Sunday, October 9, 2016

Monday Reading - Great Books


           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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There's still time to nominate a favorite book for the Cybil's Awards. Do it by Oct. 15th Here!

      I reviewed Skila Brown's verse novel To Stay Alive for Poetry Friday. Read it here!

       I am a grandmother and I was recently a teacher, and sometimes a student would share with me that she or he didn't know the grandparents. They lived far away, the family was somehow estranged, and sometimes they had already passed on. It made me very sad because I had wonderful memories of my own grandparents. 
         In this wonderful book set in the 1950's by Augusta Scattergood, eleven year old Azalea is about to get to know her Grandmother Clark, no matter how much she does not wish to! Azalea tells her story and begins with her grandmother writing Azalea's daughter to ask for help. The grandmother has fallen, and needs someone to do some gardening and housekeeping while she heals. Although we soon learn that there has been an estrangement between Azalea's grandmother and mother, they have stayed somewhat in touch. The story begins with Azalea's resentment at being sent, her counting the days till she can return to her own home and best friend, Barbara Jean. Now, Grandmother Clark even wants her to get to know a young boy who's a little older, Billy Wong, who will also be a garden helper. Azalea doesn't like to talk to new people. She's shy and wonders why in the world she's landed in this awful little town where everyone knows everyone! 
          Soon the story widens to include Billy Wong's problems, a bully already in the town who isn't nice at all, but has his own problems. There is a terrific thread about the Chinese grocery in town owned by Billy's Great-Uncle and Aunt, and some added information in an afterword about the Chinese groceries prominent in the south during this time. After nearly every chapter, Augusta has added a short written poetic piece by Billy himself, sometimes funny, often poignant, the words of a smart 13 year old young Chinese boy who just wants to learn and go to a good school. Through conflicts and "have-tos", Azalea begins to learn that she can talk to strangers, stick up for friends against harsh words, and finally, finally get to know her grandmother enough to tell some truths that need to be told. For a middle grade book that seems just right for middle graders, the plot is complicated just enough to make the reader want to turn the page, and discover what will happen next. I enjoyed Azalea's voice, and the discovery about her relationship with her grandmother especially.


          I’ve been on two sailing ships, and learned the pirates’ ditties as we hoisted the sails and swabbed the decks. This particular crew of pirates are the stereotyped versions, and a lot of fun, too. They might threaten Ned, who continues to knit, but Diana Murray’s cute story in rhyme relieves us of any stress. When you read the rhyme aloud, and look at the illustrations on each page, all you can do is smile. There are turtles and mice staying in the background as helpers, along with a monkey and a mermaid! (You can see them on the back cover!) The pirate captain is a yo ho ho kind of pirate, especially when finding an island treasure. They celebrate at a table, showing off that “We're pirates, we’re pirates, out sailing the sea,/as scary and hairy as any could be.” They also are “scruffy” and “scrappy” and “happy”, until the rhyme ends, not quite right, with “knit”. There is a scary scene when the ship is attacked by a “briny ocean beast.” That double-page spread is wonderfully full of action, waves high and monster greedy. You’ll need to find the book to see what happens.

         I was able to find Shy by Deborah Freedman at my library, and it is newly published. And then I read it with my granddaughter for my first time for both of us. There is this most mysterious "thing" named Shy who loves reading, stories about "once upon a time. . . or in a land far away", but he is lonely. A small yellow bird goes flying by, and Shy becomes intrigued, but also wonders how to talk to a bird. What if he blows it? The beginning of a relationship is hard, but Shy does begin, and because he is too slow, the bird disappears. I don't want to give away the rest. I believe you will be pleased, and there are good surprises. The illustrations fill the page with dreamy color similar to the cover, through day and through night. As you can see, after reading, Imi wanted to look again, and she did!



      A surprise find, and the story is lovely. For anyone who has experienced an ice storm and discovered branches falling, this book tells that story. Most particularly, it's about a little girl's favorite branch, one she sat on, jumped from. As the story goes, it was "her castle, her spy base, her ship". 
       And it fell, broken from the heavy ice. What happens then comes from loyalty, a friendly neighbor, and imagination. The illustrations are kid-friendly bright colors, edged with blacks. Both the author and illustrator, Mireille Messier and Pierre Pratt are well-known Canadian writers and illustrators of children's books. I loved this discovery, will look for more by these two!

Reading: Lots of poetry for the Cybil's competition, and in the midst of Melissa Sweet's Some Writer!: The Story of E.B. White. What a treasure this is!

20 comments:

  1. My grandparents were much older (75 when I was born), so I love stories with grandparents in them. Have you nominated books for the Cybils awards yet? Think of some good ones and see if they have already been nominated! http://www.cybils.com/2016/10/and-go-cybils-nominations-are-open.html

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    1. Yes, I've nominated, Karen. As you can see, I love the grandparent stories, too. Thanks!

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  2. I can't wait for Some Writer! I'm trying to hang on until my library's copy comes in (I'm #1 on the hold list!) but sometimes I get impatient and just buy a book for myself. I'm pretty sure this will be one I want to return to again and again anyway. Ned the Knitting Pirate sounds like a brilliant idea for a PB--though I suspect I would struggle with the rhyme, as I always do. I am really excited to get Shy (also #1 on the hold list for that title!). I love Deborah Freedman's work so much.

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    1. I kept the grand-girls this past weekend, so didn't get as much reading of Some Writer as I would have liked, but I know I'm glad I own it, Elisabeth. Each part that Melissa Sweet adds is wonderful. The rhyming of "Ned" is quite cute, a "yo, ho, ho" of a rhyme. I hope you love Shy-very nice. Thanks!

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  3. great round-up, Linda. You and Imi just added to my "to read" list!

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    1. Ha! I'll let her know, Jane. She was with me again today and asked for "Shy" again! It is lovely!

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  4. I didn't know my grandparents well either - they either lived on the other side of our very large country, or half way around the world. I do regret that I wasnt able to know them better, but with the way families spread out around the world these days, I think my experience is becoming more and more common!

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    1. I understand, Jane. I am lucky to have had my grandson until he was about 10, but is now in another state, and to have the two granddaughters here close by. All my extended family is away too.

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  5. Thanks for your review of the new Scattergood novel. I recently ordered it, so I'm looking forward to it.
    Love the picture of your granddaughter :) Shy is a treasure!

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    1. Happy to hear you will have Augusta's book, Michele. I liked it very much. And of course Shy is simply wonderful! Imi asked for it again today. I think I may need to purchase it! Thanks!

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  6. Great roundup of books! Love the picture of your granddaughter! Looks like it would be such fun to share books with her. Have a great week!

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    1. Thanks, Jana. Imogene (Imi) and Ingrid, her older sister do love books, and it makes me smile! They know how much I love them, and I hope they'll remember for years and years!

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  7. Your granddaughter is absolutely adorable! When we read your thoughts about Making Friends with Billy Wong it reminded us of the picture book, Raft by Jim LaMarche. It sounds like they would be a nice text set together.

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    1. Thank you! Raft is a new title to me. I looked it up & it does sounds like it would be a good fit with Billy Wong. I imagine I'll be able to find it!

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  8. I love the pic of Imi revisiting Shy. I read it a couple of weeks ago and already told a shy adult friend about it. I know she will love it. Requesting The Branch and heading off to spend some time with my copy of Some Writer! It is exquisite. Happy reading, Linda!

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    1. Thanks, Ramona. I had the grand-girls over the weekend so the parents could go away to celebrate their anniversary, then Imi today, so have had little time for Some Writer! but what I've seen is awesome. I've enjoyed all White's biographies & Melissa Sweet's creativity adds more. Enjoy The Branch, a lovely discovery!

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  9. Shy is so wonderful! I love Freedman's work.
    I want to read Billy Wong--I hope to get to it after NCTE.

    Happy reading this week :)

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    1. I know you're so busy, Kellee, and now I have many poetry books to read. I know I'll love them, but it is time taken! Enjoy Billy Wong when you get to it! Thanks!

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  10. What an adorable picture of Imi reading Shy! I love Deborah Freedman's books, and can't wait to get a copy of this. Making Friends With Billy Wong was terrific, and thank you for reminding me about Ned, the Knitting Pirate. Happy reading, Linda!

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    1. Yes, her books are delightful. You will love this one, Catherine. Thanks, glad that you loved Billy Wong and Ned!

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