Sunday, October 19, 2014

It's Monday - Great Books Plus A Visit!

  Sheila at Book Journeys started It's Monday! What are you Reading?, a meme where bloggers share
recent books read. Then, Jen Vincent of Teach Mentor Texts and Ricki and Kellee at Unleashing Readers started one with a children's focus. You should visit to discover some great books!

        Today, I'm excited to have my zeno poem posted at Michelle H. Barnes' Today's Little Ditty. If you haven't heard of this challenge by J. Patrick Lewis, head over to check out my poem and see if you'd like to try it, too.



Better Nate Than Ever – written by Tim Federle
            Now that I’ve finally met Nate Foster, I’ll need to read his next adventure, Five, Six, Seven, Nate!  This was a fast read, partly because I couldn’t stop seeing how this thirteen year old was going to make it to NYC for the tryouts of ET, the Musical. His parents didn’t know, and the only one who does know, and who helps plan the escape, is his best friend, another one passionate about the theater, Libby Jones. This young boy, teased and stuffed into lockers, already being called ‘fairy’ by his older jock brother, holds onto what he loves, pushes past the hard things, and keeps his passion for musical theater no matter what. The story, including family troubles, meeting an aunt he hasn’t seen in years, the figuring out that “it’s now or never”, is terrific. It makes me want to put it into the hands of young students trying to figure out who they are.


Gracefully Grayson – written by Ami Polonsky
         Coming on Nov. 4th, it’s a heart-wrenching story of a boy we meet who, in third grade, has developed a way to draw princesses without anyone knowing. He says: “I try to look at it like I’ve never seen it before just to confirm that nobody else would know that the sketch is really a princess.” This story finds Grayson in sixth grade telling his own story of the constant self-questioning about his true self. Early in the book, a favorite teacher who plays an important part as Grayson’s friend, talks about those who, during the Holocaust, hid people, and had to keep the secret, sometimes even from their families. He asks how it would feel going about life hiding a dangerous secret. Grayson knows the feeling well, because he was born a boy, but on the inside, he knows he is a girl. With a chance given by this teacher, Grayson learns he must take the brave step to accept who he is, and to fight for it, even with the outrage and concern from his aunt and uncle, now his parents. The book wasn’t easy to put down, is one that I hope will offer courage to children in the world who are hiding their own secrets.  

picture books

Fall Leaves – written by Loretta Holland and illustrated by Elly MacKay

         Can there be still another beautiful picture book about fall leaves? Yes! And this is one, filled with Elly MacKay gorgeous illustrations, which the cover tells she sets up scene by scene in a miniature theater. They appear to be a combination of collage, photography and watercolor. Loretta Holland tells the story in a clever, nearly wordless story from summer leaves, to fall leaves fall, to leaves fall, to fall leaves. There is more, the final playing outside, birds flying south, apple picking, and then, the inside because winter arrives. It’s a book to examine over and over.

Dear Child – written by John Farrell and illustrated by Maurie J. Manning
           I just had the pleasure of being at a poetry workshop with John Farrell who writes and sings his story/poems, and this one has been published as a picture book. It is a beautiful poem from all parents, shown in various ways by Maurie Manning.  It is a celebration of becoming a parent, the wonder felt when one realizes that this child is part of you. The diversity of parents is beautiful to see, and the words written are so loving. I also got to hear John sing this.  He has a cd that includes it, too. Some favorite lines: “Leaves are much greener now./More flowers in bloom, strangers start smiling/when I tell them of you.”  I ordered several copies, and just gave one as a gift to a staff member with a brand new baby! You can read more about John here!

Not A Stick and Not A Box – written and illustrated by Antoinette Portis

         I saw a review of Not A Box recently and found the book, and also Not A Stick in my school library.  I did not know these books and am glad I found them. What challenges to creativity these would be with young children, to create their own ideas with both sticks and/or boxes. These would be wonderful paired with Beautiful Oops by Barney Saltzberg.

Rules of Summer – written and illustrated by Shaun Tan
         I finally took time to find this at the library. Is this the adventures and tough times of a younger brother who is at his older brother’s mercy, rules and even cruelty? The inside cover says it’s about siblings. Or is it the imagination of adventure in a wild summer of fun? I’m not sure, but it really is an interesting look at Shaun Tan’s imagination.  Love the art, and would be interested in seeing what older kids think of it.




Now ReadingThreatened by Eliot Schrefer – hard to put this down, it’s great!

31 comments:

  1. So many interesting books, Linda! The cover of "Fall Leaves" is gorgeous -- I would pick that up based on the cover alone. I haven't read "Not a Stick" but I would like to see both that and "Not a Box." I love hearing about books that make good baby gifts! I will add "Dear Child" to my list. (Congrats on your zeno! What a challenge that is!)

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    1. I agree, Fall Leaves is absolutely gorgeous, Tabatha. Hope you enjoy the others, too. Thank you.

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  2. All these sound like fabulous books! I really want to find the Shaun Tan book. I could pore over his illustrations for hours.

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    1. The Rules of Summer is quite interesting, & you're right, I looked again and again. Thanks!

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  3. So glad you are reading and enjoying Threatened. What a fantastic title! I loved the Shaun Tan title too. Out there is underrated :-) Fall Leaves looks beautiful - I saw it at the bookstore but was on a timeline shopping for early readers and didn't stay in the picture book section to read. Not a Box is in our classroom library for when we have the Ks up for buddy reading. So much fun!

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    1. It was hard to pull myself away from Threatened to finish this post, & now can't wait to get back to it. Amazing story! Fall Leaves is clever as well as gorgeous. I know you'll get to it some day. Thanks, Carrie.

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  4. Glad to see your review of Greyson - I thought this book was well done. I have Threatened on my list so will have to get started.

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    1. And I'm glad you enjoyed the book, too, Joanne. Don't miss Threatened-exciting and heart-wrenching story!

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  5. The two YA books look fascinating - I'll have to check my library right away. Better Nate Than Never sounds like a book we need to read and talk about in our class - there are meaty issues to weigh and have open conversations about in this book, it seems, and my kids really want to!

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    1. Both books are stories of boys about the same age, sixth & seventh grade, both struggling with who they really are, and how much to hide. I thought the climate shown for both was realistic, a bit more supportive than if they'd been written a few years ago. Well, I'm not sure much about transgender kids was written, especially for kids. So happy that they are being written now! Hope you enjoy both, Tara.

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  6. I had a hard time making heads of tales of the Rules of Summer and the follow up book. I think my third graders would lose interest or just be completely confused.

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    1. I know what you mean, Katie, for older kids, or with a read together, perhaps?

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  7. Thanks for these reviews, Linda. (A couple here were already on my to-read list, but now I can add a couple more!) And thanks for gracing Today's Little Ditty today too. :)

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    1. You're welcome, Michele. I hope to try some other zenos, but have been rather swamped-maybe soon? Glad you found a few new books to add to the pile!

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  8. I've seen review after review of Better Nate than Ever -- all positive. I'll have to read this book pronto.

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    1. It's absolutely wonderful, especially today since we so seldom hear of any young kid taking off for an adventure, & doing it because he must!

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  9. I was so-so about Rules of Summer until I read it with my older son, and he was so absorbed by it and had a way of reading the ending that I hadn't considered. Definitely a book that I think improves when you share with other readers! I love Not a Box--and love the idea of pairing with Beautiful Oops or something other favorite titles on creativity. I'm trying to work on a syllabus for a course on creativity, and I'm definitely including picture books!

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    1. There are quite a few marvelous picture books about creativity, Elisabeth. See if you can find If... by Sarah Perry. It's not new, but terrific. Your class sounds awesome!

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  10. I found a couple of Hardback copies of Gracefully Grayson at The Strand. I took that chance to get it and I am looking forward to reading it next month.

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    1. Wow, that's great. It's officially published on Nov. 4th. Hope you enjoy it!

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  11. I read Fall Leaves this week too, just gorgeous! I wrote about in for Wednesday's nonfiction post. I didn't know if it is truly considered nonfiction, but has fantastic information inside!
    I was not a Rules of Summer fan. I did enjoy the illustrations, though!
    Have a great week, Linda!

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    1. I didn't know whether to place Fall Leaves in NF either, Michele, but it does share real information, so either way. Rules of Summer is for certain people & kids, I think. Some will love it, some will wonder! Thanks, hope your week is terrific too!

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  12. I read RULES OF SUMMER to my 8th graders and had some great discussions with them. We never felt like we "figured it out" but took delight in interpreting certain symbols. I particularly loved when one of my students pointed out there's a bird on every page -- at least every page before the one brother is rescued, which suggests they represent evil or some sort of omen.

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    1. Love hearing this, Beth. I wish I could share it with older students, & wonder if they'd like an art project along with it, too? I did notice the birds, & they increased too. More conflict? What a 'think-filled' book!

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  13. I love Not a Box--great promotion of imagination.
    I have Nate to read--one day I will get to it :)
    And Rules of Summer is such an odd book. Beautiful, but super odd!

    Happy reading this week!

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    1. Thanks Kellee, and I loved discovering the books Not A Box and Not A Stick, certainly will share them!

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  14. Hi Linda,

    Thank you for these recommendations. We ordered Fall Leaves from the library but there must be a long waiting list because our copy hasn't arrived yet. We are going to have to buy it - so many people are talking about it.

    Best
    Tammy and Clare

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    1. It is gorgeous, & I'm glad I purchased it. Glad you'll see it soon!

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  15. Gracefully Grayson has been on my TBR list for far too long. Your review is giving me a kick in the butt. I NEED TO READ IT! I hope you have a terrific week, Linda!

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    1. Thanks, Ricki, it is the sweetest, but somewhat heart-breaking, book. I hope you'll find time!

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  16. Rules of Summer is a strange little book, isn't it? Which makes it all the more precious for me, I think. Shaun did say awhile back that some of his references are deliberately obscure to allow the reader to put their own meaning into it - I'm sure it can be a powerful read to those who need the book's message at the right moment in their lives. :)

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Having a conversation is a good thing!