Sunday, August 11, 2013

Monday Reading - Terrific Both Old & New


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. 
 Tweet! at #IMWAYR


Chapter Books

  
          Twerp – written by Mark Goldblatt
            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.


Poetry
          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.

Picture Books
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.

            AGAIN! – written and illustrated by Emily Gravett
           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.

           Wait Till The Moon Is Full – written by Margaret Wise Brown and Illustrated by Garth Williams
           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.

          UH-OH! – written and illustrated by Mary Newell DePalma
          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 with
paintings 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. 


           Library Mouse – A Museum Adventure - written and illustrated by Daniel Kirk
           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.

30 comments:

  1. I've had Twerp on my shelves for some time - now I must read it!

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    1. I hope you'll like it, especially because of your boys & those in the classroom. Thanks Katherine!

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  2. I'll be switching schools this year from a K-5 to a K-6 school, so I'll definitely have to look into Twerp. School starts in a few weeks, so I'll check this one out soon. Thanks for all the recommendations!

    Natalie

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    1. Hope you enjoy the expanded ages, Natalie, & the book. I certainly did. Best wishes for a good start to the year.

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  3. Oh wow, Linda, there are SO many lovely books here! I love how you described Karla Kuskin's poetry and writing about a radish instead of the moon - that makes a lot of sense! I just checked - we don't have that in any of our libraries here unfortunately. I LOVELOVELOVE NYRB Children's Books - I joined an NYRB Reading Challenge once and was the only one who looked into children's classics - boy that was such great fun - so many wonderful discoveries - and so many new favorites thanks to NYRB. I think I've been seeing this title in our libraries - would have to borrow it soon. :) I hope you're doing well and just about ready to start your school semester! :) Had my first class today. Fun! 11year old girl doesn't start middle school til Wednesday - the anticipation is just about killing her. :)

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    1. Thanks Myra-especially for the talk about NYRB books. I get the review now & then but it has not occurred to me that there are special challenges given by them. I don't officially begin for a couple of weeks, but am in & out already meeting with teachers-the fun begins! Best wishes for a terrific start for your daughter-it is exciting!

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  4. Hi Linda, I am very interested in Oh, No and Twerp. Twerp is really going around and getting some great reviews. I need to find a copy. Enjoy your week!

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    1. Thanks Gigi-both fun, in different ways of course! Hope your week is good too!

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  5. TWERP! A Schmidt comparison has me moving it up my pile.

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    1. It was the first person telling that is part of it, Colby, but also the thoughtful boy's voice, really trying to do what he thought was right. I'm not sure kids this age realize that others "think" like they do, & am always happy to see someone show that thinking. Thanks!

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  6. Linda, two new titles to request-The Dark and Wait Till the Moon is Full since both are titles that follow my PB10for10 theme. Still haven't read Choice Words. So many books, so little time!

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    1. Thanks Ramona, and as for the time-I need to be more than one person always! Please read some of the Peter Johnston work, or browse his website-such good things to ponder!

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  7. I'm off to do some work in my classroom but when I saw you had finished Twerp on Goodreads, I had to make one #IMWAYR stop this a.m. and comment on your blog! So pleased you liked this book. And I agree - absolute vibe of Okay for Now and Wednesday Wars - real, believable but incredible boys who share all of that vulnerability with the reader. A great review Linda! This is also one of my favourite reads of the year.

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    1. We do enjoy most of the same books, don't we? I did love Twerp, and forgot to say I wish the author would write about Julian's next years-wouldn't that be great? Thanks Carrie, and have fun in the classroom. I'm going in to work on my office this afternoon!

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  8. I have Twerp on my list as well. I keep pushing it back to read something else. Now is the time so it gets moved to the top of my list. Thanks for the push!

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    1. Terrific, hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Those of us who love those middle school kids will love it I think! Thanks!

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  9. I love that advice: write about a radish. :) But oh, how the moon does pull... thanks for sharing these, Linda. xo

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    1. You're welcome, Irene. I think I'd love to have every one of Karla Kuskin's books!

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  10. I've heard a lot about Twerp. I think it is time to go find a copy to read. I also am really intrigued by The Dark. Sounds like a great picture book! Have a great reading week!

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    1. Thanks Andrea. I'm excited to read The Dark to a granddaughter who is just getting old enough to decide the dark is scary! She's four! Hope you'll enjoy both books!

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  11. I just started reading Twerp but I'm finding it very stressful! It's giving me flashbacks to middle school! Nightmarish flashbacks.... I saw Emily Gravett's books on a number of #pb10for10 lists this weekend. I'd never heard of her books, but this week's library trip will be remedying that. Thanks for sharing so many wonderful titles. I always love adding to my want-to-read list!

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    1. Mondays are always good days to add to those lists, I agree. Hope you enjoy more Emily Gravett books-she's so creative! And sorry for the Twerp flashbacks-I guess that's what I meant when I said it was so true! Thanks!

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  12. So, so, glad you enjoyed Twerp. I'm hoping it continues to get some press from bloggers/teachers/librarians as I think it can lead to some great conversations. And I completely agree with your references to Gary Schmidt's books. Your picture book recommendations are of course doing some damage to my Goodreads TBR pile! :)

    -Lorna

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    1. Thanks Lorna-I hope you find some of the PBs enjoyable. I hope more read Twerp too-I did like it very much as you can see!

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  13. The Dark sounds really good! I hadn't heard of it yet. Thanks for sharing about it! You read a lot of great books this week!

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    1. Thanks, Ricki-The Dark was clever in the way it was approached, too. Hope you find and like it!

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  14. What a great pile of picture books! Aristotle and Dante is one of my favorite 2012 books. Possibly THE favorite. I hope you enjoy it.

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    1. Just talked to a colleague & they loved it too. Thanks Crystal

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  15. I agree The Dark was a bit scary, but I loved it. I worry that it may be a bit too scary for the little ones, but they will appreciate it after a bit. I love both authors, so I had to get it!

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    1. Glad to hear what you think about the younger ones-it was suspenseful, but perhaps the ending will also help. Guess we'll see! Thanks!

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Having a conversation is a good thing!