Sunday, October 30, 2016

Monday Reading


HAPPY HALLOWEEN! HOPE YOU HAVE LOTS OF SCARES AND SWEETS!


          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 didn't post last week, was out of town with family, but did read quite a bit before and after the long weekend. I am also in the midst of reading for the Cybils poetry, round one. I won't review them all, but want to tell you that there are so many wonderful poetry books that have come out since last October. This task of choosing finalists is going to be tough! You can see ALL the nominated books here! Nominations are now closed, but each category is there.

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          Twelve-year-old Molly Nathans seems to have a lot of good things in her life: friends and a nice family, and she's one of the slam poets that others believe might win the school championship. She's talented! Yet as we begin reading her story, there are a few hints that "hidden" Molly is not telling. She lines up a glass animal collection in her room with a ruler, ensures it "feels" right before she can leave. She almost purchases another animal, but realizes that would make 45 of them, a "terrible" odd number. She washes her hands four times and lines up her colored pencils per the Roy.G.Biv rainbow line-up. Her best friend Hannah and little brother Ian notice a few things, but Molly tries hard to keep all these needs to herself. 
          Molly's mother has recently left for a new job in Toronto, says it's only for a year. Things do not seem right, however, and Molly is certain if she manages to do the poetry slam perfectly, she can entice her mother back to the celebration banquet. Then all will be all right, really perfect. The progression of this illness through Molly's thoughts is shown to be frightening. To be perfect, certain criteria had to be met, then Molly could move on to the next task. But things, even best friends, get in the way, her mother doesn't always call, and her father is working hard to meet his own deadlines. I love that Elly Swartz showed how out of control OCD can become, and that there are professionals that help along with support groups for all ages. I also loved that it was shown that all the characters indeed were not perfect, had their own quirks, which made us readers sympathize. The challenges Molly had were that her illness worsened, and she was terrified that if she did not do some of the things, her little brother Ian would die of some illness. I hope that the story helps and supports some who are trying to understand what's happening to them, or to someone they love. Thanks to Net Galley for the ARC.



        I actually read some additional background while I was reading this story of Cuba’s past when that country fought for freedom from Spain. I wanted more information to help me understand the story. Margarita Engle allows three young people to tell the story through her poems. A girl Fan and a boy Wing are twins who escaped anti-Chinese riots in San Francisco, escaping with only their father when the mother and brother died during the escape. They meet a boy Antonio who is mixed blood from Asia, Africa and Europe, and whose family is more settled, appear to have more power and money. 
         Later in the story, this father, a diplomat, helps the three children to choose the kind of people they wish to be. They begin this story at about age twelve. Through choosing peace instead of war they tell their journey with words of sorrow and rage and song. Engle arranges the book into chapters of years, beginning with the year of the Goat, 1871, after nearly 5,000 Chinese have escaped to the island. After a few years China sends emissaries to check on the treatment of their countrymen. 
         I enjoyed the use of titles that aided the reader in a way to approach each chapter. For instance, this first one is titled “Running with Words”. Engle also used titles for each poem, helping the understanding of emotions whispered, shouted and sung as the story is told. The titles added much to the reader’s ideas about the poem. In one part, the singer Fan has a series of “thoughts” shown in each poem, like “Air Thoughts,” “Roof Thoughts,” and “Wife Thoughts”. Margarita’s succinct poems give the story of this fight for freedom additional tension as the words make one want to read quickly, to attempt to understand the plight of the enslaved and the brave work of those who decide to help. She writes, “There’s nothing a warrior of words can do” for those lost “but offer comfort so that the living/can begin to feel peaceful in the presence/of memories.” Also, the consistent thread of words and sound references kept the choice of peace over war in a prominent place: “sounds join to form/bittersweet music/like storm clouds/that hide the moon’s/ view of night.” I loved the story and learning more about this past history. Added are a historical note, references, and added resources.

            Using repetition and anticipation that will delight young children, this is the perfect read aloud. We're taken through a dark, dark cave with all the spooky things one can imagine, until an unexpected creature shows up too. This is wonderful playtime, and I suspect many kids will know how useful a flashlight can be. The illustrations are fun, and dark, with odd eyes appearing, and a few creatures crawling along the walls. There are several surprises that you and those you're reading to will love!

         
        Because we live in ski country, and my granddaughters ski, when I read this to my five year old, she immediately said "Can I take this home?" I say no when it's a library book, but will definitely get it for her! It's difficult to describe how a two dimensional book can be interactive, but it is! You get to shake it, and enough snow appears on the next page! Find and read this to see what happens to this bunny when more things are "done" to the book! It was a lot of fun all the way through. 



          There's something eerie about seeing a coyote lope down my city street, but I have. As this book shows, coyotes' loss of their natural habitat have forced them into towns and cities. As opportunistic eaters, they'll dine on anything from small animals to garbage left out. The book shows the focused action of a coyote mom looking for food for herself and her pups. She waits, and pounces! The darkest dark shown in the beautiful action-packed illustrations is her favorite time as she lurks and pounces to get food. There are additional facts and sources in the back matter. It's a great book to add to animal collections. 

           While I didn't include this as a young adult or adult book, I believe that every person should read it to realize and celebrate the power of a story. It is told from the point of view of a story. From cave people sharing stories around a fire to scribes "illuminating" their works and actors telling stories on-stage. It continues with the printing press bringing books to people previously not able to own one to the modern-day tech tablets, all Dan Vaccarino showing - page after page - people in love with stories. He has included a powerful double-page spread that shows the conflicts through history when stories have been "censored, banned, and burned, but did not die." One other page includes the amazing ways people are able to access books, from those who carry them via donkeys or camels, bookmobiles, and little free libraries. Through each page, a small red bird flies, perhaps to show the thread of story that has never broken. The end papers in blocks of sketches include all the ways stories are told, from scrolls to radio to television to tablets. It's a terrific book, one more to savor among so many wonderful STORIES! 

Now! Among all the poetry, I'm reading Tracy Kidder's newest book, A Trunk Full of Money. I find his stories about people fascinating. 

18 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing your books. I loved reading your thoughts about I Am a Story and Coyote Moon.

    https://readerbuzz.blogspot.com/2016/10/why-october-is-book-crazy-month.html

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    1. You're welcome. Both are well worth reading.

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  2. Hi Linda,
    I'm hoping for grandchildren soon so I can read children's books to them. Finding Perfect sounds like a powerful read.

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    1. Finding Perfect is very good, but it made me wish that children didn't have to face this challenge! I imagine you will love reading to those grandchildren! It is a delight. Thanks, Cheriee!

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  3. What a great line-up! Haven't read any of these yet, but now they are on my tbr list!

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    1. I enjoyed each one as you can see, Jane. Hope you do, too!

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  4. I just read Coyote Moon about 6 times this past week! I need to review it, just didn't have the time this week. Same with Bunny Slope. I quickly read that one, love interactive books!
    I'm so glad you enjoyed Finding Perfect. I adore that book because I felt like Elly really did an amazing job explaining the confusion of what it must be like for a young child to make sense of this.

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    1. So happy you liked Coyote Moon and Bunny Slope, both terrific in their own ways! And yes, I loved Finding Perfect, but it is heartbreaking to think that children have, then hide and endure, those awful feelings. I hope it reaches children who will need it, and reaches those who might recognize a friend in it. Thanks, Michele.

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  5. So many great books this week!

    I've actually only been skiing once in my life...my class went to a local ski hill when I was in high school, and all the newbies had to take an introductory skiing class. When it was my turn to go down the bunny hill by myself for the first time I panicked, grabbed on to the instructor, and took him down the hill with me. And I haven't been skiing since.

    I also don't skate.

    I am a terrible Canadian. ;)

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    1. When you don't ski much here, it's not exactly good either, Jane. I gave it up a long time ago, but did ski earlier in my life. I skated more in Missouri because we lived on a lake. There's something for everyone! Bunny Slopes was a fun book, FYI! whether you ski or not! Happy Halloween!

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  6. I JUST started reading Finding Perfect yesterday and I'm about half way through the book. Can't wait to find out what happens! I shared Coyote Moon with my students last week and it was very popular. Have a great week!

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    1. Glad to hear about your students' reaction to Coyote Moon. I loved looking and looking at it! Thanks Jana, same to you!

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  7. This whole list sounds amazing. I am so out of the loop and every single one of these titles is a new one to me. Adding to the TBR list right now...

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    1. There are many books for all of us, Andrea. I found a few to put on my list from you too! Each one above fits someone. I hope you find a good one for you! Thank you!

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  8. I look forward to reading Lion Island. I really enjoy Margarita Engle's books. I too like I am a Story. Today I read The Storyteller by Turk and find a lot of commonalities.

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    1. I agree, always love Margarita's stories. I learn new history every time I read one. I'm hoping to see The Storyteller soon. There are lots of holds at the library so may have to visit the local Indie!

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  9. I have actually ordered I am a Story a few months back - but for some reason Book Depository has not delivered it yet, so I am deeply disappointed. I am sooo sooo glad though that you enjoyed Warrior of Words - isn't Margarita a wondrous gem???

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    1. Hoping you receive I Am A Story, soon, Myra. And yes, I enjoyed Lion Island very much. Thank you!

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