Thanks to Ricki and Kellee at Unleashing Readers, and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts for hosting this group!
I've finished quite a few books this week, and am excited about what I'm reading now, and have a pile of picture books from the library, too. It's back to work officially Wednesday, but I'll be in Tuesday for a while too. Less reading time, but it is exciting to be back, too.
The Riverman – written by Aaron Starmer
I don’t know what to imagine about this book other than it grabbed me and wouldn’t let go. Alistair tells the story, but Fiona drives the rest of it, until Alistair realizes he must act. He is almost thirteen after all, and cares for Fiona very much, and wants to help her. Her story doesn’t make sense, and Alastair believes it’s a form of metaphor for something else happening in her home. Perhaps it’s her uncle, newly back from somewhere that wasn’t good. We don’t know where until the end. Perhaps there’s someone else in the neighborhood that’s the Riverman? My imagination whirled during the book, filling with “what ifs” or “if this, then…”. It’s complex, and I will need to consider carefully what student I might recommend it to. Definitely it’s older middle grader or young adult. It’s a fascinating book.
Archie’s War – written and illustrated by Archie Albright, with lots of help from Marcia Williams
What a marvelous experience to read (and pretend) is this scrapbook of a ten year old boy in London, right before World War I begins, and through the war. It is filled with comic drawings and loads of ephemera that the fictional character Archie has collected. So much of these teach us about the war, tidbit at a time! There are two funny characters that follow along in some of the pages, ripped out news clippings, photos, and most pleasurable of all, letters from the front that one can actually pull out of an envelope or unfold and read (Think The Jolly Little Postman)! As the months go by, Archie’s pages become more serious. At first it’s quite fun to play at war. But when his Uncle signs up, and goes to France, then his father and others, his mother goes to work at the father’s job, the family chores weigh heavily on Archie himself. In the timeline of things that occur, like the Zeppelin airships bombing London, the brother growing old enough at 16 to go himself, the mention of food, or lack of food, Archie begins to know that war is not fun; in fact, it’s terrible. This is a book to examine again and again, and I’m impressed with the research Marcia Williams had to do in order to include so much.
Please add this to your books about friendship, because it is worth reading aloud and talking about with children. Having a friend can be wonderful, but when that friend chooses to do something new, and you want things to stay the same, sometimes friendships can fade away. Or sometimes, because of the friend, you make a leap and try something new! This is the story of fish & snail, and a beautifully illustrated one, too. Since it involves stories, Deborah Freedman has cleverly included a book on every page, where fish & snail live, of course. You’ll love what she does with this idea, snail staying, even clinging to the page, and fish, exploring. You’ll discover a nice surprise when you read the story.
Tea Party Rules – written by Ame Dyckman and illustrated by K.G. Campbell
A little girl readies a table, her bear and herself for a tea party, complete with chocolate chip cookies. A real bear cub sees the cookies, and thinks he should have a few too. What ensues is hilarious, because the invitation to the party has plenty of rules that this little cub doesn’t expect. Fortunately, it all ends happily, with surprises for the cub and the little girl, along with plenty of cookies. Young children especially will enjoy seeing the expressions on the cub’s face as the funny events happen because of those “tea party rules”. I can just hear them predicting, saying “oh, no, now…”
A Is For musk ox – written by Erin Cabatingan and illustrated by Matthew Myers
I think this is the funniest book. I’ve already shared it with several teachers, and have more than one saying they “must” get the book! A zebra is going crazy with his arguments with a musk ox. They’re collaborating to create a new alphabet book, and the musk ox manages to find ways to be shared with every letter. He’s just so tired only being with the “M”, always in the middle, the place everyone seems to forget. There is “A Is For Musk Ox”, yes, because he’s “awesome”. This determined Musk Ox is tired enough of “A is for Apple”, so he’s eaten a hole in the cover of the book (the apple), but then feels a little guilty so shares the “M” with apple, and figured out quite creatively why it deserves to be an “M”. Erin Cabatingan shows her own clever ways because she manages to include actual facts about the Musk Ox. For example, “O is for Musk Ox” because “Eskimos call musk oxen “Omingmak”, which means “the animal with skin like a beard.” Matthew Myers manages to amuse in the illustrations, with beautiful scenes and fun expressions on the faces of the musk ox and the zebra. The book has lots of applications in the classroom for fun work in vocabulary and creative thinking.
I haven’t read the other books in verse of this series, but really enjoyed this one. Now I have the others to look forward to! I loved the voice of Eleanor, whose beloved nanny is moving to Florida. “The worst thing in the world is a cab driving farther and farther away with Bibi in the back seat waving goodbye.” Even Eleanor’s best friend is out of town! Things are so bad that Eleanor decides she should move, too. It’s a sweet book that shows such respect from her parents that know she is upset, and work hard to support her grief, but remain firm that another sitter is coming. This new sitter is especially perceptive, and tries to be respectful of the fond memories of the one she’s replacing. The illustrations are just right, and getting to know Eleanor is fun as well as touching. This early chapter book will touch children who’ve had a recent loss.
Desmond and the Very Mean Word – written by Desmond Tutu and Doublas Carlton Abrams and illustrated by A.G. Ford
A story of a young boy who happens to be Desmond Tutu is one of sadness, but then of relief and triumph when he learns the lesson of forgiveness. The story tells of a very mean word yelled at Desmond as he rode his bicycle home one afternoon. The rest of the story entails what he learned to do about it through conversations with his priest, Father Trevor Huddleston. The illustrations are full-page paintings of the action throughout the story, showing the highs and lows of emotion as Desmond wrestles with his problem. It will be terrific for close discussion of each story part. And the book emphasizes a lesson even adults sometimes need to remember.
If… - written and illustrated by Sarah Perry
The cover flap says Sarah Perry is a sculptor, but I would say she’s a wonderful visual artist too. The pages in this creative story are marvelously inventive and realistic, and just terrific. Sarah makes us really understand what it would look like “If caterpillars were toothpaste…” (ew!) or “If zebras had stars and stripes…” (wow). She doesn’t ignore the abstract either with “If music could be held…” One should just enjoy the looking, but then perhaps you can create your own “What if…”
Ordinary Things: Poems From A Walk In Early Spring – written by Ralph Fletcher and illustrated by Walter Lyon Krudop
It's a book with poems where Ralph Fletcher shares those small things appreciated and small thoughts noted about a walk in the woods. It includes the beginning of the walk, "step, step, word..." different kinds of litter, fossils, clouds, and nests filled with chirps/raining down like confetti bits. It's going to be a good one to share.
What Is Poetry – written and illustrated by Trudi Strain Trueit
Thanks to NetGalley I’ve had a preview of this new book, ready for young students to learn about poetry. The book is available September 1st. It’s an easy-to-follow book with a short intro and history, then the author leads the reader through some easy how-tos, with illustrated examples like a poem about a roller coaster, ending with “Slowing, slowing,/slooooooooooowing/Stop./Can we go again?” The “Ideas at Play” section discusses topics, like feelings, writing about life, and using all the sense. There are examples of alliterations, simile, metaphor, concrete poems, and more! The book ends with a “you try it” section, more examples and a glossary. It is basic, but I can imagine more than one student who will enjoy exploring poetry with this helpful book. Or there may be a teacher who will enjoy more examples to add to lessons.Now reading - a book published last year in Australia, and published here in early September: Zak & Mia by A.J. Betts. So far it's enjoyable reading with a strong voice from Zak. After it: I have The Secret Hum of A Daisy by Tracy Holczer. So many have raved about it, I can't wait to get into it!
Happy Reading Everyone! I hope your prep or your days with students are going well!