Happy Reading everyone! Day Seventeen of the Slice of Life Challenge at Two Writing Teachers!
It's Monday! What are you Reading? is hosted by Jen at TEACH.MENTOR.TEXTS, and shared with Ricki and Kellee at UNLEASHING READERS.
And, also visit Sheila at BOOK JOURNEYS for more reviews. Great books shared!
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I hope you noticed that there is a little more green in my post today, because I want to wish everyone a Happy St. Patrick's Day! It's quite wonderful about my reading today because I'm reviewing Irish novelist John Boyne's recent children's book that is coming out on March 25th!
Here's the website of Children's Books Ireland (CBI). And here is a list of 10 great Irish children's authors. Finally, here is the shortlist and the winner of their big award, the CBI award - best children's book of the year. There are a few I've read and recognize in the list; you will, too!
Find my review of Water Can Be by Laura Purdie Salas, coming April 1st, here!
Stay Where You Are And Then Leave – John Boyne
I am thrilled to have had an advanced copy of this from NetGalley. This latest war story by John Boyne, whose book The Boy In The Striped Pajamas has touched so many, begins on the day that World War I begins, that ironic “war to end all wars” that still feels like tragic loss in different ways from today’s war in the middle east, but it also connects with those who are now suffering from PTSD. They didn’t call it that in the first world war, starting in July of 1914, almost a century ago now! In fact, they had few names for it, but hid those afflicted in hospitals, sometimes still believing that the soldiers were faking it to get out of fighting. But in this book, that is what occurs.
Young Alfie celebrates his fifth birthday on the day the war begins, and it is past his ninth birthday when it ends, a long four years of sadness and deprivation, heartache and secrecy. Alfie is a smart young man who takes on responsibilities we would wonder at for most five year olds today. I don’t want to give away the events that occur on Gramley Road, but they are not new. Boyne includes in this small, poor community, the eager who believe the war will end within months, those who believe stereotype stories and betray some who have been their neighbors and friends for years, and secrets within families-a refusal to face what is real. The young boy is brave because of his love for his father, and sets off on an adventure that will have you not stopping until there is a conclusion. Great, readable book! It arrives on March 25th!
Please Bury Me In The Library – poems written by J. Patrick Lewis and illustrated by Kyle M. Stone
I just discovered this delightful book, filled with words and illustrations that will make any book lover shout “hurrah”. There are whimsical poems like “Summer Reading At The Beach”, serious ones, like the “Three Haiku”, and one of my favorites, the title poem: “Please bury me in the library/in the clean well-lighted stacks/Of novels, history, poetry,/Right next to the paperbacks.” I love books about books, and this one is a terrific addition to a collection.
Irena’s Jars of Secrets – Marcia Vanghan, illustrated by Ron Mazellan
This is a story based on the facts of the life of courageous Irena Sendler, part of a Polish secret organization who helped people survive in the Warsaw ghetto during World War II. It is thought that she saved more than 2500 children by smuggling them out and placing them in foster homes in Warsaw. It is good to find brief stories for younger children to read of the many heroes of this time. The pictures by Ron Mazellan (who also illustrated The Harmonica) are beautiful paintings, and additional information along with a glossary is in the back matter.
There was a death in my daughter's family of a dear cat last week, so we found a few books to help everyone, children and adults. FYI-Cynthia Rylant also has a book titled Dog Heaven, for those who would like that.
The Tenth Good Thing About Barney – Judith Viorst, illustrated by Erik Blegvad
For anyone who has lost a pet, this is the book that will help the conversations with children, and it offers a message of love for adults too. A cat has died, and the family buries it in their back yard, holding their own ceremony of goodbye. The child in the story is very sad, but comes to some satisfaction in saying goodbye at the end.
Cat Heaven – written and illustrated by Cynthia Rylant
Losing a pet is hard, yet Cynthia Rylant offers much comfort in both her poetic words and pictures in this sweet book of her imagined heaven for cats. If you’ve suffered some loss, you will love this sweet story of cat shenanigans, even in heaven!
Love Monster - written and illustrated by Rachel Bright
My almost five-year-old granddaughter loves all things about monsters so when I found this at the library, I checked it out for her next visit. It is bright, cute and colorful, but it isn’t going to be a favorite. Maybe because the problem wasn’t stated well enough, I don’t know, but my granddaughter and I thought it was a bit of a ho-hum story, and when the monster only found another friend that looked just the same, even I wondered why. Couldn’t all the mixture of fluffy and cute animals (read people) have a good time together? And in the page that showed nobody loving a “slightly hairy googly-eyed monster” I didn’t like it at all. It felt as if the book was teaching children to dislike those who are different.
Bully - written and illustrated by Laura Vaccaro Seeger
It seems that everyone is writing something about bullies. Although this is brightly illustrated with few words, it teaches a good point. A bull-y runs around calling other animals names when they offer to play—a pig is a “pig”, a turtle is a “slowpoke”, and a chicken is a “chicken”, a goat finally stands its ground and calls the bull a BULLY! The bull-y backs down, seeming to realize that it’s being a bully by its actions and everyone is much happier. The book will start many conversations I would imagine, about how easy it might be to fall into the bully trap, and how easy it might be if one stood up and said, “don’t do that” to a bully. I liked it.
Rabbit Moon – written and illustrated by John Rowe (This pic wouldn't work in the collage.)
I love moon books, and this is another that would be such fun to read to young children. It’s afanciful story about a rabbit who loves to gaze at the moon at night, but one night notices it is not there. He finds the moon (really just a drawing) and tries all sorts of ways to send it back to the sky. There are surprises that will make you laugh, and finally the rabbit finds the real moon. The illustrations are spare, with a few other animals beside the rabbit in on the action.
NEXT: I've had my current book I'm reading a long time and just wanted to read it. Perhaps adolescents might like it, but it really is meant for adults. It's a story of a used bookstore, a memoir titled The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap, by Wendy Welch. Thus far, it's good. After that, Paperboy, by Vince Vawter (from my #MustReadin2014-see page at the top).