Sunday, May 15, 2016

It's Monday!


           Every Monday, it's a pleasure to link up with a group that reviews books they want to share with others. If you visit, you'll be sure to find a book or more that you know you'll want to read! 
          Visit Jen at Teach MentorTexts and Kellee and Ricki at UnleashingReaders to see what they've been reading, along with everyone else who link up.   Tweet #IMWAYR
           This week I'm reading some older books that I have put off (except for this first one, not out yet). No reason, but they just kept getting moved to the bottom of the piles. 

The Memory of Things - Gae Polisner
        Young teens today don’t remember the day of 9/11. Older teens might remember people crying and watching television constantly. If you’re eighteen and graduating from high school, you were three when “it” happened.  This story immediately starts the reader wondering how 16-year-old Kyle Donohue is going to get himself out of a situation he never, ever imagined. Unfortunately he cannot, but in the days that follow, Kyle discovers more about himself, throwing doubts away, finding the strength he did not know he had. On 9/11, his school is dismissed after watching the first tower fall, and those who needed to get to Brooklyn were led to the Brooklyn Bridge, left to cross by themselves and go home.
          On the bridge, Kyle finds a girl covered in ash, crouched down and wearing a pair of wings. He sees she is in trouble, acting as if she might jump, and takes her home. His mother and younger sister are stranded in California and his father, a New York City policeman, is at the disaster. The next week Kyle is in charge, a first time to make decisions on his own. Although he questions himself often, this caring young boy does the right thing, and learns that what others have questioned about him is wrong, that he is the boy he wants to be.  Kyle’s favorite uncle who lives with them is wheelchair bound from a recent and terrible accident, and his caregiver didn’t make it that day. Kyle can’t get a call through to anyone at first, so the choices are up to him. He must care for the uncle, and must decide about the girl.        
           Gae Polisner’s story takes us through the first moments, the very real events and feelings that happen, but allows Kyle to be the main part of the story, interspersed with the girl’s story, told in poetry. This girl doesn’t remember anything, even her name, and Kyle’s doubts of how to help her feel safe show his inner turmoil, but the instinct to do good, too.  



         You will be touched by this story of the teens, which also shows the universal essence of that day and those that follow as everyone’s memory of 9/11. It is Kyle’s story, but everyone’s who must face new challenges. I am reminded of the words that ask “What kind of person will you be when no one is looking?” There is the tension when one cannot make a phone call to check on some loved one, the quiet of the skies except for the military planes, and the unrelenting news of what has happened, along with the terrifying imagining what might be next. Beautifully written, yet not out till September. Look for it! Thanks to NetGalley for the advance copy.

City of Thieves - David Benioff
             This book has been on a shelf in my library for a few years. I may have picked it up at an airport, hoping to get to it on vacation, but didn't. This week I did get to it, and in the last day I slowed down, because it is such a compelling story I didn't want it to end. I could guess one thing that had to happen, and after reading about the unlikely friendship between two young men, formed in these five days, meeting  the two new friends, Lev and Kolya, loving their individual quirks, it was hard to let go. I know some of the siege of Leningrad, have read other stories, yet this by Benioff, based upon interviews from his grandfather about one week of his life and the search for a dozen eggs encompasses all the horror and the goodness that appears in war. It is both hard to pick up and to put down. People starve, people destroy books to access the glue to make a kind of candy, People share one onion as a meal, and people die from the cold. It is not a pretty story even while admiring those who persevered, but it is often sweet to observe those who continue to care for friends and loved ones. And it is riveting to imagine those who only served to follow orders, but went further into hell, I think mostly because they could. I am avoiding specifics so you will find the book and read it. Benioff's writing of his grandparents' story will top my favorites list for a long time. It's a great coming-of-age story. FYI-I see that it is on high school reading lists, suitable for older teens and adults.

The Thank You Book - Mo Willems
              I forgot to share about this last week because I ordered it to arrive on its birthday, and also the day that one granddaughter comes to visit. The other granddaughter came with her mom to pick her sister up, so both had a good look and happily took the book home. I think she and her sister have read all the E & P books, and own most of them. We are a bit sad lately to say goodbye, but happy to say thank you right back to Mo Willems for the cheer he has brought in every book. This time, the thanks are from all the characters from the books, and while Gerald keeps pestering Piggie that he's forgotten an important "someone", we are led to believe that it's Gerald. But it isn't! You'll have to get the book to find out who. Thanks, Mo Willems!

Happy Girls!

Anna Carries Water - Olive Senior and Laura James
          Discovering that children in other places in the world carry water for their homes is one thing this book teaches, but one other one is that children the world over want to be like others, and sometimes are afraid of certain things. The simple text and bright, colorful illustrations tell a wonderful story about young Anna, who really only wants to be able to carry her can of water on her head, without spilling, and like all the other kids! She tries, and the others just tell her to carry with her hands because it spills every time. On the way to and from the well, the children pass by a field full of cows, and Anna often is the last one, and is frightened that the cows might chase her.  At the end of the story and one more time getting water, Anna feels even more frightened, forgets about the water and hurries home from the cows. Without nerves, Anna realizes that she has carried the water, and everyone applauds. There is so much to love and connect to in this story. It shows beautiful connections between a distant culture and our own.

Singing Away The Dark - Caroline Woodward and Julie Morstad

         I love Julie Morstad’s illustrations, so many great books: the recent When Green Becomes Tomatoes, This Is Sadie, The How-To Book, Swan, among many others. I found this one displayed at my library, and snatched it up.  This story, told in rhyme, shows a young girl leaving home, walking down snowy hills past a forest to catch the bus to school. It’s a long way, and the woods are dark, and animal shapes are a little scary. Then there’s cattle blocking a road, and she must find another path. The text says: “I softly sing to calm myself/and plan the safest way.” The book’s simple poetry will help open conversations about being a little scared and what actions, like singing, can help.

Bear & Hare, Where’s Bear - Emily Gravett
          I’ve read the later Bear & Hare books, but this first one is new to me. For young children, a game of hide and seek is what it’s all about, and when hare can’t find bear, the friendship and love wins, bear appears and hare is happy.



Now reading: I’ve had it since it came out, but have never read Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken, so I’ve started, and of course it’s great!

32 comments:

  1. I read The Thank You Book recently, but forgot to share it on my blog! I loved the surprise at the end - so fitting for the last book. The students loved it as much as all the other Elephant and Piggie books. Annie Carries Water sounds like a good one. I think picture books that introduce students to what it's like in other parts of the world are important.

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    1. I'd forgotten to share it too, Lisa. Anna Carries Water will be a good one for younger students about water and different cultures, I agree. Thanks.

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  2. I read The Memory of Things this week as well. I absolutely loved it and I think it will be a very important book for teaching young people about that day. City of Thieves sounds like a good book also. I will have to look for that one. Have a great reading week!

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    1. Thanks, glad you liked The Memory of Things, too. It is so well done.

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  3. Your granddaughters are absolutely adorable! What a special book to read together to celebrate Mo Willems. We are definitely going to order a copy of The Thank You Book. The Memory of Things is a book I want to read this summer and share with my teenage son. He was only a baby when 9-11 happened and this may help him understand how this event impacted our country.

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    1. Thank you, enjoy that last Mo Willems treasure! Yes, The Memory of Things will show that terrible day well, a good story about it and this boy's particular challenges.

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  4. I bought The Thank You book to arrive on its birthday too and shared it with my kindergartners since we had been reading Mo Willems books. I love Elephant and Piggie! Come see what I read last week. Happy reading!

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    1. How wonderful for those kindergarteners, Kathy. The E & P books are very special!

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  5. I love Julie Morstad's illustrations too!
    I almost didn't want to start reading The Thank You book because then it would be done :( But I actually have quite a few Elephant and Piggie books to catch up with, so I'm not really saying good bye yet!

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    1. I'm sure I haven't read them all, and need to be deliberate about the list, see what the granddaughters have that I haven't seen. Re-reading isn't so bad either. Thanks, Michele.

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  6. I'll be watching for Gae Polisner's book this fall. I think City of Thieves is on my bookshelves somewhere, unread. I'll need to look for it. Requesting Singing Away the Dark now. I do love getting so many good book recommendations from you.

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    1. And me from you, Ramona. It was harsh, happy and intense, but I did love City of Thieves, and I too found it in a stack on the shelves. Too many books? Singing Away The Dark is a sweet one, will like sharing it with the grand-girls. Thank you!

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  7. I was 18 when 9/11 happened and remember it all so clearly, so I'm fascinated by the Memory of Things and really want to pick it up!

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    1. It is so well written, Jane. I hope you like it. Thanks!

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  8. I'm looking forward to the Thank You book and sharing it with my granddaughter, whose favorite E&P is _Should I Share My Ice Cream?_. My fave is _We Are In a Book!_ :) I really want to see _Singing Away the Dark_. Our winters are dark and cold, and I think a lot of children would be comforted by this book. _The Memory of Things_ sounds interesting to me because I do remember that day vividly, as I'm sure you do. But what is it like for those who don't? Thanks for another great list, Linda!

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    1. I have We Are In A Book here at home because I enjoy it so much, won't let the grand-girls have that one. Waiting Is Not Easy is another, with a marvelous end I think. Singing Away The Dark is a new discovery. I enjoyed it. Yes, that day is clearly in my memory. On the way to school I heard about the first plane, & thought I'm not going to tell anyway & darken their day. By the time students started coming in, everything had changed. We sat much of the day by the radio, & one parent worked for the newspaper & we were able to get news from him too. Parents came & sat with us. We talked about how comfort can happen even in tragedy. Thanks for sharing, Jane.

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  9. Singing The Way to Dark - what a book, always brings it back. Love the photographs of those gorgeous grands - such smiles!

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  10. So many good books! I can't wait until The Memory of THings comes out. It sounds amazing. I also want to read Unbroken.

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    1. Unbroken is long, but so good I'm zooming through it, Kay. Hope you'll get to read both!

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  11. "The Memory of Things" looks like an awesome book. There's several good books on the topic of the September 11 terrorist attacks. Since it'll be the 15th anniversary of that horrible day, I suppose it's natural to have books that look back, reflect, and try to explain. My 4th & 5th grade students weren't around then, so it's ancient history to them. I'm looking forward to reading this book.

    I've ordered "The Thank You Book", "Annie Carries Water", "Singing Away the Dark", and the Bear & Hare books from my library. "Annie Carries Water" looks like it might be a good picture book companion to "A Long Walk to Water" by Linda Sue Park.

    Thanks for the great book suggestions. Have a great week!

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  12. Thanks Jana, yes, I know it's ancient history for nearly all kids in school today. Amazing how time moves so quickly. Anna Carries Water is a nice book for younger students that brings up the need for water in so many places, and would be an connection with A Long Walk To Water. Enjoy the books!

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  13. I have not read any of Gae's books, and I know I need to remedy that.
    I don't want to read the final Elephant & Piggie book because I am so sad it is over... :(

    Happy reading this week! :)

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    1. I understand about the E & P books, but wonder if Mo Willems has another idea to entertain us? I bet it'll be great, too. Gee's books always give genuine stories about life, Kellee. I imagine you would like them. Thanks, and happy reading to you, too!

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  14. Ahh! I fell behind on The Memory of Things because I got lost in some books I had to review. I am so glad to hear that it touched you. I am excited to get back to it!

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    1. Enjoy, Ricki, whenever you do get to it. Thanks!

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  15. It's been a long time since I've read City of Thieves but I remember it being really compelling.

    Glad you enjoyed The Memory of Things. Such a wonderful, heartfelt book.

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    1. Great to hear you liked City of Thieves, Beth. I can't believe I put it off so long. And yes, The Memory of Things is one that's going to be loved for a long time. Thanks.

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  16. So glad you read and shared City of Thieves. I read it years ago and absolutely loved it. I don't hold on to many books for grownups after I finish reading them because I don't really have a continued use for them, but I did hang on to that one because I just might reread it someday. My son was very excited to pull the Elephant & Piggie out of an Amazon box yesterday, even though we still haven't read the last one! Maybe tonight we'll read both. Looking forward to it, though sad not to have any more books about those two favorite characters.

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    1. As I wrote to Beth above, Elisabeth, can't believe I waited so long to read City of Thieves, but now I'm so glad I did. I loved it too. Enjoy those Elephant & Piggies! No matter how many times I read them, I am all smiles! Thank you!

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  17. Love me some Mo Willems. Now it's on my list!

    Lisa

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Having a conversation is a good thing!