Sunday, July 8, 2012

Each Week-A Great New Book! Or More Than One




COME VISIT TEACH.MENTOR.TEXTS, WITH JEN AND KELLEE WHO ARE HOSTS OF THIS KIDLIT MEME, FROM PRIMARY TO YA.  CHECK OUT THE LINKS TO SEE WHAT SO MANY ARE READING!

        It's Monday! What are you Reading? is another meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journeys, a variety of reviews to find even more books for your TBR list. 

"Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.” 
 - Emilie Buchwald

         And, this week I am also linking with the blog Gathering Books, where you can discover even more ideas for finding terrific books.  They host a yearly Award-Winning Book challenge where participants read and review many books, sometimes theme-based.  Be sure to check it out.  Two of the books I read this past week belong on my award list of books, although others were nominated for an award.

The Big Field by Mike Lupika

I am really getting into this listening to audio books!  I just listened to my first Mike Lupika book (embarrassed to admit), The Big Field, and loved every single word that the voice of Christopher Evan Weber spoke.  I guess you could call me a sports fan, especially baseball.  Every spring I listen to the sports talk about the predictions for the Colorado Rockies, and although this has been a miserable year, I am still watching games, or listening to them on the radio, when I'm not listening to a book!  I knew that Lupika's books are out there, I even know the titles, but I just never took the time to read one.  Now I will look for more. 


   
 Lupika has written books about basketball, football, but mostly baseball.  I am assuming he writes the other books as he did this one, with exactly, knuckle-knawing anxiety about the end of a game, an error in a play, or a team problem.  This book, however, isn't just about baseball, it's also about dreams of success in a very competitive game; about the fact that each player brings himself to the game, in addition to his baseball skills; and it includes the main theme, conflict between fathers and sons-misunderstanding in communication, love and resentment, and emotional needs of both the adult and the child.  The book's tension came from the family conflicts as much as from the baseball games.  I loved it!

Hound Dog True by Linda Urban

I finished this last week, although for a short book, it took a long time. It is a wonderful story, and I've puzzled over my feelings about it as I read. In the first half of the book, I felt that Linda Urban injected such tension that I really worried about what was going to happen. There have been many books lately that held life-changing tragedies to cry over, and I kept imagining that Mattie as the young heroine of this story was going to experience something similar. She was already sad enough to me. Her shyness and the fact that she was overwhelmed with the thought of starting a new school made me worry so about her. I believe I read slowly because I didn't want to know what was going to happen. Without giving anything away, I will say that I did finally finish the book and was satisfied with how Linda Urban kept so true to this young woman and to her life. Mattie Breen is a character that will stay with me for a long while.
       A favorite quote: Mattie is taking note of the cafeteria in her new school: Four hundred and fifty seats.  Seems like that would be enough so everybody has a place, but Mattie knows different.  Knows that there can be a thousand seats and still you might not find the place you belong.  

If Nathan Were Here by Mary Bahr and illustrated by Karen A. Jerome

          You don’t need many words, perhaps only the title, to figure out that Nathan is not there, and only the support of the family and the teacher will begin to heal the sadness of the young boy who is telling the story.  It’s a poignant story which offers a little of what is needed in order to say goodbye to a friend who has died.  It’s a book to keep in mind for those tough times when adults have to help children with death.  Mary Bahr also wrote The Memory Box, about a grandchild and his grandfather with Alzheimer’s disease.

How To Make A Night by Linda Ashman and illustrated by Tricia Tusa

This is an extraordinarily imaginative “goodnight” book in rhyme showing all the things that one needs to do before night can arrive.  First, one must begin to clean up the messes, presumable made during the day, like Sneaker’s in the creek and Cat spilled the juice.  Linda moves on to the whimsy where one hears: clear the clouds from the sky/with a big wet mop and lassoing the sun to put it into a dark and safe place.  Aside from the funny story line, Tusa uses a variety of art to illustrate, some black ink and what looks like watercolor, some cutouts of original drawings and some cut outs of photographs.  It’s terrific to see.  It’s a fun book for maybe four years and up.

Circle Unbroken and Night Boat to Freedom by Margot Theis Raven, illustrated by E.B. Lewis, both award winners!

Circle Unbroken was selected as a 2005 Children’s Africana Book Award Honor Book for Young Children.  It follows the earliest history of basket-weaving from Africans captured from the Windward Coast of West Africa by slave-traders.  Their skills have been passed down drom generation to generation, and some of you may be familiar with the sweetgrass “coil” or “Gullah” basket, still found made in the islands off the coasts of South Carolina and Georgia today.  It is written in small stories as each generation taught the next this art form of basket making from those beginnings all the way through to 20th century wars. when bridge-builders came and joined the islands to the mainland.  One line shows the poignancy of change: “What’s coming, Grandma?” the yard children cried.  “Tomorrow,” she sighed.  The beautiful watercolor illustrations are realistic, showing beautifully the stories as the book moves through the years.

Night Boat to Freedom  won First Place in the Carter G. Woodson Book Award, National Council for the Social 
Studies and The Martin Luther King Living the Dream Award; Fielder Freedom Award, among other honors. It  is a story whose roots lie in interviews recorded with former slaves by the WPA writer’s project during the Great Depression.  It tells the story of two slaves in Kentucky, a grandmother and her grandson, born on Christmas morning, and named Christmas.  She quilts squares based on colors worn by those who escaped across the river from Kentucky to the free state of Ohio.  For four years, Christmas rowed an old rowboat across that river in the dark of the night with slaves bound for freedom.  At last, he and his grandmother escape too, and she reveals a beautiful quilt, with the “many colors” of freedom. 

                 Both books are well told stories, with illustrations that enhance the story and one’s imagination when thinking about those times in our history.



What's Next:  Finishing Insurgent by Veronica Roth, then One For The Murphys by Linda Mullaly Hunt, and continue the book group with Write Beside Them by Penny Kittle.  Great reading for sure!!

31 comments:

  1. Wow, If Nathan Were Here sounds like an interesting book to check out, to see how a tough subject is handled.

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    1. I think it could be used at most ages, but it's lovely for younger children.

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  2. I'm starting to really adore Lupica-- Game Changers was really excellent, and the cover is one that the boys will all snap up!

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    1. Thanks for another title! I was excited that I liked the book so much, to find another author to recommend.

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  3. I know a couple of baseball nuts, so I'll keep The Big Field in mind when they ask for book recommendations!

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  4. This set of books sounds great Linda! My son read one of Mike Lupica's books about football and really enjoyed it. I bet he would like this one too! He's a baseball fan. I have Hound Dog True on my list to read this summer.

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  5. The boys in my reading classes adore anything Lupica writes - even Hero which was a different type of book for him. And I loved Hound Dog True. Such a beautiful book.

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    1. I wish I'd checked out the books sooner! Glad to hear your boys like them too!

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  6. The Mike Lupica book sounds really good! I am ashamed to admit that I have never read anything by him. I must remedy that soon! I'm very interested in If Nathan Were Here. I recently had a request at my library for a book to read to a child whose friend had died. There were very few books in my library on the subject. I will order this one so I have a good book for the future.

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    1. It is quite well done, & I hope is helpful to you. The latest one I know that is about saying goodbye to a grandparent is Cynthia Rylant's Kindred Souls. It's wonderful, too.

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  7. I shared Nightboat to Freedom with my social studies classes this year, Linda - just wonderful, especially when tied to the WPA interviews, which we read and listened to as well. I just love the cover to If Nathan Were Here and shall have to check it out!

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    1. I'm glad to hear that someone has used that book. It is so beautiful to 'see' too. And the other is really special, Tara.

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  8. I really enjoyed Insurgent, but cannot wait to hear your thoughts on One for the Murphys - definitely one of my top 5 books of 2012. Such an important book with foster care as the backdrop.
    After hearing you're trying audio books, I may need to try them again. I enjoy Mike Lupica as a sports columnist, but he does such a nice job writing books accessible to kids as well.

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    1. I am leaving town at the end of the week, so will take One for The Murphys with me. There are other good foster child books & I'm excited to read this too. I love Ellen Foster, The Great Gilly Hopkins & Pictures of Hollis Woods so hope this is a good addition to those stories. Thanks Karen.

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  9. I just started reading Hound Dog True to our two girls (10 and 8) and agree with your statement about feeling the tension in the air. We're wringing our hands for Mattie and school is just about to start . . . And One For the Murphys should be in any day for me at the library.

    Have a great reading week!

    Lorna

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    1. I know your girls will like Hound Dog True-what a nice book to read together! I'll look forward to hearing what you have to say about it, & about One For The Murphy's.

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  10. Looks like you got lots of great reading done. I LOVE Mike Lupica and have read lots of his books- TRAVEL TEAM, about basketball is one of my favorites. I love that he has an easier series, then some kind of middle-schoolish books, so that kids can enjoy him at different levels. You will love ONE FOR THE MURPHYS also! If you have not read TOUCH BLUE by Cynthia Lord, that's a good companion book to MURPHYS.

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    1. Thanks for the additional ideas, Carol. I was just so happy with the Lupika, so I'll definitely look for Travel Team, too! And Touch Blue, I 'think' I've read, but will look it up to check.

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  11. Linda
    I haven't read any of these, which doesn't surprise me - oh except for listening to Insurgent! Hound Dog True is on my list and One for the Murphy's though, and I like the sound of Night Boat to Freedom, so I must put that on my list.
    Kathryn

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    1. There're just too many books to keep up, aren't there, Kathryn. The Night Boat & the other are older, should be in your library. I hope you like them!

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  12. What a great list of books and you have some great ones ahead of you too.
    I am so glad that you are really starting to love audiobooks! Finding them 6 years ago really changed my drives- I love them!

    Happy reading this week! :)

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    1. They have made my drives so pleasant, & fast, Kellee! I'm going to be on the lookout for new sources, though, because my library doesn't always have the best picks. I do have a lot of good books ahead, many recommended from you & Jen!

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  13. Hound Dog True is all over the place. I've yet to read it, but only because my TBR pile is huge! I used Bahr's The Memory Box in my classroom several years ago. It was actually part of the basal text at the time, and I pulled the picture book to use instead. I haven't read If Nathan Were Here, but if she handles the subject as eloquently as she did dementia in The Memory Box, I'm sure it's a beautiful book. Helpful for children out there who have to go through these experiences.

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    1. It's so hard to get to everything, isn't it? I hope you like it, & the Nathan book too. I found it so lovely. Thanks Maria.

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  14. Okay, Hound Dog True is moving up on my list--thank you for reminding me of that one. You have many other great title on this list--I am bookmarking it! Mike Lupica's stories have strong character messages in them, besides just the sports-related plots. I really enjoyed Safe at Home and Million Dollar Throw.

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    1. Thanks for the extra titles by Lupika. I am so excited about his books!

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  15. The only book I have read from your list is Insurgent - which I really enjoyed!
    More books to add to my list! Thanks for all the wonderful reviews.

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    1. You are welcome, Beverley. Our TBR's are amazingly long, aren't they? I'm almost finished with Insurgent-so far, very good!

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  16. Linda, these are wonderful books! All of them I'm unfamiliar with! I always have that sense of joy and discovery whenever I find new books that I KNOW I have to find and read. Thank you so much for linking them up to the July database. I love it!

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Having a conversation is a good thing!