Monday, May 20, 2024

Monday Reading - A Few Books to Love


        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!

      Byron Graves is Ojibwa, was born and raised on the Red Lake Reservation. There, like the main character, Tre, of Rez Ball, he played high school basketball. Here in his debut novel, he weaves a sophomore boy's life in and out of his dreams of playing on the Red Lake Warriors varsity team, then winning the first state championship ever by a reservation team, then, on to the NBA! His goals are made harder, sometimes he thinks unattainable because his father also was a Rez star, and his brother, a star last year, died in a car crash on winter roads. Now, Tre has to overcome those reputations, too! The story includes a longtime friend who is beginning a documentary of Tre's b-ball beginnings, a new girl at school who looks at things a bit differently, helpful and causing a collision with those friends at times. Complicating it all is the racism the team meets constantly from teams outside, something readers all need to realize has happened often all their past, and today as well. It's a special story focusing on one kid who tries really, really hard to do the right thing always. I loved this many-layered story!
         FYI - This is a young adult novel that contains strong language and party drinking.
         In addition, this was fun to read because it's basketball tournament season. I learned about some of the moves players use!

          In the final anthology created by the late Lee Bennett Hopkins, he left readers with lots of love by finding a few poems he must have loved and asking some poets to write about certain animals/pets. Fourteen poets, including Lois Lowry, Charles Ghigna, and Rebecca Kai Dotlich, write about beloved pets, and one of the "almost pets" that was let go, a box turtle. Lita Judge brings more love to accompany the words in her sweet illustrations. Did you have one of the small furry pets, a hamster, a guinea pig, or a gerbil. They're here, too, along with dogs and rabbits and cats. The poems will bring laughter with the memories along with a bit of sadness when they remind of pets one had years ago. And, you may be inspired to bless your own, dear pets by writing a poem about them!

        Dulce's abuela is coming to visit from Peru! Hooray! And she's bringing maletas full of surprises, ones that Dulce cannot seem to get enough of, like "Candies in crinkly wrappers" and "blankets softer than cotton balls". Many memories are made during this time, like hearing stories and learning new recipes, but Abuela soon must prepare to leave. Dulce is so sad but figures out a way to fill a few of those maletas for her cousins back in Peru whom she wishes to meet, maybe soon? It's a lovely grandmother story with loads of happy details shown by illustrator Juana Medina. I liked that Spanish words are sprinkled throughout as Natalia Sylvester tells this family story of visits from far away. 

       Do I get to write, "sweetest book" for this one, too? Yes! Older Cecil seems sad and when a young neighbor sings, dances, but loses something from her pocket, a watch, she asks if he could fix it. He says he will try and thus begins a story that makes Cecil and a whole neighborhood of people happy as time goes by. Cecil realizes he had forgotten how much he liked to fix things! Casey W. Robinson grows the story to include a lot of smiles and fixing, with a happy ending readers will applaud. The illustrations by Nancy Whitesides fill the pages with soft, beautiful watercolors of smiling people and pets, a sign that reads "Cecil's Repair Shop", "Small Things Mended", and another sign toward the end that will mend a lot of hearts, too! Here's a glimpse of the opening endpapers!

an older book found at the bookstore

        It's wonderful to discover another book illustrated by Brian Pinkney! Kim L. Siegelson tells the loving but heartbreaking Gullah tale evidently found told in a variety of places on shores in the south. Young Mentu, island-born, lives with his grandmother, Twi, born in Africa, bringing all her knowledge of songs and drums and basket-weaving with her, then teaching Mentu, especially drumming. A slave ship arrives on shore with Igbo people in chains beating out the rhythm of the home they wish to return to. Twi is called to join them, those who refuse to move on shore, but they, and Twi, instead choose the waters of Teakettle Creek. Young Mentu must say goodbye. There is more of what Mentu learns from Twi, and he carries on, "strong-strong", along with all his beloved grandmother taught him. The book states, "Islanders call that place Ibo's Landing." They never fished again, fearful of pulling up chains sunk in the mud. 
        The author's note shares that many communities tell this tale that has been passed down from generation to generation. The note about Brian Pinkney tells that he used some of his own private drum collection as models for the drums depicted in his gorgeous illustrations. He, too, is a drummer!

         This is a quick shout-out for another book by Eric Carle. It's in his 'What's Your Favorite' series, including favorite animals, bugs, and food! If you love illustrators, fourteen have responded with double-page art and a brief explanation or memory of the color. It's lovely, as you might guess, to SEE! There are brief paragraphs about each at the back, too! 

What's Next? The Women - Kristin Hannah and Not Quite A Ghost - Anne Ursu


  1. Linda, all these books look so wonderful! Rez Ball sounds like such a compelling read, seeing Tre achieving such success in basketball but still having to find his way in his life, and his relationships, and keep moving in spite of bigotry too. A Maleta Full of Treasures also looks lovely—I'm struck by your mention of what Dulce does at the end of the story, which is so sweet! The endpapers of Small Things Mended are utterly gorgeous, and the plot connected to fixing things reminds me of a video game I love, called Assemble with Care. And I made note of In the Time of the Drums—I don't think I've seen many picture books that tackle slavery, and it sounds like this one gives us such a deep glimpse into the minds and lives of Mentu and Twi. Thank you so much for your thoughtful reviews, as always—it's a treat to see the love you show to these stories!

    1. Thank you so much, Max. I know we have some different tastes but I appreciate that you will find some of the books I share as I find those you do! Have a great week this week!

  2. I almost checked Rez Ball out from the library this week but I had SO many books already and just thought I couldn't possibly get to it. Of course after reading your review I wish I could go pick it up right now. Next time! I love the art you shared from Small Things Mended and have added that to the ever-growing TBR as well!

    1. I liked it a lot, but I also understand. There are so many I want to read, wishing to get right to them! Enjoy when you can! Thanks, Elisabeth!

  3. I've been curious about those two picture books with elderly characters. Hopefully I'll read them soon and maybe I can sell the copies we have.

    1. I hope you read and enjoy them, both sweet books, Earl. Be sure to let me know what happens! Thanks!


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