Sunday, November 8, 2015

Monday - Many Books To Love


 


          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!


       I read so many picture books this week, and completed one chapter book, much to love, and there are some favorites. I'm just going to share the reviews of some of what I believe are the best, not to miss. If you want to see other reviews of those listed at the end, you can find them on Goodreads. Some of you liked many of those I didn't share, but there were parts that I just didn't enjoy although they were well-written.


Enchanted Air - written by Margarita Engle

            A verse memoir of Margarita Engle’s first fourteen years, especially poignant because toward the end was the time that Cuba and the United States became enemies, thus Margarita and her family no longer had a way to be with their family in Cuba. Reading a story in poetry is such fun; the poems create a tone together that doesn’t happen in prose, or at least not in the same way. In this story, the reader knows the bittersweet almost immediately when there are words about Margarita’s mother, Cuban, far away from her home. Margarita’s father is an artist, and there isn’t always money to make the trip from California. While she yearns to see what has only been described to her in words, the life lived is not a bad one; it just seems that one part is missing. In kindergarten class, “the teacher scolds me: REAL TREES/ DON’T LOOK LIKE THAT.”  They wander around Mexico, “instead of flying/through the enchanted air/to Cuba.” But Margarita sees the television news: “Revolution. Violence. Gunfire. Danger.” and she understands. An early look at the child she was is a description of her love of books, and the beginnings of writing poetry: “I carry/my own poems, inside my mind,/where no one else/can reach the words.” Slowly we the reader begins to see this growing up Margarita, lonely for that other land, set apart from those around her. She does finally get to Cuba, one time, feels that part that’s missing fulfilled. There is much more to learn, but the return to California happens so soon.  Because of the conflict, visits to Cuba won’t happen for a long time, but the wider world does happen, in Europe especially.  It’s a lovely story of only fourteen years, the beginning of a life told in poetry, the background that was poetry. The final poem is titled Hope, beginning with “All I know about the future/is that it will be beautiful.”
Click to enlarge

Jingle Dancer - written by Cynthia Leitich Smith and illustrated by Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu
          It’s often a surprise to read what seems like a simple story, and after reading the back matter, I realize there is much more in the story than I understood. Young girl Jenna daydreams of the day when she can jingle-dance like her Grandma Wolfe, but Grandma says there isn’t enough time before the Powwow to order the jingles. Jenna visits various relatives to see if she might borrow one line of jingles from their own dresses, and manages to do it. Each one has a reason to give: one isn’t strong enough anymore, another has a big case to prepare for law school, and still another will be making fry bread, too busy to dance. Jenna only needs one more, and asks Grandma Wolfe if she can spare just one row. She can, and they work hard every day to sew all those jingles onto Jenna’s dress. The backmatter shares more background of the jingles, the importance in Native American lives of the number four (four people’s jingles) and the pride of all when a child performs the “first dance”. The illustrations fill the page with beautiful scenes of the story.  This is Cynthia Leitich Smith’s first book, published a few years ago, but a good one to add to collections about different cultures.


Interstellar Cinderella - written by Deborah Underwood and illustrated by Meg Hunt               What a joy to read a new version of Cinderella, still living with her stepmother and stepsisters, but this time she has a new passion, fixing spacecraft. And this time, her fairy god robot rescues in a most helpful way, new tools and a spacesuit that makes Cinderella a pro, and she is. Written in clever rhyme, and illustrated in comic book fashion, it’s a “stellar” book with quite a satisfying end. 

Thank You and Good Night - written and illustrated by Patrick McDonnell
          This is the sweetest story. Maggie, a little girl and her stuffed bunny Clement are having a pajama party. Jean, and elephant and Alan, a bear have arrived. And they have a wonderful time. They jump up and down on the bed, have a funny-face contest, and play hide and seek again and again. Moments and joy happen in this wonderful evening until it really is time for bed. Maggie reads all their favorite stories, and the best is at the end, sharing their thanks. The illustrations could fill a nursery, soft colors and happy faces bring a smile every time I turn the page. What a beautiful book, for young children and for new parents.

Lost. Found. - written by Marsha Diane Arnold and illustrated by Matthew Cordell
            I read this first with my granddaughter, and then we looked again and again. In simple sketches, with only two words, the story of a lost scarf shows beautifully what happens when everyone wants something without consideration for another. My granddaughter said: “I think this book is about people working better together. They figured out that was better.” She’s right.

The Bear Report - written and illustrated by Thyra Heder
           Gorgeous to see, wonderful story, have read this over and over. A young girl must write a report, chooses polar bears, writes her ‘three facts’--“They are big, they eat things, they are mean.” But wait, she’s visited by a polar bear lounging on the sofa, who says “We’re not all mean.” Thus begins an adventure with this ‘not-mean’ bear all through the Arctic, learning quite a lot, including saving the bear, too! At the end, back in the living room, a wide array of presentation parts are displayed. The pictures are wonder full-page spreads by Thyra Heder, and the text is just enough.


Little Red Gliding Hood - written by Tara Lazar and illustrated by Troy Cummings
           There is much to love in this fractured fairy tale. The first thing I love is that “the big bad wolf” is the “big bad wolf” no more. Little Red Gliding Hood is now an ice skater extraordinaire and the goal is to win an ice skating competition so she can have new skates. Her old ones just aren’t the best anymore.  The problem is that it’s a pairs competition and she has no partner. “The dish danced with the spoon, and Hansel spun Gretel like sugar.” The beautifully added bonus is that Little Red Gliding Hood’s community is filled with other familiar characters, like Grandma suggesting that she pair up with The Gingerbread Man. There’s a laugh on every page, especially with Cummings detailed, cartoon-like illustrations.

Elephant in the Dark, based on a poem by Rumi - re-told by Mina Javaherbin with pictures by Eugene Yelchin
           This is the tale where a man brings an elephant from India, and puts it in a barn for the night. Villagers are so curious, unwilling to wait till morning to see this new creature. One villager sneaks through a window and feels only part of an elephant, and then declares it’s a snake. Another declares it’s shaped like a tree. The lesson learned is that truth consists of many parts, and one shouldn’t judge by only one truth. The illustrations are gorgeous, color-filled in the style of Persian folk art.

The Grasshopper & The Ants - written and illustrated by Jerry Pinkney
         A lovely book to read this November, the day before snow is supposed to come, after a glorious autumn. There is a part of me that wants to be the grasshopper, to ignore all those scurrying at the story to “stock up” as if they’re going to be snowed in for days and days. But of course, Jerry Pinkney shows the ants responsible ways in all the seasons, and the detail of those happy ants working so hard is very good.  I savor the beauty of Pinkney’s watercolor pages full of this story, the ants performing many tasks before winter arrives show such seriousness, and the grasshopper playing happily along in his one-grasshopper band hits happy notes for his pleasure on every page. However, winter is coming, and it’s time for you to find this and read it because Pinkney offers a lovely and different ending from the original.

Strictly No Elephants - written by Lisa Mantchev and illustrated by Taeeun Yoo
          It’s Pet Club Day, and a young boy takes his good friend and pet, an elephant to participate. Sadly there is a sign on the door: Strictly No Elephants!  On the way home, he meets a girl with a pet skunk, but she knows “they” don’t want her and her pet to play either. Fortunately, a new group forms, one that allows anyone in. And this group paints a new sign: All Are Welcome. Conversations about inclusion can happen after reading this book to a young audience, perhaps four to nine years old. It’s a wise little story that shows differences are okay, in kids and in pets!  Yoo’s illustrations include all kinds of children too, of different cultures, those who wear glasses, girls and boys who dress in what must be their favorite way of dressing. I enjoyed it very much.

Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast - written by Josh Funk and illustrated by Brendan Kearney
         A race through the refrigerator to get that last drop of maple syrup turns into a romp and a rout by Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast with hilarious things happening as they do their best to get ahead.  Obstacles fill the pages as the race moves on like the broccoli forest and a chickpea avalanche, oh my! The rhyming couplets that tell the story romp along too, but sad to say, there is a surprise ending for these two competitors. For adults who don’t clean the refrigerator out so often this is also full of fun: “Searching for safety from raining legumes./Toast turned to hide but was blasted by fumes/of Brussels sprouts left from an old party platter./So quickly he climbed up a celery ladder.” Lots of laughing out loud at the rhymes and the illustrations gone wild.  

Beyond The Pond - written and illustrated by Joseph Kuefler
        
Out of The Blue - written and illustrated by Alison Jay

The Dog That Nino Didn’t Have -  written by Edward Van De Vendel and illustrated by Anton Van Hertbruggen
       
The Little Gardener - written and illustrated by Emily Hughes
      
Max and Marla - written and illustrated by Alexandra Bolger
         
Now reading: The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins  - Time for an adult book, although this is keeping me up late! It's such a tense story!

Happy Reading Everyone!

30 comments:

  1. How did you add the picture collage? I've had trouble finding something that works for me.
    I read Beyond the Pond at nerd camp this summer and loved it. I preordered it and have received it, but haven't had the time to go back and reread. I need to do that. I wonder if I missed something?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I used Picasa for this collage, Midhele and have also used PicMonkey. They're both easy to use. I just thought Beyond The Pond was too strange for me, although I do see how young middle grade kids might like it. I'll look for your review to see if there's something I missed. Thanks!

      Delete
  2. I enjoyed Bear Report and Beyond the Pond - they were both in my reading this past week. You did a lot of reading! It's always great to get to an adult book! I couldn't stop reading The Girl on the Train. I just started Alice Hoffman's Marriage of Opposites because I needed a book for myself, too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Part of the reading this week happened because I spent a good amount of time with my granddaughter, thus lots of reading! I agree about The Girl On The Train. I'm having trouble pulling away from it to do other things! Thanks, Lisa.

      Delete
  3. Hi there Linda - I look forward to reading your thoughts about The Girl on the Train - I will be posting a review of that one next week, I believe for our current reading theme. I agree with you, it has that kind of conflict. So many picturebooks here - really amazing - I have to get my hands on Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast. Did your granddaughter enjoy Interstellar Cinderella? I have mixed feelings about it. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Will look for your review & spend some time looking for books for the new theme, Myra. Ingrid & I read so many, but I did not read Interstellar Cinderella to her, so can't tell you. She may be a little young for it, to 'catch' all the references. Thanks!

      Delete
  4. There are some really great picture books in your collage. And I loved Enchanted Air - so timely now. I'm looking forward to reading Girl on the Train during the Christmas holidays, along with a few other adult books. Happy reading to you, too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Alex. Yes, as you can see, Enchanted Air is one I loved, too, will remember for a long time. The holidays are a good time to find those longer books to savor, agreed!

      Delete
  5. Wow impressive list. Lost and Found and Little Red Gliding Hood are on my list to read soon. There are so many great picture books out there which thrills me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know, Earl, amazing and beautiful. Can't stop reading!

      Delete
  6. I so enjoyed Interstellar Cinderella. Rhyme doesn't usually work for me, but it did in that book. Even though it rhymes, I do want to read Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast. I'm impressed by how well Josh Funk uses social media! He's commented on some of my blog posts and retweeted some of my tweets. Does that make me want to read his book and write about it positively? It sure does! I love the cover of Enchanted Air. Still haven't gotten my hands on a copy. Might ask for it for Xmas. I've been reading a book for grown-ups and really enjoying too--The Sorcerer and the Crown. Hoping to finish for next week.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Josh Funk visited Jama Rattigan a couple of weeks ago too. He must be a lovely and friendly person, Elisabeth. His book was much fun, so filled with 'stuff' we had to look and look! I needed this adult book, but oh my, it is nerve-wracking. Thanks Elisabeth.

      Delete
  7. Great round-up! Looking forward to reading Enchanted Air!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Nice assortment of picture books. I added a couple to my next order. You can see what I read here. Happy reading!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Kathy. I'm working my way through others' posts!

      Delete
  9. Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast is so much fun. My fifth grade students love it! I have Enchanted Air, but still haven't read it. I need to get to it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad to hear about your students loving Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast, Jana. It is fun, & fun for a broad range of ages! Enjoy Enchanted Air!

      Delete
  10. So many books and so little time... Can't wait to read The Bear Report and Interstellar Cinderella. We would also love to know how you created the collage - very effective.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I nearly always use Picasa for my collages, but PicMonkey is also easy. I bet you will love The Bear Report-had to purchase that one. Thanks!

      Delete
  11. I am excited about all the new to me picture books that are on your list. I read Interstellar Cinderella to a group of students at the beginning of the school year and it didn't really work for us. That said, it now has a long reserve list and is never on the shelf so I am most probably wrong in my assessment of it. I haven't read Jingle Dancer for quite some time so when I am back at school I will have to dig it out.
    I also want to get a copy of The Grasshopper & The Ants. It reminded me of how Ann Patchett wrote about her friend, Lucy Grealy, in Truth in Beauty. "“We were a pairing out of an Aesop's fable, the grasshopper and the ant, the tortoise and the hare. And sure, maybe the ant was warmer in the winter and the tortoise won the race, but everyone knows that the grasshopper and the hare were infinitely more appealing animals in all their leggy beauty, their music and interesting side trips. What the story didn't tell you is that the ant relented at the eleventh hour and took in the grasshopper when the weather was hard, fed him on his tenderest store of grass all winter. The tortoise, being uninterested in such things, gave over his medal to the hare. Grasshoppers and hares find the ants and tortoises. They need us to survive, but we need them as well. They were the ones who brought the truth and beauty to the party, which Lucy could tell you as she recited her Keats over breakfast, was better than food any day.”

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What a beautiful quote, Cheriee. I've read Ann Patchett's fiction, but not this one. Thank you. Interstellar Cinderella might work with a study of all kinds of Cinderella tales. There are many.

      Delete
  12. As you know, I adored Enchanted Air. It is stunningly beautiful. And I loved Jingle Dancer when I read it a few years ago. What a great book. I hope you have a fantastic week!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Ricki. Jingle Dancer was new to me & I really enjoyed it, glad you did too. I knew you loved Enchanted Air. I'm so happy that I finally took time to read it.

      Delete
  13. I need to get my hands on Enchanted Air! I am a huge Engle fan, and I just haven't read it yet :( But I will!
    Thank you for the amazing list of picture books!

    Happy reading this week :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're welcome, Kellee. I hope you love Enchanted Air as I did. The picture books are all worth a look, some my favorites for a long time.

      Delete
  14. I recently attended a Pow-Wow at a nearby reservation. I had never seen anything like it before. I am very interested in the book Jingle Dancer. I'll be reading Enchanted Air for Cybils.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I used to take my students to the Denver Pow-Wows, beautiful presentations & works of art there too. I'm glad you got to be at one, Margaret. Jingle Dance is very good. Enjoy!

      Delete
  15. Wow, you got to a lot of great books last week. Jingle Dancer and Enchanted Air are two I really enjoy along with Interstellar Cinderella. Beyond the Pond was an odd one for me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Crystal. I struggled with liking Beyond The Pond, too, although I know others liked it. Each of us is different.

      Delete

Having a conversation is a good thing!