Sunday, June 24, 2018

It's Monday - The Wow of Stories


          Visit Jen at Teach MentorTexts and Kellee and Ricki at UnleashingReaders to see what they've been reading, along with everyone else who link up.  

         Thanks to Candlewick Press for the Arc of The Button War by Avi, out June 12th.



          These boys in a small town in Poland already occupied by Russians learn the harsh realities of following a leader they cannot refuse as war nears even their remote village. The main character Patryk is only twelve and hangs out with six others, one of whom reveals a glimpse of his terrible anger one time as they “played” in the forest. Patryk finds a button which competitive Jurek wants, who nearly clubs him with a tree limb to get it. After he sees it, Patryk knows he should fight back more, but the pull of the group keeps him doing things he knows are wrong and dangerous. 
         It’s hard to believe, but these villagers live so remotely, they have just heard of aeroplanes, have never seen one, until that “clap clap” noise rises over the village and bombs the school. They all survive, but their hated schoolmaster and one young boy do not. That horror begins the realization that the outside world, the war, and the Germans will come to them whether they want them or not. They begin the “button war”, the game to see who can get the “best” button from a soldier’s uniform. The tension does not leave the story as the group surges on, even after one is beaten while trying to steal one from a soldier who lives in his home. The “pull” of Jurek’s dares and the idea of winning won’t allow Patryk to stop, with terrible consequences. The surrounding story of war shows effects on many. Their beloved forest is burned to prevent hiding out. The invading Germans commandeer homes, and some decide to leave for other places to live. The village no longer feels like home but a sad part of the war.
          The story centers on Patryk’s thoughts, who knows his actions will have consequences yet is unable to pull away. I imagine reading this with students and holding important conversations about group influences and consequences. Avi has written an upper middle-grade novel that fascinates through its setting and the underlying questions of morality.




       Summer's coming and the kids at Wolf Creek Middle School have actually been given an assignment for the summer: to add to the Wolf Creek Community Time Capsule Project. Nora Tucker is looking forward to practicing her journalism skills while doing that assignment, imagining she will be reporting about hot summer days with popsicles and swims at the creek. But even before school's out, two inmates break out of the town's maximum security prison. Nothing is going to be the same. Things become more and more complicated when a new girl moves to town just a few weeks before the end and she's black. She's also a fast runner, the other thing Nora is good at. As said, it's complicated. 
        Through text messages, letters, poems, news stories and comics, Kate Messner has created a story that I found hard to put down, wanting to turn to the next page to see how the members of this community, including Nora, her family and friends, reacted to what becomes a lockdown. This time of no playing outside during the hunt for the escapees created some scares and made a few people act differently than Nora expected. It made me wonder how communities everywhere might react to this kind of situation? I enjoyed it very much.



       Yes, it's as wonderful as many are sharing. We're using more words than Minh Lê and Dan Santat did so we can share this new, marvelous story. A young boy is dropped off at his grandfather's home and he does not like it. With a glum face, he enters and the two try to watch some TV, not understanding each other's language as well as each other's likes and dislikes. It's a dilemma that is also shown in the different meals each eats for dinner. Finally, connections are made through the boy taking out his sketchbook and drawing what to me is a hero (with a wand!). Grandfather's face lights up and off they go, drawing together. That's all I'll tell. You'll need to find the book and read what happened next! Filled with color and extraordinary action, it's a book for all to help consider how we see others, without really looking, or perhaps how by really looking.



           It's hard to go to the beach and have to leave to return to the place where you stay, but this book by Natalie Ziarnik helps the little ones remember as they prepare for bedtime. The rhyming text feels like a lullaby as the "song" goes: "And you remember the beach that day--/the sea so cool/the waves at play/A clock chimes eight./Dad shuts the gate." and on. A family remembers and greets the evening in Madeline Valentine's watercolor illustrations, happy and detailed, just right for a gentle bedtime read!



           Young boy Finn lives by the sea and begins by remembering stories from his grandfather, no longer with him. He says "It's a good day for sailing", as he thinks of the Grandfather's words of a place "where ocean meets the sky". There he'll find a place with whales and dragons, jellyfish and birds, and yes, even castles!  One can see his yearning as he gazes out his window, so he decides to build his own boat and sail out to discover all those wonders. Like The Night Gardener and The Antlered Ship, magic is found, just as Finn has heard in the stories. Every time I read a book by The Fan Brothers, I know I will look at each page for a long time. There again is much to discover in this book.

        You might think this is a book about cutting pie into enough pieces, but it really is about scooting over to make enough room for all to share in the things we have/do/experience in this wide world we inhabit. In gorgeous and realistic pages illustrated by Jason Chin, Stephanie Parsley Ledyard uses just enough words to celebrate that "pie" and everything else, like band-aids, sun-warmed beach towels, jump ropes, and trees, are indeed for sharing. It would be wonderful fun to read and enjoy this with a group of young children.


          It's time to learn that a disaster can mean friends will help. Reading this story by Anne Hunter, also enjoying her illustrations of sweet animals in nature who want to show their skills to help the possum family who lost their home in a flood. I've read and loved Possum's Harvest Moon, but missed Possum and the Peeper. These are cute stories, lovely for reading aloud to young readers.
        







         These past few days held the Denver Public Library book sale. They have thousands of books to sift through and I did look in many boxes. This time, I found a few for my granddaughters, a few poetry books for me and more than a few older biography picture books. I'll try to share them once in a while and was happy to discover ones that were new to me, though published a few years ago.
        With bold mixed-media illustrations by Leonard Jenkins, Robert Burleigh tells of Langston's first glimpse, acknowledgment of himself as a poet. He's young and on his way on a train to Mexico to visit his father. On that ride, he crosses rivers, particularly notices the beautiful Mississippi, the one Abe Lincoln traveled on a raft, "all the way to New Orleans, where he saw a slave auction and learned to hate slavery." He begins to imagine what this river, and others, mean to his people, and words rush in. Those three words, "I've known rivers", written fast on an envelope and followed by others, became one of his most famous poems. The story goes back and forth between this memory and Langston's journey to a party of celebration, for his first book of poetry. It's a lovely story, one that would be terrific to share as an introduction to this great poet.

Next: Starting The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui and Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds, one of my "must reads".

19 comments:

  1. Drawn Together is beautiful, but I still have to check out the other picture books you mentioned. It was fascinating to hear Kate Messner talk about her research process when writing Breakout. She even visited the Bronx so she could gather details to write the character of Elidee.

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    1. How great to hear Kate speak. She wrote a long blog series about her process, too, which I read. They were fascinating, too. Yes, Drawn Together is lovely. Thanks, Lisa!

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  2. I am first in line for The Button War, locally -- excited to dig into that one! And I'm really looking forward to Breakout and Drawn. I'm adding Pie is for Sharing to my TBR list -- excited for another Jason Chin book, but also love to hear what the story is about. Thanks so much for all the lovely shares, Linda!

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    1. You're welcome, Shaye. Hope you enjoy The Button War and any others you find. Pie Is for Sharing is a lovely surprise!

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  3. I though Breakout was terrific and written in a way that I know will be very popular with middle grade kids! I'll have to check out the other books on your list!

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    1. Yes, I enjoyed it very much! Thanks, Jana!

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  4. Kate Messner is such a talented and versatile author, tackling picture books and middle grade so skillfully!

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    1. Yes, I agree! I enjoy so many of her books, and there is a big variety! Thanks, Jane!

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  5. Long Way Down is also one of my mustreads and it is in transit to my library! I can hardly wait. The Button War sounds very intense. I'm not sure I could finish it Linda.
    You have a lot of books on your list that are not available at my library and honestly I'm not sure if this is good or bad since I want to read them (Breakout is one I am longing for) but I already have so many books out!

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    1. I understand completely, Cheriee. I still have a pile waiting in my library stash, too. Enjoy what you can find, and read about the others from what others share. I'm looking forward to Long Way Down, but have a few to finish first! How it goes! Thanks!

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  6. I've been searching everywhere for my copy of Breakout. I can't find it! I am going to go on a very targeted hunt tomorrow. It looks so good!

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    1. It is, and once started, hard to stop! Thanks, Ricki!

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  7. Your post smells like summer sun, indeed! What a great curation of summer reads - all of them I haven't read yet (a few are definitely on my radar such as the Dan Santat and the Fan Brothers one). Looking forward to finding them in our libraries. Have a great reading week, Linda! - Myra (GatheringBooks)

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    1. Thanks, Myra. I hope you can find most in your libraries! Each one is lovely in its own unique way!

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  8. Breakout is on my #mustreadin2018 and in my stack so thankful for summer vacation! Drawn Togethrr is beautiful and was fortunate to purchase it through First Book. Looking forward to reading it aloud next year. Have a great week!

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    1. I'm glad to hear you loved "Drawn Together". It is quite a wonderful book! Thanks, Laura!

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  9. I had the great opportunity to talk to the Fan Brothers. It was quite a thrill.

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    1. That is wonderful, Earl. I love their books!

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  10. Stopping by a few days late. Your review of Breakout made the choice for me. I just picked it up from the library and was trying to decide between Breakout or Night Journey. Breakout it is and I'm starting it tonight. (Although I really need to read some of my #mustreadin2018 tittles. I'm requesting A Lullaby of Summer Things. Watercolor illustrations, rhyming text, and a bedtime read. That's a three-way win for me.

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