Monday, February 25, 2019

Monday Reading - Books Loved

Visit Kellee and Ricki at UnleashingReaders and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts to see what they've been reading, along with everyone else who post their favorites. 
        It was quite an amazing reading week, time to read three fantastic chapter cooks & fall in love with more picture books. Winter weather helped!  
        And I have a second post today HERE with a giveaway of a Shakespeare pop-up book for two winners!
        Mapping The Bones is another story of that terrible time of World War II, focusing on two children caught in the nightmare of Hitler's plan to rid the country of Jews and other undesirables. Yolen weaves the Hansel and Gretel tale into this story of Chaim and Gittel, twins who are taken to the labor camps in 1942 and the horrific abuse they endured especially being young twins at the hands of an evil doctor. I've read that an alternate title was "The Candy House".
        First, forced from their beautiful home and made to live in the Lodz Ghetto, those awful circumstances become too dangerous, and their parents decide to flee to the nearby Lagiewniki Forest, where partisan fighters help spirit the children away. Earlier in the ghetto, the family first is made to share their small apartment with another family and in that time, those children's parents die in separate tragedies. The two left, Bruno and Sophie, also travel with Chaim and Gittel. Sadly, all four are captured by German soldiers, their partisan saviors killed. The story does not stop leaving one wanting both to stop reading and keep reading. It feels like an underlying drumbeat of danger as chapter by chapter, the days and nights terrify. 
        The relief of the story is the loving connection between the twins, Chaim, a boy of few words, but writing poetry, and Gittel, reflecting between chapters as if she's telling their story from afar. It felt comforting because one read and thought that because she was reflecting, she must have survived. Yet because of the utter loss of trust in this time, I found that hard to trust too. I didn't know until the end who was finally free and able to continue their lives and who was not. 
         Jane Yolen has written a story that seems all too real, a fiction based on tragic truth. And through Chaim, Yolen has also shown her poetic expertise. The poems in such a sad story offer relief, though often sad. Yolen also gives Gittel another strong voice. She writes the words and lets Gittel tell them: "Our hearts were minefields in those days. Befriend someone, get to know someone, even dislike someone, it didn't matter, for they might well be gone forever in an hour, a day, overnight." It's a terrific and tragic, heroic and loving story.

          A verse non-fiction book, written by one of the students who lived this "first" in 1956, first school in the American south to integrate after the landmark Brown vs Education of 1954 case that decreed that separate schools for black and white children are "inherently unequal". Jo Ann Allen Boyce partnered with Debbie Levy to write this story, Jo Ann's story! It is about that year, from end-of-summer prep, some family and neighbors' introduction, then those months that actually began fairly well, but worsened day by day, until Jo Ann's family moved to LA. At this beginning are her words "If school were weather, I would say it's serious/with a chance of friendly." Still later, more protests brought in the troops who had to escort the students "down the hill" to school. FYI - African-Americans mostly lived on a hill above the town. 
          " P lease, let the troops bring Clinton back from the
            E dge of the cliff
            A ll we want is to go to our school without the
            C yclone of ugliness without fear without hate with
            E ase "

            There is nothing easy about this story, nothing easy to read about those who spit, hit, shoved, wrote hate notes to these twelve students. It's well done with an underpinning of loss that made me sad for the kids and for the families. And you know some is still happening in our world today, sixty-three years later. 
            There is a wealth of backmatter, notes from both authors, a timeline, a bit about the kinds of poetry, a bibliography and further sources. I can imagine a classroom could use this as a beginning study of desegregation history. 


             I simply would never pass up a book by Gary D. Schmidt and this is another one that should not be missed. Each character, even those seen less, are ones we desire to know more deeply. It's an immediate page-turner that made me sad and happy with a dose of learning all about cricket, yes, cricket! (I sometimes searched for added explanations!) Carter Jones begins this start to his sixth-grade year early one morning when he finds a real English butler, bowler hat and all, on the doorstep—one who stays to help the Jones family, which is in some turmoil. Missing the dad who's in the military and a little brother who has died in the past year makes everything shaky. This butler appears to be a legacy from a grandfather's endowment and welcome, after the first shock. In addition to helping out with the family every day, cooking, organizing, etc., he also adds his own British flavor of expectations for the kids, especially asking Carter to be a gentleman. How that works out makes sixth grade a challenge sometimes and joyful other times. That Butler, Mr. August Paul Bowles-Fitzpatrick, often speaks, well, like a butler. His advice to all the kids, Carter, too, touches the heart, stronger and stronger as the story deepens. Perhaps it's advice for us readers, too? "Make good decisions and remember who you are." I'm sad that it's already over.


          Happy again to share two brand new picture books, out this month! 

        Thanks to Candlewick Press for this new sweet book by Toni Yuly. This will help younger children see their connection to our wonderful world of nature, each of us a part of that pebble, that leaf falling from a tree, with a touch of a fish in a pond and the cloud overhead. It's a bit of poetry come to life with Yuly's bright and colorful collaged illustrations! "A wave that splashes from the sea... is like me!"


      From B.J. Lee, an online blogger friend, her debut picture book, a play on that hilarious poem "There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Fly". This time, B.J. travels to Florida (where she lives) and GATORS! Oh my, the rhyming is perfect, and it can't be easy to have rhymes that include crabs and panthers, pelicans and eels. Well, she does manage beautifully, like this small bit about that greedy gator: "He swallowed the crab to grab the moth, I don't know why he swallowed the moth. It made him cough." There is much more, with imaginative, expressive illustrations by David Opie, made even more fun by the pictures of that gator's stomach. Here's one example showing the filling up! What will happen when it gets to the manatee and shark? It's a book full of "ohs" and "ahs" and "laughs". 


And other recent picture books I loved:

       Remember Leaves when this young bear learned it was time for sleep? Well, he came back last year and somehow I missed this story. He's awake and hungry! He remembers the sweet taste of that which is "spicy, aromatic, sparkling with sunlight-- 'Honey!'" Sadly, his paw reaching down into the hollow tree yielded, no honey. It was too soon. David Ezra Stein takes this young bear on a romp through the woods as he waits, for honey! A brief text, but a watchful waiting takes the reader through the days when "Clouds cracked and grumbled in a heavy sky." and young bear enjoys other special moments, until finally! You'll have to find the book and enjoy it as much as I did. Like anyone who celebrates nature, so does this bear and Stein's watercolor illustrated scenes show that he does, too.

         Introducing Richard Wright's haiku with special photo-collaged art of young African-American boys makes a beautiful book, a brief intro to Wright's haiku who wrote thousands and there is one book published with 817 of them--Haiku: This Other World. "The clouds are smiling/at a single yellow kite/swaying under them." 

What's Next: No Fixed Address by Susin Nielsen and The Lost Girl by Anne Ursu


Happy Reading!

22 comments:

  1. What a treasure trove of titles to read! Thanks for the round-up!

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    1. You're welcome, good titles for the library!

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  2. I really want to read the new Gary Schmidt. Orbiting Jupiter is making the rounds in my Children's Lit class right now--so many students excited about that title!

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    1. It is wonderful, hope you can read soon. I do love his books! Thanks, Elisabeth!

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  3. I'm going to have to read Mapping the Bones. I've seen the cover many times, but never stopped to read what it was about. I've been haunted by so many historical fiction reads from the WWII era, but I can't stop reading them. I am also looking forward to This Promise of Change. I hope you enjoy No Fixed Address and The Lost Girl, Linda! And I'm going to hop on over to your giveaway. Have a wonderful reading week!

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    1. So far I've liked No Fixed Address, but I'm not very far. I'm sure I'll love it & The Lost Girl. I like the World War II books, feel that I need to know all I can no matter how many. Thanks, Shaye.

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  4. There Was An Old Gator Who Swallowed a Moth looks like a fun twist on the original. When I taught in primary grades we always had great times with that book. I'll have to look for it. Thanks for sharing and have a great week!

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    1. Thanks, Jana. Yes, this "Old Gator" is a twist on the one I guess most of us know, but it is fun, hilarious to hear & to see those illustrations. Hope you find it soon!

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  5. Your blog is a perfect place for people to discover books to read!

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    1. Thanks, Loralee. It's so nice to hear from you! I hope you do find grand books to enjoy!

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  6. I need to get Pay Attention Carter Jones! and of course, The Promise of Change. I've been sharing the story of Ruby Bridges lately, and it that whole time really shows those white people to be despicable. You are right. We haven't changed nearly enough. I enjoyed Jane Yolen's The Devil's Arithmetic, but am not sure I am ready for this one.

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    1. As I write often, read what feels right, what you want to experience, Cheriee. I do! Each one was so good but unique, too. Thanks!

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  7. Oh, Linda, you keep me in books and sometimes away from my #mustreadin2019 stack. I've read Seeing into Tomorrow (lovely) and want to read the new Gary Schmidt. I had The Lost Girl, but let someone in our book club have it. I'm off to request the picture books you mentioned for Jack.

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    1. I think those three will be wonderful for Jack, Ramona. Pay Attention, Carter Jones is a lovely read, hope you love it!

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  8. Good to know your thoughts about Pay Attention, Carter Jones. I picked up an arc a while back, but haven't gotten to it yet. Honey sounds great! Have a great week!

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    1. Oh, hope you do read it & like it, too, Lisa! Yes, Honey is darling. Thanks!

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  9. I really enjoy Seeing Into Tomorrow. I adored Honey. The Promise of Change looks like a good one. The cover of The Whole Wide World and Me is precious. I'm intrigued. Thanks so much!

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    1. You're welcome, Crystal. I loved Seeing Into Tomorrow, too. The words interacting with the beautiful photos made a wonderful book of poetry. Hope you like the others!

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  10. I really loved This Promise of Change. It was one that took me by surprise - I didn't know how much I was going to enjoy it. My 8th grader is reading it now and it's helped her in her social studies class :)

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    1. I knew part of it, but I learned a lot from it, too, and I liked the personal parts about her family, too. Glad you liked it, too, Michele.

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  11. The cover of The Whole Wide World of Me is beautiful. Perhaps it would be a good read aloud as we get ready to welcome spring. Thanks for sharing! Have a great week!

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    1. Every page is that beautiful, too, Laura. I hope you like it when you find it. Wishing you a great week, too!

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