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
- Student-Led Book Recommendations. During the school year, my kids wrote their own book recommendations for each other. This post shares my template and mentor recommendation. During the summer I'll be posting highlights from the kids' own recommendations.
Over and Under the Snow (2011) and Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt (2015) by Kate Messner and illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal. Ever hear about a concept for a book and immediately wish that you had thought of it? I absolutely love the idea and structure behind these two books, but I must admit that I ended up wanting more.
Over and Under the Snow reminded me too much of Owl Moon and made me miss the amazing and detailed illustrations of John Schoenherr. Something about the two-dimensionality of Christopher Silas Neal's illustrations just didn't work with what my brain wanted for this book. Overall, I think that these are lovely books and will answer/raise a lot of questions for readers about the secret lives of animals, but I felt like they were not quite up to their potential.
Little Roja Riding Hood (2014) by Susan Middleton Elya and illustrated by Susan Guevara. (Winner of the 2015 Pura Belpré Honor Award for Illustration.) This update of Little Red Riding Hood features a bilingual Roja and liberally sprinkles Spanish into the rhyming text. This is a fun, empowering update with Roja in the lead, rescuing her Abuela.
Interstellar Cinderella (2015) by Deborah Underwood and illustrated by Meg Hunt. I will be adding this one to my collection of fractured Cinderella stories. In this futuristic take, Cinderella dreams of repairing spaceships, along with the assistance of her robotic mouse companion. While I liked the ideas behind this story (including an ethnic-looking Prince and eschewing the marriage offer), I could not get past the rhyme. With Little Roja, I felt like the rhyme worked, but here I found it distracted from the story.
17 Things I'm Not Allowed to Do Anymore (2007) by Jenny Offill and illustrated by Nancy Carpenter. Another quirky story from Jenny Offill. In this one, the narrator walks us through many different things she is not allowed to do anymore, from walking backwards to school, to adding beavers to a report on George Washington, and more.
My students got a kick out of this story (especially the boys, who had been writing an epic haiku about flying beavers). I found the ending deeply unsatisfying and a little disturbing (my students were universally convinced that she is not repentant and is lying to her parents). (H/T to Elisabeth at The Dirigible Plum, who also pointed out that this would be a fun mentor texts for students to invent their own wild ideas.)
Never Say a Mean Word Again: a tale from Medieval Spain (2014) by Jacqueline Jules and illustrated by Durga yael Bernhard. This story is inspired by a medieval tale about a Jewish poet who was the vizier in Grenada, a Muslim city of the time, in Spain. Here, the story is reimagined between two boys, the Jewish son of the grand vizier and the Muslim tax collector's son, who must learn how get along. This story reminds me a lot of Enemy Pie, which is a favorite read aloud of mine for the beginning of the year and dealing with friendship issues.
Ranger in Time: Rescue on the Oregon Trail (2015) by Kate Messner. I am really looking forward to this summer's edition of Teachers Write, hosted by Kate Messner. Kate mentioned in her launching post that she will sharing insights, details, and previous drafts from her two Ranger in Time books, so I went ahead and jumped in to the first one.
Rescue on the Oregon Trail has a wonderful conceit for a historical fantasy book: main character and golden retriever, Ranger, is transported back in time after unearthing a first aid kit in the backyard. I love the perspective of Ranger's point-of-view, especially as he tries to puzzle out what has happened to him and why he doesn't find himself back at home after he has done a "Good job!" This series will be very appealing to kids, especially those looking for a bit more challenge than The Magic Tree House books or a more animal-centered telling than the I Survived series.
A Wizard of Earthsea (1968) by Ursula K. Le Guin. (H/T to Mr. Schu for linking to Kate DiCamillo's Suggestions for Summer Reading over at TFK.) I have always loved fantasy, including both high fantasy and science fiction, but I never had good reading mentors or recommenders as a kid, so I only read what I stumbled upon. This has left me with many gaping holes, so I was glad to fill in one after seeing Katie DiCamillo's recommendation of where to start with Ursula K. Le Guin.
This was a gripping and tightly-constructed story of the origins of the boy Ged, known as Sparrowhawk, introduced from the beginning as a someday-to-be great hero and wizard. So much is packed into these scant 220 pages that it feels like a lifetime spent with these characters and this world. (A lack of overt violence / sexual overtones also makes this a book accessible for strong younger readers.)
A Wizard of Earthsea reminded me greatly of its contemporary, The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander, and of its 1980s predecessor, The Belgariad by David Eddings, All three of these series exemplify an economy of words accompanied by strong visual imagery that often seems missing in more recent fantasy series. While I enjoyed the recently-published Ascendance Trilogy by Jennifer Nielsen or The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner, they seem to focus more time on endless dialogue and teenage antics than these "classic" series. I am curious as to whether you agree or disagree?
Challenges and Summer PlansThis summer I am again joining in the amazing community and discussion of #cyberPD. This summer's book is Digital Reading: What's Essential in Grades 3-8. Click here to read more about #cyberPD or click here to join the Google+ discussion group!
#Bookaday Challenge update: days read a book 11/14, books read 12/90
Award-Winning Books Reading Challenge update: 12 books, 2 dedicated posts
Dive into Diversity Challenge update: 127 books, 27 dedicated posts (this week: )