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.
Don't forget this book at this time of year, and other times, too! Here is my review on Goodreads from a few years ago: It's a terrific book by Janet S. Wong and illustrated by Margaret Chodos-Irvine. I taught a short story group about looking through the lens of immigrants' eyes this past spring, and would have loved to have added this to the stories I read with the students. It is a wonderful story of the conflict people (children) have trying to please those in the new country, while keeping their birth country close to their hearts. More than one child thinks his or her parents have got it wrong in most things, whether from another culture or not, but Janet's story shows there is another layer when one's parents are from another culture. It's a wonderful book to encourage discussions about differences.
Lily started her life as Tim, Dunkin hates his given name, Norbert, but they still go to school, just started 8th grade. How brave are those kids who are scared and know they don’t “fit”, but keep going, despite the teasing, despite wishing they could be themselves, and without the constant worry to belong. All teachers need to read this book, to see that some kids keep dark secrets and continue to tell even their parents that everything is okay. But it isn’t okay, and sometimes it takes a crisis to discover what’s under all that bravado. Donna Gephart has managed to tell a story full of anxiety and then of love all at the same time. We hear from Lily and Dunkin alternately, and see the parents’ worry and concern. We see kids who stand up for their friends, and those who can’t quite be brave enough. And we see one example of how bullying happens, passed down from a father. I wish I was still in the classroom, suspect that this is a book for all to read, those who see themselves in it, and those who need to understand what a classmate might be experiencing. From the text: “Sometimes our hearts see things our eyes can’t.”
Who might be found to write a story set in the country about a boy visiting grandparents? Ted Kooser. This is poetry in prose, a rather interesting adventure for a young boy visiting his grandparents who surprised me because they are always busy. The boy is lonely, and spends a lot of time playing at the nearby creek, catching tadpoles and observing other things. One discovery is finding a small bridge over the creek, and by hitting a stone against it, makes a beautiful and loud BONG, just like a big church bell. It echoes back, and one day, echoes again. The mysterious second ring keeps him wondering the rest of the time there. How it all works out is something surprising. The illustrations are soft-toned watercolors, a summer rural adventure.
A granddaughter chose this book at the library, and we brought it home to read. It's for younger children, a lot of repeating, but it is cute, show this "young" Doctor Nice taking care of various ailments as patients appear. There is a nice surprise, and it is delightful. It turns out that a young child is playing doctor, and taking care of the injuries and/or complaints of stuffed animals. It is a fun read aloud, would be great for pre-school or kindergarteners.
Found at the bookstore where I volunteer, it's a surprise story of a mouse and her survival by the poet Wendell Berry. His poetry is wonderful, but I didn't know about this
lovely story, illustrated in pencil sketches. It's told from the POV of the mouse, showing the needs and abilities of a mouse, with little anthropomorphism. It would make a good mentor text for older students who might research the ways of an animal, and write them into a story.
Discovered at the library, and an interesting premise for both author and illustrator: How to tell a story that's about Van Gogh and bullying too? How to include some of his art without copying him? Both Shane Peacock and Sophie Casson create a lovely story of Van Gogh in Arles, alone at 35, poor, but determined to follow his dream, to "tell the truth". In this fictional story, a young boy goes along with the crowd, yells and makes fun of Van Gogh and his strange paintings. But sometimes, when others aren't looking, he looks at the paintings with awe. The ending finalized the story as one of regret, of a bully who wishes his time had been spent differently. I wonder at the conversation this book might inspire. Sophie Casson's illustrations touch Van Gogh's work with respect and muted pastels. There is a nice author's note from Shane Peacock sharing his motivation and a bit more about Van Gogh.
Now reading - Anne Tyler's A Spool of Blue Thread, fascinating story about a family.