IMWAYR – October 24, 2016

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? is hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date, and adapted by Kellee at Unleashing Readers and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts with a children’s/YA focus. The Sunday Post is hosted by The Caffeinated Book Reviewer. These weekly roundups are a great way to discover new blogs and bloggers, share titles, and add to your ever-growing to-read list.

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I love babytimes.

I love toddler times.

I love family storytimes.

But preschool storytimes must just be my very favourite storytimes of all.

Shh…don’t tell the other storytimes!

I’ve been covering for a colleague’s preschool storytimes for the past few weeks, and it’s been an eye-opening experience. I’ve worked predominantly with babies and toddlers for the past two years of story times, and preschoolers are a whole ‘nother kettle of fish. They’re bright, curious, engaged and oh so very chatty, making them a whole lot of fun to work with.

A lot of the stories I shared with my preschoolers this week have been old favourites, but I have discovered a couple of new-to-me favourites as well!

The Watermelon Seed

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A little crocodile loves watermelon more than anything else in the world. But when he accidentally swallows a watermelon seeds, he becomes convinced that it’s going to grow and grow in his tummy and turn him into a watermelon! He eventually burps out the seed (my preschoolers’ favourite part of the story), and all is well. A silly little story with limited text and fun illustrations that are sure to make kids giggle.

Rex Wrecks It

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This is a fantastic story for sharing at a preschool or daycare because it centres on learning to play respectfully and to empathize with others. Rex is a little dinosaur who loves to wreck things, much to the dismay of the other little critters in his preschool. How will they ever learn to get along? This is another very simple story with limited text, but it’s great for starting conversations with children about respecting the needs and feelings of others, as well as inferring those needs through observation and conversation.  

And just look at those critters! There’s a robot, a monster, and a unicorn rabbit – something for just about every preschooler! 😉

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Stop Snoring, Bernard!

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Bernard the otter loves his life in the zoo. He loves playtime, mealtime, and most of all naptime! But when his loud snoring upsets his fellow otters, Bernard sets off to find a place where he can sleep without disturbing anyone. Having grown up with a dad whose snores register on local seismographs (hi, dad!), I can’t help but sympathize with poor old Grumpy Giles, the otter who finally snaps and sends Bernard packing. Can you spot Grumpy Giles?

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There’s a great repetitive refrain – stop snoring, Bernard! – that kids will love chanting along with, and the illustrations! Oh, the illustrations!! Zacharia OHora has a distinct, immediately identifiable illustration style that brings so much heart and charm to the story. The little otters are absolutely adorable, and my preschoolers just couldn’t get enough of them!

So many fun new favourites!

Have a great week, everybody!

IMWAYR – October 17, 2016

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? is hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date, and adapted by Kellee at Unleashing Readers and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts with a children’s/YA focus. The Sunday Post is hosted by The Caffeinated Book Reviewer. These weekly roundups are a great way to discover new blogs and bloggers, share titles, and add to your ever-growing to-read list.

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I’ve got another fantastic set of picture books coming your way this week! Here we go!

Monster Park

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A daddy monster takes his little monster to the monster park for an afternoon of fun and play. But when it’s time to go home, little monster decides he doesn’t want to go!

Working in the children’s section of the library you see these meltdowns each and every day – they’re just a fact of life for little ones! This happy rhyming book with its colourful little monsters embraces little ones in all their exuberance, whether they’re squealing with laughter or rolling on the floor in a tantrum. They might drive us bonkers sometimes, but we still love them to bits.

It’s also really nice to see a little one spending the day with a beloved daddy – when the little monster skins his knee, he cries out for his daddy, who quickly makes everything better. It’s refreshing to see a dad taking on a role traditionally limited to mothers by soothing and comforting an upset child. Spotlighting male caregivers in picture books helps to chip away at longstanding gender biases and limitations – being patient and loving has nothing to do with a person’s gender, and everything to do with a person’s heart.

My Friend Maggie

Paula and Maggie have been friends since they were little, but when mean girl Veronica decides that Maggie is too fat and starts teasing her, Paula abandons her life-long friend and sides with the mean girl. When she finds herself Veronica’s next target, though, Paula discovers what it means to be a friend.

My Friend Maggie realistically portrays elementary school relationships, and the story wears its anti-bullying message lightly. 

Here’s a quote from a Goodreads review that gave me pause for thought, though:

….There’s a page where the main character says “and her clothes are a little snug” with a picture of this elephant trying to put on clothes that are too small for her, and that’s the page that completely lost me. Because there’s this persistent idea that of course fat people can’t dress themselves and all their clothes don’t fit.

That page frames Maggie as “the fat girl”, and with that framing device all the other things they pick on Maggie about take on a slightly different tone. Because there are a lot of stereotypical ideas that are used to shame fat people; they’re clumsy, their clothes don’t fit, they’re loud. All these things are said about Maggie and no where in this story are those things refuted. Maggie just continues to be a friend to the main character. And that’s the last stereotype, right? The idea of the kind, loyal, fat girl.

Having been the fat kid for much of my life (who was mercilessly teased throughout elementary school), I could see where this reviewer was coming from. Poor old Maggie seems to exist primarily as a plot device that allows Paula, the “normal” kid, to learn an important lesson. Even Maggie’s best friend seems to use her – much of Paula and Maggie’s friendship is based on the many things that Maggie does for Paula. Growing up fat and teased, the life lesson we often end up with is that we should be happy to have any friends at all, even if they don’t treat us with respect. 

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I still think My Friend Maggie is a beautiful picture book, and the illustrations are breathtakingly detailed and add so much emotion and heart to the story. Paula is a realistic and empathetic character, and a lot of readers will be able to see themselves reflected in her, both in her strengths and her weaknesses. I just wish fat characters could get a little more respect in children’s books.

Lion Lessons

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John Agee’s It’s Only Stanley has long been a favourite of mine for its droll sensibility and deadpan humour, and Lion Lessons has simply reinforced my admiration for this talented author/illustrator. Agee has a distinct talent for creating stories that are at once ridiculous and relatable – a little boy signs up for lion lessons from a suit-wearing, clipboard-carrying lion. As one does. But being meek and gentle, the little boy just doesn’t seem to have what it takes to be a lion, until the final lesson, Looking Out for Your Friends, provides him with the opportunity to earn both his Lion Diploma and the adoration of the neighbourhood cats.

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Agee’s delivery is once again brilliantly deadpan – his absurdist scenario is depicted with such understated simplicity that the whole thing seems practically run-of-the-mill, which is where the real humour lies. Nothing about Lion Lessons hits you over the head or tries to distract you with crazy bells and whistles. This is good old fashioned absurdity in the classic tradition of William Steig, Peter Bown, even Maurice Sendak. Understated, sweet, and a lot of fun to share aloud, Lion Lessons really is a winning picture book.

Have a great reading week, everyone!

#IMWAYR – July 18, 2016

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? is hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date, and adapted by Kellee at Unleashing Readers and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts with a children’s/YA focus. The Sunday Post is hosted by The Caffeinated Book Reviewer. These weekly roundups are a great way to discover new blogs and bloggers, share titles, and add to your ever-growing to-read list.

So many picture books, so little time!! I’ve got another pile of illustrated stories to share with you on the blog this week, some new, and some just new to me. I really like sharing a mixture of bright, shiny new picture books as well as those that might have flown under the radar a bit, or that I think might be hidden gems just waiting to be rediscovered. Having a desk that’s just a few steps from a wall of picture book shelves certainly makes my writing life easier – all I have to do is close my eyes and pull out a handful of books, and I’m pretty much guaranteed to find at least a few great titles!

Here’s what I’ve got coming up on the blog this week:

Puddle 

  • A picture book perfectly suited for Vancouverites like myself (it is summer, isn’t it?)…..

 

Fred Forgets

  • A cheeky little monkey has a bit of fun at the expense of his forgetful elephant friend, but the good times won’t last forever….

 

What Makes a Baby

  • A thoroughly modern “where does a baby come from?” book that recognises that not all baby stories start with “when a mummy and a daddy love each other very much”….

Highgate Rise

On the grown-up reading front, I’m currently working my way through my first Anne Perry novel, a murder mystery set in Victorian England. Thomas Pitt is a police inspector, and Charlotte Pitt is his wife, who assists him with his cases (though not always with his blessing). I haven’t finished this one yet, but I’m really quite enjoying it. The historical setting feels very real, and the murder plot is engaging, as Thomas and Charlotte pursue two very different possible paths of deduction. I don’t think I’ve figured out who is the murderer is yet, but I do have my suspicions!

Have a great week everybody, and don’t forget to check back in throughout the week for my thoughts on the picture books I shared above!

 

#IMWAYR – July 11, 2016

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? is hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date, and adapted by Kellee at Unleashing Readers and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts with a children’s/YA focus. The Sunday Post is hosted by The Caffeinated Book Reviewer. These weekly roundups are a great way to discover new blogs and bloggers, share titles, and add to your ever-growing to-read list.

I’ve got a bunch of reviews coming down the pipeline this week – I’ve been devouring picture books recently, and the shelves at my library are bursting at the seams with great new books. If want to make sure you don’t miss any reviews, feel free to follow my blog so you’ll be notified of each new post.

Don’t Touch This Book

Barnacle is Bored

Excellent Ed

Moonday


The Good Dinosaur

The Good Dinosaur (BD + DVD + Digital) [Blu-ray]

OK, so I didn’t read this so much as watch it, but this is my blog and I can do what I want so there (yikes, I think the toddlers in my story times are starting to rub off on me….).

I hadn’t caught this one in theatres and Pixar has really been hit or miss recently (curse you, Planes!), but I’m a dinosaur fanatic and and my partner’s an optimist, so we decided to give it a try.

Our lead character Arlo lives in a world in which the mass extinction of the dinosaurs never occurred. He’s the runt of his farming family, and longs to impress his parents and make his mark like his more successful siblings. When tragedy strikes and Arlo is separated from his family, he must find an inner source of strength so that he can conquer his fears and find his way home.

The story is nothing that hasn’t been done in children’s films before – think “The Lion King”, or “The Land Before Time” – and the characters are pretty generic. You could replace all of the dinosaur characters with humans, or dogs, or elephants, and you’d barely notice the difference – the film rarely takes advantage of the fact that its characters are DINOSAURS! At times it felt like I was watching an old Disney TV special featuring a jovial cowboy… I did appreciate the quiet gentleness of the story, though – many filmmakers think that children need to constantly be barraged by noise, colour and movement in order to be entertained, when in reality a quiet, thoughtful story told with a gentle hand can be just as effective.

There were definitely some heartwarming and hilarious moments, and I cried at some scenes (though I cry during Tim Hortons TV commercials, so take this with a grain of salt). The animation, too, was breathtaking. My god, the scenery was just incredible, I could’ve watched the wind blowing through the autumn foliage for the entire run-time. And the water! Water has always been a challenge for animators to recreate, but the rushing rivers in The Good Dinosaur were so realistic it was hard at times to believe it wasn’t film footage of an actual river. Incredible.

So, the story is generic, the characters are likeable if forgettable, and the animation is incredible. The Good Dinosaur isn’t one that you’ll likely feel the need to re-watch, and it likely won’t be remembered as one of Pixar’s finest, but it’s not a bad movie, just all around serviceable. Which isn’t something you ever want to say about a movie with DINOSAURS.

Have a great week everybody!!

#IMWAYR – July 4, 2016

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? is hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date, and adapted by Kellee at Unleashing Readers and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts with a children’s/YA focus. The Sunday Post is hosted by The Caffeinated Book Reviewer. These weekly roundups are a great way to discover new blogs and bloggers, share titles, and add to your ever-growing to-read list.


Happy Independence to all my Yankee friends! Here’s wishing you a happy, healthy holiday.

On the blog front, I’ve got a few exciting bits and pieces of news to share!

First off – I’m now a regular host for the incredible kids lit meme Diverse Kids Lit, which is an opportunity for kid lit bloggers to share diverse children’s lit! As a children’s librarian and co-chair of my local library association’s LGBTQ interest group, diversity is a subject that is very dear to my heart. I shared a powerful Canadian picture book as part of the linkup on Saturday,you can check it out here, and don’t forget to check out all the other great posts on the list.

Next up, I’m now an official Book Warrior! I’ve been a guest contributor to this amazing children’s literature blog for a few months now, and the fantastic ladies behind the site have invited me to become a fully-fledged member. I couldn’t be more excited – it’s like being invited to sit with the cool kids in the school cafeteria, except these cool kids are also incredibly smart and nice to boot. I’ll hopefully be posting fairly regularly over there, focusing mainly on picture books (of course), so check it out!!

Now, on to some of this week’s reads.

The Hangman’s Daughter

I read this historical mystery for my book club, and while I didn’t hate it, I didn’t love it either. To be honest, I found the whole thing pretty meh, and had to force myself to actually finish it (I’m a serial DNF-er).  I love historical fiction, and I’ve always been fascinated by Medieval Europe, so the story of a hangman and a young progressive physician who work together to solve a mystery and prevent the eruption of witch hunting mania sounded really promising. But the text is just kind of clunky. There’s a lot of “but what do X, Y and Z have to do with A?” dialogue, as if the author knows that the plot is getting overly complicated and is worried that the audience won’t be able to follow along. There characters aren’t particularly fleshed out, the inevitable romantic pairing isn’t all that romantic, and it’s just a lot of meh.

I did wonder if some of the clunkiness of the text might have to do with the fact that this is a novel in translation. Even the best translations risk losing some of the spark of the original language, and some expressions and cultural assumptions simply don’t translate easily.

Either way, it’s not a terrible book, but if you enjoy historical fiction set in Medieval Europe, I would recommend Ken Follet, Bernard Cornwell, Philippa Gregory,  and many of the novels on this list instead.

Maybe Something Beautiful

Super Happy Magic Forest

Reviews coming this week!

Why You Should Aim for 100 Rejections a Year

What an inspiring article! Whether you’re a writer, artist, creator, athlete or job hunter, this article is a must-read. Putting yourself out there again and again can be terrifying (my job interview batting average is an unspeakable horror at the moment), but as the author explains, it’s only by actively courting rejection that you can ever hope to secure success.

Have a great week everybody!!

#IMWAYR – June 27, 2016

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? is hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date, and adapted by Kellee at Unleashing Readers and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts with a children’s/YA focus. The Sunday Post is hosted by The Caffeinated Book Reviewer. These weekly roundups are a great way to discover new blogs and bloggers, share recommended (or not so recommended….) titles, and add to your ever-growing to-read list.

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The Martian

I really wanted to love this book. The film adaptation starring Matt Damon was fantastic and I love science fiction, so I came into the novel with high hopes.

Don’t get me wrong, I love technobabble as much as the next person. Just look at my obsession with Michael Crichton novels. Being hit over the head with facts and figures doesn’t phase me, which is a good thing, because wow does this book ever delight in its technobabble.

What makes a highly technical yet highly enjoyable Michael Crichton novel like Sphere or Jurassic Park (don’t be fooled by the film adaptation – the original novel is not for those with a fear of coding languages) work is that the facts and figures are usually delivered by characters who serve a function beyond just being the deliverers of facts and figures. The characters in The Martian are barely characters at all – they don’t really display any discernible personalities, experience no growth or development, and just aren’t particularly interesting.

Our hero, Mark Watney, doesn’t really feel like a real person – he’s just so gosh-darn positive, experiencing only the briefest and most transient moments of negativity or doubt. The man experiences complete isolation for weeks and faces near-constant death – I don’t care how positive you are or how well you scored on your NASA psychological testing, that’s going to put at least a  bit of a damper on your spirits. Watney is just too perfect for me – always chipper, always positive, always cheeky, and always brilliant – too damn brilliant. Every “oh shit, I’m going to die!” moment is almost immediately followed by a “never mind, it’s all good” moment. There’s never really any reason to worry about Watney’s fate because we very quickly realize that no matter what challenges he faces, his super brilliance and super cheerfulness will quickly find a solution and save the day. The character serves as a vehicle for the author to display his in-depth knowledge of all things science and technology, which is interesting for a while, but eventually loses its lustre.

In conclusion, this was one of those rare instances in which I actually preferred the film adaptation over the source material (gasp!).

Don’t Push the Button

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I am experiencing a bit of a love-hate relationship with this book at the moment. I love it because it’s simple, silly and interactive, and works brilliantly as a read-aloud at school visits. I hate it because I read it aloud eight times in the past week, and I’ve since developed an unnatural hatred for Larry the naughty monster. The story is a lot of fun, though, and it provides a perfect opportunity to really ham things up as a reader, if you’re anything like me.

The Bus Ride

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Miss Hazeltine’s Home for Shy and Fearful Cats

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Old MacDonald Had a Truck

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Check back in throughout the week for reviews of these picture books!

Hope everyone’s having a great Monday!

#IMWAYR – June 13, 2016

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? is hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date, and adapted by Kellee at Unleashing Readers and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts with a children’s/YA focus. The Sunday Post is hosted by The Caffeinated Book Reviewer. These weekly roundups are a great way to discover new blogs and bloggers, share recommended (or not so recommended….) titles, and add to your ever-growing to-read list.

If I Had a Gryphon

If I was a picture book writer, Cale Atkinson would have to be one of my dream illustrators, because pretty much everything he’s worked on has been a visual treat. Vikki Vansickle’s rhyming text is silly and sweet, and works beautifully as read aloud, and Atkinson’s riotously vibrant illustrations knock this book right out of the park. A little girl bemoans her boring pet hamster, and dreams of all the excitement and adventure owning a more exotic pet would bring. She quickly realizes, though, that when it comes to pets, being boring isn’t such a bad thing after all! There’s so much quirky detail in each cartoony illustration, and even the scariest of mythical creatures is rendered adorable. I just want to pinch their squishy cheeks!

And the best part? Both author and illustrator are from British Columbia!! Hometown pride!!!

Hector and the Hummingbird

 There’s recently been a string of odd-couple picture books in which loud and extroverted characters frustrate their quieter, more introverted friends. In many versions of the story, the quiet character eventually cracks, but then grows lonely and concedes that they need the loud character in their lives after all, thus restoring the friendship.

I do wish extroverted characters could be shown learning to respect and adapt to the needs of their more introverted friends. Why must the quiet, introverted characters always  seem to concede to the needs of their louder friends? Domineering characters are often portrayed as cute, endearing and charming, even when they brazenly steam-roll over the quieter characters.

In this example, chatty Hummingbird never seems to realize that Hector the bear might simply need some alone time, and doesn’t seem to make any conscious attempt to support the needs of his friend. In fact, the only way that the two friends are able to comfortably co-exist is through the use of trickery, as Hector convinces Hummingbird that being quiet is a sort of game, though not one that Hummingbird is very good at.

Though I don’t consider myself an introvert, I work closely with many people who do. These individuals need time alone and quiet spaces in order to function at their best – it’s an important aspect of maintaining their optimal mental health. I wish this was represented more positively in these sorts of friendship stories- introverted characters are often portrayed as grumpy or antisocial, getting mad and shouting at their friends. It would have been nice to see Hector explain to Hummingbird that the two of them can still be best friends even if they aren’t together all the time. As a true friend, Hummingbird would understand and respect his friend’s needs, and would at least try to provide him with the time and space he needs to stay healthy and happy, which would be a positive example for both introverted and extroverted young readers.

I really did enjoy this picture book – the illustrations are wonderful, and the characters, even the frustrating Hummingbird, are very sweet and quite charming. Neither character is portrayed as being mean-spirited or intentionally mean, and they’re both very likeable. I just wish quiet characters weren’t always portrayed as grumpsters!

Solomon and Mortimer

Two bored little crocodiles plan to sneak up on an unsuspecting hippo and surprise him. The hippo, it turns out, isn’t quite as unsuspecting as the two friends might think. This is a very sweet story, and teachers and parents will recognize the exuberant and cheeky little Solomons and Mortimers in their classrooms and families. Catherine Rayner’s illustrations are particularly eye-catching and very effective, especially the scenes in which characters are splashing around in the water. This would be lots of fun to share with a group, where kids could guess what might happen next in the story.

A Fire Truck Called Red

A young boy dreams of a brand-new shiny red fire truck toy, and is deeply disappointed when he ends up with a hand-me-down truck that used to belong to his grandfather. As the boy and his grandfather work to restore the toy, the grandfather tells stories of the imaginary adventures he and his toy truck used to have. Gradually the boy is drawn into the stories, and decides that maybe old Red isn’t quite so bad after all. This is a wonderful intergenerational story that celebrates the importance of substance, as well as style, and reminds us of the power of our imaginations. I would have preferred it if the illustrations were just a little bit less cartoonish (the big round heads aren’t really my style), but I do love the use of mixed media. A real treat, especially for kids who love fire engines (and their grown-ups, too).

 

 

#IMWAYR – June 6, 2016

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? is hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date, and adapted by Kellee at Unleashing Readers and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts with a children’s/YA focus. The Sunday Post is hosted by The Caffeinated Book Reviewer. These weekly roundups are a great way to discover new blogs and bloggers, share recommended (or not so recommended….) titles, and add to your ever-growing to-read list.

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The Wheels on the Tuk Tuk

It’s no secret that I love singable picture books, so I’m always on the lookout for new stories to add to my collection and use in my story times. This lively picture books puts a fun new spin on the classic children’s song The Wheels on the Bus by placing it in a colourful, bustling Indian setting. The text is rousing and bouncing, though perhaps a little long for my story times. Still, it’s easy enough to skip a page or two to shorten the text without losing any of the fun. Definitely worth taking a look at, especially for the joyous illustrations – check out the impressive size of the moo-moo cow!

baabaa

Baa-Baa Smart Sheep

This dryly funny little picture book features a clever sheep who relieves its boredom by playing mind games with a slightly dim-witted turkey. The dialogue is sharp and witty, and the exchanges between the two characters would make for an effective elementary school read-aloud, but ewwwww….. just …..ewwwww…..this is certainly not a title for those with an aversion to potty humour or bodily functions, I’ll just leave it at that!

hoot

Hoot Owl: Master of Disguise

“I am Hoot Owl!

I am very, very hungry.

And here I come!

The shadowy night stretches away forever, as black as burnt toast.”

A charming protagonist with unshakeable optimism and endless persistence, wonderfully striking illustrations with bold lines and an eye-catching palette, and a perfect amount of repetition make this a fantastic picture book for young readers. Sweet, silly, endearing, and lots of fun.

twoisenough

Two is Enough

Families come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, and this rhyming picture book is dedicated to families of two – whether it’s a parent and a child, or a grandparent and a grandchild, these small families have just as much love in them as a family of any other size. Cheerful illustrations and a gentle, reassuring text celebrate the loving everyday experiences of families of two.

Where Things Come Back

I’ll be honest, I don’t read a lot of young adult fiction. It wasn’t my jam when I was a young adult, and it’s just not my jam now. Being a teenager wasn’t the best or easiest time in my life, so I’m not really in any hurry to relive it! But every once in a while I come across a young adult novel that knocks my socks right off, and makes me rethink my assumptions about what teen fiction is capable of. Where Things Come Back is one of those novels. Don’t get me wrong, it definitely has elements of a coming-of-age, where-do-I-fit-in story line. But in John Corey Whaley’s hands, these potentially tired tropes become something much more. There are two major story lines that run along side each other before finally intersecting in a dramatic and surreal conclusion – one features teenager Cullen, whose younger brother has suddenly disappeared, while the other follows a young missionary and his shattering crisis of faith.  This is a strange, complex, weird and wonderful novel that challenges any preconceived notions you might have about teen fiction, and argues that fiction written for and about young people can be as thought-provoking, meaningful, and nuanced as any adult novel.

#IMWAYR – May 31, 2016

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? is hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date, and adapted by Kellee at Unleashing Readers and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts with a children’s/YA focus. This weekly roundup is a great way to discover new blogs and bloggers, share recommended (or not so recommended….) titles, and add to your ever-growing to-read list.

Carnivores

Have you seen Finding Nemo? Do you remember Bruce the shark and his “fish are friends, not food” motto? This darkly hilarious story from Aaron Reynolds and Dan Santat is reminiscent of that reluctant carnivore – three apex predators are secretly hurt by their reputations as mindless eating machines, and seek to change their ways and their relationships with their fellow animals. This story will likely appeal to a certain sort of sense of humour, it’s a little  bit twisted, but in a very funny way. And Dan Santat’s illustrations steal the show, as usual.

The Mysteries of Harris Burdick

Teachers/librarians looking to inspire budding writers really ought to have a copy of this elegant and evocative picture book in their arsenal. It truly is fantastic. The premise is ingenious – a mysterious man named Harris Burdick visited a publisher to show him samples of his work. He claimed to have written 14 stories, and brought with him a single illustration and quotation from each story. The publisher was impressed, but when he tried to contact Harris Burdick, he discovered that the man had vanished without a trace, leaving only the mysterious images behind.

This collection of illustrations and quotations, rendered in Van Allsburg’s signature shades of grey, would be an inspiring writing prompt for writers young and old.

Posy

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I love cats. The only thing standing between me and full-blown cat lady status is my ridiculous cat allergy. So, a picture book about a kitten already is already right up my alley.

This picture book is adorable. I am pretty picky when it comes to rhymes, and I really enjoyed Linda Newbery’s bouncing, joyful text. The earth-toned illustrations are unique and completely enchanting, and anyone who has ever had a kitten will be able to relate to Posy’s charming exploits. A very sweet and endearing rhyming picture book.

The Song of Achilles

I picked up this book on a whim, drawn to its striking cover, and I am so very glad I did. This beautiful retelling of Homer’s classic epic poem, The Odyssey is stunning. I devoured it in record time, reluctant to put it down and be parted from it. Madeline Miller is a master storyteller. The text is lush, lyrical, and completely absorbing, and the tragic, all-consuming love story she has created is one for the ages. There is some adult content, including some scenes of violence (this is the story of the destruction of Troy after all), so do bear that in mind, but I cannot recommend this novel enough.

Have a great reading week, everybody!

#IMWAYR – May 16, 2016

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? is hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date, and adapted by Kellee at Unleashing Readers and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts with a children’s/YA focus. This weekly roundup is a great way to discover new blogs and bloggers, share recommended (or not so recommended….) titles, and add to your ever-growing to-read list.

My House

My name is Jane, and I love cats, so it was pretty much inevitable that I would love this vibrant, colourful picture book.

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A friendly little cat named Jim takes readers on a tour of his house, using simple, friendly text and delightful illustrations. Definitely worth taking a look at, even if you’re not a cat lady named Jane. 🙂

The Snow Rabbit

Wow.

snow

This wordless picture book is simply stunning. The paper cut illustrations are miniature works of art, subtle, elegant and evocative. Two sisters explore the wintery world outside their door, encountering a mysterious and magical snow rabbit. Perhaps not the most suitable book for this time of year (it’s already getting toasty here!), but just too beautiful not to explore and share.

Lord Edgware Dies

I quite enjoyed this classic Poirot mystery, which featured a twist ending that I honestly didn’t see coming. The most interesting part of the novel, however, wasn’t written by Ms. Christie at all, but rather by a mysterious editor armed with a pencil. All throughout the book a previous reader left little corrections, pointing out a typo here, a word choice error there. Fascinating that someone would even bother to go to all the hassle. Were they trying to improve the reading experience for the next borrower, or did they simply want to prove they could one-up Agatha Christie in the writing department? We may never know. At least they made their notations in pencil and not red ink….

PicMonkey Collage2

PicMonkey Collage1

Hope you’ve all been having a great reading week!!