Monday, June 17, 2024

It's Monday - Books I Loved


        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'm back from a lovely visit with my son, daughter-in-law, and grandson where we saw Yo Yo Ma in concert! It was very special! 

         If you like thrillers, I've finished the third in Don Winslow's trilogy, a saga of the illusive and conflicted Danny Ryan, coming from the mob back east and settling in Las Vegas. The outcome will both dismay and thrill readers and those close to Winslow.  It's been quite a journey Winslow took us on, from 2022 to 2024. I imagine he might be sad it's complete. Yet, as Dr. Seuss wrote, "Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened."

     It took a while for me to get into this. It felt rather repetitive and I was confused about the characters, who was who, etc. But as it kept going and becoming more intriguing, I started to like the attitude of Olive Cobin Zang, the main young one who's found herself dropped off at a new school, like no other, while her parents go on still another business trip. As the story deepens, Olive ends up in a small (secret) group set to solve some mysteries. Each group member has unique qualities, but they learn as a team and to "work" as a team, despite some who are a bit more negative than others. The story, and the mystery of "Who stole the jewels?" deepens and becomes more exciting, not too scary, but just intriguing enough for middle readers. Dan Santat adds just the right amount of illustration to heighten the excitement. Seeing kids do some dangerous things will entertain the readers! It's a satisfying and surprise ending I didn't imagine at all, too!


Thanks to Charlesbridge for the following two special picture books!

           I've heard of 'stickball' but not this particular game important to the Cherokee nation. Traci Sorell tells the story of a challenge of a young boy, Vann, who loves playing but isn't so great at it! He soon learns that he can contribute to the game, with teamwork! For readers' knowledge, Sorell also includes that only boys use the sticks and play against girls, who are able to use their hands! The object is to throw the ball at a "fish" (a wooden carving nailed to a post). Cherokee words are sprinkled throughout with a glossary, real photos of the playing, and added info about stickball and language at the back. In his debut picture book, Joseph Erb's colorful and exciting illustrations help feel as if you're right there in the excitement of a stickball game!   

          Leslie Stall Widener shares a memorable tale of a connection few people know. During the Irish potato famine, the Choctaw Nation, Navajo Nation, and Hopi Nation heard of the horrific time there, gathered what they could, and sent $170. to help. A few generations later, in 2017, Irish people built a sculpture (see the cover) to memorialize that connection. Then, in 2020, Irish people remembered the Nations' generosity so long ago, and sent millions to help the Native Americans, so ravaged by Covid, and in dire need of help. This is a simple way to tell what the story is about, but it is poetically told by Widener with picturesque illustrations that bring the story to life. There is added information at the back, including a timeline, author's and illustrator's notes, a glossary of Irish and Choctaw vocabulary included, and a list for further exploration. It's wonderful to have what seems to be a little-known story told so poignantly. 

            This new book by Michelle Schaub, illustrated beautifully by Anne Lambelet is a fabulous, poetic journey of trees throughout our country. Fourteen trees, well-known and perhaps not known by everyone, are highlighted by Schaub, with a poem and added information about the tree, covering history, geography, and nature. One is the Boston Liberty tree, where the "Sons of Liberty" posted protests about high taxes. ,  Each poem is written in a different form, and those forms and their 'how-to' are shown also on the inside covers.  There is added information at the back about tree road trips, doing one's own planting, and many acknowledgements from extensive research. Michelle ends with a personal poem, the first verse of which makes this a very personal book: My Landmark Tree (quatrain) begins with 
                                           "Don't need to travel far
                                            to find my favorite tree.
                                            It stands outside my window
                                            and watches over me."

       For tree-loving people and to cause others to consider loving trees, this one will inspire. Do you have a favorite tree story? Can you share in the comments? I have a few, but the most recent is a cottonwood, outside my window, at what became my new home that is estimated to be over 100 years old. 

Now reading: the new Lois Lowry book, Tree. Table. Book. 


  1. Oooh, my son definitely has a favourite tree! His grandmother's apartment overlooks an urban forest, and he and his grandma have spent many a happy moment talking about all the beautiful trees they can spot from the balcony.

    1. What a special story, Jane! Thanks for telling me!

  2. I think we're on the same page about trees, Elisabeth. I love your latest story about the tree you see now & the one that will be new when you move! Thank you!


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