It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #imwayr 7/23/18


On the blog:

  • A slice about watching a cheetah run on our recent vacation in San Diego

In reading:

quilts of gees bend

Susan Goldman Rubin shares the story behind the famous quilts of Gee’s Bend, Alabama, for younger readers. This is a long picture book, but on the short end of long picture books, with lots of photographs and manageable amounts of text. Rubin is especially good at writing about social and historical context in a way that is clear and understandable. I’ve seen many images of these quilts, but never learned much about the women who created them, and I did enjoy learning more about their stories and, especially, hearing their words. There is useful back matter, including instructions on making your own quilt block.

stone for sascha

Another stunner by Aaron Becker. I hadn’t read much about A Stone for Sascha before I sat down with it, and the story surprised me. I had gleaned just enough from reviews to know that a pet dies, but I should have known Becker would tell that story with so many twists. Sascha, grieving for her pet, finds a stone to place on his grave, and the book is the back story of the stone’s long life–starting with hitting the earth in the form of an asteroid. The book is as gorgeous and intriguing as you’d imagine and seems like one that could spark all kinds of wonder and curiosity in young readers.

on no not again how i built a time machine

Another loopy collaboration between Mac Barnett and Dan Santat. Our heroine is annoyed by her less-than-perfect score on a history exam (less than perfect, meaning she missed one question), and decides that the natural course of action is to build a time machine and go back in time to “fix” her wrong answer and make it right. Sadly, the cavemen take off with the time machine and wreak havoc on the history timeline. Funny text and even funnier illustrations.

a round of robins

A Round of Robins is a book of rhyming poetry about a pair of robins nesting, laying eggs, hatching and growing fledglings. I am not the biggest fan of rhyme, but I think this book works pretty well. It’s also surprisingly informative for a book of poetry. Sergio Ruzzier’s illustrations are splendid.

jerome by heart

Jerome by Heart is the story of an intense friendship between two boys who love each other’s company and don’t hesitate to express their deep affection for each other. It’s a very European picture book, by which I mean that the story itself is a container for an almost philosophical exploration of big ideas like the meaning of life and how to live. Jerome by Heart is sweet and charming, as a story of friendship should be, but it’s also about loving so passionately that the love overwhelms everything else and having to deal with the shame that other people’s discomfort or rejection of feelings may bring. In Raphael’s case, the shame comes from his parents’ concerns about the intensity of the friendship. Although I wasn’t always sure what the author was trying to get at, I did like that Raphael rejects the shame that his parents would have him feel and embraces his feelings with confidence. Brain Pickings has a lovely celebration of the art and the text. (Maria Popova writes about picture books so eloquently and generously.)

everything you need for a tree house

Everything You Need for a Treehouse has the most extraordinary art by Emily Hughes. I could have poured over her drawings of fantastical treehouses for hours, and as a child, I’m sure I would have. Carter Higgins’s text is poetic and strong, though, for me, it was so  overshadowed by the illustrations that I could barely remember what it said from one page to the next.

5 oclock band

Trombone Shorty would definitely be on my list of favorite picture books of all time, so I was thrilled to see another collaboration between Troy Andrews and Bryan Collier. The 5 O’Clock Band is a little didactic. Trombone Shorty misses a band rehearsal and feels like he’s let his band down. He wonders how he can be a great leader, and so he walks the streets of New Orleans, asking the different people he meets about the secret to their success. The structure felt a little heavy-handed at times to me, but I still think the story is interesting and engaging and the message may be inspiring for many readers. There is helpful back matter, and Collier’s art brings New Orleans to life.

house that once was

Julie Fogliano’s A House That Once Was was my favorite book this week. Two children explore an abandoned house they find and speculate about its previous life and inhabitants. The writing quietly dazzles, as Fogliano’s writing always does, and I think this is maybe the finest illustration work Lane Smith has done, which is really saying something. A book I think I’m going to have to own.






16 responses to “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #imwayr 7/23/18”

  1. Shaye Miller Avatar

    I really appreciate you having added more details to the A Stone for Sascha story. I had it on my list, but I didn’t completely know what to expect. Aaaaand I still haven’t read Everything You Need for a Treehouse, it’s on my list but no local copies, yet. Thanks for making the wait even more excruciating! I’m so glad you enjoyed A House that Once Was! I thought the artwork was amazing and imaginative, especially with the flip between the two different art forms. Thanks for all the shares!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I wish there’d been an author’s note for Stone for Sascha. I read an interview with Becker that explained his thought process a bit and really enriched the reading experience for me.

  2. Scott Avatar

    I also loved A Stone for Sascha. So beautiful. Currently reading Garth Nix’s Lirael, Robin Wall Kimmerer’s Braiding Sweetgrass (I think you’d love this book). and Sue Burke’s Semiosis. Will add Everything You Need for a Treehouse and A House That Once Was to my TBR. Julie Fogliano’s If You Want to See a Whale is one of my all-time-favorite books. Have you heard about JiHyeon Lee’s new book, Door? She wrote Pool, another favorite. Straight to TBR.

    1. cweichel Avatar

      I adored Braiding Sweetgrass. It’s a definite must read. The audiobook held me in thrall.

    2. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I loved Pool–haven’t heard of Door, but adding to list. I’ve been wanting to read Braiding Sweetgrass–I need to get that requested this week. I love everything Julie Fogliano. A House That Once Was is exquisite in every way.

  3. Katie @ Read-at-Home Mom Avatar

    A Round of Robins and Everything You Need for a Treehouse are both on my list for our next library visit. They look great!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I’m going to have to look at Everything You Need for a Treehouse one more time before I return it to the library! Those illustrations!

  4. lindabaie Avatar

    I loved A Stone for Sascha; Aaron Becker always offers a marvelous example of imagination. And I love A House That Once Was very much, too. Will look for A Round of Robins, clever title!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Aaron Becker’s books are truly wonderful. A Stone for Sascha surprised throughout.

  5. carriegelson Avatar

    Can’t wait to read A House That Once Was – is it awful that I feel like I love it without ever laying eyes on it?

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Ha! Not at all! I felt that way too, and thankfully, I am never disappointed by a Julie Fogliano book. It really begs to be read aloud, so I will need to have my own copy so that I can share with students this fall.

  6. Ricki Ginsberg Avatar

    Thanks for your honest review of The 5 O’Clock Band. I’ve seen it on a few blogs. I agree with Carrie’s comment above. The cover and title of A House That Once Was are simply glorious. 🙂

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I think 5 O’Clock Band is well worth the read. I think a reader’s experience of it depends very much on your tolerance for message-heavy picture books.

  7. cweichel Avatar

    I got sidetracked as soon as I read about The Quilts of Gee’s Bend. As a quilter, I went immediately to add the book to my want to read list. Then I went to see if my library has it. They don’t but they do have an adult title about Bee’s Bend quilts so, I put a hold on that. I’m waiting for A Stone for Sascha to arrive.
    You just have so many books on this list today that I am either waiting for, or now want to have. Sigh…

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      The Gee’s Bend quilts are so fascinating. I would like to read more (and would LOVE to see an exhibit. I’ve seen one or two at different quilt exhibits but never a whole show, and that’s definitely a dream.)

  8. Kellee Avatar

    Loved your review of 5’oclock! I couldn’t put into words what you were able to. Although beautiful and engaging, something seemed a bit different than the first.
    I don’t know the other books though I really love the Gee’s Bend quilts.

    Happy reading this week 🙂

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