This post is part of my weekly (or almost) contribution to the kidlit meme hosted by http://www.teachmentortexts and http://www.unleashingreaders.com. Visit these two great sites to find a host of useful information including but not only a list of books to add to your To-Be-Read list.
Okay… so maybe the first week back to school is not the greatest week for reading. Enough excuses. Here is the tiny list of books I managed to read this week, but you might agree that what I lacked in quantity this week, I made up for with quality.
I finished this fine series with my six year old on the weekend. #5, Thinks Like a Pig, introduces the character of Animal Control Officer Francine Poulet, who is featured in book 2 of Kate DiCamillo’s Tales of Deckawoo Drive. We will probably be reading that title by next week. In this, the fifth title of the Mercy Watson series, the title character eats all the flowers of Eugenia Lincoln and continues to be a nemesis to her neighbour. All turns out well in the end though, and that means another round of buttered toast for all. The series is a little predictable in the best way possible. One side benefit is that I do not have to sell any particular items for breakfast on these busy mornings at the beginning of the school year. I know everyone will consent to having toast with plenty of butter. Easy.
What can you say about this book that has not been said before. It is certainly timely with many of the events that have taken place in the United States around police violence. Really strong, well written example of using two different character’s perspectives to get more detail and insight into events that are complicated in some ways and not in others. Authors Brendan Kiely and Jason Reynolds do an amazing job of getting you inside the heads of the victim of police brutality and an observer who might have been able to see the events as not his problem. This book, while timely, also feels timeless in the way that it addresses racism and other issues like how to be strong and stand up for what is right without being an observer. This feels like an important book that many libraries should have in their collection. There is a fair amount of swearing and I know that this bothers some elementary patrons/parents but it is not really excessive and it really feels like it is in the spirit of the character’s voice. This is as close to a must read as there is.
The last book I read this week was a nice picture book biography of Albert Einstein by an author whose Jacques Cousteau biography Manfish, I also really enjoyed. Jennifer Berne seems to really enjoy exploring the origins of some of our deepest thinkers, and describing some of their ideas in ways that kids will be able to understand. Some of the text in this book is in read and it really manages to highlight some of the most important parts of the story, “he asked questions never asked before. Found answers never found before. And dreamed up ideas never dreamt before.” Berne seems to really enjoy the dreamy aspect of imaginative thinkers like Einstein and Cousteau. The illustrations really add to this and it took a while for me to put together where I had seen his work before, and it was in the Mem Fox written, Where the Giant Sleeps. I have been searching for PB bios, and this was another good one to add to my list.
I also continue to read Chris Colfer’s fifth installment of The Land of Stories, An Author’s Odyssey, as a family read aloud. I also just started The Mark of the Plague by Kevin Sands, a sequel to his tremendous debut, The Blackthorn Key. It starts with a bang, just as the first in the series did. This will be one of the most anticipated books of the year in the upper intermediate grades at my school. I purchased it on Friday and it had already been noticed by students who follow my Goodreads account. Happy reading to all, including my friends in their first full week of teaching.