This week on my blog:
- I curated a bigger-than-usual Sunday Salon of interesting online reading
- I celebrated my love of libraries and discovered that I am not alone in multiple library card usage
- I bemoaned my spaciness in leaving my writer’s notebook at work over the weekend
- I caught up on School Library Journal’s Battle of the Books
- I shared a great nonfiction series for kids by photographer Suzi Eszterhas
- And I attempted to impose some order on the ever-growing TBR stack
This week in reading:
I finished Anne Fadiman’s delightful Ex-Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader. This is just the sort of book I love–a whole collection of bookish essays about books and reading. I’ve read it two or three times now, and I think I will add it to my short list of bookish books I enjoy rereading periodically (Noel Perrin’s A Reader’s Delight; Nick Hornby’s Polysyllabic Spree and sequels).
This week’s short story collection for my Contemporary Literature class was Charles Yu’s Sorry Please Thank You. I absolutely loved two of the stories in this collection, “Standard Loneliness Package” and “Hero Absorbs Major Damage.” In fact, I loved “Hero” so much I asked my husband to read it, and I rarely do that. (He didn’t love it quite so much. And that’s the reason I rarely do that.) There were 2-3 more stories that I liked, and then a whole bunch I was “meh” about. I’ll be interested to see what my students have to say about it tomorrow. Their brilliant insights into the books we’re reading considerably deepen my understanding and thinking.
Linda Urban’s A Crooked Kind of Perfect is an exquisite novel, just the kind of middle-grade I like best: funny, character-driven, reflective. Not much happens externally, but a lot happens internally. The characters are a delight, and the sentences are perfection. Which is kind of ironic praise given the theme of A Crooked Kind of Perfect. I plan to read a couple of chapters out loud in Children’s Lit this week, and I bet there are going to be a lot of takers. (And if not, I know exactly which three students are going to love this book, so I can press it directly into their hands.) And now I am sad, because I have read all of Linda’s books and have to wait for the next one. On Twitter today, Linda noted that she is a slow writer. I’m sorry, Linda, but you need to write faster because I need more books to read!
I almost quit reading Ann Cameron’s Julian series after the disaster that was Julian, Secret Agent. But I’d bought the books and was looking for a short chapter book to try to squeeze in with my older son before I went on vacation. And I’m glad I picked up Julian, Dream Doctor, because it was decent. It’s not a great story, but it is much, much better than Julian, Secret Agent, and my son enjoyed it.
We also read a lot of picture books this week. Here are my favorites:
Going Home is another strong collaboration between Eve Bunting and David Diaz. The story focuses on the trip Carlos and his family make from their home in America, where his parents (and on school holidays, the kids too) now work in the fields, to the parents’ village in Mexico. Diaz’s illustrations are really beautiful, and as always in Bunting’s work, there is a rich theme to explore here–what it means to be home and to go home.
How could any cat lover resist that face? I really enjoyed the art in C. Roger Mader’s Lost Cat. Once the cat is lost, Mader shows the world from the cat’s perspective, and apparently shoes are big for cats. There is a comforting if perhaps unlikely happy ending.
In Andrew Prahin’s Brimsby’s Hats, Brimsby the hatmaker is happy until his best friend decides to run off to sea and become a ship’s captain. Brimsby continues making hats but finds himself lonely. How he makes new friends but also keeps the old is the heart of this story. I liked Prahin’s illustrations–especially the colors and quirky interiors–and his writing is also quite strong.
Kadir Nelson is one of my favorite illustrators, but I did not love Baby Bear. What’s up with Baby Bear’s eyes? Why are they so weirdly blank? Given the potential of the landscape where Nelson has set his story, some of the spreads were rather uninspired. And the ending confused me and my son, though my husband thought he understood it. (Baby Bear realizes that everywhere in the forest is home?)
Lane Smith’s books are usually hit or miss for me (especially on a first read), but I did like John, Paul, George & Ben. As history, this is very questionable stuff, but as humor, it’s awesome. I loved the picture of the young John Hancock practicing his gigantic signature across the chalkboard. Smith’s books are always visually impressive: there is a great deal of humor even in the typography choices.
Who can resist a cat named Barbara? In Janet Lawson’s Audrey and Barbara, Audrey (the girl) wants to go on wonderful adventures and ride elephants in India, but Barbara (the cat) prefers to stay home and nap on her pillow. This is a sweet story about friendship and imagination with lovely whimsical illustrations.
We read several nonfiction picture books too, but I’ll share those on Wednesday.
Nerdbery Challenge: 0/12 books
#MustReadin2014: 6/15 books
YA Shelf of Shame Challenge: 0/12 books
Professional Development Reading Goal: 2/12 books
Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 25/100 books
Picture Book Reading Goal: 117/350 books
Chapter Book & Middle-Grade Reading Goal: 10/100 books
YA Lit Reading Goal: 14/60 books
Latin@s in Kidlit Challenge: 9/12 books
Number of Books Total (not counting picture books): 47/200