Sunday, December 17, 2017

Monday Reading Sneaked In!

              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 their own reading lives and support this meme, too.

        Here are more holiday books that I've enjoyed, and a few others. Wishing everyone a Merry holiday wherever you are, whatever your celebrations.



         I'm not sure why I delay reading Kate Messner's books because I always love them. This return to Gianna and Zig and their lives, though a stand-alone novel, is a poignant story of Zig's yearning to reunite with his dad. It is fun to read about the friendship of Zig, Gianna, and Ruby, out garage-sale shopping one day and a woman gives Zig a box full of her late husband's electronics "junk'. Zig loves fixing things, is soon termed "Circuit Man" when he discovers a GPS unit which only needs a little fixing. Then, he and the girls are off geo-caching, soon so meaningful to Zig because he believes caches left by someone called "Senior Searcher" is his father! Through this adventure, Kate Messner expands Zig's story through showing his mother working hard to finish her nursing degree, working at a diner to pay the bills when Zig discovers the money made doesn't stretch far enough and they end up in a homeless shelter. They first spend a few terrible days at the mother's sister who's fighting her own challenges in an abusive husband. Zig's search continues with a few scary moments, and the resolution is both heart-breaking and satisfying. In Kate's hands, each character who even appears briefly, is shown to have a more complex life than one might see on the outside. She manages to show us we all need to find the deeper story. I am reminded of the quote: "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle." It's a great book.

          Hoot & Peep stories to me are pure poetry. This time, it’s Peep’s first winter and she has all kinds of questions for her older brother, Hoot. She asks about snow and when “she” will get here, which of course Hoot has to explain that snow is not a “she”, but “a frozen thing that falls from the sky”.  Then, Peep’s questions fly fast, like “Does it scrrinkly scrattle like falling leaves?” Hoot doesn’t answer much because he really can’t remember, but he knows a good place to wait, so they do. Hoot’s sweetest thing is his patience with the questions and that he ties a bright green scarf around Peep’s neck to keep her warm. That small mouse companion who travels right along listening is a fun addition as Hoot and Peep settle in to wait, for SNOW! Lita Judge’s illustrations with Hoot and Peep’s adventure, especially bring smiles when that SNOW arrives. It’s such a happy book!



       I remember reading this to my middle-grade students during Hanukkah and having parents come in to talk about the tradition of making latkes during this celebration. I don’t know many Hannukah books but this is a favorite.  This is a tale of the Jewish village of Ostropol in Eastern Europe where supernatural occurences especially haunts by goblins are the norm, and in this situation, the goblins have stolen Hanukkah from the village. Even the rabbi is fearful of countering these goblins and the villagers are resigned each year to life without a celebration. Fortunately, Hershel appears and agrees to spend the entire eight nights and days of Chanukah in the old shul atop the hill in order to defeat the goblins and bring about a miracle. The illustrations seem to leap from the page in alarm over the goblins. As the pages turn, they get darker, with each goblin feeling even more frightening and powerful. Hershel is a wise 'hero' who must use all his wits to win, defeating evil and light over darkness. 

       I wrote a special post that included this poem by e.e. cummings for Poetry Friday last Friday. It has special meaning for me, and I hope you'll at least read the poem on my post, a lovely one about Christmas trees. In this board book, the poem is at the front, but Chris Raschka tells his own "little tree" tale, and adds the expected, wonderful illustrations.
            There is something magical when we think of the animals talking sweetly to the baby Jesus, being given the ability to speak on that night of his birth. Lee Bennett Hopkins has gathered poets to write in the voice of animals who might have been there that night, and each poem is both unique and wonderful. Horse, by X.J. Kennedy says: “Yet at this crib I am so stirred/that, staring, I can say no word.” For a most beautiful story, this is a lovely re-telling. The illustrations are directly related to each poem. Beautiful, full-page spreads enhance each offering.
            I can't wait to read this story to my youngest granddaughter who's taken ballet lessons for several years and loves dancing. Perhaps next year we can go to see The Nutcracker as this young woman is doing with her grandmother? She arrives home with the cold and rain/snow outside, does not want to go out again. It's cold and she has to dress up, too. Once there, the magic of the music and the dance mesmerizes. And a boy sitting next to the girl , while starting off a bit frosty with each other, soon warm to the show, too, and they both find common ground, the love of this story. Elly Mackay's illustrations need no words to tell her story, just beautiful motion in the dance, and gorgeous expressions in the people.


         Enter the world that’s different from ours in the U.S. and discover the beautiful traditions of Santa all over the earth, from the first entry, Christmas Island (Kiritimati)  to Indonesia, countries in Asia and Europe, Africa and South America, ending in Hawaii. Many details lie colorfully on the gorgeous pages as the author tells of each tradition. For example, in Hawaii, children find Santa’s footprints in the sand “where he hopped off the surfboard pulled by a dolphin.” His name is “Kanakaloka” comes through the windows left open and enjoys “sweet, chewy pineapple-macadamia bars”, the treat they leave for him.
         Recipes are added at the back along with an author’s note with an invitation to visit the website to discover even more traditions and to add one’s own: www.worldofcookiesforsanta.com

Still Reading - Badenheim1939, and nearly done, and I'm reading The War I Finally Won by Kimberley Brubaker Bradley very fast! Next, I think I'll choose a Christmas book, like The Twelve Days of Dash & Lily! 

15 comments:

  1. You have some favorites here, old and new. I just love holiday books and will be adding these to my list this year. I hope you are enjoying The War I Finally Won as much as I dd. I am also a big Kate Messner fan.

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    1. So glad you found some to add, Alex, and yes, it is hard to pull away from The War I Finally Won to read posts and wrap and I still have shopping to do! I just want to sit and read! Thanks, and have a Happy Holiday!

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  2. Little Tree looks good. Unfortunately, my library doesn't have it but I will keep an eye out for it.

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    1. I hope you can find it, too, Earl. It's a sweet book for Christmas time.

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  3. There is a special place in this world for Kate Messner. She is so wonderful! I am looking forward to getting my hands on that book. :)

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    1. Hope you enjoy it, and yes, I always love Kate's stories!

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  4. You just can't go wrong with Kate Messner! The quote you included sums up the message of her book nicely. Many of our students are facing struggles of their own outside of the classroom and her book is a great reminder to keep this in mind.

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    1. And I wish that students can finally learn to trust some adults in their lives who can help them, too. I do love Kate's stories.

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  5. I am intrigued by WALTZ OF THE SNOWFLAKES. I will definitely be requesting that one at the library.

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  6. I have Waltz of the Snowflakes on my post today, too. I love The Nutcracker and I think that there are books like this to inspire young readers to attend theater performances of it. Happy Holidays!

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  7. I am definitely going to have to look for Kate Messner's book, Linda - and you are right, it parallels with Alan Cole is Not a Coward, which I reviewed today. Lovely picture books, too!

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  8. I had fun with the Hoot and Peep book. I ran with it straight to a pre-k teacher in my building because she loves snow & I knew she'd enjoy it. Thank you for the poetry!

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  9. Love the Gianna books and this one is no exception. I'm glad Zig was the main guy in this one!
    I've tried to find the Cookies book, but it hasn't been at my library. Looks fun!

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  10. Thanks everyone, like you, I am so busy starting this week before Christmas comes. I love all these books, and as you see, for different reasons. Happy Holidays!

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  11. These are new-to-me titles - awesome, Linda! :) Waltz of the Snowflakes caught my eye.

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