It's Monday! What are you reading? was started by Sheila at Book Journey and was adapted for children's books from picture books through YA by Jen of Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee of Unleashing Readers. You can visit either site for a round up of blogs sharing their weekly readings and thoughts or search Twitter for #IMWAYR.
Last Week's Posts
- Preparing for Banned Books Week (Sept. 25-Oct. 1). I share some ideas about how to acknowledge and celebrate banned books in the classroom.
- New Book Alert: Snow White. Matt Phelan's latest graphic novel is a 1920s-30s take on the classic tale of Snow White.
- This month's Kid Lit Blog Hop went live last Wednesday. Stop by to share and find great kid lit posts.
- Diverse Books for Children: bilingual book edition. Great theme for the newest #diversekidlit!
Last Friday, our school's librarian came bursting into the study hall I was overseeing to let me know that a package had arrived from Penguin (Candlewick) with a sticker outside identifying the content as books to be published on Oct. 11th. We ripped in hopefully and were rewarded with an advanced copy of We Found a Hat by Jon Klassen! Of course, we read it immediately.
Fans of Jon Klassen's now-classic Caldecott Honor-winning I Want My Hat Back and Caldecott-winning This is Not My Hat will be truly delighted with the conclusion of this trilogy. Every detail is as perfectly-done as its predecessors. (Truly, I think an entire dissertation could be written analyzing Klassen's use of eyes to convey emotions across these three books.) I don't want to say too much or ruin the joy of reading this one for yourself. Can he complete a Caldecott trifecta? He's got my vote! (A review copy of the book was provided by publisher. All thoughts are my own.)
To Stay Alive: Mary Ann Graves and the Tragic Journey of the Donner Party (Oct. 11, 2016) by Skila Brown. The second book in the mystery package was the newest novel-in-verse from Skila Brown, author of Caminar. The first-person poetry of 19-year old Mary Ann Graves brings to life the haunting unfolding of the tragic events leading to the Donner party's historic winter in the Sierras.
During my four years of teaching fourth grade, my students participated in a Pioneer wagon simulation loosely based on the decisions and choices faced by the Donner party, and many of them also "perished" in their efforts to summit the snow-covered peaks. So I was intimately-familiar with the story before reading this book.
What has always stood out for me was how avoidable their disaster truly was (one less day resting up before summiting the peaks, for example) and how unevenly the consequences befell the different families (some families survived intact, while others were decimated, and not all families resorted to cannibalism during the course of the winter). Both of these facts are hinted at in the story but could have received bigger emphasis.
My other big nit-pick was the lack of a bibliography, though two footnotes reference letters written by Mary Ann Graves and her brother. This would have been an excellent opportunity to share with kids the joys and difficulties of historical research, as I believe several members of the Donner Party kept journals, and many newspaper recounted the events later.
These minor issues aside, I think this book definitely has the "ick" factor to draw in reluctant older readers, and the poetry format makes for a quick and fairly accessible read. (A review copy of the book was provided by publisher. All thoughts are my own.)