Hello world, it's time for #IMWAYR. Come join this group of bloggers who read and write about children's and young adult literature. Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers host this weekly event.
Spare Dog Parts by Alison Hughes & Ashley Spires (Illustrations)
This is such a lovely book about what makes a dog (or anything or anyone) perfect. It isn't about what is on the outside. It is all about whether the parts work, and it does what it should. I was in love with this book as soon as I read this section on the body:
"There was an odd, tubby, stubby body that didn't fit any other dog. They used that, and covered it with leftover wiry, scruffy fur. It's a comfortable body, perfect for cuddling."
Ashly Spires illustrations (always stunning) show that the body has met all the important criteria.
I am unfortunately allergic to furry things, otherwise, I would run out and get a dog after reading this book.
Snappsy the Alligator (Did Not Ask to Be in This Book) by Julie Falatko & Tim Miller (Illustrator)
Talk about fun!
Snappsy the Alligator is just trying to live his ordinary life, when a pesky narrator shows up to describe, exaggerate, and embellish everything he does. Snappsy takes umbrage and tries to defend himself by revealing the truth in his behavior.
This story will be a hoot to just read out loud, but it can be read on other levels as well. I would love to use it as part of a critical literacy session and unpack it with a group of older readers. We would examine how the narrator has used language to stereotype Snappsy and manipulate our feelings towards him. It would be very interesting to see the kinds of connections we can make to our real lives.
The New Small Person by Lauren Child
This book captures the tension between siblings. It isn't easy for this older child to adjust to no longer being the center of their parent's world. Thankfully, over time, they start to realize that having a younger sibling can be ok. I love how Lauren Child's illustrations convey point of view and emotions in this book. I wish it had been around to read to my oldest child after his baby brother arrived to interrupt his world.
Mary Cassatt: Extraordinary Impressionist Painter by Barbara Herkert & Gabi Swiatkowska (Illustrations)
This book is a decadent visual and lyrical treat. It begs to be read out loud. Here is an example of the lush language:
"Mary grew up tall and temperamental, the map of her fate etched in her mind.'
"Mary swept jewel tones across her canvas. She rendered cropped angles, sparkling light."
Cassatt was influenced by Degas and other impressionists. With their encouragement and support, she came into her own as a painter who "celebrated mothers and their babies in her paintings."
Gabi Swiatkowska's illustrations are a rich accompaniment to the text. From the first page I was halfway in love with this book. It just got better.
Frozen by Melissa de la Cruz
I liked this one well enough. It starts out like a dystopian science fiction and then melds with fantasy. This isn't a bad thing. I enjoyed this motley crew of diverse characters. They are well enough developed that I wanted to find out what would happen to them. The villains were just nasty enough. Imagine a future world where the earth has been completely despoiled and what remains is a frozen wasteland. The oceans are loaded with toxic chemicals and mountains of garbage. There are rumours of a safe haven somewhere off shore. Blue, as it is called, is reputed to be world where the marked, like Natasha, can be safe, if only they can escape. Enter Ryan Wesson, a mercenary who Natasha out scams a small fortune from, and then hires to take her to this mythical land.
My Haunted House & The Sword in the Grotto by Angie Sage (Araminta Spookie books 1 & 2) narrated by Katherine Kellgren
I have wanted to read some of this series for ages, but finding time for them was an issue. Last week I discovered them available from our public library, so I started to listen. It turned out that there were two books together! And leaping librarians, Katherine Kellgren narrated them!
There are many younger readers who want to read books that are scary and I've thought that these might fit the bill. They do! They are the adventures of Araminta Spookie who lives with her Aunt Tabitha and Uncle Drac in a haunted old house. Angie Sage combines humour and suspense to make these a delightful fun and creepy read. Just after I started listening I had one of these younger readers come in looking for something scary. I recommended it easily because I could speak authentically about it. On Monday, I'm going to track down Sally to see what she thinks of it.
I've put the next two on reserve. It's Katherine Kellgren for goodness sakes, I can't not listen!
This book is just stunning. I know it will be one of my top reads for this year. If I could have given it more stars on goodreads, I would have. One of our classroom teachers has offered up her class so I can read it to them. If I can carve out enough time, I'm going to take her up on it.
(PS It has an inspiring, strong mother!)
I'm listening to The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater. I purchased the book at Costco a week or so ago, but I have listened to the rest of the series. I started to read this, but it just doesn't feel right without Will Patton's narration, so, because I couldn't wait for our library to bring it in, I downloaded the audiobook from itunes. I'm also in the middle of Hello Ruby: Adventures in Coding by Linda Liukas. I've just started reading Bone and Bread by Salema Nawaz, a Canada Reads finalist.
Birdie, another Canada Reads finalist has also become available for me. What's with this that everything arrives at once? I just picked up four more novels from the library today! I may start Birdie, or possibly The Boy who knew Everything by Victoria Forester as it is on my must read in 2016 list. I brought Dreaming in Indian home from school, so I need to get to that one too.