This week on my blog:
- A round-up of mostly teaching-related online posts that I found interested in Sunday Salon
- A few nonfiction picture books featuring dreamers who could imagine the world differently
- A check-in on my progress with the #MustReadin2014 Challenge
This week in reading:
My favorite book this week is Faith Erin Hicks’s The Adventures of Superhero Girl, about a typical young woman struggling with all the typical young woman things–paying her rent, finding a decent roommate, getting a job, meeting a decent guy–while also keeping a Canadian city safe from supervillains. Or she would be keeping the city safe if Canada had any supervillains. I’m not a big superhero fan, though I have seen enough superhero movies to appreciate the humor and irony of Hicks’s story. My favorite sequences involve Superhero Girl’s awesomely superheroic older brother, Kevin, who assures her that all her problems will be solved if she just gets a better costume. I read this book for The Hub Reading Challenge, a challenge I’m really behind on. Thinking I’d better read all the graphic novels on the list to kind of “catch up.”
I was excited to see a student in my Children’s Lit show up with Nikki Grimes’s Words with Wings, which I’ve been eager to read. I snatched it from her stack and read the whole book during our 15-minute reading time. This is a strong, engaging verse novel about Gabby, a daydreamer whose new teacher is able to understand her and make a place for her daydreaming. Gabby is forced to attend a new school after her parents separate, and much of her inner turmoil focuses on the challenges of being at a new school and the pain of her parents’ separation. Grimes’s poetry is substantial and beautiful.
My Adolescent Lit students are passing around Jeffrey Brown’s Cat Getting out of a Bag, so I couldn’t resist buying the sequel, Cats Are Weird and More Observations, for them to read. I didn’t find the second book nearly as charming or engaging as the first, but the book is beautifully designed, as this photo from Brown’s website shows. Many full-color comics and neat cut-outs on the cover.
I enjoy the Humans of New York photography blog, and I was thrilled to find Humans of New York the book at my library. It’s delightful. Brandon Stanton’s project is simply to take portraits of New Yorkers and find out something about them. There are so many arresting images and interesting stories.
My younger son and I finished Ramona the Pest, which is the one where Ramona is in kindergarten. So much to love about these Beverly Cleary stories. I adore Ramona just as much now as I did when I was a little girl reading these stories for the first time.
In the spirit of driving my older son crazy and confronting him with feelings, I read Nancy Carlson’s My Family Is Forever and Molly Bang’s In My Heart to him. My Family Is Forever celebrates the love one child finds within her adoptive family while also still acknowledging the questions she may have about being adopted. It’s written for even very young children to be able to follow and understand. I didn’t love the illustrations, though: not sure why the Asian-American child’s eyes are drawn as slants. Molly Bang’s In My Heart is vividly illustrated and racially diverse and inclusive, which I loved. My son found it easy to resist My Family Is Forever, but In My Heart definitely got to him. The mom in the story heads off to work but spends her day thinking about her son and feeling connected to him because he is in her heart. The son has the same experience spending time away from mom: she’s in his heart too. T. got a little teary. Score!
My favorite picture book this week was Emily Jenkins’s That New Animal, which focuses on sibling rivalry with a clever twist: two dogs, FudgeFudge and Marshmallow, are horrified when a new animal arrives in their house. FudgeFudge thinks maybe they should bite it, but Marshmallow urges caution. It’s not until Grandpa wants to hold the new animal that FudgeFudge and Marshmallow discover that they have come to accept the new animal.
I am trying to prepare my son to read Lois Ehlert’s new picture book autobiography with me, so I thought we should read a few of her books first. But I just don’t get her work. I’ll look for something else at the library this week and try a different title to see if we can connect.
Unfortunately, I think my son totally missed the hidden message I was sharing with him by reading M.K. Brown’s Sally’s Room. This is the funny story about a messy bedroom that rebels. Sally can’t keep her room clean, so her room decides to follow her to school to complain. And in the end, of course, Sally discovers that it’s so much more pleasant to have a clean space!
I generally dislike rhyming books, but Julia Donaldson has a way of winning me over.
We also read one more Caldecott Honor for our #nerdcott challenge: Taro Yashima’s Crow Boy. I think we’ve read all the Yashima books that won Caldecotts and I am so relieved because I find his art seriously ugly. Like traumatizingly ugly. Look at that book cover and tell me you’re not slightly traumatized by it!