Today is back to school for me and my son! I am behind schedule in about 50 different ways, so I am challenging myself to write this post in just 20 minutes.
The final volume in Jennifer Nielsen’s trilogy about Jaron takes a dark turn. There is so much death! It was too violent for my taste, especially when compared to The False Prince. It’s hard for me to imagine the same audience for both of these books–one so firmly middle-grade, the other really YA in its interests (love and marriage) and intensity (war, death). But my son liked it well enough that his choice for our next read-aloud is Nielsen’s next series.
Ellen Potter’s latest Piper Green chapter book is just as charming as the earlier books in the series. I was delighted to discover what a sea pony is, and I appreciated the Maine setting and lobster talk. Qin Leng’s illustrations are just right.
I loved Chris Raschka’s illustrations in The Death of the Hat and to include in any classroom library, K-12. I appreciate a book that can have such broad appeal–something to offer a kindergartner and a high school senior. This would be a wonderful volume to pair with some of Janeczko’s other poetry anthologies. Much of the poetry itself, however, left me a bit cold. I’m thinking it wasn’t the right week for me to read this book. I admired it, but didn’t enjoy it especially.
A book I both admired and enjoyed is Tanya Lee Stone’s The House That Jane Built. I knew very little about Jane Addams and ended this book wanting to run to the library and get more about her–always the sign of a good nonfiction picture book. She was a fascinating person. Kathryn Brown’s illustrations are beautiful and engaging and bring Addams’s world to life. Stone’s text is written for even a young audience to understand.
Another very strong nonfiction picture book I read this week is Susan E. Goodman’s The First Step: How One Girl Put Segregation on Trial, illustrated by the incomparable E.B. Lewis. Goodman tells a story I was completely unfamiliar with–a trial in Boston in 1849 (!) to try to integrate the schools. This book is an important contribution to African-American history and to the history of school integration. Again, the text is really lengthy, but Goodman takes a complex story and makes it straightforward and clear for her audience.