And, also visit Sheila at BOOK JOURNEYS for more reviews. Great books are being shared!
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Don't forget the Cybil's winners will be announced on Valentine's Day! The finalists-all wonderful books-can be found here!
It’s been a good week of reading and finding wonderful books, many of which I find because of those who share on “It’s Monday, What Are You Reading” with Kellee, Ricki and Jen. Thanks everyone. I hope you find a few books here you will enjoy.
For the CORL challenge at Gathering Books (see on the right), and #MustReadIn2014 (see above).
far far away – written by Tom McNeal
I think I am a reader who loves variety. I love mystery, newly created worlds whether fantastical or dystopian, and sentimentality. I like characters who touch me, whether humans or animals, and in the case of this story, ghosts. Jeremy Johnson Johnson has heard “voices” since early childhood, and although he is teased throughout his small village because of it, he is comforted by the voice, who happens to be one of the Grimm brothers. Through teenage yearnings to do something out of the ordinary, Jeremy is talked into a small adventure by a girl he knows from high school. Smart and pretty, Ginger wants adventure. One night, Jeremy, Ginger and two of her girlfriends set out to play a trick on the town baker. It is a trick, but with far-reaching consequences the teens rarely expect, and this time, Jeremy’s ghost, supposed to be his protector from The Finder of Occasions, is also caught up in the events that happen next. I don’t want to spoil your read. The pages turn easily, sometimes quickly in extreme tension, and the characters grow ever more endearing as the plot thickens. There are fairy tales told and lived within this book! ”When the king’s son sees the portrait of the princess, his love for her is so great that if all the leaves on all the leaves were tongues, they could not declare it.” I loved the story, believe it’s definitely YA and older.
Meets 2014 Latin@s in kid lit challenge. (see on the right) – book illustrated by Thomas Gonzalez
Gandhi A March To The Sea - written by Alice B. McGinty & illustrated by Thomas Gonzalez
It’s Gandhi’s story of his beginning commitment to change and independence for India. For younger students this book will be a lovely introduction to this great man in our world history. Some basic background is given, and the words used to tell the story are poetic, and I am especially touched by the illustrations of Thomas Gonzalez (14 Cows for America and Sonia Sotomayor: Supreme Court Justice). They are beautiful and my favorites are especially those showing Gandhi alone, speaking to thousands, marching alone when many tired and stopped marching, and finally, bathing when he reached the sea. It took seventeen more years to achieve freedom! A book to savor!
The Storytellers - written & illustrated by Ted Lewin
I was waiting for a meeting with a teacher in her classroom and noticed a group of books she’d labeled “stories” and found this beautiful book. It is set in the ancient city of Fez in Morocco, where there are still old markets something like those long ago. A young boy, Abdul, helps his grandfather set up their rug and equipment in the morning, for the grandfather is a storyteller, not a wool-dyer who must work very hard to twist the wool from the dye dipping or those who pound metal into huge bowls, too noisy. Their spot is just outside the gate to the city. Thee they lay the rug, and Abdul releases a white dove, which flies up to land on the storyteller’s head. When enough of an audience arrives, Abdul throws the dove up into the air, and when it returns, the grandfather says it has brought a story. He announces, “Kan ya ma kan”, or “This happened, or maybe it did not. The time is long past, and most is forgot.” All day Abdul helps while Grandfather tells stories. Part of a story is given also. The illustrations are filled with details of the market, and of Abdul. It’s a wonderful book, one that may help with launching a story-telling unit, but definitely also gives a great look at markets in other countries.
Once Upon A Memory - written by Nina Laden & illustrated by Renata Liwska
This is a gorgeous and sweet book, in poetry, asking questions about remembering. A young boy, with his stuffed animals goes on an adventure, musing about different objects, both large and small, imagining their memories of “being”, all the way to the world. For example, “Does a cake remember it once was…grain? Does an ocean remember it once was…rain?” I imagine memories coming forth, in prose and in poetry, through using this book as a mentor text. Please find and read!
Posy – written by Linda Newbery & illustrated by Catherine Rayner
I found this sweet poetic book (for all cat lovers) about a kitten name Posy, who romps and rolls through the book doing mischief just like every kitten you’ve ever known. The ‘sketchy’ look of the watercolor illustrations show so much movement as Posy moves through the story, all action! According to the story, she’s a “playful wrangler” and a “knitting tangler”, but also a “leaf collector” and a “sock inspector”, but you’ll need to find the book to discover what else. Fun book!
Bully - written & illustrated by Patricia Polacco
I know that every time I pick up a book by the wonderful storyteller Patricia Polacco that it will be a terrific memory or a lesson to learn, or both. This time, Patricia tells the story of Lyla, new to her school, keeping a low key profile until she sees that the popular girls aren’t so nice, and she pushes them away to return to her old friend, a boy named Jamie. Thing are worse before they better and the story introduces a bully that might be recognized as a cyber-bully on Facebook. Only two years later, it’s my understanding that it’s Instagram and a couple of others that are the “new” Facebook. The book’s illustrations portray the looks and the feels of kids who play and those that play it cool-terrific!
Up The Creek - written & illustrated by Nicholas Oldland
I was visiting a teacher and noticed she had this book, one I recently bookmarked because of a review I’d read. It’s an amusing tale of a beaver, a moose and a bear that take off on an adventure in a red canoe. Through many mis-adventures, the three finally learn that it really is helpful to work together. I’d love to read and discuss this with a group of younger students. The illustrations are bright and simple, good to view with the sweet three animals in all their expressions of dismay, frustration, and success.
Crankenstein - written by Samantha Berger & illustrated by Dan Santat
Hilarious book that is easily appreciated if you sometimes have a cranky child, turning into CRANKENSTEIN! Sometimes it’s MEHHRRRR! When he (or she) has to get out of bed, sometimes it’s from waiting in line. And sometimes, Crankenstein goes away, but you’ll have to read the book to find out why. Funny and recognizable, full pages of MEHHRRRR by Dan Santat!
Brimsby’s Hats – written and illustrated by Andrew Prahin
I can’t wait to share this with other teachers who can then share it with their students. What a sweet story about friendship, creativity and ingenuity. Brimsby has spent a long while making hats and having tea and conversation with a friend, until his friend goes away to become a sea captain. Brimsby is lonely, and goes looking for friends. He finds a tree full of birds, yet it doesn’t work out so well because they’re too busy keeping warm, digging snow out of their nests, and so on. Brimsby is sad, but doesn’t give up, and finds a way to be friends through his creativity. The illustrations are softly colored, showing a lot of detail that enhances the words.
A Piece of Chalk – written by Jennifer A. Ericsson and illustrated by Michelle Shapiro
This book was found by my picture book buddy, who loaned it to me because she knows I participate in the Chalk-a-bration at the end of every month, hosted by Betsy Hubbard at her Teaching Young Writers blog. A little girl works hard to draw a beautiful picture on her sidewalk, and even in the rain, everything turns out beautifully. The illustrations are sweet, including pets, green grass and blue sky, a perfect day for chalking.
Rosie Revere, Engineer – written by Andrea Beaty & illustrated by David Roberts
This is a wonderful book to review this week because of Pete Seeger’s passing. It reminds me of the song I’ve heard him sing, and that his half-sister Peggy wrote, “I’m Gonna Be An Engineer”, protesting for women’s right to work at any job! This is a rhyming story of Rosie, who secretly built her inventions out of “found” treasures in the trash. She creates many kinds of things, like a hot dog dispenser, but what she ended up wanting was to fly, especially to help a great great aunt who’d come to visit. The story is supportive of anyone who wants to do what is not expected, and of anyone to tries and fails, but learns that the failure is important. As her aunt says, “The only true failure can come if you quit.” This team also collaborated on the book, Iggy Peck, Architect. David Roberts fills the pages with delightful children and contraptions. There is also some information given about other strong women, including the story of Rosie the Riveter.
The Boy Who Loved Math – written by Deborah Heiligman and illustrated by LeUyen Pham
I have always said I loved math, and finding this book was a wonderful thing to read. Although I have read about Paul Erdos, I loved hearing even more about him from Deborah Heiligman. Luckily for young children who love numbers and problems with numbers, Heiligman has written this book for them, including how he lived in his own way (he hated rules), but was so generous with his thoughts and work in the world of mathematical problem solving. There is terrific back matter from both the author, who writes about the beginnings of her story about Paul and her insights about him. Also, illustrator, LeUyen Pham, explains what the numbers mean on each page of her illustrations. For those children who find they think about numbers more than anything else in school, this book will be a pleasure.