Monday, May 8, 2023

It's Monday - Books Loved


    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!
     Here are some great and varied books I've read this past week, some brand new, one older one.

       For those of us who have not experienced living in a new country with a new language, Kelly Yang offers a story in which readers "finally see" how it is. Lina Gao steps off the plane in LA, her first time in America and the first time seeing her parents and little sister in five years! Even the beginning scene shows how challenging it's going to be when she's thirsty and stops to buy some water and is asked what kind! She's been living with her dear grandmother in Beijing and has been called "left behind girl" in school. Now, with her family, in a new school, she's laughed at because of her halting English. Through help from teachers, two new special friends, and seeing the grit of her parents who are still struggling to "make it". Yang manages to show the many layers and hidden challenges and hurts in every one of the characters, including Lina who shows that opening a "sliding door" to see the hidden parts of others' lives show us how to "see" everyone. A part about banning books also reveals the varied opinions and an important reason to read this book! There is much to love about and learn in Finally Seen!

       Beautiful and loving words and illustrations that we are all alike, with beating hearts, shared across the world. Happy or sad, we "are". My favorite words: "And then the sun shines us into a brand new day". Julie Fogliano and Catia Chen have created a message that feels like a hug against the darkness. It is wonderful!

       For every April's beginning and all the other parts of the year, Kwame Alexander and Deanna Nikaido with Melissa Sweet create a fabulous book of "instructions" for poem writing. If you want inspiration instead of didactic 'how-tos', reading this offers plenty of it. I read the words, looked long at the pages of Melissa's collages, then started it all over again. Like "How to Read A Book", they've given us the most wonderful "how-to's". Wishing I was still in the classroom but I'll be sure to share with others as much as I can!

       It's an intriguing story from the lore of the Titanic, based on an interview years after the ship's sinking of a boy who served in the Titanic trials, put in charge of the ship's cat. It was said that every ship had a cat to bring them luck. This cat had four kittens and when she began taking them off the ship at the last moment, the boy went with her, and missed the voyage! The illustrations are lovely.

      Laura Purdie Salas has written many marvelous poetry-filled picture books on various topics, like leaves and rocks, knitting, and an older favorite, Bookspeak, about books! This time feels like the right moment, in spring, about a lightning storm. We in the Denver area don't have many of these, but we did have one a few weeks ago - marvelous, like in this book! Just as Laura sneaks in the real science of this weather event, clouds here gathered, too: "Starting low, they grow/and grow–white above/now gray below." 
      A group of children are out having fun in field and forest, not too far from home, but far enough. They're having a great time as Elly Mackay shows in her illustrations, then "Zap! Clap! Boom!" Kids scurry and the emotion of their motion makes one feel as if we readers are right there. Turn the page, run fast home, and then again, "Zap! Clap! Boom!" Except for the title page, every scene is a double-page spread, showing the enormity and the excitement as the storm begins then finally fully arrives, kids safe at home looking out the window. There are added pages sharing the science of a thunderstorm, how thunder works, and added sources. What fun it would be to read this during a storm. "Swollen clouds begin to drain, spilling splashing/chilling/rain." 

       Lily Murray has given readers a book that may jumpstart further research, to find more information about the twenty-eight animals she's included in her book or to research and discover other animals' life spans that a reader might be interested in. Each animal's life information is illustrated beautifully, in a realistic habitat as much as possible within the confines of a book, creating an enticing look of each along with Lily's concise information. From the Mayfly (5 minutes-24 hours) to a female trapdoor spider (20-40 years), a saltwater crocodile (70 years) to the Immortal jellyfish (you'll need to read the see how that works), it's a visually enticing book. The endcovers are filled with small sketches of the animals, too. 
First published in the US last month, thanks to Candlewick Press for this copy!
Next: Jerry Craft's Class Trip


  1. I have to get my hands on Finally Seen. It all sounds good, but the part about banned books especially interests me. It's so disheartening to see the widespread movement to enact legislation and policies to ban books in so many places.

    1. Thanks, Lisa. The way it went pretty much fits the news I've read. Yes, it's a terrible thing to know it's happening. I hope you enjoy the book!

  2. Thanks, Linda! What a storm of lovely books to be part of. <3

    1. You're welcome, Laura. It's another special book from you!

  3. I still have to read Finally Seen. I usually read Kelly Yang's books as they come out.

  4. Spiders can live 20 years! Yikes!


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