Monday, September 19, 2022

It's Monday - Grow Your Reading Lists!


            Visit Kellee and Ricki at UnleashingReaders and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts to see what they and others have been reading! Your TBR lists will grow! 

          Happy autumn this week!

             A companion book to Pet, both of which were so lovingly reviewed by Max that I had to read them. I shared Pet last week. This time, the time during which Bitter and Aloe meet and fall in love, Bitter's background is harsh foster families where she ends up hiding anywhere she finds whenever she can because of cruelty. Now, as a teen, she has found Eucalyptus, a private school/enclave where, while it took a while with a loving teacher, the enigmatic Miss Virtue, and friends like Alex and Blessing, she finally feels safe. Behind those walls, students feel protected from the hurtful and harmful behavior found in the town outside, Lucille.
       In her past, she has learned that some creatures she draws come to life, kind of frightening but they soon fade and disappear. At least they have in the past. Although she does not approve of those who are protesting for change, some of those are her friends. She is too scared to go outside the walls. When a friend in the outside groups is injured, Bitter explodes into her art, and spends hours in anger, drawing and pasting things onto the work, including blood, until what is known as an "angel" appears. It is "Vengeance", made possible by Bitter, ready to hunt and kill all monsters. Bitter is now wrapped up in the group she had earlier rejected, frantically realizing that what she has just released is something that needs to be stopped. All the characters are intriguing and complex. I wanted to know about each one because they all appeared to have a demeanor that was important to creating a safe town in which everyone is welcome but without violence. They are young and fighting so hard! The intertwining of straight and queer relationships felt comfortable, a part of the world in which we all live, and in which, sadly, many fight to live. It's an inspiring story to imagine how hard young people are working to help the world, today as well.

             These next two stories show beautifully that the feeling that those you have loved who have left will always stay with you. They are both poignant and will be special read-alouds for a child or a class that can help talk about grief.

           The best thing I can write is that it made me cry. Emilia's grandpa, moving a bit slow, leaves a walnut on her bedstand, and then he tells his story of another walnut he brought as a boy when his family immigrated. I won't tell it all, but the tree from that nut is in their yard beside a smaller one that Emilia's mother planted. Perhaps you will guess the rest of the story but it's a book you won't want to miss with Felicita Sala's full-page and softly-hued illustrations. (Side note: My own grandfather planted a maple tree for me when I was young. It is far away in Missouri in the little town where I grew up. It is very tall now and I visit it once in a while when I visit my brother.)

            Rashmi Sirdeshpande writes in her author's note that Ruchi Mhasane has painted illustrations that are very like what's in her memory of visiting her own grandpa, without any talk between them. This particular grandpa's story is told by the grandson, from painting together and painting with neighborhood children, every painting a work of art and cherished. But when his grandpa dies, he locks everything away and stops painting. One young girl in need herself helps this boy learn that painting again brings the best memories back of the time with his Dadaji. It's a bittersweet story, heartfelt with grandfather love as well as the love of painting. That paintbrush is a big part of the story!

          Another Grandfather story!

       Is it truth or fiction? Two grandchildren have an adventure to their Grandpa's "giant island", though it is so very little. In fantastic illustrations by Doug Keith, Jane Yolen's imaginative story comes to life with some tongue-in-cheek fun from Grandpa who says he's only there to catch a giant fish. The kids wander with their dog and discover there is more that can be believed on what they thought was only a small island. Fun to read and see all that Doug Keith himself imagined.

           Ibram X. Kendi knows exactly the words of hope and peace for young children as he takes us into a sympathetic world where "the moon wants her light/to kiss every child goodnight". It's a message enhanced by the gorgeous illustrations by Cbabi Bayoc who shows readers all kinds of children having loads of fun in various places, then with an adult as they drift off to sleep. Most fun is a double-page spread of a fun-filled carnival where signs on booths say things like "Fresh-baked Peace", "Fresh Squeezed Compassion", and "Quality Fun". It's wonderful!

       Cynthia Rylant's new story shows us what a home is, what small bits and pieces give comfort. Katie Harnett helps picture Rylant's words with lots of color and many loving scents that will make you smile, saying to yourself, "Yes, that's my kind of home!" You may also imagine more lines of your own unique ideas of what home is. It would be great to do with a class, perhaps illustrate it, too, as Harnett did. It's an invitation to think about your own home, perhaps fun to wonder what varied animals would say.
         Come visit Read Island with a young girl and her furry friends. All in rhyme, Nicole Magistro's text gently through the story in rhyme, celebrating all kinds of books with a young girl and her furry friends. In cut-paper collage, Alice Feagan shows the gathering of many kinds of creatures: "A grizzly lumbers from her cave. An eagle lands, a humpback waves." is one example. Toward evening, more and more gather, ready to listen to a fox reading his book! It is great to be able to join their fun by reading this special book, was one of the winners of the Colorado Book Awards this year.


         Yesterday was the beginning of ALA Banned Books Week. Are you aware of the uptick in challenges to books throughout the country? The link for more information is here

         I purchased two of the new graphic adaptation of Anne Frank's Diary, adapted by Ari Folman, with illustrations by David Polonsky, one for my granddaughters, and the other to donate to a school. It was good, possibly will reach new readers. And it is the unabridged adaptation, showing Anne a bit more mature in her thoughts than previously publishings. You may have heard of the challenge in a school district in Texas. The book was removed only for review and has been returned to the shelves. 

       I shared an earlier graphic novel of the diary a few years ago, the Goodreads review is here! It would be interesting to read both with a group to consider similarities and differences. That would help students notice more details in graphic novels.

NEXT: Thirst by Varsha Bajaj


  1. Ooh, I'm going to check All From a Walnut next time I go to my library.
    Right now, I'm binging on T. H. White!
    Here is my post:

  2. I just went to my library website to see if they had All From a Walnut, and discovered it was available online, so I just borrowed it and read it! wow, what a lovely book. Yes, I had guessed the end, and I cried, but it's so lovely, And the art is gorgeous. I will read it again later on today, to spend more time with the art. Thanks so so much for talking about this book.

  3. That's great that you've already found it, Emma. It is special as you know I agree!

  4. I didn't know Cynthia Rylant had a new book. I'm curious as to how many books she's written. It seems like a ton!

    1. I didn't either, Lisa, discovered on the 'new' shelf at my library!

  5. Oh my goodness! So many good ones here! I’ll have to get to the library soon! Read Island will definitely make it in to my collection. (Amy @mother goose librarian)

  6. I haven't had a chance to comment on anyone's blog this week and probably won't be able to, but I saw on one of those Goodreads update emails that you had a chance to read Pet and Bitter, and I just wanted to say that I'm so excited that you tried those and enjoyed them!! They are really exceptional novels with so many amazing lessons about not just activism, but even just how we should live our lives in general. Thanks so much for the wonderful post, Linda!

    1. You are dear to come by, Max. If it hadn't been for you, I would never have found those books! Yes, they are exceptional! Thanks!


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