Visit Jen at TeachMentorTexts and Kellee and Ricki at UnleashingReaders to see what they've been reading, along with everyone else who link up. Others join Sheila to share adult books at Book Journeys.
Come visit, and tweet at #IMWAYR. Thanks to Jen, Kellee, and Ricki for hosting!
Little Woman In Blue - written by Jeannine Atkins
I know this is a fictional biography, read Jeannine’s words in the author’s note: “But because much was missing as I researched in libraries, historic houses, museums, and at riverbanks, I drew upon my imagination to develop my sense of May. Much as a portrait painter begins with a particular face that changes as she chooses colors and brushstrokes, I began with descriptions of real people, places, and events to form impressions . . . to create scenes that comprise a work of fiction.” The voice of the characters blossomed through the descriptions of the surroundings and the social mores of that time. Through Jeannine’s words, we learn that “it’s hard to please editors in a city where some ladies put books by men and women on different shelves to avoid a hint of scandal.” When I read, I know that I am beginning to love the characters when, in my mind, I begin talking back to them, even shouting, “Oh no, don’t let that happen! or “Wow, Wonderful that she was determined in her actions, however her private thoughts wavered.”
This story of May shows the strong relationship between the two sisters, Louisa and May, yet with such different life approaches, they both loved and clashed in the way they lived their lives. We all know Louisa May Alcott, but until this book, I admit I thought of this sister as the Amy of Little Women, vane, artistic, the one who got to go to Europe on a grand tour. One early description of May’s thoughts is a thread of who she was that carried throughout: “If she were quiet enough, would the bird tell her something? Such a soft whoo whoo must matter. This was the sort of faith she sometimes felt when drawing. That a sound or sight was important just because it was there. And if she kept looking, listening, and drawing, she would know something she hadn’t when she began.” Despite setbacks, grief and through success and love, May never stopped pursuing art. In this lovely account of May Alcott’s brief life, Jeannine Atkins shows May’s inner questioning of women’s roles in society at that time, that they cannot have both the passion of art and of marriage. And she shows May choosing “more”, an admirable and risky choice, sometimes even today. I loved knowing more about this woman in America’s literary past, now more fully shown and loved in A Woman In Blue by Jeannine Atkins.
This book is on my #MustReadIn2015 list. See above!
The Shadow Throne - by Jennifer Nielsen (final of the Ascendance Trilogy)
I wish I hadn’t put this off so long because I had forgotten some of the parts in previous books that the story referred to, but I enjoyed reacquainting myself with the major relationships, the key players who are either so loving and likeable or are downright despicable. Once again, with Neilsen’s writing being never dull, I can’t share much of the story or will give it away. This time, Jaron’s fight for his country creates tension among all his followers, Mathias, Roden, the pirates including Erich, and Mott. He is in the fight of his life for Carthya against the evil King Vargan who has woven a web of lies in order to bring other countries in to fight with him in order to overcome Carthya. Regent Harlowe is there, true to form in his loyal quest to protect this boy king, and the intrigue of the romance now involves two: Amarinda, Jaron’s betrothed princess and Imogen. Neilsen has managed to complete the puzzle of the ending by placing the final pieces exactly where they fit. Loved it.
Rufus the writer - written by Elizabeth Bram and illustrated by Chuck Groenink
This young boy, Rufus, decides to open a “story stand”. Instead of selling lemonade, he sells his own created stories, illustrated too! Friends stop in and are delighted that they might be able to buy or trade something for a story, and the stories are included in this delightful book, with pictures! I can imagine all sorts of ways to use this in a workshop setting. Rufus shows imagination in his stories, with detail and story parts that young students can identify, then write their own, and perhaps, like Rufus, write them for someone else!
Deep In The Sahara - written by Kelly Cunnane and illustrated by Hoda Hadadi
Lalla, a young girl in the Sahara watches others in her town wear a “malafa”, the beautiful head covering scarf worn by Muslim women. She, too, wants one, to be mysterious like her sister, beautiful like her mother, and to look like royalty like her grandmother. Finally, the ending means growing up, and Lalla receives her lovely “malafa”, and goes to pray with her mother. The language is sparse and beautiful. The opening begins with “Deep in the Sahara, sky yellow with heat,/rippled dunes slide and scorpions scuttle.” And the illustrations are the first published in the U.S. by Hadadi, a native of Iran, with many published books elsewhere. The cut paper art fills the pages with gorgeous scenes, color standing out in the dress worn by the people. The story shows well how all children no matter the culture want the symbols of growing up.
The Princess and The Pony - written and illustrated by Kate Beaton
When one wishes for lemonade, but gets a lemon instead, what’s a princess to do? In this story, she figures out that all things are not necessarily what one things upon first look, and the small and squat pony turns out to be more than imagined. Cute story in looking at perspective from more than one person in the book. The illustrations are imaginative in the characters especially, like warriors turning into sweet teddy bears.
All for a Dime - written and illustrated by Will Hillenbrand
Bear and Mole and Skunk, all friends, decide to go to Market Day with something to sell. Bear picks blueberries, Mole digs worms, and Skunk makes perfume. Well, you might be able to figure out what happens. Bear sells a lot, and the other two have no customers. They pretend to buy each other’s wares with a dime one has, and they switch places buying and selling. What great friends they are, and the best ending is Bear’s contribution at the end. It’s a wonderful story of friendship and helping each other, plus the pictures fill the pages with happiness, bright and colorful.
by mouse & frog - written and illustrated by Deborah Freedman
Things are quite mixed up in this story, a drawing begun quietly by mouse until frog intervenes with “jumping” enthusiasm. I loved each part, the ones where mouse is offended, frustrated, but frog’s energy does win mouse over, and delightful things happen. Deborah Freedman adds her own energy in the creative pencil drawings, made-up stories and colored details. This is a book that needs more than one reading and looking. The lesson learned: collaboration is fun!
The Best Book in the World! - written and illustrated by Rilla Alexander
Graphic illustrations carry a little girl in many directions when she reads a book. Fun to see what happens on each page. The story goes from cover to cover, showing so many exciting adventures inside a book.
NEXT: Lost In The Sun by Lisa Graff (finally found a copy!)