On the blog:
- A slice about family fun with the Myers-Briggs personality test
- A professional development book stack of titles I’d enjoy reading for #cyberPD
Randa Abdel-Fattah’s The Lines We Cross is set in Australia, but it’s absolutely relevant to our current moment in the U.S. Michael’s father is the founder of Aussie Values, an anti-immigrant organization that is hoping to gain traction in an upcoming election. Mina’s family are refugees from Afghanistan. When Mina transfers to Michael’s school, they slowly develop an unlikely friendship, and Michael discovers that he doesn’t believe the same things his family believes. It’s a fat book but a quick read with chapters alternating from Michael’s to Mina’s perspectives. Not a book to read for the writing, which is pedestrian at best, but still worth a read if the storyline sounds interesting.
Sean Rubin’s Bolivar is such a delight. It’s a bit of a hybrid–a graphic novel crossed with a picture book, expanded to 224 pages. And the cover art captures the storyline perfectly: Sybil, convinced that her next door neighbor is a dinosaur, spends most of the book in detective mode, trying to prove that dinosaurs really aren’t extinct. The art is fantastic–so much to look at on each page–and the overall concept (the very best place for a dinosaur to blend in is Manhattan) is clever. I also love a book that’s in love with its setting, and Rubin’s love for NYC is clear on every page.
I really hate it when I finally get my hands on a book that I’ve been dying to read by a favorite author or illustrator, a book that’s getting rave reviews elsewhere, a book I just know I’m going to fall for in a big way. And then I read it and my reaction is more “huh?” and “meh.” And They Say Blue was a “huh?” and a “meh” for me. I did like the illustrations, though not quite as much as I thought I was going to, but overall, I didn’t find it to be a coherent or clear story. It’s sort of about colors, and it’s sort of about the seasons, and it’s sort of about nature. I thought the beginning was really strong, but then the story became increasingly confused as it went along.
The sequel to Snail & Worm won a Geisel Honor award this year, which is how this series came to my attention, and I am so glad it did, because these are really wonderful early readers. There is a lot of wordplay and visual humor to enjoy, as Snail and Worm have super silly adventures. I have read several reviews that claim the humor will need to be explained to children because they won’t understand what’s funny about the situations Snail and Worm find themselves in. And there is a certain subtlety to the slapstick here. But I have confidence that children can find the funny.
The Digger and the Flower has the feel of a classic. It’s a story for right now but also feels timeless. It’s about a construction vehicle who tries to save a lone flower and thinks he has failed–but his efforts succeed in a much bigger way that he could have originally imagined. A story about finding and protecting the beautiful things in the world.
If I Had a Horse is absolutely gorgeous. The concept is simple: a child imagines how her life would be enriched if she had a horse. This is one of those deceptively simple picture books–simple illustrations (that were probably very hard to create), text, concept–that adds up to such a resonant, rich reading experience. The color story is so beautiful here (those skies!), and the interaction between the child and her imaginary horse surprisingly moving. I read this one five or six times this week and admired it more each time.