I missed blogging last week, but I had report cards that were due, and I also had to get ready for a road trip. I spent the weekend at the Western Washington University Children’s Literature Conference (WWUCLC) (featuring Jason Chin, Mac Barnett, Ruta Sepetys and LeUyen Pham) and Nerdcamp Bellingham. Both events were awesome and I learned from many great authors (local to Bellingham and the guests I mentioned) as well as educators.
Now that I am back and unpacked and our kids are asleep, I do have time to briefly (I hope) review what I was able to read over the last two weeks (spoiler alert- some of it was read to me by the authors listed above). Thanks to the great people at unleashingreaders.com and teachmentortexts.com for hosting our link-up.
Books I Enjoyed This Week
This book would be great for visualizing and retelling a summer day. David Covell used an interesting font and pictures conveying the mood and motion. Most of these picture books were borrowed out of a bag of books my wife bought (having a wife that is a librarian is saving me since my library budget was frozen about two months ago).
Girl wants unicorn, girl orders unicorn, girl gets goat!?!?! It was a deal too good to be true. But, she learns to accept and love her new friend. This one will get some laughs to be sure.
I wish I could read this again. I think I will soon if I can borrow it again. This is a real gray character picture books. I was thinking these little guys would be nice. They weren’t. These guys used strength in numbers for evil and then something happens. There is a fair bit you could discuss here. If you were looking for a cute little story, this isn’t really it, but I liked it.
Thanks very much to Pajama Press and my friends at my ARC sharing group, Book Portage for a copy of this new book from Michelle Kadarusman, whose Girl of the Southern Sea I really enjoyed (It was also nominated for the Governor General award in Canada). This story takes place in Tasmania. Louisa is a Canadian but is sent to Tasmania to stay with relatives and discovers what appears to be an animal who is thought to be extinct. Her explorations of the wild and discoveries of things inside nature and inside herself made this a thought provoking book. Her relatives run a wildlife preserve that is threatened by development but this is not a book about saving the wildlife. It is really a book about great characters. Louisa has goals in life and plenty that gets in her way. She meets a friend, Colin, who is neuro diverse and also a very interesting, realistic character. I would love to purchase this book as I know several kids who would read it (next year for me) and it comes out on April 28.
Well, you might be able to guess where I read these books. At my conference this weekend. Actually, Mac Barnett read them to me and a few hundred other people. He is a very funny speaker. Honestly, I had read one of these books before and did not really like it. But, I think he has won me over. His characters are often not great people. They make mistakes, and they don’t learn from them, at times. Some, have no interest in learning their lessons as we see so often in books. Mac Barnett is not interested in those kind of books. He knows kids won’t want to read them. Hi, Jack! is a great example of that. He feels if we are handing a kid an early reader book, one they can read themselves for the very first time, it had better be very entertaining first and foremost. Just Because is a terrific story about how parents just don’t always have the answers for the great questions kids will have. In this case, the parent makes up some great lies to fill in the holes. Eventually, I will need to buy these books, I will be reminded of how Mac Barnett believes these morally ambiguous characters are great and kids can figure them out just fine without a didactic lesson.
I am cheating. I will be finished this in half an hour or so. It is a really great historical fiction novel from another WWUCLC author/speaker. Sepetys tries to find what she calls the hidden histories, the stories that most people do not know about. In this case, it is people (mainly Lithuanians in the book, as this is the author’s family heritage) fleeing Stalin during the WWII. She writes heartbreaking scenes, with great characters, and the pacing is really good. Hers are books you just want to keep reading. This book actually has a new title and cover (Ashes in the Snow), and that might be related to the fact that Ruta had the misfortune to have her debut book have almost the same title as a piece of erotic fiction that came out at nearly the same time with great popularity. She shared that the editors decided to plow on with the title as it was but once the movie development started it was finally time for a new title. Hearing this at the end of WWUCLC’s panel discussion, Mac Barnett told the audience he was writing his first adult novel, an erotic novel called Ashes in the Snow. That was really funny, but in all seriousness this is a very good book about people in a desperate and fearful situation.
This week’s reading
I have so many books to read after this weekend. Hopefully, I will write about them next week. Thanks for stopping by here, and hope you have a great reading week!