Monday, September 26, 2016

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? #IMWAYR 09/26/16

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

  • This month's Kid Lit Blog Hop went live last Wednesday. Stop by to share and find great kid lit posts.

    Picture Books

    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.)

    Middle School

    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.)

    Happy Reading!


    1. Thanks for your thoughts on To Stay Alive. I've been putting off reading it since it arrived a few months ago because of what happened with the Donner party, but I think now I've read what you think, I'll give it a go.

    2. My husband and brother-in-law and I were reminiscing recently about playing The Oregon Trail computer game as children, and always dying in our attempts to settle in the West. Really mind-boggling for us living in such comfort and safety to try and imagine what these early pioneers risked - so eye-opening.

    3. I absolutely agree with you about Klassen's use of eyes! I've heard him talk about them before and it was the first thing I paid attention to as I read this one!

    4. To Stay Alive sounds good. I've heard of the Donnor Party, of course, but have never learned much beyond the big picture of what happened. I agree that a bibliography that pointed to original sources or further reading would be a plus, especially for those readers who might like to learn more.

    5. We saw a copy of We Found a Hat at a luncheon at Candlewick Press this summer - We can't wait to get our hands on it!

    6. This is the second post this week about We Found a Hat. I just hate having to wait!

    7. Appears like Jon Klassen has made a niche for himself with this hat series. :) I have yet to read Caminar - so many books to catch up on.


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