Monday, July 1, 2019

Monday Reads - So Good!

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. 
         I'm back from the beach, read so many wonderful books before I left and added a few Sunday.
         Wishing you all a great holiday week!

        I read this beautiful verse novel, a first for Jasmine Warga, all in one day before my trip, a story that would not let go. Young Jude, a seventh grader, has moved from her wonderful home in Syria with her mother to live with an uncle in America. Things are becoming more and more dangerous in their country and her parents believe this is a "best" decision. Baba, the father, stays behind because he doesn't want to leave his store. Issa, the older brother has become increasingly involved with the rebels, wanting the country to become safe as it used to be. It's hard to miss home, her father, and soon not even know if her brother is safe when contact is lost between them. He is near the worst of the fighting. In the goodbyes, he tells Jude to 'be brave', the underlying part of her growing up, facing challenges like a new school and learning English. 

       The writing is lovely, allowing Jude's words to share both the warm and sweet experiences along with the tough ones. She is honest and thoughtful, trying hard to find "home". Early in her home country before the move, bombings are happening near; people are fearful. Jude wants to tell them: "You don't have to worry about me./I am just a girl who likes movies." In her new American house when looking out the window, Jude makes a connection: "I wonder if it is exhausting/to be a tree./To lose something,/year after year,/only to trust that it will/someday grow back." And in what she calls her "mangled fractured English", she is trying to describe some favorite things she remembers about her brother, "hoping that he is safe". She continues on: "Hoping,/I'm starting to think,/might be the bravest thing a person can do."

        Jude, through Jasmine Warga's words, shares a few Arabic proverbs now and then. Here is one I want to remember when Jude was thinking of her ESL teacher, Mrs. Ravenswood: "She makes you feel/like a loaf of freshly baked bread."  Food plays some nice parts of the story, especially bread, often telling of Jude's mother toasting pita over the open flame of the stove. Thoughts and feelings coming from someone that many think of as 'different',  those from another culture, will make good connections for young readers.

         Be sure to find this some time to see if Jerry Spinelli has included one of your favorite traditions on Independence Day. There are many. This young boy has things to do from morning till evening, then the long wait, wait, for the fireworks! They celebrate with all kinds of people at their park, taking a wagon full of food, running the races, dancing to the band at the bandstand, and sing The Star Spangled Banner, all to celebrate. Larry Day shows this day filled with color and excitement, a nostalgic look at a holiday on which I hope everyone has a favorite memory, of activities, of food, of play!


 According to the jacket flap, this is the first book in a "Being In The Wild" series. At the beach with her parents, a young girl wanders into a nearby meadow following a butterfly. The implication is while she describes some beautiful encounters--listening to leaves rustling, a grasshopper jumps onto her arm, she seems a bit scared and lost. No worries, her mother finds her and they walk back to the beach. Sakai's illustrations feel like a dream, haze-filled with only the girl, the meadow, and the wind! It's lovely. 

         Daniel's back, this time after being wished a good day by his mother, he begins to wonder what a good day is to others as he walks to his grandmother's. He finds that Emma thinks a good day means a strong wind for kite flying. For the bus driver, a good day means pleases and thank-yous. There are others met and asked and the gathering makes a poem at the end, "Daniel's Good Day"! I imagine a class of students writing and illustrating their own 'good day', perhaps making a class poem? Micha Archer's words and pictures give a happy story, sure to please everyone, like Daniel Finds A Poem.

    Winner of the Ezra Jack Keats Award and the Margaret Wise Brown Prize, a beautifully poetic look by John Sullivan showing a night job for a night watchman who befriends a little cat. We read "an excavator bows like a strange giraffe" and "A backhoe rises like a giant insect." shown in soft night shadows by Taeeun Yoo. As the watchman makes his rounds, the kitten follows. He shares his dinner and starts the rounds again, but the kitten has disappeared. In brief text, it's wonderful to experience this kind of work, maybe new to many. There is kindness shown and tension rises, but the watchman finds his new friend at last. It feels like a wonderful book to share with young readers.

          I first saw a marvelous saguaro cactus on a trip with students. They are amazing to stand near. In poetry, Lara Hawthorne tells a story of the desert with one culminating moment of the saguaro's bloom, happening only once a year! In lovely realistic drawings, she shows a journey through a day as animals begin to gather for the bloom opening. This gorgeous book also has a timeline of the saguaro's growth. For example, it's only one inch tall at ten years old and buds appear at around 35 years old. There are also brief paragraphs in the backmatter about each animal featured. It's a great introduction to desert life and the beautiful saguaro.

        From another source: The saguaro is one of many plants in Arizona protected by the Native Plant Protection Act, and within national parklands, the removal of any plant is illegal.

        Change does happen no matter how we'd love to stop time. Chieri Uegaki tells this story of young girl Mayumi's grandfather Ojiichan who created a special garden for her. She visited for two months every summer and helped to 'tend' the garden, trimming the bushes, but especially raking the small pieces of gravel around the rocks placed just so. She "loved how the tiny rocks chattered as they passed through the rake's wooden teeth." It was a stone garden just for her. After learning different things like leaving the moss, a "gift of time" and pruning shrubs to look like clouds, she brought souvenirs to help her remember, like pressed leaves and tiny pinecones. One summer everything was different, her Ojiichan needed to move, to have more care.  Uegaki shows the upset and anger this change brings, but settles into a sweet idea, creating small gardens in boxes, one for 
Ojiichan and one to take back home. It's a poignant story showing some goodness that can happen when new ideas continue to show a bond of love.

I finished Heartland. You can find my review here on Goodreads. It's a terrific memoir connecting to women and their struggle in poverty.

What's Next: Still deciding, perhaps from one I read from everyone's posts today?


  1. Other Words for Home is Amazing. Heartland is one I want to read. It sounds like an important book. Thanks for your review. Have a great week!

  2. Other Words for Home was on my list, but your review here made me go and see if my library had it on order yet. Hurrah they did! Now I just have to wait...
    Heartland sounds heartbreaking.
    We are celebrating Canada Day here. I'm not sure if we will do much more than laze around, pick raspberries, and read.

  3. You just made me love Other Words for Home all over again with your review! This was SUCH a lovely book. <3 And I'm going to have to find the new Daniel book. I'd forgotten this one was out--hopefully we'll get a local copy. And I never got to read In the Meadow, so I'm adding this one to my list. Thanks for sharing all these titles, Linda!

  4. I didn't realize Other Words for Home was a verse novel. I'm so behind reading MG that I feel I should read a whole bunch of verse novels to catch up. Fortunately there are so many good ones.

  5. I really enjoyed Daniel's Good Day, too. I especially liked the positive, hopeful tone of everyone's answer to Daniel's question. The rest of your books like terrific ones, especially Other Words For Home. I definitely need to get busy and read. With all the wonderful summertime activities tempting me to get out of the house and play or work, I find that my reading is falling a bit behind. I guess I'll make up for it when winter comes around again! Have a terrific week!

  6. I absolutely love Other Words for Home. It was one I immediately wanted to reread once I was finished. It was the perfect combination of reality and hope. I would love for her to meet Mia from Front Desk - I think they would be good friends. I don't know My Fourth of July so I will be sure to check that out!

  7. I've been out on errands, trying to do some catching up from being gone. Each one of these books really are special reads, for various reasons. I'm glad some of you already read Other Words for Home, one I had to purchase I loved it so much. And the illustrations of the others are fabulous. Thanks for coming by & hope you've found a new book to discover & love!

  8. Hi Linda! Other Words For Home sounds like an absolute must-read. I have not read any of the picture books here which excites me to no end, especially as I am familiar with Micha Archer and Komako Sakai's works. Really looking forward to finding them. Have a great reading week, and enjoy your vacation in the island. :)

    1. Other Words for Home is special, Myra. I love it because it fits for middle readers, giving them a view of what it's like to be new and from another place. Enjoy those picture books, too! Thanks!

  9. I loved Daniel's Good Day. It was one of the last books we read for #classroombookaday. The Kitten and the Watchman was also a favorite.


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