It's Monday! What are you Reading? is hosted by Jen at TEACH.MENTOR.TEXTS. And shared with Ricki and Kellee at UNLEASHING READERS. Come visit everyone to see what they're reading!
And, also visit Sheila at BOOK JOURNEYS that offers more reviews of all kinds of books, adult and children.
Twerp – written by Mark Goldblatt
Library Mouse – A Museum Adventure - written and illustrated by Daniel Kirk
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These sixth graders, this group who hangs at Ponzini, a vacant lot so named because of an old man who lives near, are interesting. It’s not always easy to know that twelve year old boys think so much, but Mark Goldblatt has shown us a boy named Julian, one who is not perfect, but thoughtful and vulnerable and silly enough in his immaturity that makes you want to cry. I taught middle school students for a lot of years, and when people laughed and asked me why I did it, it was because of students like Julian. Many times I met him (or her) trying hard to figure out how life worked, needing some help many times, but I had to be sneaky. Julian has a sneaky teacher for language arts who, after the group was suspended for doing something awful to a neighborhood boy, made Julian begin to write about it. And that is the book, Julian’s story of his life with his friends and with his sister, and his first experience with girls. It’s poignant and fresh and really, really true to life. Julian figures some good things out that give us hope for him in his future life. I am reminded of Gary Schmidt’s books The Wednesday Wars and Okay for Now, also books that show such thoughtful boys who are figuring out how to grow up well. I loved the book.
Near The Window Tree, Poems and Notes–written by Karla Kuskin (no pic available)
This is one of Karla Kuskin’s early books, a lovely group of notes from her about writing, with poems that illustrate what she has told. It holds wonderful advice from a favorite poet and I was so happy to find it at a library sale. It includes one of my favorites from her, “Write About A Radish”, going on to say “Too many people write about the moon”. Her intro to this concerns writer’s block, finding topics and drawing a blank page sometimes. Another favorite page is where she begins her words and ends up with both a poem and a sketch. “Take a word like cat,/and build around it./A long meow/floating from the chimney like a smoke tail.” Isn’t that wonderful? If you like to write poetry and teach children to write and love it, get this book, still available used!
You’re the Apple of My Face – written by Barry Rudner, illus. by Peggy Trabalka
A sweet little rhyming book with many, many metaphors about how great someone feels about another someone. I can see this as a fun way to talk about comparisons, or writing one’s own “love poem” for someone. Examples: “I could pull the petals from a bloom and wonder ‘yea or nay’, or find a date that isn’t used to be your holiday.” The illustrations show the happiest of children doing all sorts of things to demonstrate the rhymes.
Junket Is Nice - written and illus. by Dorothy Kunhardt (author of Pat the Bunny)
I won this book, one of the New York Review Children’s Collection books, published in 1932, and am so happy I did. I did not know it. It reminds me of Wanda Gag’s Millions of Cats with its constant repetition. The premise is a man is constantly eating junket, and many people come to watch. He challenges them to guess what he is thinking while he is eating, and gives them three hints, one of which is “not thinking of a walrus with an apple on his back”. After the hints, the crowds guess many things, like “a rabbit wondering if there could be a bunch of grapes tied to his tale.” I know, sounds so silly, but it is that, and there is a part of me that says this book will set kids imagining all kinds of wonderful things. The illustrations are simple, in black and white with highlights of red.
Oh, love the books by Emily Gravett! I discovered this lately at my library, about a little dragon who wants a story read over and over, AGAIN AND AGAIN! The book progresses until the mother dragon just falls asleep, but the little one doesn’t, and there’s a big surprise ending. I think kids will love the changes and suspense of this bedtime book.
A mother raccoon has tricky answers when her young raccoon is curious about the night. She continues to find reasons to have him wait, like the sun is down, he needs to find his bed, etc. This is another of Margaret Wise Browns' books that are simple and delightful, fulfilling a place in our lives every time. It will start a nice discussion with young children about the night. It will be another nice bedtime story.
A wordless picture book filled with details about the shenigans of two little dragons who make a few messes and then try to “fix” them. The “clean-up” is as funny as the actual messes. Lots of details in the illustrations will create good questions for the little ones as you “read” the pictures.
The Dark – written by Lemony Snicket and illustrated by Jon Klassen
What a pairing for this book! It is a little bit scary, but just right for taking a child through a discussion of the dark and how to make it “okay”. A little boy has never gone to the basement by himself, in the dark, and one day the dark speaks to him, compels him to come visit. For me, the suspense at that moment was high, but I am an adult and perhaps have read too many scary stories. Klassen’s illustrations are dark, too, but add in the friendly things that help, like flashlights. It will be up to everyone to assess how this book will work for your young child, or young class. I enjoyed the story very much.
The Problem With Chickens – written by Bruce McMillan and illustrated withpaintings by Gunnella
Bruce McMillan spends his summers in Iceland where this book is set, an amusing story about, well, a problem with chickens. The women in this village love to cook and the birds nest too high on the rocks to gather the eggs. Their solutions is to purchase chickens, which goes well until the companionship is so good that the chickens begin to mimic the women’s lives and forget to be chickens, thus again, no eggs. The solution to this unique problem is cleverly worked out, more whimsy than truth. The illustrations are colorful paintings in a folk style, quite inviting. This illustrator lives in Iceland and is well known for her work. This is her first children’s book.
This book about Sam the Library Mouse centers on an adventure with his friend Sarah. She tells him there’s a museum next door and off they go. The number of experiences Kirk shows that can happen in a museum is wonderful, and through Sam’s and Sarah’s eyes, the story also introduces field journals, something everyone in my school uses. It was a very fun story.
Next: I’m re-reading Peter Johnston’s Opening Minds and beginning Aristotle and Dante Discover The Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz.