Sunday, December 21, 2014

Grateful for Book Love

      I'm grateful each Monday for the sharing of books that happens because of the following blogs:

Sheila at Book Journeys
Jen at TeachMentorTexts
Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers

          Thanks to these tireless hosts and all of those who link up, my pocketbook is empty, but my reading life is rich!  Happiest of holidays to you all!




The following book meets the challenge made by 2014Latin@s in Kid Lit (See the button on the right to explore this terrific blog resource.)


What The Moon Saw - written by Laura Resau

          Fourteen-year-old Clara Luna has never met her grandparents. Her father left them in their small village in Mexico to find a better living in the U.S., has never returned, and now those grandparents have sent an invitation for Clara to visit. What happens to her and what she discovers about herself in the months of the visit is the story told beautifully by Laura Resau. The chapters alternate between Clara’s story when she discovers she is a healer, and then her abuelita’s, also a healer. It’s self-discovery, adventure, with a little romance included despite the clash in culture. At first, I wondered how a girl from the suburbs could possibly make it in this tiny village with small  huts for sleeping and cooking only. The spiritual aspect of the story also entices. It’s almost as if we are in a dream, with Laura’s gorgeous language. Here’s one short part as Clara first tastes mushrooms on her pizza: “Usually mushrooms taste like dirt to me, but these taste like forest secrets.” The book is worth the experience of different ways of living, and looking hard at self as well as being present. I loved it!



Arcady's Goal - written and Illustrated by Eugene Yelchin
              I haven't read a book so quickly in a while, nor have I read a book that I didn't want to end in a long time. This, Arcady's Goal, is such a book. I can't imagine any student not loving the story of Arcady, a young boy, in a children's camp for children of the Soviet Union's enemies. He has only one dream, to play soccer for the communist red team. It's more broadly a story of all the children who were taken from their parents mostly on whim of others, and it's also a story of a kind man who had suffered this outrageous and cruel act because his young wife too was taken because she taught German. The scene when the man frees Arcady and walks him home is breathtakingly poignant, showing Arcady noticing things, "Music from someplace, a woman singing in a pretty voice. A cat is licking its paw. A potted plant. Behind a big glass window, all kinds of bread I've never seen before, sprinkled with salt, with sugar, twisted and rolled and studded with dark shiny things." Remember, this boy Arcady has been in prison since he was in diapers. He's never seen any of this.
              Much later in a conversation with his new adoptive father, Arcady ask why so many have been taken away. The answer given is that if everything is taken, those fighting will have nothing to lose. (This is in preparation for the war with Germany.) Arcady thinks, "Everyone knows it's easy to fight when you have nothing to lose, but you fight harder when you have something to keep." I also didn't remember that Eugene Yelchin is an illustrator, and he has added some beautiful black and white sketches to this story. It's a wise book, telling a story that stands by itself as a protest. I loved every bit, and really am sorry it's already finished.
 

Wildflower Tea – written by Ethel Pochocki and illustrated by Robert
Essley
               Once in awhile I discover an older picture book that takes my breath away, and this is one of those. Each page, sometimes a double-page spread, shares a part of an old man's journey out of doors during part of a year. For example, the beginning reads: "One sunny morning in May." And he proceeds to walk with an empty basket, out to gather what he might find. This time, it is violets. Another day, a "bright Wednesday in July", he hurries "down the road like a spool of unraveling thread". And he finds "snippets of wild thyme and lemon grass and pasture rose and edelweiss." Each time at home, many of the blossoms are carried up to the attic to dry on an old sheet spread out. The year is passing, and finally it's time to put the garden to bed, saying goodnight to "the cornstalk sentries, now silent and brittle as crisp toast." The language is gorgeous, the time walking along on this man's adventures is satisfying, showing beautifully the changing seasons and the man's joy in what he gathers. I've discovered that Ethel Pochocki passed away in 2010, is a beloved Maine author.

A Perfectly Messed Up Story – written and illustrated by Patrick McDonnell
          You know this author by many books, one of which I love is Me…Jane. The book’s story continues to be told, but interrupted continually. There are jelly stains, fingerprints and the story of Little Louis continues to try to be told. It’s definitely a laugh-out-loud story.

The Cat, The Dog, Little Red, Exploding Eggs, The Wolf, And Grandma - written and illustrated by Diane and Christyan Fox
          This, too, is a ‘perfectly messed up story” but not because someone dropped jelly on the pages. It’s because Dog keep interrupting Cat, who is trying hard to tell the story of Little Red Riding Hood. The interrupting fun finally ends, as does the story! This was too tongue-in-cheek for my five year old granddaughter, who also didn’t know the story. I think I might even use it for a mentor text with my middle school students who may want to try a fractured fairy tale.


NEXT: The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion & the Fall of Imperial Russia - Candace Fleming,
and I have a good stack of books coming from the library! Happy Reading everyone!

23 comments:

  1. I love the variety of books you shared. They all look good, but in different ways.

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    1. Hope you find some that you will enjoy, Kay.

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  2. These are some wonder books. I can't wait to read Arcady's Goal and What the Moon Saw sounds like my cup of tea. Thanks for sharing these.

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  3. I loved A Perfectly Messed Up Story. Such a fun post-modern picture book.

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    1. It was lots of fun to read to my granddaughter, too, Beth. Thanks!

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  4. Hi Linda! You convinced me to put Arcady's Goal on hold at the library! I've put it off, but it sounds like it's one to read! I loved The Cat, The Dog..... too! And like you said, very tongue-in-cheek, but I love having books that older kids can appreciate. Too many times kids put off picture books as being too babyish. Although, sometimes, I think it's the adults that put them aside, not the kids!

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    1. I know that my middle school students would love this book, Michele. They always like humor in any form, & this will offer ideas for writing too. I use picture books a lot! Hope you enjoy Arcady's Goal, a quick read, but a lovely story.

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  5. I really want to read Arcady's Goal especially after your review. I really enjoyed Breaking Stalin's Nose. I think this title might also be one for my son to read - he is obsessed by war details and soccer! I want him to also really grasp the personal stories of wartime. I am a huge fan of The Cat, The Dog . . . Laughed out loud in the bookstore reading this one!

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    1. Because of what you said about your son, war details, and soccer, Arcady's Goal definitely will be a good one, Carrie. It is a personal story, but broadens into an 'everyone' story as well. And I can see why you loved The Cat, The Dog... Very funny! Thanks!

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  6. I'm moving Arcady's Goal to the top of my TBR pile, thanks to your review! :-)

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    1. Enjoy, Holly! (At least I hope you do!)

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  7. Breaking Stalin's Nose was such an amazing book, that I knew Arcady's Goal would be a winner, too. Yelchin is such a talented writer - so many layers to his stories. What the Moon Saw would be perfect for our last book club of the year, Linda - when we read about many cultures and the trials faced by children and families everywhere. Thanks for sharing these today!

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    1. I bought the book when I saw your review, Tara. It is wonderful. And yes, What The Moon Saw will work on many levels for your curriculum. I loved the way it was written, too.

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  8. Some great choices this week! I also loved What the Moon Saw and got to hear Laurie speak about creating the idea a few years back. My students fell in love with The Cat, The Dog ... this week, as it arrived in our book order. We will be starting studying fractured fairy tales soon, and this one was a great introduction!

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    1. Yes! I think it will be such a great intro for ideas about looking at fairy tales in a new way. Thanks for sharing about your ideas about What The Moon Saw too, Katie.

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  9. I really want to read Family Romanov too--before the Newberys are announced! Thank goodness there's all of January for reading! Arcady's Goal sounds wonderful. Yours is the first detailed description I've read, and it's shot up to the top of my TBR stack. Never mind that I don't have a copy yet. We all know how easy it is to remedy that!!

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    1. I've only read a little bit of Family Romanov, but it's going to be so interesting I know. I had a student study the Romanovs for her unit a few years ago. She would have loved the book! Hope you enjoy Arcady's Goal!

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  10. I have The Cat, The Dog,.... to read too! Looking forward to it :) So interested in Fleming's new book. I love her Amelia book.
    Loved the intro today as well!

    Happy holidays, and happy reading this week! :)

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    1. Thanks, Kellee, it's your first Christmas with Trent! Enjoy this special time!

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  11. I also loved Arcady's Goal! I felt like I plowed through it. I read it at 5am before Henry woke up, and I didn't stop reading until he awoke. It is such a beautiful story, and I am so glad you loved it too. :) Happy holidays, my friend.

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    1. It sounds like my reading of it, too, Ricki. Amazing story! Thanks for the wishes, same to you, too! Happy 2015!

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  12. Hi Linda, we do have a lot to celebrate when it comes to book love. Having these amazing books at my fingertips through our glorious libraries - I can not ask for more. :) My daughter read A Perfectly Messed Up story while we were at the library last week and she simply could not stop laughing! :)

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Having a conversation is a good thing!