On the blog:
- My #MustReadin2019 challenge reading list
- An End of Year Reading Survey highlighting favorites in different categories and more
- A slice about reading challenges I’m considering for 2019
- My 18 Favorite Reads of 2018
I’m a bit late to the party with Louisiana’s Way Home. I put it off because I hadn’t finished Raymie Nightingale (or particularly liked the parts I did read), but Carrie and Julieanne assured me that I didn’t need to read Raymie to fall in love with Louisiana, and that’s exactly what happened. Perfect Kate DiCamillo sentence after perfect Kate DiCamillo sentence, such wisdom and sadness and hope on every page. And now of course I have to go back and try Raymie again.
No Time to Spare is a collection of blog posts and essays from Ursula Leguin. The subtitle is “Thinking About What Matters,” and that’s exactly what she tries to do here. (It pleased me that there are several pieces about her cat!) (And it’s called No Time to Spare because she’s writing these pieces in her 80s!) She also writes about aging and writing and books and politics and how we might live in the best way. There are a couple of excellent pieces, most are very good or good, and one or two are only fair. But overall, a strong and thought-provoking collection full of sense and with occasional bright spots of humor.
I’ve been steeped in life after 80 this week, because that also describes Donald Hall’s collection, Essays After Eighty. Hall’s life and thinking seem rather more circumscribed than Leguin, but writing continues to be his way of living in the world. A couple of these pieces are superb, most are interesting, a couple had to be skimmed. I think this book will be most interesting to those who are familiar with Hall’s earlier writing. His focus is often more on aging and the challenges of being old, and his take is by turns sobering and comical.
The Middle Route Run is the second book in Ben Costa and James Parks’s series about Rickety Stitch, a sharply dressed skeleton who can’t remember who he was when he was alive, and his faithful companion, the Gelatinous Goo, who looks like a quivering dish of jello and who speaks but can only be understood by Rickety. For the first third or so of the book, it didn’t bother me that I hadn’t read the first book. While I could see that this story was building on that one, detailed knowledge of what happened in the first book wasn’t really necessary. But the further along I got, the more lost I became, as characters and plots from the first book reappeared. The art is full-color gorgeousness, and it’s all fairly rip-roaring, but ultimately too hard to follow for those who haven’t read Book 1. And that’s why you don’t jump into a series without reading the first book!
Joseph Bruchac shares the story of Chester Nez, one of the 29 original Navajo codetalkers, in this picture book biography. The text is on the longer side but still written with simple clarity for a younger audience. Some of the scenes of Chester’s early life are so painful, especially his boarding school experiences, where he was forced to answer to an English name, cut his hair, and repeatedly told that his Navajo language was useless and bad. But he stays committed to the ways of his people, and eventually he is asked, with other Navajo volunteers, to develop an unbreakable code to use in World War II. This is a fascinating and balanced portrait and an important story. I wish the art had been stronger. So many of the images were unnecessarily dark and fuzzy.
Some good silly fun that also has a message that might be useful to hear about how we have no reason to fear what’s on the other side of a wall. I might have to read this one out loud in my Children’s Lit class before I return to the library, as it seems like it would be a good read-aloud.
Superb story about the ways that the Cherokee people use the phrase “otsaliheliga” to express gratitude throughout the year. There is a focus on seasons with descriptions of the experiences, rituals, and celebrations appropriate to each season shared. Some Cherokee words are taught throughout. There is a good glossary and fascinating Author’s Note in the back matter as well as the Cherokee syllabary. This is also my first completed #MustReadi2019 title!