Monday, February 13, 2023

It's Monday - Book Love


    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! 

       This is a fictional story of those slaves who escaped and made homes in swampland, based on some truths, though little is really known of the details. Not new to me is the terrifying cruelty, but the love and help given so others may live is an inspiration. Escape to freedom feels like the underlying theme, hence the title. I know people don't give kids enough credit for being the smart, thoughtful, brave, and kind people they can be. In the wilderness of the swampland, Homer and little sister Ada take off for freedom and find a homeland like nothing they had dreamed of: families ready to take them in, new friends ready to guide and help them, and a kind of peace they've never known. Amina Luqman-Dawson's book fills readers with characters one is thrilled to meet who are varied in experience and temperament, too, and with such courage, readers will want to applaud. It's a plot that makes you race on to find out what will happen next, to care so much for the character's safety and welfare. I imagine you know that Amina Luqman-Dawson won the Newbery Medal this year for this, her debut novel. It is marvelous!

         Featuring the newest special book by Anne Wynter (Everybody in The Red Brick Building with Oge Mora) and Daniel Miyares (Big and Small and In-Between with Ryan Higgins), the story is told mostly in verse, showing little Nell growing up with all the family, and with a pecan tree. Told in a truly special style, Anne Wynter goes back to the beginning, as in "Before a grip on a branch/and a fall to the ground. . . Nell picks up a seed." Throughout the illustrations of the story/memory, Daniel Miyares gives a peek at all the things that happen throughout the years as the tree grows and grows–big enough to climb far up to the very top, to gather nuts for a tasty pie, and for families to feast in the shade. 
         Though I never had a pecan tree in my yard, I do have wonderful memories of picking with my father in a large pecan grove near their home. Both Miyares and Wynter share their own memories in their notes at the back.

     In one of his older books, Daniel Miyares creates a new and wonderful look at Langston Hughes' words in a contrasting look at Black lives, how it was and how it can be. Showing these children wishing first, then flying free as birds feels very good indeed! He writes about his reaction to the poem in a special personal note, too. This can be a good conversation about images in poetry and their impact when reading, or in writing. It's one to keep in your poetry collection.

       Like the original, Rebecca Kraft Rector tells about Little Red's journey to see her grandmother with a basket of goodies but this time, also with a thank-you note for a new red cape! The wolf is certainly ready to eat her but cannot believe she's made so many errors in that note! He corrects a few things and prepares to gobble her up, but she stuffs a muffin in his mouth and runs! Rector's wordplay is hilarious, like using food as her 'go-to' descriptions, as in "quick as instant grits" and "fast as a flipping flapjack". The bonus of this tale is that readers will learn the rules of writing a letter! There are some laughable repeats and a happy ending, too! Shanda McCloskey's illustrations fly all over the pages creating big smiles with loads of funny actions. 

         Sheetal Sheth tells there can come dark times in children's lives and this time they have come to young Leila, whose mother is ill. Leila finds it hard to do much of anything in her days until her thoughtful dad finds a way for "Making Happy". Khoa Le's gorgeous illustrations show how swirling colors, dark and light, can show the swirls of emotions children feel, often not letting anyone know. It's a special book for anyone whose sadness seems to be all that's left in the world and needs a lift.

for adults or older teens
I've been reading this for a long time, partly because of being busy, and partly because of reading other books. Javier Zamora, a poet, tells the story of his journey from San Salvador to California to join his parents. He was nine! Embraced by a small group of three others, people who didn't know him, he became part of them as a family. He was nine! A journey that was supposed to take two weeks took two months. All during that time, not the grandparents and other relatives nor his parents did not know where he was, or whether he was surviving. The sad and happy details are all there, the dirt and heat, cactus thorns, running from the patrols, but also the extreme gratitude for someone sharing a bar of soap, and the need of a young boy for just a hug and those who give it. The book makes me sorrowful for the thousands who are doing this, some alone in a group of strangers, some with family members. I wish it could be different, and less dangerous, especially for the children. 

NEXT: I have started The Ogress and The Orphans by Kelly Barnhill. It's going to be a good adventure!

Happy Reading!


  1. Freewater sounds amazing. Solito is a powerful and eye-opening book. I feel the same way when I think about how many children are in the same situation.

  2. I had forgotten how much better I feel when I read your blog posts, Linda—I feel like you always capture how books can get at something startling, frightening, or beautiful about the world, and I appreciate hearing you talk about it all! And unsurprisingly, I want to read literally every single book in this post—Solito sounds like it would break my heart in a necessary and well-written way, and the same goes for Freewater. And Little Red and the Big Bad Editor just sounds way too entertaining to pass up! I appreciate the wonderful post, as always!

  3. The cover of Freewater is just gorgeous! I didn't even finish reading your post before I scooched over to my library website where I discovered it available as an ebook! I adore Daniel Miyares work so I hope that one is also there. The rest look wonderful too!

  4. Thanks, Lisa, Max, & Cheriee. I appreciate your comments & hope you can read a few of these wonderful books. They are terrific!

  5. Freewater sounds interesting but it's definitely something I need to be in a mood for to read to prioritize.

    1. Thanks, Earl, I understand. It isn't an easy story to read. But it is wonderfully written.


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