Visit Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers to participate in the kidlit version of this weekly meme.
On the blog:
- A curation of my favorite online reading from last week
- A celebration of a spontaneous road trip
- I reblogged Kelsey’s terrific post about her #SummerPD Plans
- A Top Ten list of books I’m most looking forward to reading this summer
I learned about Phoebe and Her Unicorn from Emily Meixner’s recent Nerdy Book Club post about Girls and Graphic Novels. Dana Simpson’s Heavenly Nostrils books are Emily’s niece’s favorite series, and I’d never so much as heard of these books. I don’t expect to have read all the books, but I do expect to have heard of all the books. And I definitely expect to have heard of books about snarky, narcissistic unicorns. I love books about unicorns, especially unicorns who think they’re pretty great, and Marigold most definitely thinks she’s pretty great. There is an overarching storyline of sorts to Phoebe and Her Unicorn—how Phoebe and Marigold become best friends—but many of the spreads function more or less as single comics. I laughed out loud so many times reading this book. The dynamic between Phoebe and Marigold is hilarious, and Simpson brilliantly portrays the inner life of a unicorn. A must-have for elementary classrooms and libraries, and I expect my college students are also going to fall pretty hard for this series.
I’m always impressed by what comfort reads Sarah Dessen’s novels are given that they’re often about challenging situations and issues. In Saint Anything, our main character, Sydney, has long been overshadowed by her brother Peyton, a larger-than-life personality who is currently serving time in jail after a drunk driving accident that paralyzed a boy. Sydney’s parents are still overly involved in Peyton and his drama, and she is left to figure out her place in the world with the help of her new friends, Layla and Mac Chatham. The secondary characters are well-developed and interesting. A very satisfying read.
In 2015, Eloise would totally be labeled with ADHD and maybe some other acronyms too and probably put on several different medications. She has A LOT of energy. I was both mesmerized and horrified by Eloise’s freedom, independence, and behavior choices when I was a child. And that’s kind of how I felt rereading this book to my son. There is the most wonderful fantasy at the core of Eloise—having an entire luxury hotel at your disposal–and that’s mostly what I saw as a child reader, but there is also something so sad about her situation. And those feelings were intensified by seeing this story through my son’s eyes. There is nothing that outrages him as much as absentee parents, and Eloise’s parents are entirely absentee. Her only companions are paid staff. Of course Eloise’s near-abandonment by her parents is hardly the point of the story, but I still found myself thinking about it and wondering about the fantasy element of absentee parents in children’s fiction when so many real children suffer from neglect. I had very involved parents, and it seemed exciting to imagine a world temporarily without them. But to children who don’t have involved parents, the appeal of stories like Eloise must be mystifying. Still, Eloise is a classic for reason: Hilary Knight’s illustrations are so stylish, and Kay Thompson’s writing still feels incredibly fresh, original, quirky.
Pearl Moscowitz’s Last Stand has one thing my son really likes in a picture book—old people—and one thing that I really like in a picture book—trees. Pearl has spent her life on the same city block and seen enormous changes in the demographics of her neighborhood. One thing that has always been the same, however, is the gingko trees that Pearl’s mother petitioned the city to plant. Pearl and her sisters grew up playing under those trees, and while some trees have been lost over the years—to a storm, to a bus stop—there is one glorious tree left that Pearl and her neighbors sit under each day to eat snacks and play cards. When the utility company threatens to cut the tree down, Pearl is uncharacteristically bold: she borrows a bicycle lock and chains herself to the tree to protect it. Her act of courage inspires a protest that eventually draws the mayor, who offers amnesty to the tree and even agrees to plant new trees. A fine title for discussing how individuals can influence and change the world for the better.
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