Sunday, November 22, 2015

It's Monday!


And the winner of last week's giveaway, The Not Very Merry Pout Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen is. . .
                  Bridget Magee! Send me your address, Bridget and the book will be on its way.

          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

I went to our Denver Library book sale Thursday, and everyone should be proud of me. I took one bag, filled it, and left. Ha! They had a table where you could grab extra bags, great marketing. There are hundreds of books there, in every genre, for every age, and in Spanish, too. I saw books as recently published as last year. Wow. I bought a bunch for the granddaughters, and mostly poetry picture books for me.  But I did find Water Is Water, and Boats for Papa, too. 
           
One former colleague and I used to leave surprise books on each other's chairs in our classrooms sometimes, and now that I'm gone, we've missed each other's discoveries A LOT! So we began again, and the final two reviews today are books she found. They are terrific! 




Amazing Places - poems selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins, illustrated by Chris Soentpiet and Christy Hale
          Fourteen poems by poets you love fill this book as the earlier Amazing Faces did, including love for our country from the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia to San Francisco’s Chinatown, Boston’s Fenway Park to the Watkins Museum of History (Langston Hughes childhood home-Lawrence, Kansas).  Considering the increasing division in beliefs recently and before the next election, I especially liked the poem by Alma Flor Ida, native Cuban, who wrote of her family’s visit to Chinatown. Many people are included in this book, as well as nature’s wonders, trees in the Grand Canyon and the mighty Mississippi. This would be a lovely mentor text when studying different cultures and geography, and writing poetry in reflection of favorite topics. The illustrations by Chris Soentpiet and Christy Hale are full color portraits, vibrant with life in the ‘amazing places’.


The Scorpio Races - Maggie Stiefvater
       This is a re-read so that two friends and I could meet to discuss it. It was the second time for us all, and we agreed even better the second time. If you like speculative fiction, YA and/or Maggie Stiefvater, this is a book you shouldn't miss. It is lovely. My full review is on Goodreads here.

Zach Delacruz: Me And My Big Mouth - written by Jeff Anderson
Being in middle school is tough, but being in middle school as a sixth grader is worse than tough, and Zach Delacruz is trying to stay under the radar as much as he can. Although he's small (so far), he still can't stay hidden, and his nickname is 'shrimp'. The group he would like to avoid include the bully and a couple of "cool" girls, and a few eighth graders. There's also a girl named Janie who receives oh too many remarks about her eating habits and her weight. Thank goodness, there is also a friend named Marquis.
Zach didn't mean to do it, he didn't want to be noticed, but the good in him finally stepped out to defend Janie. He told the bully to 'stop'. The rest of the story actually works well, with some help from a wise teacher who decided to put Zach and the bully together as leaders of a chocolate bar sale so the sixth graders could go to the school dance. It was a little farfetched the way it all worked out, but stranger things happen in middle school, and the group did learn to be a little kinder. Zach was also working hard to ignore that his parents had just divorced, and he had to change homes every week. There were a couple of emotional moments, but it did work out. The parents played small roles, but it was clear that Zach knew he was loved. I imagine that there might be more about this group as they grow up.


Oskar and the Eight Blessings - Richard Simon and Tanya Simon, Mark Siegel
         It gives me shivers when a book comes along at just the right time, and this book, lying on my shelf for weeks, suddenly became one I wanted to read. It’s a made-up story, based on history of the Hanukah, then Christmas in New York City, 1938. Richard Simon also connects one of his grandfather’s stories to it, a choice of staying in America during this time, or returning to Lithuania.
         Oskar’s family felt blessed, the stories begins, “until the Night of Broken Glass”. He was put on a ship to America with nothing but an address and a photo of a woman he didn’t know, his Aunt Esther. His father’s last words were “Even in bad times, people can be good. You have to look for the blessings.” When he arrived, it was the last night of Hanukah and Christmas Eve. Oskar needed to walk 100 blocks to reach his aunt’s home, all the way down Broadway! There is a marvelous map showing his route, and how the story makes Oskar connect to those “blessings” along the way. He begins with Trinity Church, seeing an old woman feeding bread to the pigeons. She offers a part of a roll so he can, too, but notices that he eats it himself. From her pocket, she gives him a small loaf of bread, energy so he can make the long journey. Oskar moves along, has some sweet encounters with others known, like “Mrs. Roosevelt and Count Basie” and unknown, a boy having a snowball fight whom he helps, who offers his mittens when he sees how cold Oskar is. I won’t give all the blessings away, but Mark Siegel’s illustrations are beautiful portraits of each scene, in muted brown tones with just a few bits of color, showing that evening walk. They enhance the memory of one fine night when Oskar found his blessings.  I would hope that America will be as kind today as it was to Oskar so many years ago.

Toys Meet Snow - Emily Jenkins and Paul O. Zelinsky
          When I first heard of this, and saw the cover, I couldn’t imagine how such a combination of toys and going out into the snow would be entertaining, but it is so much more than that. It is a small moment in time of an adventure with these three toys, poetic,  funny, and sweet.  In the midst of their snow-play, the day slowly disappears, and they call the sunset, a ‘strawberry syrup sun’.  The illustrations glow with happy action, full-page pictures that add the action to the spare text.
        
The Paradise Bird - Marcus Pfister
          From Switzerland comes a picture book with a subtle lesson, one can make your own happiness, bring it everywhere with you.  Ravens line a couple of tree branches, complaining that nothing ever happens, life is just boring. Along comes a colorful paradise bird that shows them how to make their own fun, gives them each a colorful feather and they create a dance unique to them, a ‘Croak-a, Croak-a’. Considering most of the birds (ravens) are black and rather dour, the sight of the happy Paradise Bird just makes you smile. He spreads happiness, and it’s fun to see the ravens’ expressions change as the pages turn. 

The Plan - Alison Paul and Barbara Lehman
          This is a brilliant book, using only twenty words. With Barbara Lehman’s simple, but detailed illustrations, Alison Paul tells a story, changing one letter at a time. It’s a story of a young girl, her dog, and her father, some secrets, some sadness, an adventure and lots of joy. I loved it!

Still reading: This Side of Wild by Gary Paulsen. 

Next up: The Boys Who Challenged Hitler: Knud Pedersen and the Churchill Club by Phillip Hoose.

20 comments:

  1. Oh those library book sales. I have a hard time dragging my partner away from them. It looks like you have been reading some amazing titles this week. I'm really looking forward to Oskar and the Eight Blessings.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The sale was much fun. I started finding titles for another person there and she looked for me, too. Enjoy Oskar. . . It is wonderful. Thanks, Cheriee.

      Delete
  2. I am very intrigued with The Plan. Looks so very interesting. Loved reading all of these reviews Linda.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Carrie. The Plan will be terrific for your class and examining words changing, plus the story.

      Delete
  3. Zack Delacruz had some moments, but there are so often things that happen in MG novels that would NEVER happen in middle school. The girl eating her own candy bars seemed especially far fetched. A good first novel, though.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree about the events sometimes being questionable reality, but it was enjoyable. Thanks, Karen.

      Delete
  4. Isn't Toy Meets Snow beautiful?! I'm looking forward to Thanksgiving Break so that I can read! Thanks for the awesome suggestions. Hope you have a restful and fun Thanksgiving, too!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Jana, and Happy Thanksgiving to you, too. Yes, as you saw, I loved Toys Meet Snow, sweet and beautiful.

      Delete
  5. I've heard so much about Amazing Places and now will definitely have to read it. I loved The Boys Who Challenged Hitler and have heard a lot of good things about The Scorpion Races. Thanks for sharing these and I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, Amazing Places is very good, as is Amazing Faces. I'm really looking forward to The Boys Who challenged Hitler. I hope you do find The Scorpio Races by Stiefvater-just wonderful. Happy Thanksgiving to you too!

      Delete
  6. Your review of Oskar has me intrigued. I'm definitely going to read that!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's a story beautifully told, Earl. I hope you enjoy it!

      Delete
  7. I was totally resisting Jeff Anderson's new middle-grade--until I happened to hear him read an excerpt at NCTE and now I totally have to buy it. He's a wonderful reader of his work, and the scene he read was HILARIOUS. Looking forward to reading that one aloud to my son!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope you and he like it, Elisabeth. There is a strong voice in all the characters that help the enjoyment. Fun that you heard Jeff Anderson read some of it!

      Delete
  8. Just read Toy Meets Snow, so poetic! And our library book sale is next week! Requesting The Plan and Oskar. Wow - you found Boats for Papa at your book sale! I love that book.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So glad you liked Toys Meet Snow-it is lovely I agree. Yes, at the sale were so many almost brand new books. All I could think is that they pulled 'extras' or something. Lots to choose from! Thanks, Ramona. Have Fun at your sale.

      Delete
  9. Oskar and the Eight Blessings sounds like my kind of read, dear Linda. I immediately checked our library databases, unfortunately we don't have that one yet. :( Will definitely recommend it for purchase. Is Scorpio Races a stand-alone novel? I wouldn't want to wait as long as I am waiting for next few instalments of The Raven Boys series! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Oskar book is lovely, Myra. I hope you can find it. Yes, The Scorpio Races is stand alone. My group that wanted to get together to discuss our re-read actually talked about what would be next, and there are a few things, but really it's just a unique story that needs no follow-up. I know what you mean about The Raven Boys-I have to re-read the last one so I can remember what's going on!

      Delete
  10. Thank you, Linda! And thank you for all you do for children's literature and poetry. You ROCK! =)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're welcome, Bridget. I'm told that the book will be on its way by the end of the week!

      Delete

Having a conversation is a good thing!