Sunday, October 29, 2017

It's Monday - Some Scares!

              Visit Jen at Teach MentorTexts and Kellee and Ricki at UnleashingReaders to discover books you'll love! Thanks to Jen, Kellee and Ricki who share so much from their own reading lives and support this meme, too.
         
         Happy Halloween tomorrow!

         While wishing some of these things would never have happened to young Clayton Byrd, I know that life is complicated, hope that middle-grade children will take away some life learning from this book. Rita Williams-Garcia gave me a lot of learning, too, about blues and hip-hop swirling in and out, up and down Clayton’s life. The sweetest relationship with his grandpa begins the story, and we learn that Clayton is sneaking away with his grandpa, Cool Papa, to play the blues harp (harmonica) with the Blues Men in Washington Square. Cool Papa’s been playing and being loved for his blues guitar playing for a lot of years, and he's been teaching Clayton, whose biggest wish is to have a solo. Not only will he not get the solo, but he also loses Cool Papa too, who dies one night in his sleep. There is a journey with lots of hurt in this story, hitting back, running away, not giving up, then “maybe” giving up, but “staying cool” as Clayton had learned to be.  The blues music he loves fills the book with a bit of hip-hop jumping into his adventure when he chooses another path after Cool Papa dies. Then, he learns some things as he goes, but it doesn’t turn out as wished except for one good thing. I imagine this book should be read by many kids and their teachers, too. There is a nice author’s letter at the end.



       George has a secret, and Alex Gino's story is one that she hopes she can tell someday soon.  She's a regular kid that just wants to play hopscotch with the girls instead of chasing around the playground like the boys. Her chance might come when her teacher announces that the play this year is going to be Charlotte's Web. George loves this story and really wishes she could play the part of Charlotte, but she isn't allowed to try out because she's a boy! With her good friend Kelly's help, they create a plan that actually works better than I thought would work. I was fearful that George would get into trouble. A brother, a caring friend, and the principal are three of George's allies, standing up for who she really is instead of hoping it would go away. This is a huge issue for some children, needing to be out in the open so everyone is helped, to support and to understand. I have had one trans student whose mother was a friend. It isn't an easy path, for parents and for children, but with school, friend, and family support, it gets better. Books about all kinds of kids that are written in positive ways are needed by those directly affected and those who need to understand. This is one. I'm sorry it took me so long to read it.
         All fun, just right for Halloween, or for a scary cloudy day!

         From Aaron Reynolds and Peter Brown, another "creepy" story, this time with underwear that just won't go away. Jasper Rabbit needs new underwear and those plain white ones are chosen quickly by his mom until he spies some neon-greed underwear His mother thinks they're too creepy, but Jaspar reminds her he's not little anymore; he's growing up. She consents to purchase one pair. Although he does think he's growing up, even tells his dad he doesn't need a light on anymore, some strange things happen that make Jaspar learn it is okay to be alarmed at what happens with the underwear until he isn't anymore. Kids will love Jaspar's romp to rid himself of the underwear and the ending will surprise in a happy way!
          In poetic story form, this legend of children discovering, then preparing to storm the walls and take a pomegranate or two from the Pomegranate Witch who guards it with all the trickery you imagine witches have, except for one time a year, Halloween. At that time, everything changes. Denise Doyen's rhythm and rhyme entertain with excitement through the first pomegranate discovered, to the all-out war between the kids and this very scary witch. Her new words coined delight. The witch has a "kinderbattle" with the kids. Branches "shivershook." The "witch's broom bristle-spanked a rear." It's a perfect witchy, not-too-scary, story, made exceptionally gorgeous by Eliza Wheeler's illustrations. 
        Well, is it the scariest book ever? You'll have to follow this sometimes-disappearing ghost to figure it all out. Reading Bob Shea's funny adventure in wording, following a little girl having a happy Halloween adventure despite the scary words on alternating dark pages with a scaredy-cat ghost made me smile, as I'm sure young kids will, too. It's a silly, NO, scary book.
Next: I've started Citizen, An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine. My book group is reading it.

And Nutcracker Mice by Kristin Kladstrup, getting ready for the holidays!

20 comments:

  1. Loved both Clayton Bird and George! Amazing MG reads. This Bob Shea title looks adorable!

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    1. That Scariest Book is a lot of fun, Carrie. Glad to know you liked the other books. I'm so late reading George, but loved it very much. Thanks!

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  2. George just broke my heart, I just wanted to jump into the book and hold her in my arms and tell her than everything was going to be OK. It just breaks my heart to think of children suffering and hiding their true selves. Hopefully in the future we'll live a world where stories like this will be a thing of the past, but for now I'm so glad we have books like this.

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    1. You know I agree, Jane. I am glad that more books are being written, yet I also know that they aren't always placed in the school libraries. George is both heartbreaking and terrific!

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  3. I loved Clayton Bird so much. I also learned a lot from it. George is also a heart wrenching read.
    Creepy Pair of Underwear is just so brilliant. It's a Halloween story that works on som many levels.

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    1. Thanks, Cheriee, I learned quite a bit from Clayton Byrd too. I do not know music very well so was glad to take in all of that part. Can't wait to read "Creepy Pair of Underwear" to the granddaughters! Thanks!

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    2. Creepy Pair of Underwear and The Scariest Book Ever are so much fun for Halloween, and not too scary for kids! I have Clayton Byrd on my To Read list, and one of these days I'll get to it. I've enjoyed Rita Williams-Garcia's other books. Have a great week!

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    3. You will like it, Jana. There are many on my list I need to read, too! Yes, those 2 picture books are just great. Thanks!

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  4. I'm so thankful that George exists. It's an important book. Clayton Byrd is fabulous. The underwear book has had my students laughing so much. I just purchased The Pomegranate Witch and am eager to read it. I think someone checked it out this week though so I have to wait.

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    1. I hope you like The Pomegranate Witch, such a fun and "new" story. And you see that I agree about George, and others that support kids who need it and need to understand, too. Thanks, Crystal.

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  5. I loved the grandpa in Clayton Byrd, but the mom no so much. I am eager to hear what students think about Creepy Pair of Underwear when I read it tomorrow, but I can pretty much guarantee they will love it!

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    1. It was hard to like the mom, but I felt sorry for her, too. Yes, the grandpa was so sweet. Hope you love the 'underwear' story, so silly, but so creative, too. Who would ever have thought about that topic for a picture book! Thanks, Lisa.

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  6. George is such an important book - We need more books about gender!!!!

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  7. I'm reading The Scariest Book Ever to a class tomorrow! I just love reading it because I do hate the word "moist"! I love that there's reference to that, it made me laugh!
    Clayton Byrd is one of the books we're talking about at our Mock Newbery meeting on Thursday. I can't wait to hear kid opinions of this book.

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    1. How fun to hear about you reading The Scariest Book Ever and loving those words from Bob Shea. Will be interested to see what students say about Clayton Byrd, Michele. Please share!

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  8. I need to read Clayton Bird. I love Williams-Garcia's work!
    And George is such an important book! And so well written and fun to read :)

    Happy reading this week!

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    1. As I say often, there are so many books that I want to read, too, Kellee. You'll need to read it when you can. Thanks!

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  9. Hi Linda! Thanks for so kindly welcoming me back to the #IMWAYR community. I loved Creepy Underwear, and Clayton Byrd has been on my radar for a long time. I am going to reserve it at my library right now.
    I also loved George!

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    1. It was nice to see you back, Karen. I hope you like Clayton Byrd! Thanks!

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