Sunday, February 26, 2012

A Good Week of Reading!

Thanks to Jen and Kellee, you can hook up with this kitlit meme: It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA at teach mentor texts!  Please visit to discover terrific books others are reading!

  It's Monday! What are you Reading? is another meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journeys, a variety of reviews to find even more books for your TBR list. 

Also - This Thursday, March 1st begins the monthly Slice of Life challenge at the Two Writing Teachers, Stacey and Ruth's, blog.  Check out this post to find out all about it!  It's a wonderfully supportive group of writers, a personally rewarding month, and there are prizes too.

I read quite a bit last week, but have just a few to review.  Part of my reading included many short stories, from the various anthologies I spoke about in last Monday’s post, so I could choose a few for my short story group.

One pleasure was finally reading Bigger Than A Breadbox by Laurel Snyder.  There are several lovely reviews about this book that give their ideas about it, at the blog Literate Lives and at the Children’s Book-A-Day Almanac blog.  I enjoyed the voice of this young twelve year old girl trapped in her parents’ turmoil and separated from her home and her best friend by being taken to her grandmother’s house (who thank goodness was a good grandmother) and told she had to deal with it as best she could.  It seemed so real to hear her thinking through every part of the book.  Snyder painted a realistic early adolescent who at times made such impulsive moves that I found myself wanting to shout, “no, no, not that way” or “don’t do that” and “watch out”.   How does the saying go:  “we live and learn”.  And through the adventures of the book, Rebecca did learn.

One additional thing I loved was that the book surprised me often.  Most of the time, even if I like a book, I can predict what an outcome will be, but this time, Laurel Snyder surprised again and again by changing the paths that Rebecca took.  These changes in direction created a consistent interest in the book. If used as a read aloud or in a book group, it would invite very interesting conversations.
Well, dear Rebecca did live through the book and she did learn as you see partly here:  All of those things were just words.  When I tried to think of words that meant anything, they just sounded like words.  They didn’t sound like the sights and smells and the memories and the weather and the people and the day after day after day of living in a place.  I couldn’t explain home.”  Thinking about that, pushing the stroller along, I thought about what it might feel like to be a writer, a poet.  To be able to use words the right way, the best way, so people could see what you were saying.  The way the poems Mr. Cook read out loud made me see things.  I bet it felt cool. 
It was terrific that Laurel Snyder seemed to understand so clearly what children feel when parents divorce, or at least move apart for a while.   Parents are going through so much themselves that it is difficult for them to see the children’s turmoil too, so Rebecca tries to fix her life in an unusual way, through magic, and a breadbox.  And fixing her life is not easy, which she figures out, but eventually there is support there too.  It’s a magical and hopeful book.  
Two recent books I purchased at the Colorado Reading Association Convention, both ‘finds’ that I wasn’t familiar with, both stories of the childhoods of two important people in our American history.

Coming Home - from the life of Langston Hughes written and illustrated by Floyd Cooper with words written so poetically about the childhood of Langston Hughes.  He is portrayed as a lonely boy living with his Gramma although he sometimes saw his parents.  In his spending time alone in town, the author wrote:  He would ride his ears around the city.  Through Market Street where everyone sang the song of haggle.

Minty – A story of young Harriet Tubman written by Alan Schroeder and illustrated by Jerry Pinkney.  Araminta was Harriet’s birth name.  In the introduction, Schroeder admits he took liberties with the facts in the story, but there is also truth in it, like the time Minty was made to check muskrat traps in a river although she couldn’t swim.  Pinkney’s illustrations fill us with the emotional details of young Minty’s courage to defy her master and eventually to run away.

            Finally, here are two additional books I would recommend that I read this week:

            The Bookshop Dog by written and illustrated Cynthia Rylant, a sweet story that will be adored by anyone who loves to visit a small book store and meet the resident dog. 

              Kindred Souls by Patricia MacLachlan, her most recent story out just this month.  I can't remember ever disliking a book by Patricia MacLachlan and this newest one did not disappoint. For creating the warmest feelings that everything will be okay while addressing difficult life events like death and loneliness and leaving home, MacLachlan writes it well. The books can be for every age, but are there especially for the younger child, for parents and teachers to share beautiful stories while discussing tough challenges. Like all the others by Patricia Maclachlan, don't miss reading this one.

            Many loving stories tell about community and people helping people in need.  These four books fill hearts full.

What’s Next?  I keep saying what I’m going to read and often change my mind for different reasons, but I think I’m headed next for Wonder by R.J. Palacio and still am reading more anthologies looking for stories about immigrants.  I have many anthologies from which to choose, just need to read to find what I think fits. 

Happy Reading Everyone!


  1. These sound wonderful--and Wonder is on my list too! Between you and Christy, my book list just keeps getting longer!

  2. Woo Hoo! I want everyone to read WONDER so I'm thrilled that you are looking at it this week. And I adore Breadbox, what a perfect book. Kindred Souls is on my to read shelf. I love anything MacLachlan writes.

  3. I have been wanting to read Bigger Than A Breadbox!

  4. I love Bigger Than a Breadbox! I agree Laurel Snyder does an amazing job. I keep thinking of Rebecca's mom again and again as I read other books. I love that it is so real and raw and intense.

  5. I used Bigger Than a Breadbox as a read aloud with my 5th graders! It was perfect! I also have Kindred Souls on my TBR many books so little time. Looking forward to Wonder this week for sure!

    Happy Reading!

  6. I've never been disappointed with a Laurel Snyder book; I waiting for my TBR Dare to end so I can read Bigger Than a Breadbox too.

  7. Any week that involves as Laurel Snyder book is a good reading week.

  8. I'm glad you enjoyed Bigger than a Breadbox- it is such an amazing book by such an amazing person.

    I didn't realize Patricia MacLachlan had a new book coming out- I will definitely have to check it out.

  9. I am waiting for the library to call me and tell me that "Wonder" is waiting for me. It looks amazing. (I've always loved the Natalie Merchant song.) I have not read "Bigger than a Breadbox." It is going on my list!


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