Monday, November 13, 2023

It's Monday - Another Wonderful Group to Share!


        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 National Book Award winners are announced this coming Wednesday. If you're interested, the YA list is here. The first book today, The Lost Year by Katherine Marsh, like Gather by Kenneth Cadow that I shared last week and A First Time for Everything by Dan Santat that I shared a few weeks ago are all on the list. I enjoyed every one and imagine I will like the others when I can read them. Also, enjoy NCTE if you are going!

         There must be numerous stories that come out of the first year students were experiencing lockdown because of the pandemic. Overnight, they'd lost their friends, their every interaction in person, now, if they had it, stuck only together via the internet. This book by Katherine Marsh is about such a student, Matthew, but also based on her own family history, the Ukrainian famine during Stalin's time in power, how it evolved, what people did, or tried to do, here in America  . 
         Matthew is stuck, and as it begins, he's more stuck than most because his mother has recently moved his great-grandmother (name - Nadiya) but called GG (for, as Matthew says "for great-grandmother, obviously) into their home from a nursing home. He cannot even have a friend near to visit in the backyard. It's too, too dangerous. Now, he's living in online learning but mostly in his Switch gamer, until out of frustration from his mom, she takes it away and sends him outside, then gives him a task, to help GG go through all the boxes still stored in her room. Matthew's dad, whom he misses terribly) is a reporter on a big job in Paris and yes, you guessed it, now he's stuck there. It appears there's no hope for Matthew!
         Matthew isn't happy, has been reluctant to even be with GG for most than a few minutes to bring her a meal, etc. Yet, he does start, and after a few other crazy things that happen, out of one box, with GG's permission, he brings a photo. 
         Author Marsh soon surprises with a new chapter from long ago that intertwines with Matthew's. First we meet Mila, then Helen, both from years past, and from different parts of the world. The book is poignant, showing resilience and thoughtful children growing up into young adults  affecting their own stories. They are willing to take risks, some life-threatening, all life-altering. It's a spectacular story of courage and of a history that needs telling, of the holodomor, or the Ukrainian famine of  1932-33which means "death from hunger" in Ukrainian. It seems particularly sad while considering the events in the recent year plus since Russia has attacked Ukraine.
        There's an extensive author's note at the end, with photos!

Thanks to Walker Books -
Division of Candlewick Press
for this copy!
           I haven't read the first one about these silly (also energized and resilient) chickens but this is one I imagine kid readers will laugh over as pages turn and adventures arrive. And they will find changes as the time traveling unfolds. Those chickens don't always remain chickens, and while they try very hard to make outlandish knock-knock jokes, they don't often succeed. There are pages of activities (and warnings if it's a library book) and tests, yes, tests! Obviously, in this back-in-time world, it's good to pay attention. There's even a history of rules about messing up things in the past, causing ripples that should never happen in the future. I loved every fun page, crammed full of fun and funny events that shouldn't be missed!

        I had the pleasure of receiving a copy of this book from Nancy Tupper Ling, a beautifully illustrated book of brief poems by Nancy of various Bible verses. For bedtime or perhaps at snack time, it will make a nice way to introduce some stories from the Bible to young children. From Noah and the flood to the special story of Jesus' birth and the tale of Adam and Eve, gorgeous illustrations by Alina Chau will entice the young ones to want to know more. It encompasses the Bible's entire story arc, a loving beginning to telling this story. My brother has a young granddaughter this will be perfect for. I will certainly pass it on! 

        Here are two sample pages from the book:



     This is an older book for young readers by Andrew Matthews that introduces the sad and also frightening tale of Shakespeare's Macbeth. With some comic-style illustrations by Tony Ross, it would have been a great read aloud during October for Halloween. Morally there are some parts to discuss, of course. Doing bad deeds from greed for power does not end well, does it?

        A surprise for me as a reader, and it's a delight, in story and in art! Both Anna, author/illustrator and Lena (the translator) are originally from Russia but now Anna is in Israel and Lena in San Francisco, CA. Two children living at what they call "the edge of the world" but not the same place, are so lonely. Their days are described the same with only a few differences but the yearning for a friend is the same for both. Learning morse code, and evening visits to the ocean bring surprises to them and a bit of hope. I imagine reading this aloud will be a huge treat for young readers, touching their feelings along with their imaginations!

Currently reading: I've finally started Kingsolver's Demon Copperhead and The Puppets of Spelhorst by Kate DiCamillo. 


  1. I am not familiar with the two-headed chicken book. It sounds like it has lots of kid appeal!

  2. I feel like everyone is reading Demon Copperhead. I'll probably end up reading year some time in the future.

    1. I've had it for a long time and a friend has pressed me to read it NOW! Thanks, Earl, I'll let you know how it goes!

  3. Oh, I loved The Puppets of Spelhorst! I haven't read Demon Copperhead yet, hoping it makes our book club list for next year. Currently reading Gary Schmidt's The Labors of Hercules Beal and loving it! Definite Newbery possibility!

    1. Yes, I just finished it, Ramona & "The Puppets of Spelhorst" is magical. And, I loved The Labors of Hercules Beal", hoping it will be on the medal list! Thanks, happy to hear from you!

  4. Previous comment from Ramona


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