On the blog:
- A slice about my son’s new favorite book
- I play with Poem Generator to write haiku
- I attempt a traditional haiku
My son and I just finished another Gordon Korman read-aloud, this one a favorite from my own teen years. In fact, we read my very own copy from 1987! Revisiting the Korman titles from the 1980s has been fun but also a bit challenging for me. They’re full of stuff that makes for a good read-aloud: snarky humor, tight pacing, sharp dialogue. But the female characters are so poorly developed, they’re almost caricatures of girls. I am so glad Korman learned that girls are human beings AND readers because being able to write more believable female characters has certainly helped his writing.
I loved each and every essay in Anne Bogel’s collection, I’d Rather Be Reading: The Delights and Dilemmas of the Reading Life. I had so many “yes!” and “that’s exactly how I feel” and “I’m that kind of reader too!” moments reading this collection. It’s a slender collection and could easily be read in an afternoon, but I limited myself to one or two essays a day so that it would last a little longer.
A Girl in the Himalayas has beautiful art, but the story didn’t quite work for me. We all know that humans can be violent and wasteful; I’m not sure we need another fable to tell us all the ways that humans endanger ourselves and the environment.
I was impressed by Superb. On one level, it’s a fairly predictable superhero comic: meteor fallout “enhances” certain humans; there’s an evil corporation trying to catch these superpowered folks and use their powers for no doubt nefarious purposes; and it falls on two teenagers to save the world. But it’s engaging and entertaining. What really sets the book apart, though, is its inclusivity. Granted, I haven’t read too many superhero comics, but I think it’s rare for the hero to have Down’s syndrome. The diverse cast of characters and their believable relationships gave this one a lot of appeal. Ends of a cliffhanger, so you’ll need to wait for the next volume to find out what happens.
I’m not sure the cover of Supergirl: Being Super really does it justice. Doesn’t Kara look like a creepy vacant doll? But once you open the book covers, the art improves and the story, written by Mariko Tamaki, is really quite good. Many of the plot points you expect in a Supergirl story are here, but Tamaki gives Kara a rich inner life and close friendships with driven, quirky girls. The superhero action parts were a bit boring to me, but I really liked Kara’s friends, and the book doesn’t shy away from serious tragedy and grief. I also thought it was rather clever that in this origin story, Kara is obsessed with her own origins.
In Aster’s community, girls grow up to be witches and boys grow up to be shapeshifters. But Aster has no aptitude for shapeshifting, and he’s good at spells. He’s constantly getting in trouble for spying on the girls’ lessons and asking questions about witchcraft. He’s also frequently frightened with tales of another boy who once pursued witchcraft, endangering everyone in the community, and ending up exiled from his family forever. It’s an interesting way to look at gender norms and get the reader thinking. There’s a good balance of action and introspection, and I loved the color palette and cheerful art.
Stinky Cecil in Mudslide Mayhem is, I believe, the third in the Stinky Cecil series. You don’t need to have read the earlier books to dive right in and feel like you know the characters. This is a series for newly independent readers, and I think there’s plenty here to keep them engaged through a fairly substantial graphic novel. Plenty of adventures and different characters and humorous situations.
Lupano and Panaccione’s A Sea of Love is a wordless graphic novel that’s worth a look for its often dazzling art. There’s a strong cartoon quality to the people (which I never find as appealing, though I know others will), but the landscapes and seascapes are so beautiful. The story is quite funny–many misadventures as a wizened old fisherman is lost at sea and his doting wife sets out to rescue him. There is a silent film quality to the story. I’d really like to get my hands on more work from illustrator Panaccione, but it looks like it’s all available in French publications only.
It’s so tempting to read only new picture books aloud to my class for #classroombookaday, so I keep reminding myself to revisit wonderful titles on my shelves that will be new for my students. I always love reading A Boy and A Jaguar aloud. It’s so sensitively written and tells such a powerful story.
Our other read aloud was Dreamers, where I did that thing that I try not to do: read a book for the first time myself while I’m reading it aloud to a class. But I had confidence that Yuyi Morales would not disappoint, and she didn’t. I’m looking forward to sitting down alone and reading through this one more slowly so that I can appreciate the art.
I wish all picture books would have the kind of illustrator’s notes at the end that Nothing Stopped Sophie has. I was fascinated to learn about Barbara McClintock’s process for illustrating the story, and I returned to different images with renewed appreciation after reading her thought process for creating them. Nothing Stopped Sophie is an excellent picture book biography of eighteenth-century French mathematician, Sophie Germain. I am always worried when I read STEM titles that I won’t actually be able to understand the STEM, but Cheryl Bardoe does a wonderful job making the complicated math comprehensible and accessible.