Thanks Sheila, for starting Book Journeys, so Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Ricki and Kellee at Unleashing Readers can start It's Monday! What Are You Reading?-such fun, such a lot of books to love!
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Before the holidays are over, I'd like share two books for you to enjoy if you celebrate Christmas.
Santa Clauses, Short Poems from the North Pole – written by Bob Raczka and illustrated by Chuck Groenink
This can serve as a marvelous countdown to the 25th; however, you can just find the book and enjoy it in one sitting, too. Raczka has written 26 haiku to share in the countdown to Christmas, and what beautiful ones they are, accompanied by detailed, nostalgic illustrations. One thing that is wonderful is the way Mrs. Claus is included in some of both the story and the pictures. Another is that there are a few pages showing Santa reading, one time alone, last minutes of the day? And another reading to the reindeer. Santa and Mrs. Claus are a loving couple. Raczka writes—for Dec. 18th page: “Mrs. Claus and I/wrapped neatly in our bed quilts—
matching packages.” The end papers are filled with Christmasy images, like candy canes and bells.
Manger-gathered by Lee Bennett Hopkins and illustrated by Helen Cann
There is something magical when we think of the animals talking sweetly to the baby Jesus, being given the ability to speak on that night of his birth. Lee Bennett Hopkins has gathered poets to write in the voice of animals who might have been there that night, and each poem is both unique and wonderful. Horse, by X.J. Kennedy says: “Yet at this crib I am so stirred/that, staring, I can say no word.” For a most beautiful story, this is a lovely re-telling. The illustrations are directly related to each haiku. Beautiful, full-page spreads enhance each.
I finished El Deafo by Cece Bell, color by David Lasky!It feels to me that every child should read this book, not just those that are deemed "special", a word that Cece shares she hates. It's so full of children's hopes of having good friends, being noticed (and then not noticed), and most of all, NOT being left out. There is a poignant picture in about the middle of the book showing Cece standing on her porch, lonely, wishing her best friend had not become her 'un-friend', and wondering if she should join the neighborhood kickball game. Indecision, wondering if they only asked her to be nice keeps her inside, unable to take part. On the other hand, Cece remains an imaginative and strong young woman, keeping a secret that only she knows gives her strength, the super power of El Deafo. The book is delightful to read, and concern about Cece in some of her predicaments keeps the tension just right. She is a funny young girl who happens to be deaf.
And other books you will love:
Take Away the A – written by Michael Escoffier and illustrated by Kris DiGiacomo
I think every young student will enjoy this, but perhaps young readers the most will laugh at the pictures and enjoy puzzling over the words that appear when a letter from the alphabet is taken away. Perhaps they can create their own page to add? The chair has hair, when one takes away the C, and Without the M, the farm is too far. The illustrations are silly and delightful. When my granddaughter, whose on the “cusp” of reading a word here and there, first heard the title, she began to sing the alphabet song, “without” the A, & giggled. You can see what she thought, that taking away one letter made the song different, and while she didn’t always understand the word changes, she did enjoy the pictures and loved the idea of a missing letter.
The Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade – written by Justin Roberts and illustrated by Christian Robinson
It’s a book about being nice, being kind, and the person who’s going to tell everyone to do things “better” is little Sally, who notices everything because she was “paying extra special attention”. The story shows that being an “up-stander” is a good thing, that even the smallest girl in the smallest grade can make a difference. The childlike drawings by Robinson fit the story very well, because it really is about kids making a difference.
Fox’s Garden – written and illustrated by Princesse Camcam
I’ve wanted to read this for a while, have seen others speak about its beauty, and it is that. Filled with gorgeous wintry pictures, a fox who needs a place to shelter, and a little boy who does a good deed. A wordless picture book can be a story that anyone can enjoy by observing. It is a sweet and magical story, makes one wish it could be true.
Dory FantasMagory – written and illustrated by Abby Hanlon
If you haven’t met characters like Mrs. Gobble Cracker or Mr. Nuggy (the fairy godmother), you’re in for a silly treat. The plight of Dory, or “rascal”, littlest sister to her older brother and sister, who WILL NOT play with her, often yell for mom and dad to save them from her, is rather sad. She uses her imagination to see if that will help, but not much does, until a plot by the siblings turns into something they want no part of, yet also changes their attitudes. You’ll have to read it to see what you think, but for a lower middle grade chapter book, this will entertain all the way through. Abby Hanlon is also the author of Ralph Tells A Story, another delightful and creative book.
Still Reading: What The Moon Saw, by Laura Resau.