There is little to link to on my own blog this week because I didn’t really blog. I had ideas for posts and intentions to blog, but this was one of those weeks when life got in the way. I worked a 15-hour day on Wednesday, and there were many rough parenting days. But I did do my usual Sunday Salon of excellent online reading and a quick post on the Top 10 Books That Make Me Swoon.
I read three good books this week:
Matt Phelan’s spare, elegant graphic novel, Bluffton, was perhaps my favorite. This book captures a mood and a time period so beautifully.
I listened to the audiobook version of The Ocean at the End of the Lane, read by Neil Gaiman himself. He really does such a good job narrating his own books. It took me almost two discs (and there were only five) to decide I did like the story, but once I was hooked, I was really hooked. The story managed to surprise more than once. This is one that will stick with me for awhile. (And also makes me want to read more Gaiman!)
I liked the narrator quite a bit in Far, Far Away: the story is narrated by the ghost of Jacob Grimm, and he’s a fascinating character. But I struggled with a number of other things in this story. The setting and time period were somehow both not specific enough and yet too specific. The story often has a timeless quality to it, which works very well for what it’s trying to do, but then there are jarring moments of slang or contemporary references. The main teenage characters are supposed to be 15 or 16 (I think), but they usually act, think, sound more like 11 or 12 year olds. The TV game show subplot went on for far too long. And far too much of the suspense is driven by Jacob’s hand-wringing: “If only I had paid more attention on this day and noticed the horrible portents of what was about to come.” Still, it’s a book I think many readers would like, and I will be recommending it to a couple of students in my Adolescent Lit class who really like fairy tales.
We also read a bunch of picture books this week. These are the ones I liked best:
Grace Lin’s Ling & Ting Share a Birthday is another strong entry in her early reader series.
In Jane vs. the Tooth Fairy, written by Betsy Jay and illustrated by Lori Osiecki, Jane is determined to keep her loose tooth and not let the Tooth Fairy take it.
Lucky Ducklings, written by Eva Moore and illustrated by Nancy Carpenter, would make an excellent pairing with Make Way for Ducklings. This is the true story of some ducklings who fell into a storm grate and needed the ingenuity of a whole town to rescue them.
Vulture View, written by April Pulley Sayre and illustrated by Steve Jenkins, focuses on a most unlikely picture book hero: the turkey vulture. The poetic writing is very simple and elegant, and there’s a fine ick factor for the readers who like that sort of thing. (My boys did!) Steve Jenkins work is superb as always.
I’m still not quite sure what to make of The Voyage, written by Veronica Salinas and charmingly illustrated by Camilla Engman. I loved how the story worked as a metaphor for being in any kind of new or unfamiliar situation. It was a book I wanted to discuss after I read it, but my 5th-grader, who is VERY literal and struggles to make even the most basic inferences, was frustrated by it. I need to try it out on my 2nd-grader!
Reading Goals Update:
Nerdbery Challenge: 0/12 books
#MustReadin2014: 3/15 books
YA Shelf of Shame Challenge: 0/12 books
Professional Development Reading Goal: 2/12 books
Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 14/100 books
Picture Book Reading Goal: 59/350 books
Chapter Book & Middle-Grade Reading Goal: 4/100 books
YA Lit Reading Goal: 8/60 books
Latin@s in Kidlit Challenge: 3/12 books
Number of Books Total (not counting picture books): 27/200