Sunday, February 24, 2013

Amazing Books Found This Week


It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a kidlit meme hosted by Jen and Kellee at TEACH.MENTOR.TEXTSCome read everyone's links!  And, there is a terrific meme hosted by Sheila at BOOK JOURNEYS that offers more reviews of all kinds of books, adult and children.  

Don’t forget to tweet at #IMWAYR
  
Island: A Story of the Galapagos – written & illustrated by Jason Chin
       I loved the beautiful paintings and the way that Chin told the arc of the story of these islands, from birth to projected end.  There are many examples of the animals that ended up there, and how they evolved because of the conditions.  For example, a certain species of cormorants’s wings begin to shrink because they no longer need to fly to escape from predators.  After a time, they can no longer fly at all.  There are good backmatter pages at the end of the book too.  It’s a good introduction to this part of our science history.


Sky Color – written & illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds
           About little Marisol who loves to paint, is excited to help with her class’ mural project.  She chooses to paint the sky, but cannot find a blue color in her paint box.  Then she begins really watching the sky, and discovers something she hadn’t noticed before.  It’s another wonderful book by Reynolds that again helps us examine our assumptions.  

Dragons Love Tacos – by Adam Rubin, illustrated by Daniel Salmieri
          I am always amazed at what stories authors write, and this is a recent silly one that is quite fun, has a great story line with suspense.  While those dragons love tacos, even taco parties, the storyteller warns that one mustn’t ever give them hot salsa. There is the reader’s challenge, to discover just what happens when a mistake is made.  It’s a book that will have you and the children with whom you’re reading laughing and wanting to read it again.

Exclamation Mark – by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld
            It would be a fun learning experience to have older students write a story of interactions between punctuation marks, using this as a mentor text.  Yet, the real story of this unique punctuation is that it has a special purpose, which it is late in discovering because it doesn’t want to be different.  At first, all it sees is a lot of small circles and then itself, a line above.  Discovery and acceptance of one’s special qualities is what we all want, for ourselves and for children growing up.  This book celebrates the special traits of two punctuation marks, and offers the message of celebrating the uniqueness of us all.

Fever 1793 – Laurie Halse Anderson
       I’ve read this before & now will read with a group of younger students.  Anderson is such a good writer, I’m happy to re-read her work.  She gathers the information needed so well, and sneaks in the descriptions so that you hardly notice she’s done it-delivering tension, calm, happiness or sorrow with just a few words.  Here, toward the end, moving some people who are ill to a better place, the main character Mattie says “The city was darker than I’d ever seen… Candlelight spilled from only a few windows, and the stars were faint and distant, as far away as hope or the dawn. 
               This story of the terrible yellow fever epidemic that killed at least 5,000 people in Philadelphia, 10% of the population, is told through the eyes of a young woman, Matilda (called Mattie) whose mother runs a popular coffee house.  Her tale begins there, but Anderson takes us into many places not always so sweet during this sickness.  Just the description of washing the dreadfully soiled bedclothes (light the fire, carry the water, boil the water, scrub, then dry) makes one wonder how the people survived doing all that they had to do.  The descriptions are clear, there is excellent background information about conflict among physicians, the rich fleeing the city, the gender roles, etc.  We enter this 18th century world easily with Laurie Halse Anderson’s writing showing the way. 

Rabbit’s Snow Dance – by James & Joseph Bruchac, illustrated by Jeff Newman
               This book was on display and I grabbed it on my last visit, knowing that a snowstorm was on its way, and it would be fun to read another snow book.  The Bruchacs, father and son, are storytellers in the most wonderful Native American tradition.  This book tells the tale of why rabbits have short tails.  It is summer, and rabbit wants snow to help him reach higher to tasty tree leaves he so likes to eat.  He pays no mind to the needs of the other animals that still need to prepare for winter, gets his drum and begins his special chant to make it snow.  The illustrations are amusing, rather cartoon-like, and show the story well, with unhappy animals and an enthusiastic rabbit, until the end, which you’ll have to discover when you read the book.  I can imagine students wondering and then being delighted with the great end.

     I found several books I wasn’t aware of at the library lately concerning African American history.  They are all good stories, different looks of well-known stories, some all the way to President O’Bama’s first inauguration, already history!

The Beatitudes: From Slavery to Civil Rights – by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Tim Ladwig 
            With gorgeous paintings of scenes like those captured on a slave ship, all the way to the freedom of a streamside baptism, the Biblical beatitudes follow at the bottom of each page.  The text declares they were there every step of the way.  For example, the text reads: “I was on the Freedom Rides and at the lunch counter sit-ins, I sat alongside the protestors.”  It’s a poetic timeline to enjoy.

Stealing Home, Jackie Robinson: Against The Odds – by Robert Burleigh, illustrated by Mike Wimmer
               Everyone seems to write about Jackie Robinson, and this book is another good one.  It carries a poem of text with the full page, beautiful illustrations, but in addition, there is a small box on each page with quite a bit of additional information.  This book tells very well the inspirational story of a great man.

Ain’t Nobody a Stranger to Me – by Ann Grifalconi, illustrated by Jerry Pinkney
           I loved this story, perhaps because it’s a grandfather passing along his story to  his granddaughter, and I like family stories.  He tells of the time when he and her grandmother were slaves, her mother was a baby and they knew they must flee to the north, along the Underground Railroad.  Grandpa acknowledges the help he got all along the way.  He says: “I been on both sides.  When somebody falls down, what kind of man gonna stop ‘n’ say: ‘I don’t pick up no stranger! Let ‘em lie there’?  Leastways, not me!” These two are on their way to Grandpa’s apple orchard, and when they arrive, the granddaughter plants her own seeds, to carry on the story.  Jerry Pinkney's illustrations tell the story too with his beautiful paintings.

Next:  I am also reading Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan with another book group, and got the new Hattie Ever After book by Kirby Larson--hurrah!   And, I am reading a book by Kim Stafford with my new writing group, titled The Muses Among Us.  Lots to enjoy, lots to read!

24 comments:

  1. You will really like Hattie Ever After. I really want to read Exclamation Mark and Island... Have a great week!

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  2. I didn't get my hands on Hattie Ever After last week, as our book store didn't have it yet!!! I loved Fever. #Titletalk was about HF last night and I don't think Fever was mentioned, though maybe it did. Exclamation Point looks adorable. Have a great week,
    Melanie

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    1. Hope you have Hattie soon, Melanie. For the younger middle readers, Fever will be a good read. This particular group is studying American history, & it will be another aspect to learn about.

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  3. Oh wow, you've read so much this week, Linda! And they look all great. I am particularly drawn to the Pinkney/Grifalconi picture book simply because I am a fan of both. I really am intrigued by the Hattie series but I find that I don't really have the luxury recently to read a lot of thick YA novels. My daughter enjoyed Esperanza Rising, it was one of their required reading in school. I also recommended Chin's Island to be part of the Project Splash! Asia bibliography we're currently working on. :) Have a great reading week ahead of you, dearest Linda!

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    1. Thanks Myra-I know you're busy! I'll look for Chin's Island too! My library is certainly helping me find good books!

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  4. LOVE Exclamation Mark and also ISLAND. Enjoy Hattie. It's beautiful.

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    1. Isn't Exclamation Mark fun? I'll have to find a way to share it with students! Thanks, Katherine!

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  5. Love the title and cover of Ain't Nobody a Stranger to Me :-) Exclamation Mark and Fever 1793 particularly grabbed me -- Exclamation Mark because I am always curious about how authors make punctuation interesting, and Fever 1793 because I have a weakness for epidemic stories!

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    1. Fever 1793 is good & I've also found a non-fiction book in our library about it-can't wait to share some of that too with the group. Have you read any of the Connie Willis time travel books. One (or more) is about the black death in England-very good! Exclamation Mark is quite fun-you'll like it! Thanks Tabatha!

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  6. I just shared Island with the seventh grade science teachers in my building. They are talking about natural selection RIGHT NOW, and while it might be too late for them to consider this book to use this year, there's always next year! Thanks for the heads up about this one!

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    1. Wouldn't it be a great book to take parts all along the timeline & study more in depth? Thanks for telling about this too, Mindi!

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  7. Island was such a fantastic book! I cannot wait to share with students and staff at my school (just arrived at my school)... Enjoy Esperanza Rising, excellent story and character development...

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    1. Yes, I agree with Esperanza Rising; I'm excited to share with the group! Island will have so many good uses in the classroom, won't it? Thank you!

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  8. Island is one of my absolute favourites - reading it with my own children inspired us to move on to other picture books about Darwin. I would like to read Chin's other titles. Have you read them? I marked some of your historical fiction titles (PBs) as to read - thank you for the suggestions. I really want to read Fever. I had it out from the library in the summer and just didn't get around to it with all of the other titles I was reading. My daughter read it and really liked it.Rabbit's Snow Dance sounds fantastic! Think my students would love it. Thanks for so many great suggestions!

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    1. Carrie, now you've got me curious to see if Chin's other books are in our school library-Redwoods & Coral Reefs. I imagine they are. I need to pay more attention to authors! Island was so good, & for many uses. Hope you like the history books! Thanks!

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  9. Exclamation and Island are two books I really need to find. You have been so busy reading, Linda - I have been wrestling with the common core and have fallen behind. Sigh...

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    1. I just plug along with the books, Tara, but am always behind in the longer books. Now I'll be ever moreso because of the book groups. Oh well, just keep reading! Best to you with the common core. Does this mean lots of meetings?

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  10. Once again Linda you've outlined so many great books - books that I haven't read. I know when I stop to visit tghat there will always be books that will be great to read.

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    1. Hope you choose one & just enjoy it, Beverley! Thank you!

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  11. Looks like a great week of reading, Linda! I loved Island--informative and beautifully illustrated. Many of your other picture books are on my TBR. I know I won't go wrong with a book called Dragons Love Tacos! Enjoy Hattie Ever After . . . it's like watching a master class in historical fiction research. Have a great week!

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    1. I've started Hattie & know I will love it like the first one. Such a pleasure! I hope you do like Dragons Love Tacos-I still laugh when I thnk about it! Thanks!

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  12. These look great. I'm looking forward to reading Dragon Loves Tacos and Exclamation Mark! :)

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Having a conversation is a good thing!