It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #imwayr 6/25/18


On the blog:

In reading:

miscalculations of lightning girl

Stacy McAnulty’s The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl is one of my favorite middle-grade novels that I’ve read this year. It’s about Lucy, who acquired math genius when she was struck by lightning as a child. She has homeschooled since then, and even though she’s only 12 now, academically she’s ready for college. But Lucy also suffers from OCD and social anxiety and rarely leaves her apartment. Her grandmother decides that college is out of the question until she develops her social skills and ability to function in the world, so Lucy is sent to school for 7th grade. McAnulty creates such rich and believable characters, and Lucy’s voice is so strong and engaging. We’ve all been scarred by 7th grade, so you can easily imagine Lucy’s struggles. But there is plenty of good here too, especially Lucy’s friendships with Wendy and Levi and their school project at an animal rescue.  I listened to the book on audio, and it’s got a great reader.

intimiate paisley rekdal

Paisley Rekdal’s Intimate: An American Family Photo Album is hybrid nonfiction, mixing photos, poetry, family history, memoir, fictionalized biography, and history. There are three strands braided through the book: an examination of Edward S. Curtis’s  photographs of Native Americans that includes essay, poetry, and photos; a fictionalized biography of Curtis’s Apsaaloke assistant, Alexander Upshaw; and a memoir of Rekdal’s own family centered in the event of her mother’s cancer diagnosis and treatment. It’s an ambitious project and an interesting book about identity, history, representation, perspective that raises far more questions than it answers. There is much that I admired about this book, but overall it was a struggle for me because I was uncomfortable with Rekdal’s choice to speak for and as Alexander Upshaw and wanted the text to grapple even more with that choice and the implications of that choice.

great chicken escape

Nikki McClure’s graphic cut-paper art tells the story of The Great Chicken Escape, which is based on a true incident that McClure witnessed where chickens escaped from their enclosure at a monastery on Spruce Island. The bolder chickens eluded recapture, and the nuns decided to give them the day for their adventures, knowing they would return to the coop to roost at night. McClure imagines their different adventures as they encountered the larger natural world for the first time. Beautifully rendered, occasionally comical, mostly wordless.

mac barnett

I was so-so about Triangle, the first book in Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen’s shape trilogy, but I really loved Square.  It’s about a square who busies himself pushing square boulders up from a cave. His friend, Circle, sees the perfectly square boulders and believes that Square has created a perfect self-portrait. She asks him to create a portrait of her too. Square, dutiful friend that he is, tries but fails spectacularly. Or so he believes. What happens when Circle sees the portrait is quite funny. As with all the best Barnett and Klassen books, there’s a lot going on here philosophically and much to think about in terms of work, creativity, perspective, and evaluation.

REQUEST: Upcoming family road trip. Seeking audiobook recommendations. Son loved Jack Gantos’s Dead End in Norvelt, Jazz Jennings’s Being Jazz, and Carl Hiaasen’s Hoot on our last road trip. Middle-grade, memoirs, and not too complex stories probably work best.





21 responses to “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #imwayr 6/25/18”

  1. carriegelson Avatar

    I have The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl on hold at the library. Now even more excited to read it!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I think you will love it!

  2. lindabaie Avatar

    I echo Carrie, have The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl, but so many seem to be ahead of it. Someday? Intimate seems like a collage of different ways to tell a story, interesting approach! Have a good trip. I listen to few audio books since I don’t have a long drive anywhere. Best wishes in finding a few good ones!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Thanks, Linda. I love a road trip! Though I’m much easier to please with audiobooks when I’m on my own!

  3. Shaye Miller Avatar

    Oh I’m so glad you enjoyed The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl! I know it will be one of my favorites of 2018, too! And now I want to read Square!

    1. Shaye Miller Avatar

      On audiobooks, what about The Science of Breakable Things or The Parker Inheritance? I don’t even know if Science of Breakable Things has an online audiobook, but I enjoyed the read. I cried too much through Good Dog to recommend it for a sensitive child (though it was a good cry — happy things happen, but missing of my own dog of almost 17 years brought all that love back into my mind). What do you think about Posted? So many of my favorites have some sad or distressing event that happens and I’m just not sure how well your kiddo would handle it, so that makes me nervous. lol

      1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

        It’s really hard to find stories that are deeper and more reflective, which he loves, that don’t also distress him. Will definitely look for Science of Breakable Things. I was thinking about Good dog but don’t want everyone to be bawling in the car! Posted might be good. Parker Inheritance might be too hard for him to follow. Thanks for these great suggestions! So glad I read your review of Miscalculations last week–I was halfway through my road trip and bored by all the books I’d downloaded so it was so nice to find such an engaging and entertaining and heartfelt story to listen to.

  4. Akilah Avatar

    Audiobook recs: Mr Chickee’s Funny Money by Christopher Paul Curtis, Witch Week by Diana Wynne Jones, the first Sammy Keyes book by Wendelin van Draanen, Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin.

    I know you’ve read The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom, but the audiobook is an absolute delight, so may be worth revisting.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Great suggestions! He loved Bud Not Buddy but some of the other Christopher Paul Curtis titles are just too intense for his sensitbilities. Mr. Chickee’s Funny Money might be perfect! Book of a Thousand Days is one of my favorite Shannon Hale novels and I’d love a reread! I need Christopher Healy to write more books NOW.

      1. Akilah Avatar

        Ella Enchanted is also good. Seriously…I’m Kidding by Ellen Degeneres (clean humor) is super funny.

      2. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

        Ooh, great ideas! We recently finished Parks & Rec (so sad it’s over) and I was thinking of maybe trying Amy Poehler’s book but I haven’t read it so have no clue what we might find in it! He might really like the Ellen book–will look for that for sure.

  5. halliereadit Avatar

    I just saw the Miscalculations of Lightning Girl get checked in at my library so I’ll definitely have to go grab it soon. It sounds great!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      So good! Definitely one of my favorite middle-grades this year and probably one of my favorite audios as well.

  6. Jane the Raincity Librarian Avatar

    The Great Chicken Adventure sounds so wonderful!!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      If you like chickens, as I do, it’s a must read!

  7. cweichel Avatar

    The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl is exactly the kind of book I love. My library has it on order and like Carrie Gelson, I am even more excited to read it!
    I just finished listening to Granted by John David Anderson & Cassandra Morris. It’s about fairies but so much more. If you like dogs you will adore Sam the dog. Cassandra Morris brings him to life in a way that you can’t help wishing he was real and you could take him home with you.
    I listened to some of Jayson Reynolds early work on audio and it is fabulous.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Granted has definitely made the cut! I’m thinking about Sunny as well. He loved When I Was the Greatest. Miscalculations is also just the kind of book I love. I wish every book could be just like it!!

  8. Ricki Ginsberg Avatar

    Your comments on Intimate are so thoughtful. I feel compelled to get the book–although I know that these kinds of questions are a struggle for me, emotionally. Thanks for sharing, Elisabeth.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      It’s a thought-provoking read for sure.

  9. Myra GB Avatar

    You must be the third person this week who posted about The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl – I will have to find that one soonest! 🙂

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      It’s so wonderful! I am so glad I got to listen to it on audio.

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