#IMWAYR May 2, 2016

Mondays are a day to celebrate ever since I joined #IMWAYR. Jen at MentorTexts and Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers host this event where readers of kidlit get together to share what they have read in the past week. 

It was a hard week for me. Grief got in the way of settling into a book and reading. I ended up binging on Murdoch Mysteries and knitting. It wasn't a complete literary loss because I did finish up those books I was reading last week, and I listened to books while out and about and cleaning house. I found enough focus to read some great picture books and one remarkable graphic novel. 

Since May is here, and with Mother's Day coming up next weekend, I went searching for books to set up a display highlighting strong mothers. I found plenty of picture books. I even found a few YA novels with strong mothers, but for the most part, what I discovered is that while there is a plethora of books with missing and or absent mothers in middle grade fiction, there is also a dearth of strong supportive ones. Can you come up with any suggestions? I'm open to 'mother substitutes,' like in One For the Murphys.

INFORMATION

5 stars
Miss Mary Reporting: The True Story of Sportswriter Mary Garber by Sue Macy, & C.F. Payne (Illustrator)

What an inspiring story this is for young women with all kinds of plans for their future.  Mary Garber was a sports reporter who learned how to handle discrimination from watching how Jackie Robinson dealt with it. C.F. Payne's illustrations have a vintage feel to them that captures the time and Mary's character perfectly. I especially love the quote at the end, "That's Miss Mary Garber. And she doesn't care who you are, or where you're from, or what you are. If you do something, she's going to write about you."


PICTURE BOOKS

4.5 stars
The Night Gardener by Terry Fan & Eric Fan

OMG these illustrations!! I can't help but wonder if this book, created by two brothers, born in America, but now residing in Canada, will be eligible for the Caldecott award. A young boy is captivated when a topiary gardener comes during the night and transforms trees into all kinds of different creatures. I was a little bit creeped out by this because I mostly like trees just as they are, and am not sure I would appreciate someone coming and doing this to the trees in my yard. My other niggle is that I once did research on creating topiary. Fabricating them on this scale overnight just isn't plausible. 

5 stars
All in a Day by Cynthia Rylant & Nikki McClure (Illustrator)

I read this once and was so stunned I went and read it again to see if it could really be that good. It is. I adore these vintage style illustrations. I'm not always a fan of rhyming text, but I didn't realize until halfway through that it does have a rhyming pattern, so it didn't get in the way. By the end I was completely enjoying it.

3 stars
The Dead Bird by Margaret Wise Brown & Christian Robinson (Illustrator)

I enjoyed these updated illustrations, but the whole text felt disingenuous: a superficial look at death and dying. 






3.5 stars
My Heart Fills with Happiness by Monique Gray Smith & Julie Flett (Illustrations)

This is a sweet picture book that celebrates the everyday life of aboriginal children. Julie Flett's illustrations are, as usual, gorgeous. I don't usually bring board books into the library, but didn't realize until it arrived what it was. I wish it were available as a larger format picture book.

NOVELS

3 stars
The Book of Kings by Cynthia Voigt & Paul Boehmer (narrator)

I enjoyed this third book in the Mister Max series, but not as much as the first two. In this one, Max comes up with a plan to save his mother and father who are being held captive in Andesia, a country somewhere in South America. This story has adventure, suspense and is a fitting finale for the series, but I missed Max being The Solutioneer and solving the many problems in his own community. 

4 stars
Upside Down Magic by Sarah Mlynowski, Lauren Myracle, Emily Jenkins & narrated by Rebecca Soler

I thought this would be a fluffy, fun book dealing with magical mishaps. I didn't expect much more, but should have known better with these authors at the helm. It is the story of Nory, a young girl who is unable to control her magic. It isn't as straightforward as that of her siblings and father's. When she fails her entrance exam to attend Sage Academy, she is sent away to live with her Aunt Margo. (now here is an interesting motherish figure) She ends up in a special class with other students with UDM. (upside down magic)
There is so much more going on here than just the hilarious mishaps that the UDM students cause because of their magic. It is a story of prejudice, friendship and being accepted for who and what you are. What I liked most is that these students with UDM are revealed as not just being different, but maybe, because of this, having more going for them than the so called normal students. 


4 stars
Stop Pretending: What Happened When My Big Sister Went Crazy by Sonya Sones

This powerful book, written in verse, is based on Sones' experiences of her older sister's descent into madness and the aftermath. It is a very emotional work. From what she reveals about her sister's actions, it seemed to me that she might be bipolar. Historically shock treatment was the option for many different kinds of mental disorders. Thankfully, It isn't the treatment these days, at least not for a member of my family with this diagnosis. 

Mighty Jack by Ben Hatke (from netgalley)
4 stars

I was left with two strong impressions upon finishing this book.
First, these illustrations are not just beautiful. Drop dead gorgeous is closer to the truth.
Second, I really hate this cliffhanger ending.
Still, this take on Jack and The Beanstalk is visually and creatively stunning.
I guarantee my readers will love this one!

(longer review in the works)

CURRENTLY
I've just started reading Hour of the Bees by Lindsay Bagar, and I'm listening to Frozen by Melissa de la Cruz
UP NEXT 
I have I Am Princess X ready to download to my device, but I'm having trouble with it. I'll be reading that if I ever get it to work properly. I've got a whole mess of other books that I expect will arrive from the library all at once, so I'll just wait and see what happens. 

31 comments:

  1. Love love love The Night Gardener. Amazing book.

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    1. I agree! A person can get lost in those illustrations.

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  2. It looks like you did get a lot of reading done!
    I loved The Night Gardener and Miss Mary Reporting.
    I enjoyed Upside Down Magic and I'm looking forward to #2 coming out at the end of the month. Kids enjoyed that one too.
    I got Jack from NetGalley too, but I always have trouble reading those books on the computer. The e-copy on my device is hard enough, but the computer is worse for me! I want to read it, so I'll have to just settle in and go for it!

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    1. I read it on my ipad. It isn't too bad if I enlarge it so I read one page at a time, but you are right, it isn't ideal. A sequel to Upside Down Magic is very exciting!

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  3. I read Stop Pretending with my students when I was student teaching about ten years ago, and they loved it. I am glad to hear the book still holds up with time. It is a great read!

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    1. It sure is, and it was a student recommendation that got me reading it!

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  4. I saw somewhere that The Night Gardener is eligible because they hold dual citizenship in both Canada & the US! Hurrah! I enjoyed hearing about your reading, Cheriee, will think about your quest for strong mothers. Recently, I'm not sure, but certainly Little Women qualifies. What about Mrs. Weasley in the HP books? Have a good week!

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    1. I've got Mrs Weasly, and Marmee March and am collecting a few more. If I find time I may do a blog post... It's all about finding time...

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  5. So many wonderful books!!! I recently read The Night Gardener, and those illustrations!! Simply stunning.

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    1. I know - so amazing! definitely caldecott material!

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  6. It is hard to think of strong mothers in middle grade fiction. I always loved Mrs. Weasley from the Harry Potter books. I also just finished a MG novel that has an amazing mother (and a sassy 11-year-old narrator) -- In Front of God and Everybody: Confessions of April Grace by KD McCrite.

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    1. Thanks Kay, I have made note of that title.

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  7. It really is hard to think of strong mothers in middle grade! I thought the mom in Coe Booth's Kinda Like Brothers was a strong figure--very involved in the story. I like the mom in When You Reach Me too. I just looked at what I've got filed under middle grade on GoodReads and I think literally every book on the first page has a missing or absent mom! I'll be thinking about you this week, sending good thoughts your way.

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    1. Thanks Elisabeth - it is a process...
      Unfortunately, we don't have Kinda Like Brothers. I've managed to come up with a list of books with strong motherish figures, but When You Reach Me wasn't on the list! It is really sad that there are so few of us there.

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  8. I really enjoyed Hour of the Bees, so I'm looking forward to knowing what you think of it. I have Miss Mary Reporting on my #IMWAYR list, also. Isn't that book awesome?! I'm looking forward to sharing it with my students. I also enjoyed The Night Gardener and would love to have my own copy of it for my classroom library. I definitely want to check out the Cynthia Rylant book, as I love everything else she's written. I'll need to check out that and several others on your list. Hope your week is going well. Thanks for sharing your list.

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    1. Jane, I've ordered Miss Mary since I previewed a copy from the public library. I think once I'm done Hour of the Bees, I'll have to read your review - it will be interesting to compare.

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  9. These look great! I have been waiting for The Night Gardener from my library.It is taking way too long!

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    1. Isn't that the way of things! It is a glorious book and well worth the wait.

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  10. I very much agree about Jack. Cliffhangers are the worst!
    I loved Upside Down Magic, too! The 2nd comes out this month--I'm very excited!

    Happy reading this week :)

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    1. Me too! I'm really looking forward to it>

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  11. It's funny you should mention the absent parents in YAL. A few people have researched this, and I find it very interesting. I love the mom in IF I STAY by Gayle Forman. There are a lot of great flashbacks.

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    1. I have read that, but don't have it in my elementary library I think - I'll check.

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  12. Thank you for telling us about Upside Down Magic - We might have skipped it based on the cover, but with your recommendation it is going on the TBR pile. We agree about the lack of "strong mother" books. So many books the mom dies or is absent. We do love the picture book Before I Was Your Mother by Kathryn Lasky.

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    1. I'm going to check out that picture book. I've just sent a few copies up to the classroom in our school that supports kids with learning issues. I think it will the ideal read aloud.

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  13. Night Gardener is gorgeous. I have the Julie Flett book on order. I have started to get board books. My special ed teachers like having them around. They get looked at by my pre-k students too. Sometimes older students check them out to read with younger siblings too.

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    1. I used to have a much bigger space - but we since we moved into a new building, my library shrunk by 1/3. Board books just take up a lot of room....

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    2. Sorry for the shrinkage. Not fun to have to economize on space for books.

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  14. All in a Day is truly beautiful. It reminds me a bit of All the World. Both beautiful titles. The Night Gardener will be Caldecott eligible. I plan to use this book as part of my Mock Caldecott next year!

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    1. I'm looking forward to visiting you wherever you end up next year! I'm so glad about The Night Gardener. I'm going to pick up and read All the World after school today I think.

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  15. Lots of great books here. The Ben Hatke one and the Night Gardener caught my eye - I have to find copies of those. Interesting question about role of mothers in literature. Hmm.. Not sure if this is up to your speed - as it is more literary fiction (adult) than middle grade/YA, but worth checking out. Iphigene, one of the GB ladies wrote a review here: https://gatheringbooks.org/2012/04/25/please-look-after-mother/

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    1. Both of these titles are visually stunning! Thanks for that book Myra. It looks like an interesting book to read, especially since I have a Korean daughter in law. If nothing else, I'll save it for retirement reading.

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