Sunday, January 1, 2017

So Many Books, Not Enough Time

         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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         Happy New Year! I have some catching up to do in the books I've read, and books I hope to read. I've had a terrific holiday time with my family and friends, and hope all of you did, too. 

         To share: The Cybil's finalists were announced January 1st, and you can find all of them here. It was a huge pleasure being a Round One poetry judge, but it was a challenge to do other reading and read so many poetry collections and verse novels. Those I have not shared already I will share later. Those who are not the finalists you should find and read, too! It was a tough decision to choose only seven! The poetry finalists are here.

           I did not do a #MustReadIn2016 post for Carrie Gelson's group. And I admit that I'm sure the list of books I did not read are wonderful. I just didn't find the time for them. Some I will move to a new 2017 list, omitting a few. I had 23 books on my list (see above) and read ten of them. Of those ten, I highly recommend the following if you haven't read them: Rooftoppers & Wolf Wilder - Katherine Rundell,  All American Boys - Jason Reynolds & Brendan Kiely, and for adults or older teens-Unbroken - Lauren Hillenbrand. 

I've read and reviewed quite a few books these last few weeks. Here are some favorites:


       Using a variety of poem forms, some of which are explained in a back note, Janice N. Harrington has her main character Katharen tell her story of her family moving to a new place. Katharen, known as Keety, a nickname from “parakeet” - a big talker - is not happy about this and shows us for quite a bit of the story, from sadness to denial to wishing to go back to that original home. She’s from Alabama, and these kids at her new school think she talks funny, says “yella” for “yellow”. She does make a friend finally, Allie, also called Allie-Gator. Slowly we get to know the family, Allie, the new teacher and the librarian, but most especially Grandpa. He’s the one that starts Keety on “a fishing thread”, says she has a storyfish inside, “a fish/made of words./It nibbles, nibbles/when I’m daydreaming.” 


         Harrington keeps sewing that thread throughout her poems, from times fishing with Grandpa, in “Grandpa Fridays” but starting with Keety telling how the other kids, except one, make fun of her. That one keeps staring, but won’t talk. ‘”Let the fish come to you,” Grandpa says. “Some fish just like to take their time, Fish Bait.’” Fish Bait is his pet name for Keety, and the relationship deepens as Keety does make a friend.
           Later, the “crash” happens. Grandpa has a stroke and Keety is crushed. Through fish tales and a friend who makes fish origami, through Keety finally telling her stories again, good things happen. The poem’s fish thread is creative, telling the tale with both funny and poignant metaphors. When Keety’s father assures her that Grandpa loves her he tells her: “He (Grandpa) told me once/that his heart was an old tackle box/and that you were the best thing in it.” There are a few poems where Allegra (Allie-Gator) shares her side of the story. For someone willing to be a friend to a strange newcomer, she slowly shows how thoughtful and willing she is.
About two-thirds of the story was about Keety, her little brother and Grandpa, and the challenges of a new school and feeling so, so left out. The big thing came then when Grandpa had a stroke, and the other problems resolved. Keety had a friend and she started telling stories again, then Grandpa got better, and things were good. It is a sweet story, but I would have liked more development of the characters. All were loving except the few who teased Keety, but there wasn’t much detail about the teacher helping with that. Keety seemed to have to work it all out herself. 
                   Best thing: the fishing analogy




        Finally, I had the chance to read this book to my granddaughter, and while I had to explain what a pen pal was (she's five), she loved the book, and asked for a second read. It's a fun story about friendships and making assumptions and discoveries that all you believe that's true isn't necessarily the "real" story. It's cute to read aloud with the clever letters that rhyme, and fun to see all the antics of these two pen pals. I rather like the smiles on the two teachers at the end, too.
        A beauty of a story, where one can tell how very hard farmers and their families work to do all the things needed to keep a farm like in this story successful. All the parts are described and illustrated with heart, all the parts needed in order to put a farm to bed before winter. The plants in various places are taken care of like vegetables harvested and raspberry canes cut back. The chicken coop cracks are filled in for warmth and the barn is stacked with hay. Machinery is put under cover. And everyone in the family is needed. We can see the family working together, kids too, and all get the reward at the end: food to sell at market, everyone and thing tucked in so they can "sleep tight". The illustrations fill the pages with praise for such a farm. It's a book to have this beginning of winter, especially if those chores are already done!

         I'm sharing the following books I know many have read, but I finally got them from the library, and they are terrific.
       Based on the story of Rafael López, the illustrator of this book, who with his wife Candice, moved into a part of San Diego then gray and drab, and gathered together those in the neighborhood to help transform that sad look into happy colors. With F. Isabel Campoy and Theresa Howell's words, the story leaps to life and song with López' vibrant colors. A young girl loves to draw colorful pictures, and hands them out all along her walks, to a shop owner, a policeman, and others. She tapes a drawing of the sun to a gray wall, and an artist approaches her, asks her to join him in painting. Soon others join in, paint and sing and dance. As they paint, they seem to be transformed along with the neighborhood. It's a story that surely inspires. There are many murals on buildings, fences, park benches and spaces found and used in my city. I imagine a class of students painting parts of their own neighborhoods, or school buildings after reading this book.



             Katrina Goldsaito fills the story of young Yoshio's search with a city walk, describing sounds in a variety of places like the koto sounds are "twangy and twinkling" and the "thwack of his boots on the pavement."  Julia Kuo illustrates the city just as a city is, filled to the brim with sounds and sights. She created with pen and ink, but colored digitally with Photoshop, realistic and detailed. The story shows Yoshio's search for silence after a street koto player tells him that silence ("ma" in Japanese) is her favorite sound. He's curious and wonders how he will ever find it. The reader will love what he discovers! 

NEXT: Still reading Fredrik Backman's my grandmother asked me to tell you she's sorry.  And I have some arcs I'd like to start.



36 comments:

  1. Having just spent a month in Japan, I can well appreciate Toshio's search for quiet! Japanese cities, especially massive ones like Tokyo, just been absolutely overwhelming, with seemingly never-ending noise. But there are also hidden pockets of peace and tranquility tucked away around the corners. It's an intoxicating combination!

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    1. How wonderful to hear your experiences connected to this book, Jane. If you haven't read it, I hope you do and enjoy it! Thanks!

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  2. I totally agree with your title - so many books and just not enough time! How is Backman's book? I read and loved A Man Called Ove, but I haven't read My Grandmother Asked to Tell You She's Sorry because I keep thinking I'll compare it to Ove and just not like it as much.

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    1. Sadly, I still haven't read A Man Called Ove (time!). I know I'll finish this one, but with the holidays, I've not read very much. It's coming together slowly, an interesting grandmother's story really, but the young granddaughter tells the story.

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  3. Wonderful! It's so hard to fit all the reading in. And, I find that if I've got too much rattling around my head....I can't settle to read. So, there's that too. I wish you a day of settled time you can devote to reading.

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    1. My company and the holidays are over, so I should have more time-hoping, Linda. Thanks!

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  4. I really agree with your title too! Dear Dragon has become a favorite of mine. My students love it as well. I hadn't heard of Sleep Tight Farm before. This will be a good one to suggest to my Kindergarten teachers for their farm unit. Happy New Year!!

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    1. Oh yes, Sleep Tight Farm will be marvelous for their unit, Stacey. Thanks, and Happy New Year to you.

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  5. You have gotten a ton of reading in! I feel like all I have read since October is CYBILS. Great books, but now I need to get back in gear and read some other things. Right now I'm fighting my way through PERCY JACKSON because the sixth graders in DPS have to read it. Fantasy is definitely not my favorite. Think I might have to go to TC today and check some of these out.

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    1. The Cybil's reading was intense, I agree. I'm glad that our library has so many, and I went to TC too to catch some of them. I know the Percy Jackson is popular & I still haven't read any of them. There are too many others I want to read. Happy New Year, Carol!

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  6. How I loved Sound of Silence! It is snowing here this morning, which means there is quite a bit of silence to enjoy. I liked Maybe Something Beautiful but did not love it as much as others did, which usually means a reread is in order when it's a PB. I have a feeling with that title, the issue was that I brought expectations for more of a nonfiction title, which of course it isn't. I just saw Sleep Tight Farm on a book list last week--maybe one of Betsy Bird's at Fuse #8? Looks like one my library ought to order. I only read a few of my #mustreadin2016 titles. I'm starting to worry that any kind of list like that is a jinx for me! I'm thinking of doing something a little different with it this year to keep it more open-ended.

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    1. I'm making a shorter list, but thought I did last year also. Too many books come out that I want to read instead! Maybe Something Beautiful touched me because I've studied street art with my students and a small group did a mural for our school. It was a wonderful experience. I did love The Sound of Silence, and wonder how kids will feel about it, or do they even think about it? Happy New Year, Elisabeth!

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  7. Several of these are wonderful books that somehow missed being nominated for my Cybils panel, Fiction Picture Books. They should have been!

    http://readerbuzz.blogspot.com/2016/12/woo-hoo-its-first-day-of-brand-new-year.html

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    1. There were many good ones last year. I nominated, but of course you can only do one!

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  8. I adored Maybe Something Beautiful. You have convinced me that I must read Catching A Storyfish.

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    1. Catching A Storyfish shows that even the way people speak can be teased about. I liked that new look, Cheriee, and the relationship with the grandfather is a good one, too. Hope you enjoy it! I am glad I finally got to read Maybe Something Beautiful. It is terrific!

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  9. Oh so many beautiful books here! Not even sure where to start - I also loved The Sound of Silence and Maybe Something Beautiful - putting both on my Mock Caldecott. I agree with you that Wolf Wilder is a not to be missed title!

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    1. Thanks, Carrie. I enjoyed the books by Rundell so much. Hoping to read some of her others sometime! Glad to hear about your Mock Caldecott picks!

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  10. I love that farm book, Linda, and I've just ordered Catching A Storyfish based on your review. Sounds like you had the perfect holiday - family time, and time to read.

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    1. It was a lot of fun, and busy which is nice. I hope you enjoy Catching A Storyfish. The farm book was delightful, agreed! Hope your holiday was grand!

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  11. The Sound of Silence is a book I feel like I'm only just starting to hear about but it keeps popping up.
    And there's always another book to get to, isn't there???!!! I'm looking at my stack now...

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    1. I do understand, and probably all of us do. Your lists certainly added to mine, Michele!

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  12. I've only read Maybe Something Beautiful. Like you, I found it inspiring and full of potential to share with students. Not sure when I'll find time, but all of the other books you've shared sound so worthwhile! Happy New Year, Linda!

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    1. Thanks, Catherine. Enjoy what speaks to you & when you have the time! Happy New Year!

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  13. Hi, Linda! Landing on your blog led me through a happy detour of the Cybil finalists! Wow! There are some great books there, and even more I had to add. In your post today I was really drawn to Catching a Story Fish-- my mother grew up in the South, and to this day she still says "winda" and "yella" instead of window and yellow. I'll have to pick that one up. I also love the idea of Dear Dragon. In today's world where we are talking so much about "what to believe" and how to KNOW what to believe, it seems this book might be a good entry point in the discussion for younger students. Thanks so much for sharing your ideas!

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    1. So happy that you found the wonderful Cybil's lists. I've been going through the others and adding to my list from them, too. Enjoy Story Fish, love hearing about your connection. I grew up in Missouri, some southern influences there too, and still say "you all" or "y'all", hard to stop. Thanks!

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  14. I loved Dear Dragon! I am glad you could enjoy it with her. :) Happy New Year!

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    1. Yes, very fun. Happy New Year, Ricki!

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  15. Your title is so fitting for this community! I have seen Sounds of Silence in several places today. That must mean I need to go find it!

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    1. Yes to both comments, Leigh Anne. There just never seems to be enough time. Enjoy The Sounds of Silence!

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  16. I am really eager to read The Sound of Silence. Thanks for your work for the Cybils. I'm excited to see the results.

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    1. The nominees were amazing. I guess we all know that there were loads of great books out last year. Enjoy The Sounds of Silence when you can, Crystal.

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  17. I love seeing a few familiar titles here - Maybe Something beautiful is gorgeous isn't it? And yes, I thought the sound of silence was also quite beautiful, meditative in fact. Dear Dragon would have been a wonderful addition to our previous fantasy reading theme. :)

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    1. Thanks, Myra, happy to hear your opinions of these books, too. Happy New Year!

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  18. Congrats on being a round 1 poetry judge! I hope to be a Cybils judge next year :)
    I'm so glad you got to read Dear Dragon with your granddaughter. I love the conversations it starts.

    Happy new year, and happy reading this week!

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    1. Thanks, Kellee, that's wonderful about being a judge in the future. It is lots of fun, and lots of reading which I don't mind at all! Happy New Year to you!

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Having a conversation is a good thing!