Monday, October 30, 2023

Monday Reading Recap


        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!   

         The book flap says this is a book for ages 8-12, yet perhaps it's for ages even older? Those ages might see themselves or their friends as Simon tells his story but teens will relate to their younger selves, understanding how they navigated those tough years and became who they are now. Parents also may see Simon's and his friends' parents as companions in this new journey of dangers in friendships and in school, how to help and how to let go. Simon's voice shows a thoughtful, but scared young man, already wanting to leave his past behind and wishing everyone else would, too. Driven by alpacas to Grin and Bear It, Nebraska, Simon's Dad takes on another job as Deacon of the Catholic Church as well as continuing his love of playing the sackbut (a kind of trombone) while his mother, an undertaker, becomes the new one at Slaughter and Sons, no kidding! This town is the National Quiet Zone where radio astronomers listen for communication from outer space. There are radio telescopes everywhere! No internet, no TV equals a lot of time for Lego and to be with friends, no matter the attacking peacock, no matter the challenges Simon brings with him. The story makes one giggle, sympathize, cry, and celebrate throughout in this extraordinary time to grow up. Thanks to Erin Bow for letting Simon tell his story! 

Thanks to Charlesbridge for this copy!

          Even the endpapers are exciting! 

            It feels as if I'm going to repeat all the usual things. This book is so exciting, full of information, so much that it could serve as a year-long quest to learn even more than the great amount of information already given. Its underlying quest, the sub-title, is to "Explore Earth's Most Extreme Places Through Sight, Sound, Smell, Touch, and Taste." This includes, see the title, Mount Everest, but less-known places like the Danakil Depression, Ethiopia, "one of the hottest, driest, and lowest places on the earth (where people can live)". Some of the first pages help prepare with tips for survival and for what to pack. There are rules given sometimes, ideas for something to eat (or NOT eat), little stories of other people's adventures, too. Aaron Cushley's colorful and prolific illustrations surround the paragraphs of information. It's such a terrific and interesting book by Leisa Stewart-Sharpe, who adds a final invitation to get out there in an adventure. Also added is a glossary! 

         What happens to a book that has first been challenged by those who deem it is harmful to children? In Jonah Winter's story, although first defended by a librarian, she is overruled and the self-named "Warriors" (WAR = we are right) censor, then remove (they prefer 'deselect') the book and throw it in the trash. You need to "see" this picture book. Winter's few words, most being blacked out and Gary Kelley's illustrations will both astound and make you teary. 

         In poetic couplets, Andrea Debbink offers a celebration of the beauty and history of rivers, how they flow, how people diverted and polluted them, what is being done to clean them up. Nicole Wong's illustration show the beauty and the harm in gorgeous full pages, wrapping into and around the words. There is added information in a double-page spread at the back, "The Wonder of Rivers". This would be a perfect place to start a study of a river in one's own area. What is its history, how is its health, is there an organization taking care of it? It's a book to enjoy and spark interest in this part of nature many take for granted. 

         Betty loves visiting her grandma every summer who lives in the town of Wobbly Bottom where grandma's garden is quite grand, full of gorgeous flowers and lots of fruit which they pick and make into jam to sell at the market. One morning, Betty discovers that something has done a lot of damage to the garden. It's a mess but they must get to market while Betty worries about what to do. What she does and how creative she is shows a problem solved, maybe? Then it's time to wait and watch that night. Anne Twist's first picture book is a mystery that little Betty certainly didn't expect but in her quest to help her grandma, she works hard to solve it. Emily Sutton's illustrations fill the pages with the garden delights that Betty so loves, bringing hope to those who read it that all will be well if only Betty solves the mystery. What a fun story to read! 

       Oge Mora shows off the words with the usual flair and creative story-telling with cut paper, surrounding the proud words written by Gary R. Gray, Jr. from a young boy who tells us loud and clear "Where he's from!" The heart of that are phrases like "I come from early morning wake-ups, handcrafted blankets, knitted with memories." There are family scenes and school scenes, loads of action and kids. (He also declares he's from 'stubby pencils, drawing my own heroes, writing my own stories.") I imagine reading this aloud and writing with a group of kids who will tell exactly where they're from! It's terrific!

       Liza Wiemer shares a loving story of Daniel, one of the children in his family, who's up early and notices his dad crunching through the snow, carrying a box. When he asked where his dad had gone, the answer is only "out and about". Another day, Daniel sees both parents carrying away boxes through the snow, early in the morning. This shows a story of giving Tzedakah, a task of giving anonymously and generously to those in need. The action was explained with eight levels long ago by Maimonides, a twelfth century rabbi. Through Daniel's curiosity, both he and readers will learn what his parents are doing, and how Daniel has the opportunity to go "out and about", too! Although from the Jewish beliefs, the story will give everyone an idea to be giving to those both close and far who are in need. More is explained in the back matter. Margeaux Lucas illustrates with realistic colors of a happy family doing good for others.

Thanks to Candlewick Press for this copy!

         This 'lonely bird' slips off the pages, where it was created to wander around, finding things for its own creating, noting especially that there is one young one in the family who also loves to create. It ventures along and discovers a new friend, a crumpled piece of paper, injured. 'Lonely Bird" patches it up and it becomes a cute animal with six legs! Before they both can hide, a noisy beast (a vacuum) comes along, no more friend. However, 'Lonely Bird' won't quit and Ruth Whiting's brave, but lonely, creation goes into action, no matter the danger. It is wonderful to see Whiting's painting and 'Lonely Bird' slipping around corners, under doors, even crossing the kitchen, quite the challenge because it's so, so small and vulnerable. There is inspiration for creating here in Ruth Whiting's debut picture book along with a challenge to not be afraid when something is needed, but a little scary. A group reading will bring lots of discussion and reflection!

Now Reading: I tried but just couldn't find time to finish Barracoon by Zora Neale Hurston and Ibram X. Kendi, adapted for young readers. I've also started Gather by Kenneth Cadow, a finalist in young people's literature for the National Book Award. It is really special!


  1. Out and About sounds really nice! I've just put it on hold at the library.

    1. It is very sweet, Lisa. I hope you enjoy it, too. Thanks!

  2. What a fabulous collection of books Linda. Banned Book was already on my list so I went to check if it was available at my library, but alas it still isn't. As soon as I saw, Oge Mora, I went to see it this was available. No luck. I can see that it would be brilliant mentor text for writing.

    1. Wishing you a lot of luck finding the books, Cheriee. As I've said before, wish you lived near. We could share! Thanks for coming by!

  3. Out and About intrigued. Will try to read it soon.


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