On the blog:
- A list of 5 things I would like to do more often
- A review of Penny Kittle and Kelly Gallagher’s new PD book, 180 Days
- Suggestions for what to read next if you or your students loved One for the Murphys
I couldn’t have chosen a better book than Jackaby for the first read of my summer book gap challenge (children’s and YA mystery–mostly focusing on diverse books, which Jackaby is not). I thought I didn’t like mysteries, but I liked this book so much that I may have to reconsider my preferences. Book reviewers can’t seem to resist the catchy TV tagline for the series: “Sherlock Holmes meets Dr Who” or “Sherlock Holmes crossed with Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” Either of which would have been right up my alley. The plot is fine but it’s the characters (including Jackaby’s nearly sentient house), dialogue, and description that keep the reader engaged. Well-written, good fun, not too grisly.
Debbie Tung’s graphic novel, Quiet Girl in a Noisy World, is a series of sketches and comics that explores what it’s like to be very introverted in a world where extraverts seem to dominate. I felt sad that Tung fought against her nature for so long in this story, forcing herself to go to parties and hang out in large social groups even though she found herself absolutely drained afterwards. The open plan space of the new job she gets after grad school is one of my own personal ideas of hell. Give me office doors that CLOSE! It’s not until page 149 of this 177-page book that she takes the Myers-Briggs, discovers that she is an INFJ personality type, and embraces her strengths. Tung’s drawings are delicate and gently humorous. A story about discovering and being true to yourself.
I loved Jaime Kim’s art and I thought that Kate DiCamillo’s concept was strong, but La La La didn’t quite work for me. It’s one I’d like to read to actual children to see how it works for them.
I really liked Rescue & Jessica, the true story of double amputee Jessica Kensky, who lost her legs after being injured in the Boston Marathon bombing, and her rescue dog, aptly named Rescue. Scott Magoon’s illustrations are superb, and the text is surprisingly well written. I especially loved the attention to parallel structure in weaving Jessica’s story with Rescue’s story. This would make a good mentor text. The text is a bit longer than I usually prefer in a picture book, but the length didn’t bother me at all here because all of the details seemed interesting and necessary. There is a simplicity and elegance to the writing, and it’s a genuinely moving and important story.
I hope Ruth Bader Ginsburg lives and works forever! Jonah Winter’s Ruth Bader Ginsburg: The Case of R.B.G vs Inequality makes a nice pairing with Debbie Levy’s I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark (which I think I prefer, though both books are very good). Stacy Innerst’s illustrations are especially strong here. There is excellent back matter. Again, the text is a bit lengthy, but here it works.
Recommendation Request: And in other reading news, my son has asked me to start reading aloud to him again a few nights a week, and I am struggling to find books, so I would be grateful for any suggestions. I LOVE book matchmaking and consider it a strength, so I’m frustrated at my inability to find that just right book for him. The problem is that he is YA age with middle-grade sensibilities. Middle-grade feels juvenile to him, but YA is often too bleak and harsh and upsetting, especially as a before-bed read. I’ve been striking out left and right this week. Are there YA novels for delicate sensibilities? We started Kwame Alexander’s Rebound last night, which I thought might be that just right book, but then the character’s father dies (sorry if that’s a spoiler, but it happens in the first fifteen pages of the book, so the story won’t be spoiled for you for long). My son said, “Wait. Did the dad just die?” “Um, yeah?” “Oh my God.” And I swear he fell instantly asleep in shock. Sigh.