Monday, March 4, 2024

Monday Reading - Books to Know!


        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! 

          There's trouble in Clarice Bean's life. She's bored, her sister is mad at her. And, her sister has roller skates, something Clarice would certainly love. But she only seems to have a dog, one that's a stray who won't go away, hence that "Scram!" in the title. Young readers just beginning to read longer chapter books will love Clarice, if they haven't alread read some of her other adventures by Lauren Child. Kids have problems to navigate, too, and this story shows that very well, a great connection to young lives. There are some hilarious moments when Clarice attempts to hide the dog and the story includes great illustrations in just-right places. 
         I am late sharing. This came out last year. Thanks to Candlewick Press for the copy!

        And, thanks also to Candlewick Press for my copy of John Schu's Louder Than Hunger

       Everyone needs to read this, every.single.person. Perhaps you are a parent who loves a child but doesn't understand his or her struggles. Perhaps you are a teacher who will gain insight into what students often face, the ones who hear words like "You're a nobody." and "What a loser." or find hate-filled notes in the locker, but also those who do those acts, say those words. Why do they need to hurt? Perhaps you are either of the kids. Finding a story that meets one's own experiences can be a connection that is so needed. John Schu offers that in this story of Jake, a kid who is satisfying a voice he's allowed in his head, a voice that rules Jake's eating. As he tells in the book, he's invited it in and it says things to him like when a person helping him talk about different challenges, it yells "DON'T TRUST HER." or "SHE'S TRYING TO TRICK YOU." Finding a way to silence that voice and find a new way to live life is what Jake's story shows. Finding a way to reach so many who will find the story important personally is a challenge for all of us readers. It's time to find and read Louder Than Hunger, then share!

          This book was published in 1989 and donated, along with many other adult ballet books, to the used bookstore where I volunteer (an all-volunteer non-profit). The illustrations seem as lovely as Nijinsky's dancing. It tells of his childhood with his siblings, traveling with his parents who danced, and the heartbreak of his father abandoning the family. His mother carried on and taught all three to dance, but the first celebration came when Nijinsky was awarded entry into the Imperial Ballet School. Each page tells a part of his story while the adjoining page holds the illustration; the look is like a short scrapbook. I enjoyed reading these 'snapshots' of Nijinsky's life, with family stories surrounding him. 

            Nine of the best YA novelists working today have written fiction based on a prompt from Printz-winner A.S. King (who also contributes a story), and the result is an intriguing collection. I am now older but wish I could return to my own teens to dig deeper into friends' lives, to imagine, and then see the truth of what they may have been collecting. Today's teens might see an opening into their own lives (That's me! That's me!) or imagine an opening to a secret group not imagined yet! It could spark something real in their lives to raise them out of the darkness where they often feel abandoned. Or, it could become a book they relish, just for the outrageous or the courageous teens they meet in every story. It's a gift from A.S. King and those other special authors she invited along with her. 

Two interesting books about home!

          Perhaps this is for younger readers, yet I think it will bring both smiles and sympathy to see all these beautiful children who are in need, who have experienced very tough times and only wish to be children, playing and laughing with family and friends in safe places, in their own homes. Gwen Agna and Chelley Rosner show them to us readers with great compassion. Authors' notes, additional resources, and a glossary are at the back. After hearing daily news of children in peril in different places worldwide, this is one to find and celebrate these children who try so hard to survive in new worlds.
          I discovered this at the library, out first in Japan and this year, out in English. It is an amazing book, one that will inspire stories, poems, and creating one's own "House with a story." Seiji Yoshida, remembering houses he remembers through his own reading, has created more than thirty imagined houses, who lives there and sometimes their backgrounds, where it exists, and details like the layout, how it's built, and on. It would be a fabulous project to do with students. They could create their own "houses" with all the details. Or, they could extend the stories already started in the book. You will meet the "diesel sisters" who travel across the country in their own diesel vehicle, a cacao treehouse for tiny people, a lonely ghost's mansion, and a methodical witch's house. It's terrific!

       This is more than a mystery! 
       The underlying fear in this book does not cease, A family rents a luxurious home in the woods of Long Island, hoping for a getaway with their boy and girl, older and younger teens. There's a lovely pool and a bit of a drive, but they do get to the ocean once. They spend a lot on groceries for their favorite foods, good wine, and lots of ice cream. No matter the nice days, for me, the reader, it felt as if the book was holding its breath. It's the start of relaxing, at least for a week, after all. Then one evening, early in the vacation, a knock on the door changes everything. An older couple, the owners of the house, have said they've escaped from the city, that there's a blackout. They live on a 14th floor of an apartment building, and don't feel they can return safely, or climb those stairs! May they come in? There are only a few texts about the emergency, but no internet, no phone service; no TV, creating a situation filled with suspicion. What happens next, and throughout the novel, creates the drama of strangers living with strangers. The author shows both actions and the thoughts of everyone as each navigates a life never imagined, and, frightening for all, one whose future is unsure. Take a ride with these characters as they "Leave the World Behind"!

Still Reading:  Dave Eggers' The Eyes & The Impossible. I'll start another soon, too!


  1. Louder Than Hunger sounds really good! I'm looking forward to reading it.

  2. I agree with Lisa. Louder Than Hunger sounds like an important book. I've always thought of anorexia as a girl's issue, and am sad that boys experience it too.

  3. The Collectors has many authors I like. Unfortunately the one story I read was not really good so I'm kind of scared of reading more, lol.

  4. I'm a big fan of Clarice Bean and her family.


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