Jen and Kellee host this kidlit meme at TEACH.MENTOR.TEXTS. It’s a wonderful group of readers who blog and tell, what they’re reading lately.
It's Monday! What are you Reading? is another meme hosted by Sheila at BOOK JOURNEYS that offers reviews of all kinds of books. There are more reviews to help find that next great book here!
If you’re on Twitter, use the hashtag #IMWAYR when sharing your link!
And: if you still haven’t looked at the blogs who wrote the 10for10 picture books posts, go to Cathy’s blog Reflect and Refine: Building A Learning Community or Mandy’s at Enjoy And Embrace Learning to find the lists
Here’s what I’ve read and/or listened to this week, lots of good reading for me this week. I'm reading as fast as I can so I'll have lots of good recommendations for teachers!
The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall is the beginning of a series I will booktalk and share as much as possible for all those readers who love a good story that includes numerous memorable characters, some loved and some disliked. Birdsall manages to keep readers on the edge often. Because I listened to this book read expertly by Susan Denaker, who managed to pull off voices so real I thought there was more than one reader, I found myself sitting in the car more than once until the “dangerous situation” was resolved. It is a wonderful story for middle readers.
I was loaned a couple of books by a new teacher I’m working with this year. Lucky me!
Planting The Trees of Kenya by Claire A. Nivola is an inspiration, especially for those who are working to make a difference in first steps. When Maathai returned to her Native Kenya after college in the U.S., she was troubled by the amount of land that had been stripped of trees in order that farmers plant crops to sell. The result was becoming an economic and personal disaster. No longer was there good land to grow small gardens to feed one’s family, or close trees from which to gather fallen wood for cooking fires. Starting with a few trees, Nivola walked the land teaching how to plant trees, especially the sacred fig, and teaching why. This wonderful story is one that children can easily understand, the beginnings and the resulting successes. The illustrations are breath-taking.
Thank you, Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco tells the author’s story of not learning to read, being called dummy, and eventually being forced to hide out in a stairwell in order to avoid the teasing. She meets a teacher who supports her artistic talent and finally discovers what’s really been going on. With help from kind Mr. Falker and a reading teacher, through different experiences, Patricia learns to read. It is a glorious moment, as it must be for all those who have struggled with dyslexia and other reading challenges. This is a book to be read in all classrooms, showing that those who might have some learning challenges are not dumb, just learn by different paths.
Mirette On The High Wire by Emily Arnold McCully - reviewed here. It’s a terrific Caldecott about courage and persistence.
The Year of the Book by Andrea Cheng, illustrated by Abigail Halpin. A fourth grade ABC (American born Chinese according to the book) struggles with her relationship with her mother, her feelings of being different because she is Chinese, and the 'how-to' of making friends. The book leads us through Anna's story, and while not all is perfect, she does find some answers to some personal questions. The title refers to the way that Anna seems to deal with her problems, by hiding in a book. While there is sharing of some great titles like A Wrinkle In Time and My Side of the Mountain, the interaction between them and Anna's real life's problems are not connected. Anna is growing up, therefore typically critical of her mother. For example, she shows embarrassment that her mother is only lately learning to drive. Finally, the complexities of being in and out of friendship with different girls makes Anna just want to hide. Because of personal problems, a former friend does come to stay for a few days, and Anna is forced to open her eyes to a young woman who wants to be her friend. It's a sweet book, and I loved Anna from the beginning.
Eye of the Storm by Kate Messner - This is a different look at Kate Messner's writing history, a novel set in the future where the world holds huge thunderstorms and tornadoes. These storms have forced most to move into safe areas with managed weather, but a few rebels hold out, trying desperately to keep their land. I love that there is a female protagonist, Jaden. She is the daughter of a scientist who runs this laboratory and who manages the storms using satellite power.
Aiden, on this, her first visit with her father for a long time, manages to interrupt his work and to find that his big secret operation is not as nice as she had thought. Action builds time after time as Aiden tried to repair what her father has already started. There are surprises in the book which satisfy and sidekicks of Aiden who try to warn her that something is not right. There are some scary moments. I suspect if she had been any older, she would have been in even more hot water. It's an interesting idea to use huge storms as one of the ingredients of dystopian survival, to the point that many build 'safe' rooms, something like the old 'root cellars'.
It's a book worth reading, especially for the good science; maybe there is a giant tornado, or three, in our futures.
Turtle In Paradise by Jennifer L. Holm – I listened to this book last week. What a sweet story set during the Great Depression. It’s hard to believe the hardships during that time, and what kids had to do to survive. In this, we meet the spunky and very together 11 year old Turtle whose mother has sent her to Florida to live with her aunt, who already has three boys and an absent husband who works far away. Turtle’s mother has a good job as a housekeeper, but her employer unfortunately doesn’t like children, therefore the separation.
This alley of tiny houses where Turtle lands is home to most of Turtle’s family. There is tough interaction with the local group of boys, including her cousins, who are named the Diaper Gang because they babysit for babies to give the mothers some relief. They are paid in candy. There is a small part about Turtle's meeting her grandmother for the first time, and having equally hard interactions with her. Through a series of adventures, including some serious mishaps, Turtle is finally accepted by the boys, and learns that she doesn’t always have to be so strong, that others will take care of her too.
The information I read says that Holm has based this book on some family history. It was fun to listen to, especially considering the time period.
What’s Next: I’ve begun Small As An Elephant, by Jennifer Richard Jacobson--on the TBR pile for a long time, and have read some of Choice Words by Peter H. Johnston. It’s slow going because I’m re-reading so much and taking notes as I go. I found Linger by Maggie Stiefvater on tape at the library, so that’s what I’ll be listening to in the car. Looks like a good week of reading!