Sunday, October 25, 2015

It's Monday - Reading!


       Wonderful books read this week, one I simply had to purchase so I could read it!


          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!
HAVE A HAPPY HALLOWEEN WEEK EVERYONE!

The Hired Girl - written by Laura Amy Schlitz
           I recently read two books, set in countries out of the US that told stories of the powerlessness of women, and the challenge for change that needs to happen, in this 21st century, still a huge issue. This book, set in the US in 1911 is not quite as harsh, but again the powerlessness of women, especially those without money, is there. This is a growing-up story, and one where teens might see themselves, even old fashioned as it is. Fourteen-year-old Joan's mother died when she was ten, and since that time, she has had to manage all household duties for her abusive father and three brothers, older than she is, who still won't help her in any way against the father. First he made her quit school, then he chased her former teacher, her only champion, away, and when she decided to go on strike and asked to have the egg money (like her mother), her father burned the few books she owned. Joan, with amazing courage, escaped to Baltimore, and through strange serendipity, managed to be taken in as a hired girl by a wealthy Jewish family. She first had to please Malka, their aging and beloved housekeeper, and throughout the novel, managed both to please and infuriate the matriarch of the family. The story is about this family of two sons, a married daughter and a young daughter as well as Joan, her interactions with them as Jews, her thoughts as a Catholic, at least a Catholic trying to be confirmed. She meets with her priest once a week, and argues with him as he shows concern that she might be unduly influenced by their religion. None of the characters is perfect, but rise with kindness nearly all the time when a conflict occurs. The story is written by Joan in her diary. We see she is smart, spunky, and still, a fourteen year old. Her inability to stop and think before she acts throws her into lots of trouble, and I ached for her, knowing that she should NOT do what she intended, yet she did most of the time. Thank goodness, Joan is thoughtful too, and at the end, I can see that she will grow up into a wonderful young woman.

It’s Raining Bats & Frogs - written by Rebecca Colby & illustrated by Steven Henry

         If you’re a little girl witch and can do spells, when it starts raining right before the Annual Halloween parade, you just want to help. Unfortunately changing from rain “drops” to raining cats and dogs, or even bats and frogs, doesn’t necessarily please. A story that repeats with a few rhymes, too, and lots of funny illustrations create a laugh-out-loud story for young kids, especially at this time of the year.







In A Cloud of Dust - written by Alma Fullerton & illustrated by Brian Deines
           A young Tanzanian girl stays in at lunch to do her homework because by the time she takes the long walk home, it is dark and there is no light to see to do that work at home. The story, illustrated with gorgeous and realistic portraits, tells of one day when a pickup loaded with bicycles shows up. The school kids rush to choose a bike, and Anna is too late to get one. She is shown helping her school mates, and finally riding behind one boy on his bike on the path home. When they get to his home, he hops off and lets her take the bike, saying she needs it more. She replies that she’ll pick him up in the morning! It’s simply told, but the joy and excitement is evident in the story, of the need for bicycles in places where there is not other way to travel but walk. More than one international organization that takes donated bikes to ship to countries in need is listed in the back page, with a letter from the author. The book might be good for younger children because of the simple text, easy to read and share.

The Day The Crayons Came Home - written by Drew Daywalt & illustrated by Oliver Jeffers

         Definitely for older students, this second book about the crayon’s adventure is full of silly jokes as the ‘left-behind’ crayons write postcards, wanting to come back home. It is fun seeing the individual postcards, often connected to the crayons’ stories, and the jokes were middle-grade laugh-out-loud humor. And I enjoyed the ending of the welcome created just for the crayons with different needs-funny, too. Could be used as a mentor text for writing in different voices along with point of view.

A Thirst for Home: A Story of Water Across The World - written by Christine Ieronimo & illustrated by Eric Velasquez
          This is certainly a sad picture book, but also one that may inspire many to help one of the organizations that are putting wells in villages throughout the isolated villages in our world who are in need. A young girl walks with her amaye (mother) hours to the watering hole to get water, while she also mentions a lion roaring in her belly. She is thirsty and hungry, a continuing problem.  Eventually, she must say goodbye to her mother and homeland. She’s been given up for adoption to an American family. With beautiful illustrations bringing this poignant story to life, and a full-circle story, Christine Ieronimo shows the terrible need for water so that young girls can stay in their homes, and spend time in school instead of walking hours for water. According to the facts given in the backmatter, only 33% of women in Ethiopia can read or write, leaving them to live in poverty, unable to provide the most basic needs of food and water.

The Whisper -  written by & illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski (the one I had to buy!)

           This is a story within a story, and of course it’s my “imagination” driving my thinking. A young girl sees a book ‘way up high’ in her classroom, and asks her teacher about it. The teachers says it’s a marvelous story book, filled with stories, and allows the girl to borrow it for the evening. That’s when the fun begins, for as she walks home, the words float out of the book, but look, a clever fox catches the words in a net. What happens in the rest of the story indeed is magical. The girl sees wondrous pictures (painted by Pamela Zagarenski), and on each page begins to make up her own story.  I expect many students will look and look, perhaps even join into the stories being created. It may take some close looking as well as reading, yet will be wonderful for a fantasy-writing session. The ending will be a fun surprise for teachers. The endpapers are divine, and there are a few lovely lines from Longfellow tucked onto the copyright page!

Now Reading: Island Treasures, Growing Up In Cuba - written by Alma Flor Ada
         As I read more, I am becoming more and more interested in Alma Flor Ada's life. 

24 comments:

  1. I can barely get any reading done these days, so jealous, and happy for you that you are getting it in. I will live vicariously through you!
    I did enjoy The Whisper. I loved the illustrations more than the story. The Crayons had me laughing more and more with each subsequent reading.
    I really would like to get to The Hired Girl before NCTE since the author will be presenting. It's on my list, just don't know if I'll get to it anytime soon.

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    1. I skipped some other writing last week so I could read The Hired Girl, Michele. Some weeks have more time than others! I think The Whisper will take some deep looking and thinking, for some older students perhaps? Thanks!

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  2. I keep putting The Hired Girl on my to-read list and then taking it off because I guess I'm just not excited about it? Not sure why, I've enjoyed everything Schlitz has written, and this one has gotten some stupendous reviews. There are just SO MANY books to read! Ack!

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    1. I enjoyed it, but it may not be everyone's favorite. And yes, there are SO MANY good ones available.

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  3. I am starting The Hired Girl this week so was glad to read your review. In a Cloud of Dust looks good. I will have to look for that one. Thanks

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    1. I hope you enjoy it, Joanne. I found it fascinating, have rarely thought about the servants & what they have to go through (except in a few like Dickens).

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  4. I'm really impressed not just by the number of great books you get through, but your thoughtful reviews and summaries - I can barely find time to review a couple of books! I've definitely found new books to try - I particularly want to pick up The Whisper, it looks beautiful. Thanks for sharing!!

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    1. Thanks, Jane, I am kind of a fast reader so that helps, I guess. The Whisper was a wonderful book.

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  5. The Hired Girl is one in my TBR pile. I hope I get to it at some point.
    A Thirst For Home is a sad picture book, but oh so important.
    I need to read the new Crayon book! I loved the first!

    Happy reading this week! :)

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    1. As you read, I agree about A Thirst for Home, wish it weren't so true! Hope you get to the Crayon book soon-very fun! Thanks Kellee!

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  6. I recently read Debbie Reese's blog where she talks about The Hired Girl. Have you seen it? I appreciate that she points out some issues about how Indians are represented. These are the kinds of things that we need to talk to kids about I think. I've got The Whisper sitting here beside me. I think I'll go and read it right now!

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    1. I found Debbie Reese's post, Cheriee, and thank you for it. I would still argue that a rather ignorant girl like Joan wouldn't know that Native Americans were civilized. She certainly had her doubts about Jewish people too. That said, I liked that Debbie's argument is that the author can (could) have her know anything she chooses to know, so through you telling me, I learned a new POV. Thanks!

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  7. Last week I went to Barnes & Noble and picked up The Day the Crayons Came Home. I just couldn't resist it. It's a great book that seems like a wonderful jumping off place for other crayon or traveling writing for students. My grandson is going to love it!
    BTW: I have nominated you for an Infinity Dream Blogger Award. I received it quite a while ago and just had trouble getting around to getting it posted neatly on my site. You may chose to do it or not, certainly! http://mainelywrite.blogspot.com/2015/10/dream-blogger.html

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    1. Thank you Donna, I'll check it out about the award, but I do appreciate it. Glad you liked the new crayon story-very fun!

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  8. You've got a terrific list this week! I've not read any of these, but they're going on my To Read list for sure! Thanks for the reading inspiration!

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    1. You're welcome, Jana. Hope you find some that you adore here!

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  9. I too enjoyed The Hired Girl. Joan's voice certainly appealed. I was troubled by a few things though and Debbie Reese pointed out some of the cultural issues here http://americanindiansinchildrensliterature.blogspot.com/ It made me really look again at the book. The Whisper looks gorgeous. In a Cloud of Dust looks great. I'll look for it. I read A Thirst for Home and found some things nice, but why would adoptive parents take away her birth name? It seems like she lost herself a bit in that exchange. It was not my favorite adoption story. Bats and Frogs looks fun.

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    1. I commented on your review of The Hired Girl on Goodreads. As you see above, Cheriee shared Debbie Reese's review with me & I read it. It's something serious for me to contemplate although I still wonder if an ignorant girl in the country would know anything different about Native Americans? I agree about A Thirst for Home-thought the adoption was treated rather casually. Bats and Frogs is just cute. Thanks, Crystal.

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  10. I bought A Thirst for Home for my water unit this year. I look at this name "issue" as an opportunity to discuss names and heritage. I am curious about what my students might say. Great titles Linda!

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    1. Thanks, Carrie. The book will bring up a number of good conversations for the class, I agree.

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  11. All these books sound like good ones! The youth group at our church has done 30-Hour FAmine in the past, and one year it had a powerful lesson on water that the kids still remember. A Thirst for Home sounds like it would have been perfect to read with the activity--and shorter than A Long Walk to Water.

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    1. It is a good book that tells about the need for water, but remember that it also involves the sadness of a family parting, too. Perhaps that will bring home the importance of water, Kay? Thanks for telling about this.

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  12. The Whisper sounds like a book I will have to purchase for my research project - I just checked our library database - we don't have this yet. Glad to see that you also liked A Thirst for Home. Cloud of Dust sounds like a good picturebook to pair with The Red Bicycle. :)

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    1. All are worth reading, Myra, and yes, A Cloud of Dust is even similar to A Red Bicycle, showing the real need for transportation. Hope you'll find The Whisper soon!

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Having a conversation is a good thing!