This is my weekly contribution to an excellent community of kidlit lovers who post their reading wrap-ups each Monday at unleashingreaders.com and teachmentortexts.com. This is an excellent place to build your towers of to-read books.
This week I read some really great picture books and one novel that will stick with me and make me think for some time.
I really enjoyed this picture book’s amazing painted illustrations with the very expressive animals experiencing their perfect days. I had hoped that this would be great to discuss with little ones, talking about the interconnectedness of these “perfect days” and how the actions of one can impact others. The words are subtle, but strong with some repetition that my young readers enjoyed. It also proved to be very good for them to make predictions. There is a wordless page that turns the plot around a bit and kids loved making guesses and also imagining what the animals might be “saying” or what was in their “speech bubble.” Although the plots are not too similar, this aspect of our reading reminded me of reading Horrible Bear by Ame Dyckman last year. Their is also a cute pic and story on the back flap of the book jacket that my groups found interesting.
I enjoyed how the Dad taught that it was okay to be afraid, and the way they focussed on solving the boy’s problem rather than the more expected, “You’re just being silly.” Dan Santat’s illustrations were predictably great. For some reason, I just love it when he draws authors as on the back flap (what was it about checking that part of books out this week?!). Santat did one of Adam Gidwitz for the new version of the series A Tale Dark and Grimm that was amazing. I digress though, in this book I thought it was interesting the way the parents seemed like separate entities. They were not really together very often, and seemed to handle things slightly differently. Part of me liked it in the sense that I know families that fit this description, but part of me thought the Mom was really marginalized (maybe the title gives this away).
I felt this was a really smart book that broached the topic of residential schools in a way that would be easy to share with young readers, and introduce them to this important chapter of Canadian history. It has really beautiful, colourful illustrations, but the real great thing here is the child’s curiousity mixed with the grandparents desire to share her story.
This is an older book than the others but one that I hadn’t read before. As two boys determine who might win a battle between their toys, the parameters of the battle are key to both the humour and determining the “winner.” Easy to picture two boys having this type of throw-down and the art is very funny.
I think this will be really popular with the girls in our K-2 classes and maybe other students as well, but unicorns are kind of, okay, very popular with that group of students right now. This book is about a girl, who against the beliefs of others, believes in unicorns, and a unicorn, who against the beliefs of others, believes in little girls. This would be enough to capture the attention of many readers, but the pictures are also very colourful and will attract much attention.
This last picture book, I had my six year old daughter read to me this weekend. It is a really cute story about a unicorn who grows up believing she is a narwhal until she is able to reach the surface. Once there, she sees a completely different world and a different perspective on what she is. In the end, she seems to find a place in both worlds. There are some clever and funny illustrations throughout, but particularly on the last page.
This one kind of built like a slow burn. It felt a little like To Kill a Mockingbird in the way that it deals with prejudices. My copy looks different (came from UK) instead of all the words on this cover it has only the line, “The year I turned twelve, I learned how to lie.” While I did find part of this book to be about truth and lies, I also found it to be more about people’s perceptions and how they can be sculpted through truth or fictions. These perceptions become people’s reality, particularly in a small town such as this in which everyone knows everyone else’s business. These perceptions lead to action. The plot of this book becomes a messy situation for many involved, and solutions are messy too. Maybe life is just a little more messy than we might hope.
Currently reading: I am re-reading My Name is Seepeetza in preparation for my Battle of the Books, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire with my family, the BFG with my youngest (although not much since she found the Amulet series of graphic novels this weekend), and tomorrow I will start A Monster Calls. I am also hoping to start a shorter, early chapter book this week such as the Cody series by Tricia Springstubb or Alvin Ho. I also plan to read at least one graphic novel, either the third Amulet or the Star Wars Jedi Academy series (my older daughter and I were discussing why neither of us see these being read by students despite the new movies, I have never read them so …). Happy Reading to all!