Monday, March 9, 2020

Monday Reading - New Books - All Terrific

              Visit Kellee and Ricki at UnleashingReaders and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts to see what they've been reading, along with others who post their favorites.  Your TBR lists will grow! Happy Reading!
          Share with the hashtag #IMWAYR 

I am grateful to have received this advanced copy from Scholastic Press
        For anyone who does not believe the strength of eleven, almost twelve-year-olds, they have not met Maximiliano Feliciano Esteban Córdoba. It's summer and Max's dream of trying out for fútbol is dashed when his father won't let him join a local team so he can improve. Within the clash with his father, Max worries that he will lose a best friend who plans to join. Max will have to help his father and sometimes his grandfather build bridges. They are both stonemasons. Within the loving family that includes aunts, too, Max knows he is loved, but being treated as if he is "never" old enough to know family secrets frustrates him. He is comforted by his dog, Lola, as he sets out to find secrets from a special box his father has hidden. This leads to an adventure he begins, first at the towering ruins of La Reina Gigante, a haunted hideout used in the past by the Guardians to hide refugees as they fled Abismo, a war-torn, neighboring dictatorship. There he finds Mañanaland scratched into the wall, a place he believes is where his mother has disappeared. Thus begins a journey that includes the stories his Buelo has told him for years, but now they've become very real as Max becomes a "Guardian" helping a young girl escape. 
        Hearing Max tell his story, watching him discover and dream, and most of all show how very brave and kind he is will make readers smile and wish they had such a friend. Pam Muñoz Ryan beautifully shows a multi-layered story of thoughtful and compassionate Max that will connect readers to the frightening lives of refugee immigrants. I hope many young readers will have the chance to read this wonderful book, out last week.

           Keila V. Dawson gives us readers a New Orleans version of a Gingerbread Man runaway, and you can be sure to read this book and laugh now, but save it for King's Day and Mardi Gras next year, too! With French words sprinkled throughout his taunting, that King Cake Baby thinks he's made for freedom. He escapes from an old Creole woman and an old Creole man (sound familiar?), runs out into the world also to escape a praline lady in Jackson Square and a waiter at Café du Monde. He's moving fast to get to the Mississippi River to catch the Creole Queen riverboat but meets his nemesis in a crafty baker. With out-loud cartoon-like illustrations by Vernon Smith, this is a fun story for everyone, but especially those who celebrate these special days. If you know the French Quarter, you'll have even more fun! Dawson adds a king cake recipe, too. It was a lovely surprise to win this book from Jama Rattigan's great review in February! She adds even more cooking ideas! Long ago, my family went to a Mardi Gras party where we had a real King Cake. We were all so excited to learn about this special tradition!

          I'm so glad to have this book and know it will be a marvelous one for classrooms who are encouraging curiosity in their young students. Michelle Schaub's simple poem carries readers all the way through a diverse crowd of sleepyheads, all dreaming of different kinds of science because clearly from those items on shelves, quotes, and pictures on the walls, they already have passions.  Alice Potter's brightly colored illustrations enhance Michelle's words ("The oceans rock the world to sleep:/the waves whisper, 'Good night.') with extras like a painting of Jacques Cousteau, a bookshelf of books like "Blue Planet", and a fishbowl. Each double-page spread celebrates a particular science. There's marine science, meteorology, ecology, geology, physics and more! And each page is designed for curious readers. Who is that pictured on the wall? Why, it's Carl Sagan! And how does he connect to astronomy? And there is George Washington Carver or Wangari Maathai, and Mary Anning, scientists all and interesting people to get to know! 
         At the back lies one page for beginners with each science listed, an explanation of it and one question to help those interested to "Think Like A Scientist".  It's a picture book to savor, holds so very much to help start a study of, a passion!
Inside picture before the title page. I wanted to share these wonderful
Little Scientists!

         It is a story deep in the hearts of slaves who told these stories of flying away to freedom. Remember Virginia Hamilton's The People Could Fly and the gospel "I'll Fly Away" which you can listen to here? Jerdine Nolen has written a trio of books starting with Big Jabe, then this one, finally Thunder Rose all connected to slaves' dreams of freedom. This one shares the story of a brother and sister who cared for a large bird that flew over them out in the fields, and that the overseer struck down with his whip. It's an imagining of their caring for that bird, a caring for their dream. When they were nearly caught with the bird, they fled to the west. James E. Ransome's beautiful paintings illustrate the story with emotion and care. In the end, Nolen writes: "It is sometimes said that night is the shadow of a broad-winged bird, as big as the world itself comes gently and quietly soaring in on the day to swallow the daylight whole. Like freedom, night is something to wonder about." Stories are told, truth is those children hid ahead of a great storm and made it all the way to the west.
         I wonder if there could be a study of stories told to lift people's spirits, to help them survive, like this one? It's a beautiful book. Jerdine Nolen has added a list of books for further reading.

          A new way to learn about changes through our very long history of earth is certainly NOT boring. Tall Pine, Spotted Beetle and Hummingbird start a conversation with Old Rock  telling it how boring his life must be. He never goes anywhere! Even the tree "flutters gently" or sometimes "dances wildly". They soon find how wrong they are as Deb Pilutti lets Old Rock tell his very long story. Introducing geologic time with a few events for young readers makes a fascinating and fun story. Deb fills the page with colorful illustrations that liven the story and adds a brief timeline at the back that includes the main parts from Old Rock's life story. It's terrific!

Now Reading: The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson
Next: Gold Rush Girl by Avi


  1. You have shared some wonderful books today Linda. I appreciated the video of I'll Fly Away. My library has Thunder Rose so I've added it to my list. I keep reading about Old Rock but it still isn't available in my library.
    Thanks for the heads up about Mañanaland. I have loved what I have read from Pam Muñoz Ryan.

    1. Mañanaland was such a sweet read, Cheriee! I hope you like it, too. Happy to hear you can find Thunder Rose, too. I still need to get that one. Old Rock is just plain fun!

  2. I'll have to look for Freedom Bird. Surprisingly, it's not in my library's online catalog yet. However, Old Rock (Is Not Boring) was and so I did get to order that one. Thanks for sharing and have a terrific week!

    1. Thanks, Jana, so glad you found Old Rock & hope Freedom Bird comes in soon! Happy reading!

  3. Dream Big was such a great book! I love it so much, and I am so happy it exists! I also really liked Old Rock :)
    I look forward to Ryan's newest; she is brilliant!

    Happy reading!

    1. Glad to hear you loved those two new picture books, too, Kellee. Yes, you'll enjoy Mañanaland, I'm sure. Thanks!

  4. Dream Big, Little Scientists looks like a fantastic picture book! Have a great reading week.

  5. Looks like another winner from Pam Munoz Ryan! I can't wait to read it.


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