Sunday, October 2, 2016

Monday - Books Loved


           Every Monday, it's a pleasure to link up with a group that reviews books they want to share with others. Come discover new books!

          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.   
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SPECIAL NOTE: I am serving on the Cybil's Poetry group again this year, this time Round One. I want to remind you that anyone can nominate a favorite book that was published from Oct. 16th, 2015 to Oct. 15th, 2016, when nominations close. Go HERE if you're interested!

           Thanks to Net Galley and Kate Beasley, I’ve now met wonderful Gertie Reece Foy who lives with her wise Aunt Rae and her loving father. He’s gone for two weeks before returning for two weeks because he works on an oil rig, but the scenes with him show wisdom, too. Gertie has strength from family, although her mother left them early in Gertie’s life, but still lives in the same town, is about to re-marry and move. Gertie leaps into the story with a bullfrog, certain that this time she will have the “greatest” summer speech on the first day of school. Every student at her school gives those speeches, required stories of summer. As we learn soon, Gertie thinks she isn’t the smartest or the fastest or the tallest, but she knows herself well. 
        Gertie Reece Foy never gives up. However, each time Gertie has a mission, somehow it seems she must overcome adversity, like that new and pretty Mary Sue that’s moved to town, that one that seems up against all Gertie is aiming to accomplish. The web of fifth grade friendships breaks down because of Mary Sue, and Gertie is hanging on by only one thread, her biggest mission to do the greatest at something, anything. All that’s left of her mother is one locket and briefest of memories while growing up. Gertie wants to be able to do that something so she can go to her mother’s house and let her know she hasn’t been needed at all, because Gertie has become the greatest anyway. No one understands this until she confides in her steadfast friend, Junior, who also never stops being her friend. I’ve been told that if you have one good friend, that is all you need, and it counts a lot in this story. Aunt Rae’s matter-of-fact love counts a lot too, and both together buoy Gertie so she can keep on, sometimes sadly, sometimes desperately. She is not perfect, after all, but wow, she does make her leap to greatness. The book is complex without seeming so. Those young middle graders who read this book might especially cling to Gertie’s secrets, knowing they too have them. And they will see that in spite of everything, there are things that count that perhaps have been overlooked. I loved the characterizations, the hint that every child has a story that calls to us to want to discover more. Kate Beasley shows that she knows fifth graders well. 


            Thanks to Chronicle Books for the arc of this book. Out in early September, this book by Anne Nesbet is one you must not miss. It’s a clever approach to historical fiction. There is the story that has heart, family love, a strong friendship and mystery, rolled into a thriller, yes, a middle grade to YA thriller. Eleven year old Noah is picked up at school by his parents, told they’re on their way to the airport, an adventure. The reality smacks him in the face. He has to dump his new backpack, the one with his name on it. He, and his parents, now will travel with new names; Noah becomes Jonah, and they are no longer from the same town, but from a small town elsewhere. They’re on their way with Noah, now Jonah, as puzzled as ever. Noah (Jonah) is also described as having a tough speech problem, what is called the ASTONISHING STUTTER. But the other interesting thing is that he has an unusual photographic memory. He doesn’t remember everything, but when needed, he can “snap” a picture and keep it in his mind. It’s important to know that this is a secret only Noah (Jonah) knows. And one main point at the beginning shows that Noah’s mother has a chance to do research into severe speech disabilities in East Berlin for her PhD dissertation. This part fictional history adds parts that were necessary because the book is written during the time and the Berlin Wall was up, that terrible time when people were kept in, or out as the book shows, too. 
The second part of the story is told after every chapter as smaller explanations known as Secret Files. These parts explain what is happening at the time and why there are important rules to follow, like “Rule #1-They will always be listening and sometimes be watching. Don’t forget that.” It’s helpful, and enhances the story for those who know little about this time. 
           Of course, the story deepens with meeting others, especially the downstairs neighbor, who is an older woman and not too friendly, yet suddenly it is realized that there is a young girl who now lives with her. This to a young boy thrown into a new place, not going to school yet, very alone, is exciting, and throws us the reader into lots of thinking about this relationship, and the challenges that Noah (Jonah) must face. I loved that Anne Nesbet showed Noah’s (Jonah’s) thoughts as he tried his best to make decisions that were good ones. There are many “best” things about this book, but getting to know Noah (Jonah) is one of the best. I enjoyed it very much!

         I read several picture books this week, but am only going to share a few here. They each have special qualities, one older one and two brand new!
  
     This book will bring tears. The story is wonderful. Vera B. Williams died almost exactly a year ago, but in the time before she died, she had one more story to tell, and asked her friend Chris Raschka to help her do the illustrations. And so, together, they created a story of Lester. After waiting a whole year Lester was finally adopted by his two wonderful dads, Daddy Rick and Daddy Albert. They were all ready to make a family, but there was one thing wrong. Lester couldn’t seem to sleep all night in his bed. Night after night he woke up, carried his blue suitcase with his action figures into his dads’ bedroom. There he stood at the foot until someone woke up. Sometimes kids need a little bit more than a beautiful new bedroom, and that is, finally, what Lester got. You’ll need to read this to discover what happened, but I be you will smile and smile when reading this story. The illustrations are marvelous too, a lot of Raschka’s bright and bold colors, but they’re a bit different, so that must be Vera’s influence. What a special book!


           Based on the childhood experience of Georgie Badiel, a model who grew up in
Burkina Faso, this book tells yet another poignant story of the long walk for water that so many women and children must take. Reynolds has written a brief story, glowingly illustrated by Susan Verde. Young Gie Gie must wake before the sun to accompany her mother to get water for the day. The walk is depicted as one that is not so bad. The sky is lighting up with reds, oranges and pinks, a sunrise to “twirl and laugh together”.  At the stream, they greet others who also have come, but the walk back is hot and tiring, and the water must be boiled before drinking, and they celebrate when finally, finally, they can drink. For those of us who walk into a room and turn on the faucet, it is hard to imagine walking four miles or more to carry water, and then wait so we can drink it. The story shows the father welcoming them home after his own long day, and they do celebrate the water! There are photos and some explanation of the organization to obtain clean water wells, started by Badiel, www.Ryanswell.ca

            An older poetry book for young children  by Eve Merriam fills you up with silly rhymes, getting ready for bedtime. I know how much fun my young granddaughters have making up songs with ridiculous rhymes, and they will love this book. Merriam is so clever, as shown in the beginning of this poem: “A nanny for a goat, an over for a coat, an under for a wear, a case for a stair.” and it continues on. If you like silly and sing-songy poems, you’ll love this book.

Just finished, but not reviewed: To Stay Alive, a verse novel by Skila Brown telling the tragic story of the Donner party.

Starting: Making Friends With Billy Wong by Augusta Scattergood.

20 comments:

  1. I have to read Cloud and Wallfish. Something about it is not making me want to pick it up. Title? Cover? I'll have to see.

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    1. I'm interested to see what you think, Karen.

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  2. These all sound wonderful, Linda. Did you read the Horn Book article about how Vera Williams and Chris Raschka collaborated on the illustrations for Home at Last? You'd enjoy it, I'm sure. I started Making Friends with Billy Wong over the weekend and hope to finish it today. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. No, did not read that article, but will find it, Catherine. I probably saw it and skipped right over! How fun that we both are reading "Billy Wong". So far it's starting well! Thanks!

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  3. Home at Last just sounds beautiful. I'm definitely going to add it to my reading list right away. Thanks for sharing so many beautiful books, as always!

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    1. It was a great find, Jane. I think you'll love it, too!

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  4. Two amazing middle grade books, each fantastic in their own right. I'm rereading Gertie to get ready for Mock Newbery. Love her!

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    1. Well you can see that I loved her, too, Michele. She's got grit, and is so sweet too. Have fun with the discussion!

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  5. Thank you for reminding us to read, Gertie's Leap to Greatness - We looked this title up on Audible.com and found out that the audio book is available tomorrow. This is going to be perfect for our commutes.

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    1. I don't have a long drive anymore and miss the listening that I did when I lived farther away. Hope you like it!

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  6. I still need to get to Gertie! I've had it from NetGalley for some time, but once school started, I've become so behind in everything! You've also got a great list of picture books. I get so many great book ideas from your lists! Have a great week!

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    1. Hope your week is good, too, Jana, and I always get good book ideas from you, too. FYI-my library shows new books on the shelves every time I go, so it's not just me finding them. They're great!

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  7. I absolutely loved The Water Princess. And I had never heard of HOME AT LAST until just now. Adding it to my TBR pile.

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    1. I'm glad you loved it, too, Beth. You may be how I discovered the title! Enjoy Home At Last, really a nice surprise!

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  8. I just added Gertie's Leap to Greatness to my library buy list. It sounds like a really cool title. Great selection this week and great blog.

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    1. Thank you. I hope you like Gertie. So many of us have enjoyed her story!

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  9. Home at Last sounds exactly like the kind of book I would like to include in my multicultural picturebook database. I just pinned it so that I'd remember. :) Thanks so much, dear Linda!

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    1. It is the sweetest book, Myra. I was so happy to find it! Hope you enjoy it a lot! Thanks, and sometimes you need to share some of your old favorites!

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  10. I really want to read Gertie and love the look of these picture books! Enjoyed your thoughts on all of them.

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    1. I know you will like Gertie, Carrie, and hope you'll like the Pic Books, too!

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Having a conversation is a good thing!