REMEMBER: You have until this Wednesday, the 15th to nominate a favorite children's book, poetry and more, for the Cybil's awards. Find that link here!
It's been a nice week of reading. I enjoyed some beautiful and clever words this past week, shared a lovely book of poetry here on Poetry Friday by Naomi Shihab Nye, and read several not-to-be-missed chapter books.
Prodigy – written by Marie Lu
I didn't enjoy this second book as well as the first, Legend, but was compelled to read it through, to see what exactly was going to happen to June and Day, and the rest of the characters. The created world of the Colonies and the Republic is fascinating. While we don't have such loss and violent splits in the US, we do have large disagreements. The tension throughout both books is well done. I was always worried about one person or another! Some of the parts are repetitive, like descriptions of the feelings between June and Day. However, I know that students are racing through the series. I even heard a group discussing Champion, what was happening, whether they liked the scenarios or not. Clearly, they were excited, and that means a lot. This group I observed read broadly (middle-school-aged students), and their excitement is catching. I hope I can borrow the third book from one of them.
The Boy On The Porch – written by Sharon Creech
I read a brief review of this book, and was intrigued. I can’t believe I missed it. It’s short, and a story that keeps the pages turning until finished. Really, until almost the end, there are only three characters, the boy, and a couple who live in a modest farm home with a dog, a few goats, and a couple of cows. I don’t want to give away anything, but urge everyone to read it. You will be surprised
Death By Toilet Paper – written by Donna Gephart
I'd read a few reviews that pointed the way to this middle grade book, so happy they did. A middle-school boy, Benjamin is a contest-crazedboy who hopes each time he enters a contest that he'll win the grand prize, usually money, which he and his mother desperately need. From medical bills lingering after his father's death, taking care of a grandpa with memory loss, and his mother needing to finish her training to become an accountant, life is a battle every day. For Benjamin, whose father told him to take care of his mother, the pressure is tremendous. He also has to deal with a bully at school. Can life get any worse? Luckily Benjamin has a wonderful best friend (Toothpick) whose father steps in sometimes to give Ben a boost. With eviction from their apartment looming, a Halloween costume contest at the Mutter Museum seems to be the last hope. Donna Gephart in not many words manages to make us care so much about this family, their friends and neighbors. Hope is imbued every step of the way, no matter how bad the situations seem to be. Benjamin is a good boy, trying hard to do right for his mom, still listening and remembering all his dad taught him. I loved the story, which was not over the top unrealistic. It seems as if there is more than one family in our world that is living at the edge, when oreos are indeed a luxury they can't afford. The story shows that so well.
Sequoia - written by Tony Johnston, paintings by Wendell Minor
I just won this book, but certainly would have purchased it. It is gorgeous, the poetic words written as seasons pass: “He listens to beetles scratch, to woodpeckers tap, to firs converse in wind.” Wendell Minor’s beautiful double-page spreads enhance the detail of what the words convey. There is a page showing birds leaving for the winter, and the opposite page part of branches with a solitary crow. “He opens his ancient, brittle arms, and gathers one last crow.” It’s book that celebrates the largest living thing on earth, which has lived about 3200 years. The backmatter shares concern for environmental challenges. They live inland in California, in a severe drought, unlike the redwoods which are on the coast. The book will inspire many who love nature.
The Chickens Build A Wall – written by and illustrations by Jean-François Dumont
Chickens worry, along with other barnyard animals, because a hedgehog has appeared in their yard,and no one knows how to handle this "different creature. Some attribute it to some bad things occurring in the past. Some mayhem occurs, and in this weakness, the rooster takes charge again. There are those who take the message and embellish it, suggesting that everyone follow the rooster's call for building a wall. Everyone concurs, and the chickens begin. I don't want to give away the end, but it was disappointing to me, or perhaps the author wanted to leave everyone to consider what will happen next? The illustrations are appealing, showing great variety of facial expressions of the animals.
Telephone – written by Mac Barnett and illustrated by en Corace
Mac Barnett makes playing the 'telephone" game even funnier by his play on words as the birds sitting on a telephone line pass a message to Peter: "fly home for dinner". The wording and the collages by Jen Corace make the book funnier and funnier as one turns each page. Luckily for all of us, a wise old owl clears things up at the end. I read this to my granddaughter, who was rolling off the sofa at the end! She's five!
I have a new pile of picture books from the library, and have just started Better Nate Than Ever by Tim Federle. I'm trying to catch up with some Newbery possibles-lots of good ones available and coming out. Do you have a favorite so far?