Sunday, July 29, 2012

Good Reading Everywhere!

Visit  Teach.Mentor.Text, with Jen and Kellee who are hosts of this kid lit meme, from primary to YA.  Check the links to see others' ideas of a good read!

        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. 

        Myra, Fats & Iphigene host this meme at Gathering Books, and today I'm reviewing The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater for that challenge.

       It’s hard to believe I’ve put this book off for so long. I loved every single line of it, and only wish there was more. I savored those last pages, but worried yesterday and today about the ending. I cannot give away the ending for you readers, only that part of it was how I saw the book moving so inevitably. You will have to do your own predictions, and hope that the end is satisfying to you. 
I loved the alternating and strong first person narratives, the weaving of the two stories together as they created the final binding off of the piece. This is no stereotypical girl in Kate(Puck) Connolly, but one who insists upon the future she envisions, then sets out to get it. Sean Kendrick almost holds the antagonist position until his enemy, the employer’s son, takes over, leaving the author to push Sean into a more tragic role as a parallel to Kate. One could almost see them side by side in a modern drama, working together like Clark Kent and Lois Lane to battle evil. And evil there is, but also dramatic interest in the parts about the water horses, legends from the British Isles, what Maggie Stiefvater calls the capall uisce. Here is an excerpt showing some of the terror of these horses: ‘The capall uisce looks at her and opens its jaw, and then it makes a sound that turns my blood into ice. It’s a hissed exclamation with low clucks behind it, clicking from somewhere deep in its throat: kaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaw.”
I also loved the way Steifvater made the third character the sea, surrounding the island. “As the sun shines low and red across the water, I wade into the ocean. The water is still high and brown and murky with the memory of the storm, so if there’s something below it, I won’t know it. But that’s part of this, the not knowing. The surrender to the possibilities beneath the surface.” One learns that life on an island means life with the sea. 
If you like horses, that is another part that’s fascinating. If you like anticipation, Steifvater has written a book that’s doesn’t stop one wondering what could possibly be next. I am now wanting to find the Shiver trilogy to read more of this author’s wonderful writing.  The Scorpio Races is a Michael L. Printz Award honor book as well as the Odyssey Audiobook (for excellence in audio book production) honor book.  

The Lonely Book by Kate Bernheimer, illustrated by Chris Sheban.  This newly published book grabbed me immediately because of the wonderful cover and the intriguing title. I love books about books and this is one to add to your collection. It’s about a sweet book that happens to be a little shabby and missing its last page, but a little girl falls in love with the story and makes up her own ending. It’s not quite as simple as that, for the plot takes a few paths before the book finds its own happy ending. This can invite such good conversation and/or writing about favorite books along with what being lonely means. It also could be used for an examination of how plot works with its twists and turns within the beginning, middle and end. Both author and illustrator have won awards for their work.

Masai and I by Virginia Kroll.  Beautiful, dreamy illustrations about a young girl talking about her own life, then comparing what would be happening in the same circumstances if she were part of a Masai village community. For example, her Mama says to come home when the streetlights go on, but if she were Masai, she would stay out until "the bats' caves echoed with empty silence'. Beautiful language.

Dumpling Soup by Jama Kim Rattigan, illustrated by Lillian Hsu-Flanders.  Beautiful book about a family of varied backgrounds who celebrate the new year with specific ways.  The story shows one rite of passage of a young girl who is the main character when she gets to help wrap dumplings for the first time.  It's such a loving book showing all the family members gathering on new year's.  It includes all the food and other traditions followed faithfully to ensure a good new year.  I can see it being used so well after the December holiday break for students to share their own traditions. The illustrations are charming, showing good detail along with the story.  For example, there are so many guests that they fill up quite a lot of the porch with their shoes.  What do the kids do?  They play shoe store!  It's a terrific story about this special day.  Jama blogs at Jama's Alphabet Soup.  If you don't know this blog, check it out.  You'll love it!

My Name Is Yoon by Helen Recorvits, Pictures by Gabi Swiatkowska.  A sweet story about a Korean child new to American who likes the way she writes her name in Korean, much prettier, than the sticks and lines of English writing. It's about cherishing one's name and also the challenge of change. It's another book to use if you want to give students a chance to write about their names.

Old Bear by Kevin Henkes.  This is a board book that teaches about the seasons in discoveries through the old bear dreaming. It has terrific illustrations, a good content book. It's for my granddaughter's first birthday.

On The Night You Were Born by Nancy Tillman.  I've seen this, but never read it through. It's a wonderful book to read to the little ones, to share your love for them. I bought it for my youngest granddaughter's first birthday.  MORE BEARS!

Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelt, illustrated by Noah Z. Jones.  

Great book about wants and needs and generosity.  A little boy wants a new style of athletic shoe so very much, even spends a bit of money at a thrift store for the kinds of shoes, and they're too small!  It ends up being an act of generosity to be admired.  I'd like to read this with students to see what they say about it.  Some don't always realize that others don't always get what they want!  
What Makes The Wind?  by Laurence Santrey, illustrated by Bert Dodson.  A non-fiction book that introduces how weather occurrences cause wind, and different kinds of wind. Simple and clear explanations with beautiful watercolor illustrations.



  1. The Scorpio Races I have read about on a few other blogs, I really must make time to read it this year. It sounds fantastic.

  2. The Lonely Book sounds like a great book for mentoring writers. I'll have to check that one out this week. Thanks for all of the shares!

  3. I have yet to read the Scorpio Races too. I need to do that soon :)

  4. I love On The Night You Were Born! My daughter and I received that book as a gift when she was born. It's a sweet story! I will need to look for The Lonely Book. It sounds like an interesting story! Thanks!

  5. I'm glad to see you loved Scorpio Races as much as I did. Maggie is such a beautiful writer... I couldn't put Scorpio Races down.

  6. Isn't The Scorpio Races just fantastic? Maggie Stiefvater really is one of the most talented writers of YA working today. Can't wait to read her next book.

  7. Scorpio Races has been on my radar for a while, but one person I know really didn't like it, so I've held off. Your review convinced me though that I need to read it for myself and come to my own conclusion. The Lonely Book, sounds lovely and I can't wait to look for that at the library. Aren't you enjoying Marty McGuire? :)


  8. Isn't The Lonely Book wonderful? Both the story and the illustrations are so well-crafted. And I'll read anything by Kevin Henkes, he's one of my "old-school" favorites :)

  9. So many good ones that I've come to love over the years are listed here.
    I've never heard of The Lonely Book. That's going on my Amazon wish list!

  10. Wow, so many good ones. I must admit that THE LONELY BOOK looks adorable and does draw you right in with that perfectly tossley haired character on the front. I must find it! MY NAME IS YOON also looks like one I must read. What a sweet idea and cover. She is working so hard there and looks just like some of my students. I love the Marty McGuire books, my kids do too. Great characters. Awesome reading Linda, thanks for some great new titles too!

  11. Oh my gosh! So many good ones to choose from. I absolutely love Those Shoes. And My Name is Yoon, Old Bear & On the Night You Were Born are more favorites. What Makes the Wind is one I'll have to add to my library as I'll be teaching weather this year in Science. I will also definitely check out Dumpling Soup and Masai and I. Thank you!!

  12. I'll be reading The Scoripo Races for my #nerdprintz challenge. It seems people either love it or hate it.
    I agree with other commenters that The Lonely Book looks so good!

  13. You'll love Marty McGuire- she is one of my favorite female protagonists.

    I cannot believe I have not read Scorpio Races yet- I have heard nothing but great things about it. I'll have to get to it soon.

    Happy reading this week! :)

  14. Thank you everyone for your reading comments. I hope you do find one or more of these books that you love. I am gaining so many ideas for good books from reading the posts shared with Kellee and Jen. It's great.

  15. Hi, Linda!
    You've got two picture books I want to find immediately: My Name is Yoon and Those Shoes! I've never heard of either!
    I checked out Scorpio Races, but I haven't read it yet! I guess I need to!
    Loved Write Beside Them! It's a great book. I keep it by my desk at school and when I need inspiration, I reread favorite parts.
    Thanks for the great titles, and have a great reading week!

  16. I won a copy of the Scorpio Races a while back, but haven't gotten to reading it yet. I've heard really good things about it, though, and what you wrote makes me even more curious.

  17. Such a rich rich post here, Linda. Some of the titles here are familiar to me: My Name is Yoon and Jama's Dumpling Soup, but the others are new to me (such as What Makes the Wind and The Lonely Book) - the latter is especially meaningful to me as we are contemplating on doing a theme on Book about Books in the coming months. :)

    I've heard a lot about Scorpio Races and I'm glad to see that you liked it. I would try to find it in our libraries. I haven't read any of Maggie Stiefvater titles as yet, looks like I'm missing out on a lot! :) Thanks for adding this to our July Database! Yey! :)


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