Sunday, August 19, 2018

Monday - Books Loved



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

         I read many wonderful books, yet it has been a while that one book brought me to tears. Perhaps it's because the children, two boys, then another boy and a girl are all middle-school age kids, the same ages that I taught. All the years I taught, I grew to know how capable they were, how much they could do. More than once, I felt they were not given the chance to do great things. In this story of 14-year-old Ahmed who's stuck in a city that doesn't want him and Max, a 13-year-old American boy who's also stuck because of his parents' move to Brussels, Katherine Walsh shows them using their smarts, defying odds to solve terrifying challenges.

            Adding to the story is the book's ending conversation with Walsh, telling how a story of the house in which she ended up residing in her own move to Brussels began the kernel of this story. Bringing the hiding of a Jewish boy into Max's own story of finding the courage to do what he knew was right blended the perils of the Holocaust into our own twenty-first-century perils, those refugees from Syria and other countries who just want a chance to live safely with their loved ones. Adding in a couple of Max's classmates who also understand loss and help with Ahmed's desperate needs shows that when given choices, young people are capable of extraordinary deeds.
        Written in alternate chapters, Max and Ahmed tell the story, day by tense day. Ahmed, hiding in Max's basement, shows his kind nature despite his tragic history of first losing his grandfather, mother and sisters in a bombing of their building, then his father as they journeyed by boat to the shores of Europe. Walsh's writing touched me many times. Here is Ahmed thinking of his losses: "Perhaps death was just another border, a line his body couldn't cross but that his heart kept slipping over." Max, moving from friends in the U.S., now stuck in a school where he doesn't even know the language, receiving bullying words he also can't understand, discovers Ahmed, and the decision-making of 'what to do' begins. When he learns that Ahmed has not been to school in three years, he understands that "He has always taken school for granted. Now he realized that even being able to hate it was a luxury." It is a story that will offer this question to every reader, "what would you do?"

           I love Sergio Ruzzier’s illustrations and this time he teams with Katie Kesterman who’s written a series of poem/stories of a robin and her babies. It’s pleasing to see, and quite wonderful to read the rhymes that show nest to flight. Dad’s included with his defensive words: “Back away, ‘Cause Mom and I are here to stay!” and Mom’s right there building her home: “It’s guaranteed a perfect fit/So all she has to do is sit.” Ruzzier fills the pages with daytime action and expressions, sure to be helpful and fun when kids study the robin’s habits and timeline of home to nest to babies. It’s terrific!









            Entertaining book, “first” about those chickens! Tired of the same old feed, the rooster spies one idea when looking through the window at a tv cooking show--SALSA. The chickens raid the garden of tomatoes and onions, and that night they ate chips and salsa, “though no one was quite certain where the chickens got the chips.” You’ll have to read the book to discover how that happened, along with the ducks' and the pigs' newfound fare. There’s a hilarious ending, too. Aaron Reynolds tells a tall tale while Paulette Bogan enriches it with her terrific illustrations.
                 A young Chinese-American girl and her father walk to a park one day and by chance meet an older man with whom the father begins a conversation. In Daniel Gutnick’s story, this girl says, referring to the park, “That’s where I rode my bike, and one special summer morning, it is where I met someone I will always remember.” In their visit, Mr. Mergler, a man who has taught children piano for many years, realizes there that this girl has a special aptitude for music and he offers her free lessons. She has earlier admitted (in her mind) that she knows they have no extra money for such a thing. Thus begins their relationship, a beautiful one where he teaches and she learns until he becomes ill and can no longer. The sweetness of the story and the ending shows the special gifts that can be given in kindness, a lesson we all could remember. The endnotes share that the story is based on the real Daniel Mergler, who passed away on May 25th, 2003 in Montreal. The illustrations by Mathilde Cinq-Mars swirl with musical notes interspersed with nature’s leaves. They’re realistic, but imbued with magic, what the girl and Mr. Mergler shared when they played music. She thought: “We make everything else disappear.” What a beautiful story. I wonder if this could be used as a mentor text for readers to write from their own memories of special relationships?
         "The world is filled with wonders, no matter where we go." Like this Grandpa, my husband used to take our first grandchild on walks, looking for and finding those "tiny, perfect things" and now I do this with my granddaughters. That grandson is now a senior in high school! So, you must know how much this book touched me as this grandfather takes his granddaughter out walking, looking and finding, the girl tells her mother upon returning home: "A leaf, a snail, a cat, some crows." In brief rhyming text, M.H. Clark takes us along on this journey, hopefully inspiring other adults to take their own walks with children in their lives. Madeline Kloepper wonderfully illustrates the discoveries of these tiny, perfect things as she shows this pair looking down (at a leaf) up high (at a snail on a gate and crows in a tree). They notice interesting things with people, too, like a man with a feather in his hat. A surprise is added at the end with a double page spread where readers are invited to discover their own 'tiny, perfect things'. On daily walks, with granddaughters or alone, my own wandering makes me look for what I will now remember as "tiny, perfect things." 

What's Next: Still reading Hunger Journeys and nearly finished with a copy of a book just published from Candlewick, The Dollar Kids by Jennifer Richard Jacobson, illustrated by Ryan Andrews. I read this much of Sunday, and am enjoying it very much!

26 comments:

  1. I'm so glad you enjoyed Mr. Mergler! That one was so sweet, even if somber. I'm also looking forward to Nowhere Boy! I hope The Dollar Kids is as good as I've heard, too. Have a wonderful reading week, Linda!

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    1. Yes, I loved Mr. Mergler & that it was based on a real person made it even better! Enjoy Nowhere Boy, Shaye. I am racing through The Dollar Kids, another wonderful story! Thanks!

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  2. I think The Nowhere Boy will definitely spark discussions related to the question, "What would you do?" I think you'll enjoy The Dollar Kids. Have a great week!

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    1. Thanks, Lisa, and yes, I am loving The Dollar Kids, nearly done!

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  3. Mr. Mergler and Tiny, Perfect Things are definitely catching my eye. Thanks!

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    1. You're welcome, Crystal, both very sweet stories.

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  4. I need to get my hands on Mr. Mergler. Love the cover of Tiny Perfect Things, though the rhyming text may be a dealbreaker for me. I also really liked Round of Robins--and tolerated the rhyme pretty well! Even liked it, if I recall! Sergio Ruzzier's work is always wonderful. Nowhere Boy sounds so good.

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    1. Yes, sometimes I wonder why the rhyming. I would love the stories even without. And I love Sergio Ruzzier's light-hearted books, too. Enjoy Nowhere Boy. I could hardly put it down! Thanks, Elisabeth!

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  5. I've now added Nowhere Boys and Tiny Perfect Things to my list. Great introductions!

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    1. Thanks, Wendy. Hope you like each one!

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  6. I also enjoyed Nowhere Boy - so much to think about with this book! I think it’s going to get a lot of good attention. Mr. Mergler looks like a book that I would enjoy, too. Thanks for sharing and have a great week!

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    1. Glad to hear your opinion of Nowhere Boy, Jama. I hated to see it end, hoping there might be a sequel. Mr. Mergler is a nice story. Thanks!

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  7. Unfortunately A Round of Robins isn't available at my library. I'm so sorry because I adore Sergio Ruzzier’s illustrations. I just put a hold on tiny, perfect things and hope to find a copy of Mr Mergler soon.

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    1. Can you request the library to purchase one, Cheriee. We can do that here. Enjoy tiny, perfect things & hope you can find a copy of Mr. Mergler, too. Thanks!

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  8. Tiny Perfect Things looks so cute! And I love Sergio Ruzzier's work, so I'll have to look at the Robin title.

    Happy reading this week :)

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    1. Thanks, Kellee. Both are just wonderful stories. Hope you have a good week of reading in the midst of all your school beginnings.

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  9. I loved reading your review of Nowhere Boy on Goodreads. It's one I have in my pile and I really want to get to it now! I just wrote up a post for Friday about some immigration and refugee picture books that may be a perfect precursor to this one!

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    1. I'll look for it, Michele. I just got Tonatiuh's Undocumented, will share it Wednesday. Thanks, & hope you enjoy Nowhere Boy!

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  10. I just love everything Sergio Ruzzier writes and illlustrates! Nowhere Boy is another boy I keep hearing about. If only I had time to read them all. I’ll add it to my Goodreads to remind me. Have a good week Linda!

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    1. Thanks, Laura, so glad to hear you love Sergio Ruzzier's work, too! I understand about the reading list, so, so many good ones to read & so, so little time. Hope you enjoy Nowhere Boy sometime.

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  11. The cover of Tiny Perfect Things is so adorable. I am going to look for it. Thanks for sharing, Linda!

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    1. I hope you and the boys like it, and go out looking! Thanks, Ricki!

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  12. Mr Mergler sounds exactly like a book I need to be sharing with my own higher degree teacher-students. Your description of Nowhere Boy has made me stack in my to-find shelf on Goodreads - these are all fairly new titles, I just wish we'd get them soonest at our libraries here. :)

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    1. I am fortunate to have a library where I can put a hold on new titles before they're out. Hope you can find them soon, Myra. Both are lovely. Thanks!

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  13. I definitely have Nowhere Boy on my list. I've been looking for Syrian refugee books in part because I think in a few years I will have a good number of students from there. Now if I could just find more about Nepalese or Bengali refugees.

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    1. Enjoy it when you can, Karen. I will let you know if I discover any. Thanks!

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