On my blog this week:
- A collection of interesting online reading in Sunday Salon
- The weekly celebration post, 5 Things I Loved About Last Week
- What I’ve learned from raising a reluctant reader, Raising a Less Reluctant Reader: 13 Suggestions for Parents
- Reflections on the first two chapters of Donalyn Miller’s Reading in the Wild for #cyberPD
- A review of several picture book biographies of women innovators and pioneers
- My Top Ten Blogging Confessions
I did read a lot more this week, although I didn’t manage to finish very much.
Hidden, a graphic novel written by Loic Dauvillier and illustrated and colored by Marc Lizano and Greg Salcedo, is a Holocaust story for children. In the frame story, a Jewish grandmother shares her own story of survival with her granddaughter. I was impressed by how much history and experience Dauvillier conveys in such a slim book (it took me no more than 30 minutes to read). There is a poignant scene early in the book when Dounia’s father tells her that the new stars they have to wear are a reward, sheriff’s stars. She learns quickly at school that the stars are a bad thing. Dounia’s parents are taken by the Gestapo, but thanks to the foresight of her parents and the courage of her neighbors, she is hidden and taken to the countryside, where she waits for the end of the war and hopes for the return of her parents. Dauvillier doesn’t sugarcoat the story at all: it’s quite harrowing in parts. Yet somehow it retains an almost gentle tone. I checked this book out from the library but plan to purchase a copy to share with my students, who simply can’t get enough graphic novels.
My younger son and I continued our read-aloud of the Clementine series with Clementine, Friend of the Week. So. Good. And Marla Frazee’s illustrations are sublime.
My older son and I have been reading Jeff Probst’s middle-grade survival story, Stranded, as our chapter book but we haven’t quite finished it. We did finish many picture books this week. I’m highlighting our favorites.
My library just got a copy of How Fletcher Was Hatched!, one of my own childhood favorites, written and illustrated by Wendy and Harry Devlin. I couldn’t resist checking it out and sharing it with my son, and I must say, it holds up extremely well.
Grandfather Gandhi, written by Arun Gandhi and Bethany Hegedus and illustrated by Evan Turk, is every bit as beautiful and important as my Monday reading friends have been saying. This story about channeling anger is one that I think I’ll be rereading regularly to my son! I do wish there was some kind of background provided on Gandhi. I am not entirely sure that this story can stand alone for readers who don’t know Gandhi, simply because the circumstances of young Arun having to share his grandfather with so many followers are too unusual. I assumed background knowledge wasn’t necessary, but my son had questions in the middle of the story, and I found it hard to explain coherently or succinctly who Gandhi was, what he did, and why he’s important. (When I found myself beginning to natter on about colonialism and the occupation of India, I knew I needed to shut up.) Perhaps some kind of back matter explaining Gandhi’s work and beliefs for young readers would be helpful. I am wondering if there are other picture books about Gandhi that I could have shared first with my son to prepare him for this story. That said, Grandfather Gandhi is a must-read and a must-own!
A Dance Like Starlight, written by Kristy Dempsey and illustrated by Floyd Cooper, is a gorgeous story about following your dreams. Cooper is one of my favorite illustrators, and Dempsey’s writing captures this young girl’s dream to become a ballerina and the inspiration and hope she finds through her mother and through seeing Janet Collins, the first African-American prima ballerina, perform.
We’ve been working our way through Jim Arnosky’s books, even though they’re a bit young for my son. I’ve been quite impressed by all of them, especially Grandfather Buffalo. A touching story of an old buffalo continuing to find a place for himself in his herd.
In Bruce Whatley’s Wait! No Paint!, the illustrator runs out of red paint and can’t finish the story of the “The Three Little Pigs” properly. The pigs’ dialogue with the unnamed and unseen illustrator is quite funny, and we loved the illustrator’s attempt to make do with another color: the pigs end up green, then patterned. A clever fractured fairy tale.
Barbara McClintock’s Adele & Simon is the simple story of a little boy who loses his things–schoolwork, crayons, hat, scarf, etc.–much to the annoyance of his big sister. The gorgeous illustrations of the children’s busy afternoon in Paris are full of visual interest–not least of which is trying to spot Simon’s missing item. The back matter notes what famous locale is depicted in each illustration and what French artists inspired some of the pictures.
Absolutely Positively Alexander collects three of Judith Viorst’s classic stories about Alexander. Of course we’ve read Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day before, but the other two stories were new for us. Both are well worth reading, though not as brilliant as Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.
Reading Goal Update
Nerdbery Challenge: 0/12 books
#MustReadin2014: 8/15 books
YA Shelf of Shame Challenge: 5/12 books
Professional Development Reading Goal: 3/12 books
Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 66/100 books
Picture Book Reading Goal: 386/350 books
Chapter Book & Middle-Grade Reading Goal: 44/100 books
YA Lit Reading Goal: 27/60 books
Latin@s in Kidlit Challenge: 20/12 books
Number of Books Total (not counting picture books): 98/200