It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #imwayr 4/2/18


It’s been so long since I’ve done a Monday post, I just might have forgotten how. And I have read so much and done a terrible job keeping track of my reading. The spiral notebook I’ve kept since 2000 (and a different notebook before that) listing all the books I finish has no entries since January, even though I’ve finished books. And every time I visit Goodreads, I think of something else I’ve forgotten to add. I will highlight a few recent reads that I can remember here, and hopefully do better moving forward.

silent days silent dreams

I know this is a bold claim, but I think Silent Days, Silent Dreams is the best book Allen Say has written and illustrated, and I am so glad it won the Schneider Family Award because it wouldn’t have been on my radar otherwise (even though it’s Allen Say.) It is a biography of self-taught artist James Castle, and it is a hard story to read. Castle was deaf, mute, probably autistic and dyslexic and treated so horribly by his family that I think most readers will be hurt just reading about what happened to him. But he had such a drive to make art that he found ways to do it even when all materials were taken from him. Say’s process for writing and illustrating the book is fascinating (see the author’s note at the end as well as the excellent episode with him on The Yarn). This book looks nothing like any of his other books, which I found initially off-putting, but it’s an absolute masterpiece.

macy mcmillan

Macy McMillan and the Rainbow Goddess is another book that wouldn’t have been on my radar if it hadn’t won the Schneider. It’s a heartfelt verse novel about Macy, whose mother is remarrying and who must move out of her beloved house across town to her new stepfather’s house. In addition to her big feelings about stepfamilies and moving, her best friend isn’t talking to her and her mother has volunteered her to help the elderly woman next door pack up her house since she, too, is moving. Macy is deaf, and her neighbor doesn’t know sign language, so they struggle at first to communicate. There is a lot packed into this novel–perhaps too much. I am not sure so many different conflicts were necessary when the main thread–the story of Macy’s friendship with her neighbor–is so strong and interesting–but Shari Green writes very well and manages to keep all of the different threads moving throughout the story.

textbook amy krouse rosentha

I bought Textbook when it first came out, but I’d held off on reading it until just the right moment came along–and that was last month, during the Slice writing challenge. I read this book very slowly because I didn’t want it to end–and also very quickly because it was just so good that I always had to read just one more section before I stopped. An incredible mentor text and a brilliant way to write memoir. Clever and lovely and unexpected and necessary as every book by Amy Krouse Rosenthal is.

dear gir

I also read Dear Girl, written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and her daughter, Paris Rosenthal. I was so worried when I started this book that it would veer a bit into the sentimental, but I should have trusted Amy to avoid that. It’s perhaps a little low on the quirk scale for my taste, but it’s a worthy final work from one of my very favorite writers.

the birthday box

I don’t normally read board books, but Cheriee’s description a few weeks ago of Leslie Patricelli had me intrigued, and once I read one, I had to read them all. They’re all pretty brilliant, but I’m especially fond of The Birthday Box. It’s a very, very rare thing to have a board book that can do its work for its intended audience and also delight adults. I have no idea how Patricelli does it, but she does–in book after book. Hair and Toot even got a snicker out of my fifteen-year-old son.

hoot owl

Hoot Owl is so funny. I read it to myself during independent reading time in my Children’s Lit class, and then had to read it aloud to my class as soon as the timer went off, and it’s very good read aloud. Plenty to appeal to young readers, but I have a feeling that adults will appreciate its dry humor and comedy best.


i'd rather be reading

I’d Rather Be Reading is a small book of mostly art related to books–photographs, cartoons, paintings–and quotations about the pleasures of reading, with a few short essays interspersed (printed in font so tiny that you may need a magnifying glass to read them). This is not the kind of thing that usually appeals to me, but there are so many pretty pictures and interesting quotations and somehow it works.





13 responses to “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #imwayr 4/2/18”

  1. carriegelson Avatar

    I also read Dear Girl, this week and was also worried. But I thought it absolutely had the perfect sentiment. Welcome back to IMWAYR and congratulations on your month of amazing writing for Slice of Life!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I thought it had the perfect amount of sentiment too. Such a fine line and Rosenthal always, always nails it. Glad to be back to IMWAYR. I’ve missed this group! And you!

  2. persistenceandpedagogy Avatar

    I love Silent Days, Silent Dreams – and so do my kids (ages 7 & 9). In fact, this was our introduction to Allen Say and, while we’ve worked our way through many of his other books, this remains our hands-down favourite. I may even break down and buy it. Both my budding artist and my studier-of-all-things-about-other-people found this fascinating.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I don’t get to roadtest books with actual children very often, so I always treasure these little insights into real live kid response! It’s such a fascinating book, with so many different art styles. Really dazzling, I would think, for a budding artist. Be sure to check out Paul Hankins’s blog this month as his poetry month project is 30 poems about James Castle! (I am SUPER excited about his project, and today’s poem is really lovely):

  3. 2shaye Avatar

    Welcome back to #imwayr! I’ve been trying to keep up with lots of slices and have really enjoyed yours, even on days when I couldn’t comment. That seems such fun and it’s been very inspirational! So again, maybe next year… Let’s see. I have Dear Girl on my list and just added Silent Days, Silent Dreams after reading your blog post. Somehow I didn’t know about Textbook, so I’m adding that one right now. Thanks so much for sharing!!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Let me know if you’d like to borrow Textbook. I took Silent Days back to campus library so it should be there. Did you know Lee can request books to be delivered to his mailbox?? And a big yes to you and slicing next year!

      1. 2shaye Avatar

        That would be awesome! My TBR pile is high enough that I’ll have to see if I can hunt you down in May. The library told me to put a note on all my requests to deliver them to Lee’s box (even though they’re checked out in my name), so I’ve def made use of that. So helpful! (A few requests this semester haven’t been pulled for two weeks so I always run up there and grab them if I need them quickly.)

  4. lindabaie Avatar

    So much to love here, Elisabeth. I used AKR’s Encyclopedia. . . many times with students who were slicing & yes, Textbook would have been wonderful, too. I bought Dear Girl for my granddaughters who loved it, too. Thanks for reminding me about Allen Say. I have several of his books and enjoyed his bio, Drawing from Memory, but I don’t remember reading Silent Days, Silent Dreams so just put it on hold at my library. Thanks for that too, for all you shared!

  5. Michele Avatar

    I need to read all of the Schneider winners still! I own all three but just haven’t gotten to them yet. I’ve heard some same comments about Macy as you posted.

  6. cweichel Avatar

    Silent Days, Silent Dreams is now not only on my to read list, it’s now on hold for me.
    Macy McMillan and the Rainbow Goddess is on my list because I enjoyed Shari Green’s Root Beer Candy and Other Miracles.
    I/we haven’t read The Birthday Box yet. I am excited that it is available at our local library! Now that I know they are all good, we will be reading more of them.

  7. Ricki Ginsberg Avatar

    I gifted my copy of Dear Girl. I have a friend who I knew would love it. I completely understand your review. 🙂 🙂

  8. Myra GB Avatar

    I also enjoyed I’d Rather Be Reading. I have Silent Days Silent Dreams waiting to be read on my shelves, so I’m going to bump it up for our current reading theme. I just put Textbook on reserve from our library – also perfect for our memoirs/biographies reading theme. 🙂

  9. Elizabeth Avatar

    I loved Hoot Owl! Owen found it funny too.

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