Sunday, January 8, 2012

What I'm Reading - Early January

 You can hook up with this kitlit meme: It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA at teach mentor texts!  Here you can discover what others are reading and what they’re saying about them!

It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journeys. It is a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It's also a great chance to see what others are reading right now…who knows, you might discover that next “must read” book!

I have finally finished reading Chime, by Franny Billingsley, showing such a unique writing style that I had to slowly read and sometimes re-read passages.  I admit I struggled with it, and sometimes wondered how it made the finalist list of the National Book Award.  I noticed hints early in the book of the resolution, yet they were so subtle I found myself saying things like “no, it couldn’t really work that way”.  So I would dismiss that theory and move on.  It turned out that Billingsley did what I thought, and wrapped everything up so beautifully that it brought tears to my eyes.  Chime is about self-doubt, about courage, about love.  For those of you who have read it, I wonder if you have thought of it as a metaphor for something bigger?  Every reader brings themselves and his or her life story to the books read, and perhaps, like response to poetry, I see this book as much more than the story about a girl who thinks she is a witch and not very lovable. 
     Billingsley uses words so beautifully: The wind slapped at the ancient trees.  It slapped at me too, but I slapped back...  and She looked down the spill of moor. , at the wind tearing through the scrub, at a bundle of ponies tumbling by.
When describing simple buns with cream and jam at a picnic: Eldric handed me a creamy sunset of a bun: mounds of cream, a mere splash of pink
And about capturing stories: But tha' needs must scribe 'em, mistress!  Scribing, it don't never die, but a story what be on a person's tongue--well, there don't be no person what lives forever an' aye.  Scribe o' my power that it don't be forgot.  Scribe o' how I surges into the fringes o' the sea.  And I think about the inevitability of death, and whether it’s not that very inevitability that inspires us to take photographs and make scrapbooks and tell stories. That that’s how we humans find our way to immortality… That that’s how we find our way toward meaning.

And I have finished several new picture books purchased during the holidays.  You may recognize some because they have been lately and lovingly reviewed. 

         Stars by Mary Lyn Ray and Marla Frazee – on several searching-for-Caldecott lists, a beautiful and whimsical book about stars, with the sweetest poetic language.  Put a star on a stick and you’ve made a wand.  If you hold a wand the right way, you might see a wish come true.  And  Blow a ball of dandelion and you blow a thousand stars into the sky.
         Born and Bred In The Great Depression by Jonah Winter and illustrations by Kimberly Bulcken Root.  I wish I could read this book to my mother.  She would love the little stories included and would certainly add her own.  There are good parts that might lead to further research,  about those who had to work hard so they could be rewarded by doing another day of work, and heating water so the wash could be done on the washboard, and those hoboes who left special marks on the mailboxes of homes.  My favorite line:  And it was a good day if you got to play chess with your dad.
The Nativity by Julie Vivas is that special story of the title, with drawings of the major characters that show expressions that really might have been.  These illustrations are whimsical and serious all at the same time. 
Plans for this week: I’ll be re-reading A Wrinkle In Time by Madeline L’Engle.  It’s the 50th anniversary of this wonderful book, and a commemorative edition is being released on January 31st.  There are plans for special events all through the year, which you can read about in this Publisher’s Weekly article.  And reading An Abundance of Katherines by John Green, because those at Teach Mentor Texts have convinced me to read some of Green's books during John Green week.  I think I'm a little behind, but I did check the book out from the library.

Happy Reading this week everyone! 


  1. Stars looks like a really sweet book! I haven't read Abundance of Katherines but I checked it out, too! It seems you can't go wrong with any John Green. I read A Wrinkle in Time when I was in 4th or 5th grade and I remember being so confused about what was going on. I reread it recently to see if it made more sense to me now as an adult and I have to say it did make a bit more sense, but it is very science fiction and still a bit confusing. Curious to hear what you think! Thanks for joining us! :)

  2. Chime sounds so interesting, haven't read that one yet. I LOVED Stars, what a beautiful book. I wanted to take it apart and frame several of the illustrations. And I need to read A Wrinkle in Time. Never have and look forward to reading it as part of #nerdbery.

  3. And I think about the inevitability of death, and whether it’s not that very inevitability that inspires us to take photographs and make scrapbooks and tell stories. That that’s how we humans find our way to immortality… That that’s how we find our way toward meaning. WOW! That speaks to me.

  4. You have been busy!! I'm particularly drawn to "Stars" - the snippet you shared sounds so dreamy and sweet. Thanks for sharing these, Linda!

  5. What a great bunch of books! Its been so long since I've read A Wrinkle in Time, but you brought back some great memories :)

    Thanks for visiting my post!

  6. What evocative prose in Chime. I loved Stars!

    I am reading Ish and Dave the Potter as picture books this week and need to finished a new eBook I am reviewing called, When Copper Suns Fall.

  7. I liked your review of Chime, and the excerpts you shared are wonderful. Thanks, and as well thanks for being part of the 2012 Comment Challenge!

  8. A Wrinkle in Time is one of my all time favorite books. John Green's great. I'm looking forward to reading his new release! Have a great week!

    Booking It with Runner Sami

  9. I loved Stars. And of course, A wrinkle in time. I blogged first lines from these two and from An Abundance of Katherines. (I do a lot of first line posts. We even have a tab for them now on the blog.
    I think I will skip Chime though.

  10. Thanks for sharing! This one is on my list - I also alternate between PBs and MGs and YA, so although I read a lot...there's always plenty more to read! I'm glad I found your blog through the comment challenge, though!

  11. Oh I think you will love An Abundance of Katherines. I laugh so hard with John Green.

    I love the way you describe Stars. It is a fantastic book and I am glad I got to read it today. Sweet is right.

  12. I have been meaning to read Chime for a while - I love Franny Billingsly.

    I have tried to read An Abundance of Katherines so many times, and not been able to finish it. It just doesn't grab me! I think John Green's Youtube videos are brilliant, though.

    Happy reading!

  13. I loved Chime, but I read it the first time in such a rush of delight that I feel as if I need to reread it now in order to have anything to say other than that Billingsly's language is brilliant. You've given me a lot to look for as I reread; thank you!

    Oh, and Julie Vivas's is my favorite version of the Nativity story. I love the kitchen table Annunciation.

  14. Now I'm definitely intrigued by Chime - I've been meaning to get myself a copy ever since the Chime-Shine fiasco - your articulations of your struggles and the resolution you discovered at the end of the book give me a sense that this book is much bigger than what it may initially appear to be - and I so agree with you that we do bring ourselves to every book that we read - our life histories, our ways of perceiving the world - this, I believe, is what makes the book come alive. :)

    Regarding John Green... hmm, I've read his Looking for Alaska, and will be posting my review soon. I would definitely read his other books, just for me to see whether I'd have the same hmmm experience. I do know that he has a huge following, which explains my reluctance in sharing my review. But then again, as you said, we bring ourselves into the books that we read. Must be a phase of life for me, or whatnot. :)


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