon
Mary Londquist, illustrator
November 3, 2020
(Imprint of Penguin Random House LLC)
In rhyming text, this precious picture book starts out with, presumably, a father holding his newborn baby. “It starts at the start when you can’t even talk. Before you stand up and learn how to walk.” As the child grows older and begins to make friendships and explore the world, they learn to listen, be kind, share, play fair, comfort, etc. In the end, we truly know how to love and should spread that kindness around. The artwork for this book was made with pencil, watercolor, and gouache on watercolor paper.
October 6, 2020
(Imprint of HarperCollins)
In this super cute picture book, a group of four turtles are taking a loooong journey. As they patiently travel, we witness the changing of the seasons through the Spring, Summer, Fall, and the Winter. The text is repetitive… until it isn’t. “Turtle Walk. Nice and Slow. Here we go. Are we there yet? No.” Be looking for a funny little twist near the end that will have youngsters chuckling. This one would be especially fun to read on a snow day! ❄️ Watercolor and pencils were used to prepare the full-color art in this book.
Cow Boy is Not a Cowboy
October 20, 2020
(imprint of HarperCollins)
What’s not to love about an uptight bull who refuses to face his unrealistic dreams? NOTHING. All he needs is an adventure-seeking Goat Girl to help him come to his senses. The very expressive illustrations on shiny pages bring this hilarious tale to life. The artist used pencil sketches scanned and painted in Adobe Photoshop.
November 3, 2020
(imprint of Penguin Random House LLC)
Children will be delighted to meet Hugsby! In a world full of busy-busy and go-go-go, sometimes we’re in a hurry to figure out our gifts or passions. But never underestimate the value of a good hug. This might pair nicely with Don’t Hug Doug to discuss who does and doesn’t like to be hugged. The sweet, muted-colored art for this book was created with pencil and Photoshop, including scanned watercolor textures.
Sharko and Hippo
Andrea Tsurumi, illustrator
September 29, 2020
Balzer + Bray
(imprint of HarperCollins Publishers)
Meet Sharko and Hippo. Sharko does the talking and Hippo does the carrying. But there are some serious communication problems here that leave Sharko practically in tears (even if listening children are moved to laughter). This would be a great book to use to discuss rhyming and alliteration (and, perhaps, selective hearing). The artist used Sumi ink, nibs, watercolor, collage, and Photoshop to create the illustrations for this book.
A Map Into the World
Kao Kalia Yang
Seo Kim, illustrator
October 1, 2019
(an imprint of Lerner Publishing Group)
This gorgeous picture book is powerful as it deals with the death of a neighbor and the empathy of a young Hmong girl named Paj Ntaub. We see the circle of life as the main character becomes a big sister to two baby twin brothers. All the while, the seasons bear witness to the loving interaction as Paj Ntaub notices the beauty of nature: growing vegetables, leaves on the trees, snowflakes, the first worm of spring, lilac flowers, etc. In the end, Paj Ntaub finds a beautiful way to share these discoveries in a map into the world that she creates with colorful chalk for her grieving neighbor. This is so very beautiful with lovely artwork and it’s sweetly emotional in the end. The illustrations in this book were created digitally using digital graphite, pastels, watercolor, and scanned handmade textures.
This is a most unusual picture book in the way it was created that you flip through one direction and then halfway through begin reading in another direction. It’s difficult to explain without showing you, but trust that it’s a pretty nifty experience. In rhyming text, the storyline is of an old woman who dreams of an impending flood. So she seals up any cracks in her home and begins gathering promises “in pairs” for safe keeping. Strong, small, mysterious, light, sad, slow… they were all set aside for safe keeping. When the rains came down her house floated until it landed on dry sand, keeping the promises safe and dry. And can you guess what these precious promises were? The illustrations are mysterious and dark in color with the handwritten text going in all directions. And the author’s note and illustrator’s note give very special shout out to the importance of libraries in their lives. Ed Young gives a thank you to the help of a Photoshop artist named John Hudak and a Calligrapher named Ellen Cohn for their help with the artwork.
My First Day
Phùng Nguyên Quang
Huỳnh Kim Liên
February 16, 2021
Make Me a World
The Author’s and Illustrator’s Note for this book says: “For the people of the Mekong Delta, the water shapes their relationship with everything in their daily life. It’s a roadway, a supermarket, a meeting place, and even the path to school.” And we don’t know it in the beginning, but this is precisely what this story is about – a young Mekong child making their journey on their “first day.” It’s a great discussion starter for how things work all around the world. The back matter includes some facts about the Mekong River and a personal letter written to the reader from Christopher Myers. The illustrations were quite beautiful and I had a difficult time picking just one to showcase. The artwork was created using Adobe Photoshop.
September 29, 2020
A child is wide awake in bed, long after they should be asleep. So the father invites them to go on a walk together. Along the way, they see so many different homes and activities happening around town, deep into the night. The father shares how his childhood was so different since he grew up out in the country where he rarely saw another home or neighbor. It’s quite a thoughtful book that will provide some discussion about what’s happening at night in different locations. The illustrations were done in watercolor and ink pen on paper. I’ll provide one example, below:
Currently Reading/To Be Read:
I am not 100% sure about the coming week, since I’ve made plans in recent weeks and completely changed them at the last minute. But I’m thinking I’ll be finishing Dragon Hoops in print and Anxious People as an audiobook.