On my blog:
- A curation of great online reading in Sunday Salon
- My contribution to #pb10for10, a list of my 10 Picture Books for Budding Artists
- 5 Things I Loved About Last Week, including conquering fear and soccer camp. Bonus: cat photos!
- How to get started with writer’s workshop, focused on writer’s notebooks and guiding principles
- Mini-reviews of a few nonfiction picture books for Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday
- Another list! This one of the Top 10 Books I’d Give Readers Who Have Never Read Middle Grade
In reading, it was one of those weeks where I was reading a lot but didn’t manage to finish anything. I’m very much enjoying my current novel, Winger, and plan to finish it this week. I’m also in the middle of about ten professional development books. Luckily, there are always picture books.
Bob Shea’s Cheetah Can’t Lose is hilarious. A great story to share with that special child in your life who must win at all costs (I’m thinking of my son here). Cheetah’s little kitten friends cleverly manage to outwit him and use his competitive spirit against him, but then they take pity on him in the end. Cheetah also contains my new favorite line:
Bob Shea is basically a genius. And as if Cheetah weren’t enough, I also got my hands on Buddy and Bunnies In: Don’t Play With Your Food.
The basic plot here is similar: small fluffy creatures outwit a larger, dopier creature. But Don’t Play with Your Food might be even funnier than Cheetah. How does Bob Shea do it?? I’m going to have to buy both of these for my lending library.
Beautiful illustrations in Helen Ward’s retelling of The Hare and the Tortoise. Extensive notes at the end describe the many different animals she includes in these detailed pictures.
We occasionally have to reread Elephant & Piggie books. My son (who will be going into 6th grade) is always excited when I pull an Elephant & Piggie title out of the bag. They are basically perfect–and make surprisingly good read-alouds given the simplicity and repetition of the text. Mo Willems, how I love you.
Our favorite book this week was Mattland, written by Hazel Hutchins and Gail Herbert and illustrated by Dusan Petricic. This is the story of a displaced boy who finds himself in an inhospitable, ugly environment and begins to create his own beautiful world in response, repurposing and reimagining some of the things that make his new home unappealing. There is a powerful scene near the end when strangers who seemed to be hostile help Matt save his creation from ruin. A special story, well worth seeking out.
I squealed fairly loudly at the library when I happened to spot Wild on the shelf. I’ve been wanting to read this book for quite awhile, and it didn’t disappoint. Love the pictures, love the eyes, and love the ending.
Peter Brown is another author-illustrator who can do no wrong. Lucy’s overbearing attempts to make friends are often so extreme; still, you can’t help rooting for her. A wonderful title to share in early elementary as children are developing social skills.
Aviary Wonders, by Kate Samworth, is one of the stranger books I’ve ever looked at, but the longer I looked, the more I appreciated what Samworth is doing. Concept and execution are brilliant, though I do wonder if this is a book best appreciated by grown-ups. I’d be curious to hear from teachers, parents, or librarians who have shared it with actual children. Of course the images are so amazing, it’s sure to dazzle readers of any age. It’s set up as a catalog for bird lovers to build their own birds. You see, in the post-2031 world of this book, birds are extinct. The text is sly and often funny (see “Streamers for Added Grace” below as an example). But you can’t help putting the book down and feeling kind of sad.
David Wiesner’s June 29, 1999 is a book I thought I had read years ago–but when I picked it up this week for a reread, I discovered that it was entirely new to me. I’ve opened it up and marveled at the pictures before but never read it. So I remedied that right away. What a fun twist at the end!