Friday, July 31, 2015

Lake Monsters and Amelia Earhart: Graphic Novels!

Graphic novels continue to work their way onto my radar for quality literature. Here are two new ones that I loved.

A Sam and Friends Mystery: Book Two: Lake Monster Mix-Up by Mary Labatt and Jo Rioux

Persnickety, pesky pup Sam is always looking for mysteries to solve. Human friend Jennie can talk with Sam, and together they make a good team. On a trip to a lake house with Jennie’s friend Beth, Sam discovers a hidden opening in a bedroom wall. With Jennie and Beth’s help, they discover a secret compartment and a journal from long ago. Following the guidance listed in the journal, Beth, Sam, and Jennie enjoy a splendid and exciting vacation, solving mysteries that include lake monsters and buried treasure!  Accessible, engaging, and fun to read, I really enjoyed Lake Monster Mix-Up.

Amelia Earhart: This Broad Ocean by Sarah Stewart Taylor and Ben Towle

Set in Newfoundland in 1928, Grace gathers news through houndish techniques that some people disdain. However her practice leads her to learn tons more about this new female who wants to fly across the Atlantic Ocean. Through her investigating, Grace learns the trials of trying to fly planes as a female, some of the mathematics involved with flying, and the excitement of women trying to accomplish things that had never been accomplished before. This novel offers sweet history about Amelia Earhart and the late '20's while also weaving a story I had never heard about some of the competition between women so eager to break through the limits placed on them by society in the U.S. An enthralling read, I whizzed through this text and wanted to go fly.

Enjoy those graphic novels!!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Winnie: The True Story of the Bear Who Inspired Winnie-The-Pooh by Sally M. Walke

Winnie the Pooh fan? Looking to expand your child’s knowledge of the divine Winnie and the animals of Pooh Corner? Or secretly hoping to expand your own? Get this great book in your hands and learn away. Accessible, engaging, and fascinating, Walker helps us trace an amazing story. She wisely includes photographs inside of both covers, extending the story all the more for readers like me. Honestly I cannot imagine someone having a bear as a close companion, but I also cannot imagine a better way to live through being in the armed forces during World War 1.

And it's all about Winnie the Pooh. What is not to like? Great read aloud, or read silently if you are like me and an adult who turns into a curious child in the living of wise texts. 

Friday, July 17, 2015

Ruby on the Outside by Nora Raleigh Baskin

I will never forget Tevin’s story. After reading Jacqueline Woodson’s amazing (and somewhat autobiographical) book Visiting Day to my class, a kindergartner asked who is it harder for: the child leaving or the parent who cannot leave the prison. Silence filled our room as we pondered this heartbreaking and difficult question. Then Tevin spoke. He said, “For the father. I would know. I leave my dad every time I see him in prison.”

I sat blinking back tears. Tevin rarely spoke in our classroom. He told us this truth in June—I had no idea his father was in prison.  As is always true, I had so much to learn.

I still have so much to learn. It is from deeply authentic and transparent stories like Woodson’s and now Baskin’s that help others like me make sense of a world I know nothing about (prison) and the feelings, trials, and choices that children of men and women that live in prison. Ruby on the Outside is that kind of book. This is a novel about a young teen who lives with her aunt in a new-to-her town. Ruby makes friends with another girl who moves in, but she very works hard to keep all of her experiences and stories about her incarcerated mother completely hidden from Margalit, her new friend.

True to form, successful young adult writers must capture the reader immediately. Here are the first two paragraphs of the book:
“It’s all she’s known her whole life, Matoo explains to her friends on the phone when she thinks I can’t hear her. “Ruby doesn’t remember anything different, so for her it’s normal,” she says about me.

But Matoo is wrong...”
Baskin, page 1

Baskin, author of Anything But Typical among other titles, absolutely captured me in this text. I didn’t want it to end. I can imagine me as a child loving this book. Yep, it’s a keeper for me!!

Friday, July 10, 2015

Fort by Cynthia DeFelice

I should have known from the start that the author of Wild Life would take making a fort to new heights. And boy, did she!! I loved the second half of this book. I mean I loved the first too, and all of the information in the first half is critical for the second, but the second half of the book held my attention so rapt that I couldn't put it down. I am not sure which one I liked more, Wild Life or Fort

DeFelice starts her story with two teenage boys in their last couple of weeks in summer together. Augie and Wyatt are steadfast friends, and they have the distinct pleasure of sharing the same experiences of being bullied by a couple of school thunks. Since they only have 2 weeks left of summer, they decide to speedily build a fort out in the woods. Early on the the bullies find the fort and verbally tease Augie and Wyatt and in time, the boys decide to figure out that a neighborly special-needs teen has also been bullied. DeFelice sets up a sweet ending; while I don't usually agree with revenge, this time I was clapping and laughing too.

See what you think with her work and let me know. I look forward to learning what you thought!

Friday, July 3, 2015

Float by Daniel Miyares

Miyares wrote the picture book Pardon Me! awhile back, an enjoyable little book that includes a swamp, a fox, a parrot, not in that order and not what you think might happen happens. Come on--it's a picture book! Float just happened to land in my hands at the library last week (okay, I will tell the truth: I ordered it!). Ahh, what a perfect way to start summer vacation!

Float is a wordless picture book focusing on one rainy day in the life of a youngster in a yellow slicker, yellow rain hat, and yellow rain boots. Someone important helped a youngster make a paper boat, and the youngster protects that boat with their life...that is until they get to water. The youngster sets the boat into the water and watches it float away. They try to follow it until they no longer can. No boat. What happens next?

Read Float to find out.