Sunday, December 15, 2013

It's Monday - Book Sharing

It's Monday! What are you Reading? is hosted by Jen at TEACH.MENTOR.TEXTS, and shared with Ricki and Kellee at UNLEASHING READERS.   
         And, also visit Sheila at BOOK JOURNEYS for more reviews. Thanks to all these blogs we are able to discover many, many new books!  Thanks Ricki, Kellee, Jen and Sheila!
 Tweet! at #IMWAYR

This time, too, I am linking with Myra, Fats and Iphigene at Gathering Books for their Award Winning Book challenge by reading The Thing About Luck, by Cynthia Kadohata, illustrations by Julia Kuo! 

I'd also like to share that I'm joining the 2014 Latin@s in Kid Lit Reading Challenge
See the sidebar for the link!

Borrowed Names – written by Jeannine Atkins
             There is more than one book in my house that I’ve bought because it somehow called to me, and that I haven’t read.  This has been one of them, and I’m sorry I put it off so long.   I enjoyed it very much.  Not only are the stories beautifully told in verse, but I learned new things about these women, one of which I had never heard of, one I know because of her books I love, and one I know only because of my meager science knowledge.  Jeannine tells the loving and at times not so loving stories of Laura Ingalls Wilder, Madam C.J. Walker, and Marie Curie and their daughters, the strong history of each highlighted, but also the pull of the relationship.  Each of the mothers were born in 1867.  

              As I read, I wondered about my own relationship with my mother, and now my daughter, the complexity of this bond, the wandering of children who want to be themselves, yet return to the relationship again and again.  You daughters, and you who have a daughter, will love the stories, and may want to think more about your lives and how they are being lived.  From the Wilder story: “Mama changes/flour and water into bread, cloth into dresses,/and, at night, with spoken words,/her childhood into legend.”  From Walker: “The scent of herbs from far-flung places/remind both daughter and mother/that the world is bigger than this city.” Finally, from the Curie words: “She is grateful for equations, which stubbornness/and thought can change.”
        There is a fascinating timeline at the end of the book that weaves the families’ lives together.

The Thing About Luck – written by Cynthia Kadohata and illustrated by Julia Kuo
           The National Book Award winner in the children’s category, this book by Cynthia Kadohata, is a story told by a 12 year old Summer, who accompanies her family who work for a custom harvesting company during the wheat harvest so they can make the mortgage! A few weeks ago there was a #titletalk calling for books that exhibit resilience, and this could have been one added to the list.
          It’s a tough time for Summer’s family this year. She has recently recovered from a chance encounter with a mosquito and nearly dies from malaria, and additional bad luck is that the parents must return to Japan to care for elderly relatives, so the grandparents must step in to go on the harvest, grandmother to cook, grandfather to drive the combines. In order to meet the needs of the harvest, sometimes combines work 18 or more hours a day. When the wheat is ready, it must be cut! This particular event takes places in many states in our country in this grand scale. The importance of the work, the living that these workers earn, and the children who migrate with their parents from field to field is portrayed with admiration, and shows the challenges of very hard work. This forms the backbone of the story, which is really about Summer, who takes on much responsibility in order that the ‘family’ survive. The challenges, the ‘bad luck’, occur more than once, and we see and feel the ups and downs of Summer’s feelings. She thinks things out, she worries over them, and usually takes action, primarily because of wise advice given her by her grandparents. She is a tough cookie, as I slowly realized while I read. The illustrations by Julia Kuo are small pencil sketches, portrayed as done by Summer.
              The book seems like an easy text, but it is a complex story, of generational differences and love, of contemplation of the future and whether Summer will do okay. It’s both funny and loving, mainly the interactions between Summer and Obaachan, her grandmother and grandfather. A younger brother, Jaz, also in the family, appears to be autistic, and has his own set of problems. Summer’s voice is sweet and strong, a new character that I will remember.

Picture Books

Five Nice Mice – Chisato Tahiro, translated from the Japanese by Sayako Uchida, adapted by Kate Westerlund
              This is a gorgeous book with full page illustrations to linger over.  Five mice hear music and discover it’s a group of frogs down by the pond.  Unfortunately they’re turned away (a frogs-only concert), and cannot finish listening to the beautiful music.  The mice shrug their shoulders and return home, get excited about making their own music.  They get to work, using “found” tools and equipment, and create their own instruments.  The story shows the delight when everyone learns to work together, and learns to share. “Music is for everyone!”

Dear Juno – written by Soyung Pak, and illustrated by Susan Kathleen Hartung
                 Juno’s grandmother lives in Korea and sends a letter to Juno, which he can’t read.  However, there are a few things that help him ‘read’ in other ways, like the real things that fall out of the envelope along with the letter.  Juno has his own ideas of how to write back, also, and the letter begins a new way to look at communicating with loved ones across the ocean. I enjoyed it, and the stylistic art is bold and colorful.

Sun Bread – written and illustrated by Elisa Kleven
              I’m not sure which is the best thing about this book, the gorgeous art or the loving rhymes.  Elisa Kleven tells a story of a snowy day when everything is dark, yet the baker at the bakery decides to make her own ‘sun bread’ which grows and grows as it bakes, enough for all to eat and share.  Like a warm miracle, the real sun makes its appearance.  It’s a ‘delicious’ story, with a happy voice and animals filling the pages.

Once Upon A Northern Night – written by Jean E. Pendziwol and illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault
          This is just the cozy book to read on a snowy night, those nights that are happening right now in the snowstorm east, and in our Rocky Mountains.  A mother or father tells this little boy, already covered and sleeping of the beautiful night painted just for him, from the snowshoe hares playing to the silent owl sweeping feathers in the snow to the stars fastened in the willows, it’s a beautiful lullaby of a book.

No Bears – written by Meg McKinlay and illustrated by Leila Rudge
          With wonderful whimsical illustrations and tongue-in-cheek story about a princess who escapes a terrible monster in the forest, who throws a party for her fairy godmother who helps save her, this is a book to read to a child who “knows” book tales, and to laugh with too.  Of course, in the telling, there is a bear on every page.  Terrific read aloud for primary students!

Winter Is The Warmest Season – written and illustrated by Lauren Stringer

         I read this to my 4 year old granddaughter who enjoyed wondering why anyone would say winter was warm, especially since we just had a very cold spell of below zero weather.  It’s a delightful turnabout book, showing all the cozy ways we find warmth in the winter, like cuddly covers and warm woolen mittens!  The pictures are exaggerated, but realistic, filled with warm colors.  For example, one page shows a boy reading a book, “The Joy of Hot Food” while cocoa and grilled cheese sits on the table waiting.  It’s a book filled new ideas about winter, those reasons many of us get excited to pull out the warm sweaters and woolen scarves.

Gold – poems written by Barbara Crooker
          A friend gave me this book and I’ve been reading and savoring it slowly these past months.  It is about grief, and observations in varying places where memories arise.  Barbara Crooker wrote this to respond to the long journey of her mother’s illness and eventual death.  There is a special bond like no other between a mother and daughter, and the poems show that bond in a myriad of ways, the response to places, to memories there, to acts as small as kindling a fire together. In still another poem, she writes of a journey where ‘the Book of Life is fastened shut, and there are no pages left to read by their own burning.’  I love Barbara Crooker’s poetry and this was a special book to me. 

NEXT:  I've nearly reached my goal of 300 books this year, but am taking a blogging break after this week.  I'll certainly continue reading, but family is arriving soon, gifts wait to be wrapped, and cookies need baking.  Allegiant by Veronica Roth is next! Still reading and loving Views From A Window Seat by Jeannine Atkins.   Happy Holidays to you all!


  1. The Thing About Luck sounds interesting and is added to my TBR list. It's always a joy to read your posts Linda. Thanks for sharing and congrats on closing in on your reading goal for the year! Enjoy your family time!

    1. Thanks Max, will bring in the book to share! I appreciate all the support from you!

  2. I'll miss you in the blogging world, Linda. Enjoy your family! You've inspired me to read The Thing About Luck over the break. It is on my daughter's night table. Have a wonderful holiday.

    1. Thank you, Melanie-I'll probably be reading everyone's posts as much as I can, but need to take a break for the holidays! Hope you enjoy The Thing About Luck!

  3. Wow! You read a ton this week! I have added several of these to my TBR list- think WINTER IS THE WARMEST SEASON will be at the top of the pile! Can't believe you will be taking a break from blogging. Let me know when/if we can get together, either before your family gets here or after they are gone.

    1. Will be in touch, Carol, for sure. Hope you'll have time after the new year? Thanks-hope you're enjoying the boys!!

  4. Wow! I want to read all these books! Thanks for such a great list this week, Linda! Borrowed Names looks fascinating - and even though I have two boys, I am one of three girls in my own family so think it would be a great book to share with my sisters (who both have daughters). The Thing About Luck has been a book that I keep seeing - but after reading your review know I must read it! Winter is the Warmest Season is a definite MUST HAVE for me - I have a thing for books about seasons! Dear Juno also looks great! Ahhhhh - so many great books! Where shall I start? Thank you!

    1. Oh, I agree that Borrowed names would be wonderful for you to share with your sisters! And yes, there are so, so many good books-guess we should just consider ourselves lucky! Thanks for sharing your ideas about the books too! Happy Reading!

  5. Hi Linda,
    After reading your post, I've got more title to add to my "read over break" list. Borrowed Names sounds very interesting and one I want to get for sure! Enjoy your family!

    1. Thanks Julie-hope you have a wonderful holiday with yours, too! I suspect you will love Borrowed Names!

  6. Hi there Linda, a break sounds nice! Am looking forward to baking cookies as well in the next few days for my daughter's birthday, I shall see whether I still have what it takes to get those chocolate-chip-goodness in the oven. Borrowed Names sounds like a book I would love and enjoy, and perhaps read alongside my daughter when the time comes. Thanks also for including Kadohata's new novel in the AWB database! :)

    1. The Thing About Luck was truly good, Myra. Hope you can get to it sometime. Your daughter may like it too! Early birthday wishes to her!

  7. Linda - The Thing about Luck is such a wonderful title. Quiet but powerful Love all of the family dynamics! So pleased to see Once Upon a Northern Night here. What a winter treasure. I adore this book! Happy time with family Linda!

    1. Thanks Carrie, and I hope you have a wonderful holiday with your family too! I found some of these books, like the Northern Night, from you. I think we must have similar book tastes! I have such a great library, they almost always have what I search for!


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