Sunday, November 11, 2012

Fabulous Books This Week!


Jen and Kellee host this kidlit meme at TEACH.MENTOR.TEXTS.  Join us to see what we're all reading.

          It's Monday! What are you Reading? is another meme hosted by Sheila at BOOK JOURNEYS that offers reviews of all kinds of books.  

        If you’re on Twitter, use the hashtag #IMWAYR when sharing your link!

        Charles Dickens said, "There are books of which the backs and covers are by far the best parts."   This week, however, it isn't true at all, and I'm only trying to catch your attention to the gorgeous covers on the books I read.  They really are pretty.  


Bear Has A Story To Tell – by Philip C. Stead, illus. by Erin E. Stead

This has to be one of the most beautiful picture books I’ve read in a while.  Bear is getting ready to go to sleep and goes to his friends to tell them a final story before hibernating.  He meets a mouse, a duck, a frog and a mole, all too busy to listen.  What happens next will be left to discover.  The illustrations are beautiful, spare watercolors, giving the animals such sweet expressions.  Each whimsical spread shows both the friendships and the waiting for spring.


Apple Cake, A Recipe for Love – by Julie Paschkis

Julie Paschkis has taken a story and a recipe of her great-grandmother’s to create a sweet love story of courtship by baking a cake.  The pictures look as if they could be on a set of dishes, telling a story, and serving up food as well as love.  It’s a very sweet book.

Stargirl – by Jerry Spinelli

There aren't too many more good things to say about this book that someone hasn't already said. It's great. It still holds up well. I just finished a book group that read it, and loved it. It starts good and important conversations. I wish there was time to have the group read Wonder next. Wouldn't it be interesting to compare? If you haven't read the book, do, please.

Shine – by Laura Myracle

I finally got to this book, wanting to read it, but rarely finding time, until I checked out the audio edition, southern accents and all. It's definitely for high school, lots of rough language in it, although some 8th graders would enjoy it too. This is a book that was mis-named in the National Book Award craziness last year when the judges got it mixed up with Chime. They both have female main characters, but Chime is fantasy, Shine is not. It concerns a small town and the very real trouble they have with one of their young teens, Patrick, being gay. It seems that he has been bullied quite a lot, although because it's a small town, he still hangs with a group of boys, seeming the leaders in the town. Cat, the protagonist, won't stop investigating who puts Patrick in the hospital in a coma after a severe beating. What happens to her is inspiring as she figures out who she is, and what she is, growing stronger with each scene through the book. Certain characters are very real, sometimes self-protective as we all are, but eventually doing the right thing as they know they should. This is an intricately plotted book that tells the story so well of those students who are trying to be accepted within their groups. For those who work with high school students, it is a must read to see what isn't always seen that happens to those who are on the outside.

A Stick is an Excellent Thing – Marilyn Singer, illustrations by LeUyen Pham

I read this poetry anthology as a memoir, filled with joyful poems about activities mostly outdoors that don’t often happen anymore, like playing jacks or hopscotch, at least not in my recent experience. I wish kids did play outside as much as the poems and illustrations show. Yet, there are joyful games that I hope some kids are playing, like double-dutch/jump rope, monkey in the middle/a basketball game, and playing hide-n-seek.  The drawings are joyful depictions of each activity, placing the games in the neighborhoods as background.  A favorite is about swinging, showing choices of “on your belly? On your seat?/Do you ask for a push?/Do you use your own feet?”  And the book ends with a sweet poem about stargazing at day’s end.  It would be great to read this aloud, and let the students write about a memory and draw a picture of that same memory.

A Meal of the Stars:  Poems up and down – by Dana Jensen, illustrated by Tricia Tusa

This is a beautiful collection of poems that sometimes read from the top down (as we usually read), but sometimes they also read from the bottom up, like one about a giraffe, the title poem, which imagines that giraffes might make a meal from the stars.  Not only is this poem, with all the rest, wonderful, but the drawings by Tricia Tusa are equally whimsical and sweet.  Other topics covered are about a ladybug crawling up a stem of a dandelion, the bongs of bells floating down to the ears of those out walking on a street, and the events of an elevator going up and up.  I enjoyed this anthology very much.

Virginia Wolf – by Kyo Maclear, illustrations by Isabelle Arsenault

I read about this book and found it at my library.  Lucky me!  It is a lovely story, words and illustrations, about a little girl feeling a bit wolfish one day, and she won’t even get out of bed!  The story says: Bright became dim./Glad became gloom.  Illustrations are dark and the dialog is hand drawn.  The girl’s sister is determined to help, & has one more idea, and begins drawing a garden and a few other whimsical things onto the walls of Virginia’s room.  You’ll need to read to discover how it ends.  It is a great book that would help begin a discussion about feelings and being kind to others. 

A North American Rain Forest Scrapbook – by Virginia Wright-Frierson

        Every student in my school uses a field journal, to capture learning on trips outside the building, many out of doors.  I have taught middle school for a lot of years, and own quite a few beautifully done ‘how to keep a field journal’ texts.  Most are helpful and inspirational, especially at the middle school and older level.  But this time, I have been loaned a gorgeous ‘picture book' that will work for younger students, demonstrating the capturing of discoveries in all the senses, and especially the details of what one sees.  It shows the sketches, little bits of when one looked for more information, with the folded over page of a book.  This time there are pages shown from a guidebook.  As the story is told, the backdrop of the illustrations enhance that story, as in one is of a hiker leaning against a giant tree, using a set of binoculars, looking up to observe the canopy in the rain forest.  Another double spread shows the walkers at the edge of a stream that travels fast down a waterfall.  They are watching salmon struggle to get upstream to lay their eggs.  My words don’t do this book justice; there are many details.  If you are interested in a terrific text that’s good for modeling journaling right before a trip, this is one to use.  

Next:  I'm in the middle of While He Was Away, by Karen Schreck, a book about a girl just out of high school who has just said goodbye to a boyfriend on his way to Afghanistan.  So far, it's good, and it is growing stronger.  I'm glad to see more books written for kids about the experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan.  

I'm listening to the last of the Chaos Trilogy by Patrick Ness.  Oh boy!

I have a new stack of picture books from the library, heavy on the Cybil's nominees for poetry.  Hurrah!

24 comments:

  1. What a lot of great reading you have accomplished, Linda. Your notes on the field book make me wish I was at your school, where I would need a field book for explorations out of doors, sigh...lucky kids! A Meal of Stars sounds intriguing - I am in need of new poetry ideas and this collection might inspire some much needed fresh ideas.

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    1. I really loved that anthology. I have it from the library, but may have to just own it! Thanks Tara.

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  2. Stargirl was recommended to me by a fellow volunteer. I'll probably move up Bear Has a Story to Tell up my reading list. Have a great reading week!

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    1. Stargirl, for adolescents, is a marvelous book, as is Bear Has A Story To Tell. I loved discovering it! Thanks.

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  3. Bear Has a Story to Tell is so lovely, isn't it? I can't wait to read Rabbit and Robot--I've been seeing so much love for it. And on your recommendation, I'm getting Stargirl for Christmas for my oldest daughter. Have a great week!

    --Lorna

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    1. Thank you Lorna. Yes, the 'bear' book is just wonderful. The text & illustrations create just the sweetest story. I hope your daughter likes Stargirl. My group (six girls in 5th-6th grade) loved every bit, & the conversations too.

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  4. I need to get the second Chaos Walking book still. I can't believe I didn't just plow through all three! Shine was one heartbreaking and powerful read. My 7th grade book club loved Stargirl this year. Here is what I am working on http://wp.me/pzUn5-1iE

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    1. Sounds as if we like some of the same books! I did love Shine & agree about the heartbreak. So sad that we can't just love each other for who we are, & that's Stargirl too! Thanks!

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  5. Your blog looks fantastic. Did you make a change? I am so happy you enjoyed Virginia Wolf. I was very fortunate to take my class to hear the author read this book at a Writer's Festival. We read that book at least once a week because students keep requesting it. It is really gorgeous and seems to really touch something in them. I really must read Bear Has a Story to Tell. I think it just came in to my school's library. Gorgeous covers all around!

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    1. Gosh, Carrie, thank you! No, I really didn't change anything, although sometimes I wish I could take time to make a few additions! Perhaps for the new year? Virginia Wolf was just delightful, I agree, unique and powerful as you read & re-read, look & look. I just love what authors & illustrators do with their ideas-inspiration!

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  6. What delights you have shared! Wow, Linda, thank you for connecting me to these new great reads. I must find Bear Has A Story to Tell and Virginia Wolf; these sound very dear. I'm also curious about A Stick is a Excellent Thing - love the cover! Thank you for these leads!

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    1. I especialy think your little ones will love Bear Has A Story To Tell, and the 'stick' poetry book. There are some activities I know they are already doing, & they'll enjoy the pictures of the kids 'doing' too. Thanks, Maureen.

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  7. You always amaze me Linda with all the wonderful books you read and recommend. I have added more to my list of must reads. I really have to get back to the library habit - of going weekly to find new books.
    The past couple of months I really have not been reading much. I am stuck I think - even tho I am still acquiring books - darn that Costco!!lol
    Thanks for the great titles. Take care.

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    1. Thanks Beverley. Your compliments make me feel good that I have taken the time to share. I too continue to buy, but more & more when I see a book that someone has recommended, I check to see if I can put it on hold & pick it up at the library. Then, like that 'Bear' book, I decide if I want to own. A picture book a day is my goal, & sometimes I reach it, sometimes not. I have a good friend who is so knowledgeable & often recommends books to me. Lucky!

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  8. What a great week of reading you had, Linda! I loved Shine--haven't come across too many people who have read it since I work in the elementary schools. I have to say that the characters have really stayed with me. Great collection of picture books that I'll have to check out. Thanks!

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    1. Hi Melanie, I'm late in reading Shine, as I said, so glad to hear from someone who did like it. I thought it memorable too, & since I listened to it, perhaps I'll return to read it in print this time. Thanks.

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  9. Linda! Stargirl never fails to inspire doesn't it? For some reason though, my daughter has not taken to it yet. Perhaps in one or two years more. I'm intrigued with "Bear has a story to tell" since I've been seeing it so beautifully reviewed by so many friends. I hope to find it here in our libraries. Also sounds perfect for our current theme (which is about to end this week, sooo sad). Virginia Wolf sounds adorable too! I've been meaning to read Shine for the longest time after that NBA fiasco, and the theme is one that is close to my being. Perhaps next year? :)

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    1. Thanks Myra. I bet you will love Virginia Wolf. It's quite creative & different from the usual-meets the glooms head on! Your daughter may be a little young-she'll love Stargirl when she hits the adolescence. And-I hope you can find Bear Has A Story To Tell-it is just marvelous!

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  10. Linda! You're attending NAGC right? I do hope you can sit in on one of my good friend's sessions. You might already know her - Professor Maureen Neihart? She's done quite a lot of work with Prof George Betts. Too bad I couldn't attend this year - it would have been so lovely to meet up with you. Please let Maureen know that you're a blogging friend. :) She knows about GatheringBooks. :)

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    1. I'll be sure to look for her. I am just attending on Friday, but will try to find her. I will be hopping around, being a representative of our school. Thank you for telling me Myra. I am sorry you cannot attend-would love to show you around our lovely city, but know you just had an extended trip to the US, hard to return so soon.

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  11. I can't wait to get to Stargirl with my group. I generally read it toward the end of the year, before they head off to middle school. Then we read the poem "If" and discuss and create advice letters.

    Loved Bear Has a Story to Tell!

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    1. Great idea to wait till the end, with advice for all when they need it most. Thanks, Maria

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  12. Hi Linda! I'm going to seek out A Meal of the Stars! Sounds original.

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    1. Thanks Tabatha-glad you saw about it. It's great.

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Having a conversation is a good thing!