It's been a good week of reading. I finished Red by Liesl Shurtliff and started Home of The Brave by Katherine Applegate, strongly suggested by Ramona, a good friend and reader. And I'm nearly finished with Isabel Allende's The Japanese Lover, enjoying this adult book very much.
Here's my review on Goodreads of a poetry book you need to know about, out for the last election, and so wonderful for this year, too. The Declaration of Interdependence: Poems for An Election Year by Janet Wong is filled with poems you can use to teach history, to discuss current events, to enjoy the entertainment value of them, too.
Thanks to NetGalley for this advance copy of Red- out in April!
Red: The True Story of Red Riding Hood - Liesl Shurtliff
I couldn’t help but think of the word “family reunion” as I read this new tale by Liesl Shurtliff. There are new things to learn about Red Riding Hood, but there also are reminders of her past adventures with Rump, good memories touched on. Red has inherited the strength of magic from her Granny, but early in the book we learn that Red stays away from it because of disasters that happened in her young life. Once she tried a small spell or two, which never worked, and one nearly became the end of Granny. To Red’s dismay, one day she arrives to find Granny in bed, very ill, and sends Red off to find the ingredients for a strong medicine. The ingredients are not all found, and Red’s path turns to a new idea: she begins to look for the spells that would mean eternal life so that Granny would never die. This leads to an adventure with dwarves, being followed by a wolf and a hunter, and conflicting experiences with a beast. There is also a new unwanted companion, the familiar one with blonde curls, Goldie. Goldie’s on a search too, and that porridge-loving girl we all love is both an irritant and a help to Red. Does this sound complicated? It is, wonderfully. I was surprised whenever I rounded a corner with Red, worried when she was in danger, commiserated with her feelings, admired her courage and rooted for her success. I loved every bit.
Ranger in Time: Rescue on the Oregon Trail -
Ranger in Time: Danger In Ancient Rome
Kate Messner, illustrations by Kelley McMorris
I have to admit I’ve never read any of Kate Messner’s Ranger In Time stories, and I won these two. Now I’m hooked. For time travel books for middle grade readers, these are terrific. Kate Messner moves the stories from today’s Ranger and family, into meeting the new setting with realistic people that need Ranger’s help. Adventures in time travel often show someone who is pulled back in time in order to save someone’s life, and Ranger makes a different kind of hero (dog, not human), but quite a wonderful one.
Bloom - Doreen Cronin and David Small
Imaginative and fanciful about a fairy who leaves a kingdom after feeling unwanted. Bloom has “boots caked with mud. There was dirt between her teeth. Beetles rested in her wings.” It isn’t long before the kingdom begins falling apart, and the king and queen decide to send for Bloom, realizing she can help. They don’t understand Bloom’s approach to life, and dismiss her as disrespectful. Only until a young girl is sent do sparks fly and things get interesting. In my first reading with my six year old granddaughter, much explaining was needed. The message of the book, that each person is unique and to be loved, didn’t connect. But, she asked to read it again, and we had more conversation, and examined David Small’s beautiful and quirky illustrations more closely. Reading deeply does take time and support. I enjoyed the book, would suggest it as a read aloud with lots of questions and talk.
Northwoods Girl - Aimée Bissonette and Claudia McGehee
This tale is told by a young girl, perhaps ten, about her grandmother and all the wonderful times they have when she visits the grandmother’s home in the woods. It covers the seasons’ blessings, including autumn, watching squirrels gather nuts and geese honking by on their way south. This grandmother is not the cookie-baking one we see most of the time, but an outdoors-loving one, the kind that the girl wants to be. I spent many parts of my summers with one beloved grandmother, roaming their farm, working in the garden, bringing up the cows and gathering blackberries for jam. This story and the relationship shared makes me want to go back in time, and I imagine it would be a great one for children to read, to wonder what it would be like to visit a grandparent in the woods. The illustrations are beautiful woodcuts, filling the pages with simple experiences in the woods.
Bear Can Dance - Suzanne Bloom
This is another wonderful tale of bear, goose and fox. In the story, bear laments that he cannot fly. The three do try, at least fox does, but goose stand apart, quite skeptical. I adore Bloom’s illustrations, and this time, we have the joy of seeing Bear dance. There are several other titles about these three adorable friends. Simple text, gorgeous illustrations for younger children.
My Garden - Kevin Henkes
I can’t pass up a Kevin Henkes book, and this one is the expected simple story for young children, and filled with imagination. There is the usual garden, but with a bit of imagination, like growing buttons and seashells, the story itself grows. My youngest granddaughter and I had much fun deciding what we might grow in our own fanciful garden. Lovely sunflowers in blue fill the endpapers.
I Am Yoga - Susan Verde and Peter H. Reynolds
This poetic story will help everyone--adults and children--calm down and relax, especially “when the world is spinning so fast. . .” Each can “sail on the sea.” And “go with the flow.” And finally end with the world “just the right size.” In the author’s note, Susan Verde talks of all kids being “yoga”, which means “union.” The yoga poses shown on each page in the light and airy art of Peter H. Reynolds are also explained in the back. Beautiful book.
Sonia’s Chickens - Phoebe Wahl
In lovely watercolor and collage, Wahl tells the story of Sonia’s chickens from chicks to hens. Sonia is so caring and responsible, loving taking care and glorying in the first brown egg. I love when she holds that egg to her cheek and says “thank you”. Sadly, a fox gets into the coop, and Sonia finds one of her beloved chickens gone. The explanation by her father tells about the needs of the fox for his own children, just as Sonia cares for her chickens, and he cares for his family. It doesn’t take away the sadness, but does help Sonia understand that all living things have needs to take care of. And there is a good surprise at the end. I imagine many good conversations about predators and prey in our world after reading this book.
Snowy Valentine - David Petersen
I know, it’s past Valentine’s Day, but this has become a beloved book at my house, read many times. Jaspar Bunny is out in the snow visiting neighbors, looking for the perfect Valentine for his wife, Lilly. On his way, he decides that knitting scarves (like the porcupine children) will not work for him, and chocolate-covered flies (like Miriam Frog has for her husband) are just not the right thing. Jaspar has quite an adventure exploring Teagan Fox’s ideas, too, but in the end, the gift is found. With gorgeous acrylic paintings with black outlining showing the animal families and the snowy out of doors, this is a wonderful Valentine’s love story with a happy surprise ending.
Next: Still haven't chosen a "Must-Read in 2016" book, but it's time to do that. Hope you all have a great reading week!