Monday, May 15, 2023

It's Monday - Wonderful Books - Don't Miss


    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!
            I suspect all adults should be reading this, too, especially because if you don't know how middle kids are, you should. And if you don't understand the racism Jordan and his friends fight against daily, you should. Finally, after teaching middle school kids for many years, you adults should read to see how smart, yet vulnerable, and tender, yet hardheaded already by eighth grade. Here are all the kids around Jordan, despised and loved, on their way out the middle school door but first, the school trip. This one is to Paris where they learn to push others to do the right thing, or else! Like the first two, Jerry Craft has Jordan giving some tips about life. On this Mother's Day, one early one is "My Mom's Tips for Being Safe "NOT Shaking", super for celebrating his mom. One theme throughout the book is teasing others, enough for a lifetime of worry. Jordan shows his advice in "Samira's Guide to Insulting People (And Having Them Stay Your Friend)." It may be something for all ages to understand. Teachers on the trip are vulnerable, too. You may find yourself remembering if you've taken kids on trips, or if you had some sad times in eighth grade. Number three, hoping not the last, and perhaps we'll see these wonderful and thoughtful kids in high school? Thanks for another special book, Jerry Craft! I cannot understand why anyone would think this book should be banned and not read widely!

            It's a marvelous introduction and explanation of how rainforests work, what happens to fruit seeds, why animals aren't easily seen, and much, much more. Black and white artwork by Vicky White punctuates the questions that Martin Jenkins asks as readers travel one a rainforest. This time it's the ecosystem of Malaysia's Taman Negara. While traveling, gorgeous full-color, double-page spreads made me go "Wow!" and imagine the sounds of insects and birds especially. Some animals seen are ants and elephants, leopards and hornbills, gibbons, and bats. There is a small quiz at the back showing small pics of animals that may have been missed and a list of further places to learn more. If you want to start a study of this ecosystem, start with this book!
          Thanks to Candlewick Press for this copy!

         There is a letter from Eoin Colfer at the beginning explaining a bit about this story and how it is a good thing to try to understand when a child is spending a long time or several long times in the hospital. Chris Judge explains that his story's illustrations come from personal family experiences with illness. All her life, young Erin saw "pictures" in the clouds (I do, too!) and called them her "cloud babies". As a young girl, she became very ill and needed to be in the hospital for a long time. The children's ward actually was fun and all the kids played together and liked Erin's "cloud babies", too. But when she returned to school, she gave them up, deciding they were too babyish. She was sad and felt as if she didn't belong to either group. And, she missed those "cloud babies". What happens next shows a plan that helped Erin, and may help others understand what it's like to feel apart. It's a loving book that shows another point of view that's good to know!
            Thanks to Candlewick Press for this copy!

   Cathy Ballou Mealey tells a story in rhyme showing Roscoe the raccoon prepping a fire and toasting a marshmallow that's just right for making s-mores! Yum! However, then Grizzly Bear comes along, wanting a treat, too. Yum, again! Roscoe might grumble a bit ("Is that for me? asks Grizzly Bear.,  Roscoe shrugs, "Bon Appetit!".)  but he keeps making these camping favorites, and as two bear cubs, then Mama, show up, too, he shares. Illustrations by Ariel Landy show the emotions well as the scene becomes more crowded. Pure satisfaction at the end, maybe especially when Roscoe gets that final treat. "Toasty, creamy, sweet, and gooey. Crispy, crunchy, slightly chewy." It's simply a fun book for reading aloud, perhaps with s'mores?

            Want to know what being curious is like? Do you like asking silly, imaginative, and deep questions? Only one of these, or all? Mac Barnett sets the scene with words and Christian Robinson illustrates from his own imaginative ideas. It creates a place for neither wrong nor right, but with lots of fun answering, maybe arguing, about what could be an answer that makes sense, or sends one down another rabbit hole of speculation and whimsy. This needs a group, but it could happen with two, you and a good friend! 

         This story by Christine Evans blossoms just as the roses in the story do. Jackson lives next door to Mr. Graham and first writes a letter of apology that he kicked his soccer ball into Mr. Graham's garden. Entirely told in letters, the friendship grows with learning about roses and taking care of them, writing to now Mr. G and even when he moves to a nursing home, letters continue and then visits, too. Gracey Zhang's illustrations center on what is told in the letters but also shows the activities with kids and neighbors and nursing home people surrounding the relationship, along with roses. It's clearly a showing of a special relationship that touches each of their hearts and will touch readers, too. 

        Carole Boston Weatherford and E.B. Lewis let Mother Africa tell her tale of how she gave to humans of long, long ago to nourish and protect them as they gained strength during their times. The illustrations show the changes throughout Earth's evolution as Mother Africa speaks. It's a gorgeous way to tell "our" story and there are brief paragraphs in a timeline explaining a bit more at the back! 

         Donated to the Used Bookstore where I work, a big find illustrated by Jerry Pinkney!  Jack the Tinker has had his heart broken in the past so he keeps it safe in a bucket as he goes along throughout this day. One day a young maiden steals it and challenges him to solve a riddle before he'll get it back. It's a curious tale showing help from others and for sure, kind hearts indeed with some love mixed in. It would make a fun read-aloud and discussion and no surprise, Pinkney's illustrations are wonderful!


Next: The new Elf Dog & Owl Head by M.T. Anderson and Dennis Lehane's Small Mercies.


  1. I haven't gotten to School Trip yet, but it sounds amazing. I don't get the banned book thing either!

  2. These books look so wonderful, Linda! I love that you had a surprise find at the bookstore where you work, and I made note of Dear Mr. G, which looks so powerful. School Trip also looks excellent, especially since I enjoyed New Kid and Class Act! Thanks so much for the thoughtful reviews!

  3. Thanks, Lisa and Max. I've been busy with several things all day, just back to read some posts, will finish up tomorrow. Jerry Craft's trio of books for the middle grades is terrific!

  4. I'll have to be on the lookout for Dear Mr. G. Thanks for bringing it to my attention. Happy Reading!


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