It's Monday! What are you Reading? is hosted by Jen and Kellee at TEACH.MENTOR.TEXTS. Head over for much to choose from! And, also visit Sheila at BOOK JOURNEYS that offers more reviews of all kinds of books, adult and children.
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Almost Home – Joan Bauer
I just finished Blue Balliett’s Hold Fast, and have read One for The Murphy’s by Linda Mullahy Hunt, a favorite last year. This book by Joan Bauer is another treasure about being homeless, so much to share about the feelings and experiences one has that I hadn’t thought about. When Sugar, the main character, is told to “go out there and set the world on fire”, she replies, “Yes, ma’am, I will.” but further thoughts reveal more: “Every time she said it, I felt a little candle trying to light in my heart. It’s hard to light a candle in the wind.” The book is filled with exquisite scenes, as Sugar makes her way through her troubled time, and thank goodness, finally in a loving foster home setting. There is so much to enjoy in this book despite the underlying sorrow. There is a loving and smart mother who can’t seem to make good choices and a passed-on grandfather who has written a book of ‘how-to’ live life. Grandfather’s book Bauer creates, and shares parts of, could be a little book of advice for anyone, but this time, the words are what Sugar clings to as she faces so many challenges. It’s a terrific read!
How To – written and illustrated by Julie Morstad
This book was specifically recommended to me by a Goodreads friend and I'm so glad she did! I purchased it and read it, then read again. It's that marvelous, helps get the creative juices going, as I imagine it will be of great value across the grades, for creative writing and poetry. The illustrations are rather whimsical line drawings with a little color, of all kinds of things that may appear boring until one sees the illustration. "How-to make a sandwich is just one example, where several children lie between blankets and quilts on top of each other, hence, a sandwich. I can just imagine this as both a writing and art project, with students doing their own "How-To" illustrations!
A Big Guy Took My Ball - written and illustrated by Mo Willems
I’m not sure I will ever get enough of the elephant and piggie books. This time Gerald is sorry that a big guy took friend Piggie’s ball and he marches off to save the day, and to get the ball back. However, it really was a very big guy who took the ball, and Gerald is not successful. In this book, surprises happen more than once. I don’t think it’s a spoiler to tell you that happy endings once again occur, thank goodness!
Shark Girl – by Kelly Bingham
I’ve had this book from the library for a long while. Someone on the Monday reading posts recommended it, and finally I read it. I had a student a long time ago lose his arm to a terrible accident and I wish we had had this book to read together the years I had him in my class. My uncle also lost an arm in an electrical accident, and we did talk about what he was experiencing, with so many people looking, then looking away. He was embarrassed, and then eventually, it became part of who he was, just as Jane, the girl in Shark Girl came to feel. This book is written mostly in poetry, some in prose that shares letters written to her from strangers. It is harsh, yet the author manages sweet moments as the plot moves through the first year after the shark attack. Here is one part showing feelings when she returns to school: “Eyes stare,/dart away,/flit back again./Rigid backs from those pretending/not to see./Walking through the halls,/I am Moses, parting the Red Sea./I am a leper/come to town./I have the plague.” And here is some of the ending: “the trick is learning/to live the moment/celebrating our/freedom;/the freedom/of not knowing.” Jane finally realizes that the life she lives today is the one to live, not “before”, not “if only”. It’s a poignant and beautifully written capturing of people facing challenges.
A Pocketful of Stars, Poem About The Night – compiled by Nikki Siegen-Smith and illustrated by Emma Shaw-Smith
I’m trying to read and review some old anthologies I own that I enjoy, but usually just use a poem or two and don’t read all the way through. This is an anthology of poems that are terrific to read to children at bedtime (at least some of them). There are sweet poems, like “Fireflies” by Zaro Weil and “Night” by Arnold Adoff. The book shares multi-cultural poems like “Dipa (A Song for Divali)” by Ann Bonner, as well as a few scary ones, like “Nightmare” by Siv Widerberg and “House Ghosts” by Irene Rawnsley. Other poets included are Ogden Nash, Jane Yolen, and Robert Louis Stevenson-quite a wondrous group. I hope you’ll be able to find a copy. The illustrations are filled with detail for each poem, just gorgeous.
Next: I have a new pile of picture books from the library, and still haven’t chosen my next longer novel. It’s the final week of school, and my TBR list is calling. Any recommendations of books you have loved recently?