Monday, May 22, 2023

It's Monday - Old Favorites and Special New Ones!


    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!

Thanks to Candlewick Press
for this copy!

          I've loved M.T. Anderson's books every time there's another. This one is another new world to sit back, read, and wonder at the adventure, wonder at Anderson's imaginative world-building that includes magic, but also family love and challenges, friendships that strengthen with challenges, no matter the diversity, and the true love from a dog. In this plot, a global plague is keeping Clay, his younger and older sister, and the parents at home. They're pretty tired of each other and yearn for, well, the usual lives they had been living. When a mysterious dog appears, Clay names him Elphinore and the magic begins. They live in the woods and paths Elphinore shows Clay are ones he never had seen before, villages he didn't know existed, along with "Owl-Heads", a clan with strict rules Clay and his new friend break, out of want and need. Intriguing creatures come into Clay's world just as it seemed he needed them, most especially, a sweet and loving dog. It's a terrific book, just out last month.

 Friends Laura Shovan and Michael Rothenberg, had a final special visit together in January 2020. Like all of us, they didn't know that the usual way of living would change like no other time in their lives very soon.  Both were grieving losses and in need of support. You can read more about that in Laura's Author's note but it serves as their stepping stone into this special collaboration. Michael was starting some art therapy and sent Laura a funny picture of a monster; Laura responded with a poem. 
           Life is marvelous when one is able to see children running, jumping, tumbling, and laughing with friends or even alone. Yet, as adults, we all must know there are monsters of emotions including laughter but also beyond the laughter, sometimes strange bursts of crying happen, and sometimes angry words. Laura's poems and Michael's drawings, whimsical though they seem, show a down-deep look and acceptance of what is. There's "Bubblegum Head" that seems very "out there", saying rude things, sometimes what all of us want to shout, like "Flooey! Bagookie!" and "Carrumple! Dipthingle!" (There's more!) And also found in the pages is a monster who yearns for the "Green Cave" where "Sometimes I get so mad, the feelings can't stay inside./Before I know what I'm doing, my feet run for the back door." (There's more!) Poems about crying and laughing, monsters who are houses, and go out walking and play hopscotch all make one smile and whisper to oneself, "That's right. I know about that." Sixteen poems fill up the world with Laura's and Michael's monsters.
              Having worked and written with middle-school students for years, I know that drawing monsters and writing personal poems about the drawings, perhaps trading the art, would be a terrific thing to do. 

Thanks to Charlesbridge
for this copy!

          I have this book, too, just out a couple of weeks ago, about still another monster, well, from the title, evidently "Not A Monster", by Claudia Guadalupe Martínez, filled with the description of how they live their life on gorgeous double-page spreads by Laura González. It is a salamander, an asolotl, but onw that will never lose its gills or fins. Glaudia includes Spanish words as readers watch the growing from egg to full-grown, hiding from a predator and explains the Aztec origin myth of this unusual amphibian. It is endangered in its native waters and some clean-up of the story is shown, too. There is more information added in the backmatter, an intriguing, compelling story of one animal among many we do not want to lose!

A couple of pictures of the axolotl

       These final books are older "found" ones donated to the used bookstore where I volunteer. 

         Eric Carle has filled this book to the brim with marvelous animal collages accompanied by "poems to the brim" and quotations, too. Many poets and writers are included like Emily Dickinson, Lewis Carroll, Jack Prelutsky, Ogden Nash, and Shakespeare. There are Japanese haiku, Native American poems and quotes. Benjamin Franklin contributes on the butterfly double spread: "What is a butterfly? At Best/He's but a caterpillar dressed." It ends with "Hurt No Living Thing", by Cristina Rossetti. Fabulous anthology!

         These two by Oliver Jeffers, with a third one (The Way Back Home) I read in the original printing long ago, are books one, two, and three that come in a boxed set - Once There Was A Boy (a re-printing), about a boy's adventures. If you've missed them, see if you can find them, small stories that will bring wonder and hopefully some great conversation. 

What's Next: - Dennis Lehane's Small Mercies and A Work in Progress by Jarrett Lerner.


  1. What a delightful set of books, Linda! I was about to say that I wasn't familiar with M.T. Anderson's work, but then I realized I actually bought a graphic novel he wrote, called The Daughters of Ys!

    And the poem collection, Welcome to Monsterville, seems lovely as well—helping kids navigate and accept their emotions is a worthy theme! And I love your idea of how to use this in the classroom!

    And Not a Monster seems excellent too—I think I'll be partial to axolotls forever, just because there is an axolotl character in the Animal Crossing video games, which I love!

    Thanks so much for the thoughtful reviews, as always!

    1. You're welcome, Max, I always love your reviews, too, making my list longer! I hope you find more M.T. Anderson's books, especially the older 'Feed' - amazing! And I love that you have a favorite axolotl in your video game!

  2. I love the monster theme this week, Linda! I didn't even know that Eric Carle had that book, which is funny. I guess I focus on the books that I DO know from him! Lost and Found is one of my favorites, so I was glad to see it--it made me smile.

    1. Thanks, Ricki, glad you enjoyed the monsters, imagine your boys would love the book, too! And happy you know & love Lost and Found, so great!

  3. One of my coworkers enjoyed Elf Dog. Gives me Fabled Stables vibe- or maybe just the cover.

    1. Thanks, Earl, I don't know Fabled Stables, will check that series out!


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