Happy Monday morning and Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day!
It’s been an unusual past week for our family for two reasons:
- First, we tested positive for Covid and had to stay in quarantine for the week. Hubby and I were both vaccinated, so after the first 24 hours of fever, headache, and body aches, we mostly just had mild upper respiratory symptoms and fatigue. In fact, the one thing that finally tipped us off that it was possibly Covid was when I spilled a bottle of essential oils on my hands and suddenly realized I couldn’t smell anything (including straight rubbing alcohol, which I tried out of curiosity).
- Secondly, we were without internet for most of Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday (which also meant not posting for #imwayr, last Monday). One of our internet plume pods stopped working and, for some strange reason, it wasn’t allowing our modem to connect with even the other two remaining pods. Even our phone Internet was spotty. #FirstWorldProblems
Outside of all that, we were able to do some organizing – putting away all remaining Christmas stuff and getting our furniture back in place. We made some remaining Christmas recipes we missed during December (favorite dips, some peanut brittle, more fudge, and cookies) and started figuring out what calendar design to make for 2022 (our extended family calendars always run from February 1st through January 31st since I refused to work on them until AFTER December. Five kids, don’t judge! 😂). I’ve also started figuring out a few books to add to my #MustReadin2022 list, but I won’t finalize my list until after the 2022 Youth Media Awards (which will take place virtually next on Monday, Jan. 24, 2022, at 8 a.m.). It felt good to finally start getting things in order before we get too far into the new year!
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!
In addition to sharing my regular weekly reading, I’ll also be sharing a response to reading an ARC of People of the Sun by Ben Gartner, which is book #3 of the historical fiction The Eye of Ra series. I hope you’ll find something here of interest to add to your future reading lists!
People of the Sun
(The Eye of Ra #3)
Crescent Vista Press
February 1, 2022
This series just keeps getting more intricate and exciting! Siblings John and Sarah have already traveled back to the town of Saqqara in ancient Egypt in book #1 and to Aventicum in ancient Rome in book #2. But in People of the Sun, they must now travel to what has been historically referred to as the time of Aztec (or the Mexica people). It’s clearly a darker period in history and more about their paradox is fleshed out as they must ask difficult philosophical questions about whether one life is more precious than another or how to properly determine who deserves to live or die in an effort to save the future. This book introduces a new purpose for the sibling duo and we meet a mysterious older couple who seem to know them. Book #3 was, by far, my favorite installment of the series. The story has really stuck with me and since Gartner left an opening for more installments, I’m very hopeful this isn’t the last we see of John and Sarah! I’ve especially appreciated the development of the brother/sister relationship throughout this series as they mature. This title will be released February 1st, so go pre-order TODAY!
Check out Ben Gartner’s website for more information about the series, including FREE teacher guides to each book!!
SERIES AWARDS TO DATE: ⭐️ Gold Recipient, Mom’s Choice Awards Honoring Excellence ⭐️ Grand Prize Winner, Colorado Author Project ⭐️ 1st Place, Gertrude Warner Middle Grade Fiction Award ⭐️ Gold Medal in Children’s 4th-6th, 2021 International Readers’ Favorite Awards ⭐️ Silver Medal in Children’s Adventure, 2020 International Readers’ Favorite Awards ⭐️ Award-winning Finalist, Next Generation Book Awards ⭐️ 1st Place in both Children’s Adventure AND Grades 4th-6th, 2020 TopShelf Awards
My thanks to Ben Gartner, Crescent Vista Press, and NetGalley for providing me with an advanced reader copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
Other Books Finished this Week:
Kiki Kallira Breaks a Kingdom by Sangu Mandanna
Full of fantasy elements and Indian mythology, this story drew me in with its unique voices and fast-paced action. Kiki is a character that I found myself cheering for – she’s perfectly flawed and has already struggled with fear and anxiety before being thrown into a shocking world she accidentally created with her sketchbook. If I’m not mistaken, this is only book #1 of a new series. And I’ll definitely show up for book #2, once it’s available! Published July 6, 2021 by Viking Books.
Linked by Gordon Korman
Imagine walking into your middle school only to discover a swastika symbol in bold paint on the wall. Told with multiple narrators, this is a story of an entire community coming together to learn about the Holocaust and to stand against racism as Chokecherry, Colorado decides to make a paper chain to symbolize the Jewish lives lost during WWII. “A paper chain can be done when it hits a certain number of links, but tolerance is a project you always have to keep working at.” The back matter includes a list of resources regarding anti-semitism, holocaust, racism, and intolerance. Published July 20, 2021 by Scholastic.
Too Bright to See by Kyle Lukoff
I’ve been sitting here trying to figure out how to sum up this book in just a few sentences and I don’t know that it’s even possible. There’s a great deal of realistic fiction elements as 11-year-old Bug is heading into middle school with best friend, Moira. Yet there are also paranormal elements as Bug’s house frequently has ghosts and it turns out that a deceased relative is attempting to communicate with them. But the largest theme of this book is that of self-discovery. The story provides LGBTQIA+ representation as one of the main characters eventually comes to understand who they are and how they feel. I know this sounds very ominous and secretive, but there’s very little else I can share without spoiling anything. Too Bright to See was published April 20, 2021 by Dial Books.
The Gravity Tree: The True Story of a Tree That Inspired the World by Anna Crowley Redding and illustrated by Yasmin Imamura.
I’ll admit, I kinda assumed the gravity tree story was myth (kinda like George Washington and the cherry tree). But in this nonfiction picture book, we learn that the gravity tree exists and that there are many descendants of the original tree planted around the world. The back matter explains that not only did Isaac Newton talk about the experience at his childhood home in England at Woolsthorpe Manor, but scientists have used modern technology to date the tree and to research it throughout the centuries. Nevertheless, the part about the apple falling on his head is myth. Newton only watched the apple fall. This book would make a great addition to a study about plants/gardens alongside a study of gravity or Isaac Newton or even outer space. Lots to connect, here. The back matter includes information on the Gravity Tree, Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawking, a timeline, and a bibliography. The artist used Caran d’Ache neocolor ii and Procreate to create the digital illustrations for this book. The Gravity Tree was published May 25th 2021 by HarperCollins
Small Room, Big Dreams: The Journey of Julián and Joaquin Castro by Monica Brown and illustrated by Mirelle Ortega.
This picture book biography begins with the Castro brothers’ grandmother, when she was a young child, crossing the Mexico Texas border. It follows their mother as she became involved in local politics, and then eventually branches into Julián and Joaquin’s growth into high level politics, including Julián’s run for President in 2020. I found this book especially interesting as I grew up within about an hour of where the Castro brothers lived. This book will definitely feel empowering to so many young readers, including those of color and those who were born into poverty. It’s very inspiring! The back matter includes an Author’s Note, a glossary of terms, and a list of sources for further reading. The artist used Photoshop CC to create the digital illustrations for this book. It was published May 4th 2021 by Quill Tree Books.
Bartali’s Bicycle: The True Story of Gino Bartali, Italy’s Secret Hero by Megan Hoyt and illustrated by Iacopo Bruno.
- “Some medals are pinned to your soul, not your jacket.”
- “Good is something you do, not something you talk about.”
What an amazing story about Bartali’s work outside of winning races! We might never have known about Bartali’s hiding 800 Jewish people and 50 English soldiers (in addition to others who were being persecuted) if it hadn’t been for the diaries discovered after the death of Giorgio Nissim, the leader of the secret network who worked to assist Jewish people. The back matter is complete with timeline, a letter from Gino Bartali’s granddaughter, an Author’s Note, and a long list of sources. The coloring and shadows in the artwork truly give this book a feel of living in the 1940s. The artist used pencil and digital color to create the illustrations for this book. It was published February 23rd 2021 by Quill Tree Books.
Climate Action: What Happened and What We Can Do by Seymour Simon.
Just when I think I already have a good handle on climate change and what we can or cannot do to impact it, I learn loads of new information. For example, I learned about an impending megadrought expected in the midwest by 2050 (that could last for 50 years!). And when trees die, they release harmful greenhouse gases that had been stored in their trunks for years. But mostly, I was surprised and humbled by the sheer number of teens involved in environmental politics, today. What happens to our planet will impact their future the most, even though they can’t yet vote. This book discusses changes in the number of forest fires, heavier rains, ghost forests (from salt water damage), building seawalls, ocean acidification, wildlife destruction, biodiversity, honeybee destruction, and more. The back matter includes a glossary of terms and an important Author’s Note is found at the beginning of the book. The book published February 23, 2021 by HarperCollins.
The Last Straw: Kids vs. Plastics by Susan Hood and illustrated by Christiane Engel
This nonfiction picture book is bursting with brightly colored artwork, poetry, and information about the use of plastic and its impact on our lives and planet. I enjoyed reading about bottle caps for benches, jellyfish mucous, ecobricks used to build schools, caterpillars whose digestive system dissolved plastic, solar rooftop heater made of recycled water bottles, and more! The back matter is 13 pages long and includes an Author’s Note, timeline, alternatives for plastic, and so many sources. The artist used acrylics, watercolor, and Adobe Photoshop to create the illustrations for this book. It was published February 16, 2021 by HarperCollins.
Full of Beans by Peggy Thomas and illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham
Don’t let the bright yellow cover frighten you, there’s fascinating information here. From the first time his mother told him to “Do something useful” and try to make people’s lives easier on them, Henry Ford set out on a task that greatly impacts us, even today. He was determined to re-use and recycle all that he could to make cars. So after much research, he started with the soybean and eventually making the soybean car. And while WWII halted his soybean car plans, it didn’t completely stop his dream. When he first started this invention adventure, the United States grew only three million acres of soybeans. Today, we grow more than eighty-four million acres. Back matter includes 12 pages of more information, a timeline, recipes, sources, and more. The artwork in this book was created digitally. This book published October 15, 2019 by Boyds Miller and Calkins Creek.
Mr. Ferris and His Wheel by Kathryn Gibbs Davis and illustrated by Gilbert Ford.
This picture book biography is just as enticing as the beautiful front cover, showcasing a night view of the world’s very first Ferris Wheel. Just imagine how many doubters George Washington Gale Ferris, Jr. faced when no person had ever before experienced a ferris wheel! But he persisted – despite issues with time, lack of funds, and even quick sand! This book showcases gorgeous artwork and a nicely paced storyline (with finer details can be found in side notes). The back matter includes sources, a bibliography, and an official photograph of George Washington Gale Ferris, Jr. The illustrations in this book are digital mixed media, created with ink and watercolor. The book was published September 2, 2014 by Clarion Books.
To Be Read:
I have a lovely new stack of picture books from Interlibrary Loan, but I’m also hoping I’ll have time to start reading Many Points of Me by Caroline Gertler.
Reading Challenge Updates:
Goodreads Challenge: 12/200
#MustReadIn2022: <<Hope to have this list by January 31st!!