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.
I just bought this book, and I am so pleased that I did. I don’t know how much to share because it is a beautiful surprise of a story. The poem in rhyme by Joyce Sidman trails through the story, about a night when a mother arrives home, sits with the children for a while, and then you see her getting ready to go again, off to the airport. She appears to be a pilot. You’ll need to read the book to discover what happens next. The scratchboard and watercolor illustrations by Beth Kromme are exquisite, carrying the story along as time moves from late afternoon through the evening, till morning.
This is a clever book that shows a grasshopper ordering other insects to bring it a rock. It wants to pile them high so it can sit on top, and be the king. There is some making fun, there are delightful expressions on each of the insects, and there is a wonderful ending that shows everyone has something to contribute.
This is the astronaut, Chris Hadfield’s story, written by him and Kate Fillion. Chris had always been in love with space, but in his earliest days he was very afraid of the dark and had a tough time sleeping in his own bed. The story will be familiar to many children, those who try, and then go running into their parents’ bed for safety and cuddling. His parents tried everything, but then came one threat that helped: Chris might not get to go “next door” the next evening if he didn’t sleep all night in his own bed. They were on an island every summer, and only the neighbors had a tv. The story might not all be exactly as happened, but Chris says that watching the first moon landing “next door” changed his ideas about the dark forever, and he grew up to be Canada’s first astronaut! (Early in the space program, only U.S. citizens were allowed to apply to be astronauts.) The Fan brothers (The Night Gardener) illustrated this “dark” book with marvelous “dark” things, both inside Chris’ bedroom and outside, even into outer space! The story will be terrific to read to young children who are having a bit of trouble in their own “darkest darks”.
There is much to love in this middle grade story about a time during the Great Depression and the re-making of a town about to die. Yes, it's historical fiction, and Jennifer Holm manages to weave a story about Key West, and a government program that helped it be re-born into a vibrant and successful tourist destination. But the real story is about Beans Curry and his buddies who lead different lives from children today. They are poor, shoeless, and spend a lot of time on the streets, trying to find ways to make a few pennies, and sometimes getting taken by crooked adults. Everyone in this time is desperate for a few cents, most adults too. The underlying thread connects to lying, and the sub-title on the cover tells it like it is: "Never tell a lie unless you have to." Beans tells the story, which involves playing marbles, going through trash for condensed milk tins, a girl he hates (maybe), an evil grandmother, a loving father and mother, a dark secret of hidden people, and some very good friends! Holm adds an author's note and pictures about this re-building of Key West, and added sources. It's a great story.
I’ve read other biographies of E.B. White, and I enjoyed each, but I’ve never loved one as much as this one. Melissa Sweet titled it Some Writer!, and I call it Some Book! The mixed media approach calls for the reader to slow down and observe all the details, something we know, and Sweet emphasizes, that E. B. White did himself. It’s filled with maps and collages that connect to the stories/chapters included of his life. There are thirteen chapters, among them about White’s beginnings and his work for The New Yorker magazine, his three books, and his collaboration on a new edition of The Elements of Style. His love of solitude and being in nature is evident in nearly every chapter. A beginning page, for children’s use especially, is a full-page picture of a manual typewriter, and an explanation of how it works. Favorite pages are actual pictures of White’s manuscripts, some hand-written, some typed; and a page about boat building, which is a surprising thread throughout the book. He was given a canoe by his father when he was young, and when the family spent summers in Maine. And, among others owned, late in life his son built him another one. (His son became a boat builder!) There is marvelous back matter to enjoy: an author’s note and one about the art, a note from Martha White, E.B. White’s granddaughter who aided Sweet whenever she could, a beautifully created timeline, and more. If you have enjoyed the stories by E.B. White, you will love learning more about them and about the writer and his life.
This story of war is a heartbreaking relating of the 2006 war between Israel and Lebanon, told from the viewpoint of a six year old boy who visited family in Beirut and on the way home he and his parents had to turn back to Beirut because their own town was being bombed. It focuses on his three cats, named Lucy: Lucy the Fat, Lucy the Skinny, and Lucy Lucy, and all loved, but different. From the rush back to their extended family and huddling in the cellar, to hearing family argue and argue over the conflict, the boy shows he’s upset, and underneath that, shows the main worry about his cats. They had planned to be away only for a weekend, but are gone a month! Finally returning home shows destruction and two very thin cats, but one missing one. The book is serious, may be a good one to introduce other children in the world and how they are living with the tension and stress of conflict. There is a brief author’s note that tells some about this conflict and that it is based on a true story. The watercolor paintings by Sara Kahn follow the text with realistic portraits of happy and sad times.
Now reading: quite a few poetry books for the Cybil's awards, plus started Finding Perfect by Elly Swartz