In my opinion, books are the best accessory.
Thanks to: TeachMentorTexts for the inspiration! Thanks to Jen and Kellee for the meme! It has been nice getting lost in books recently. I’ve read numerous novels, snuck in a non-fiction book, and enjoyed numerous picture books as well. I had numerous emotionally exhausting days this past week packing up and moving out of my school library of 12 years in addition to saying goodbye to my students, community members, and colleagues. Overall, I am happy with where I am and where I’m headed as I feel successful professionally but will also miss special people in my life. It felt odd to only blog twice this past week but I enjoyed writing about my book club experience which I just wrapped up after leading three specialized book clubs every year for 12!
On to books:
See You At Harry’s by Jo Knowles – I’d say age range- mature 6th grade and up. It has been quite a number of months since I had a book capture me, lock me in my seat, and bring me through every emotion… wow this one was powerful. I think every reader of the book should be warned about how powerful, and upsetting, it is. Rebecca Stead’s quote about the book on the front cover helped: “Heartbreaking, soul-sustaining, and all around beautiful.” I know it is mature for middle school but I think the power is there for all readers to treasure. Summary from Goodreads: Twelve-year-old Fern feels invisible. It seems as though everyone in her family has better things to do than pay attention to her: Mom (when she’s not meditating) helps Dad run the family restaurant; Sarah is taking a gap year after high school; and Holden pretends that Mom and Dad and everyone else doesn’t know he’s gay, even as he fends off bullies at school. Then there’s Charlie: three years old, a “surprise” baby, the center of everyone’s world. He’s devoted to Fern, but he’s annoying, too, always getting his way, always dirty, always commanding attention. If it wasn’t for Ran, Fern’s calm and positive best friend, there’d be nowhere to turn. Ran’s mantra, “All will be well,” is soothing in a way that nothing else seems to be. And when Ran says it, Fern can almost believe it’s true. But then tragedy strikes- and Fern feels not only more alone than ever, but also responsible for the accident that has wrenched her family apart. All will not be well. Or at least all will never be the same.
Bon Appetit! The Delicious Life of Julia Child by Jessie Hartland – Elementary and up- I loved the formatting of this book with illustrations and a lean towards graphic novel approach, once I grew accustomed to it. I think it will appeal to the reluctant reader interested in Julia Child and additionally a terrific reference source for biography research. What a fascinating woman! Summary from Goodreads: Follow Julia Child—chef, author, and television personality—from her childhood in Pasadena, California, to her life as a spy in WWII, to the cooking classes she took in Paris, to the publication of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, to the funny moments of being a chef on TV. This is a comprehensive and enchanting picture book biography, told in many panels and jam-packed with lively, humorous, and child-friendly details. Young chefs and Julia Child fans will exclaim, “ooooh la la,” about this book, which is as energetic and eccentric as the chef herself.
Miles from Ordinary by Carol Lynch Williams -High School- Beautiful story with a girl who has to play the mom role without any other support… Upsetting. Reminded me of a few other beautiful stories with mother/daughter conflict and the daughters having to grow up way too fast. I loved the connection to an aunt who works in a library and volunteering at a public library as well. — A Huge THANK YOU goes out to Julie Olson who recommended Miles from Ordinary to me, grateful but not quite recovered yet! Summary from Goodreads: Thirteen-year-old Lacey wakes to a beautiful summer morning excited to begin her new job at the library, just as her mother is supposed to start work at the grocery store. Lacey hopes that her mother’s ghosts have finally been laid to rest; after all, she seems so much better these days, and they really do need the money. But as the hours tick by and memories come flooding back, a day full of hope spins terrifyingly out of control…
I, Too, Am America by Langston Hughes, illustrated by Bryan Collier – Brilliance complete, wow. What a beautiful way to honor a poem. Summary from Goodreads: The poetic wisdom of Langston Hughes merges with visionary illustrations from Bryan Collier in this inspirational picture book that carries the promise of equality. I, too, sing America. I am the darker brother. They send me to eat in the kitchen when company comes, But I laugh, And eat well, And grow strong. Langston Hughes was a courageous voice of his time, and his authentic call for equality still rings true today. Beautiful paintings from Barack Obama illustrator Bryan Collier accompany and reinvent the celebrated lines of the poem “I, Too,” creating a breathtaking reminder to all Americans that we are united despite our differences.
Because of Mr. Terupt by Bob Buyea – 4th grade and up- I really enjoyed this book of many voices and perspectives… Beautiful and touching. Terrific teacher connection story with a strong message of taking responsibility for your actions and speaking up to bullying. Summary from Goodreads: It’s the start of fifth grade for seven kids at Snow Hill School. There’s . . .Jessica, the new girl, smart and perceptive, who’s having a hard time fitting in; Alexia, a bully, your friend one second, your enemy the next;Peter, class prankster and troublemaker; Luke, the brain; Danielle,who never stands up for herself; shy Anna, whose home situation makes her an outcast; and Jeffrey, who hates school. Only Mr. Terupt, their new and energetic teacher, seems to know how to deal with them all. He makes the classroom a fun place, even if he doesn’t let them get away with much . . . until the snowy winter day when an accident changes everything—and everyone.
Lone Bean by Chudney Ross – 4th grade and up, maybe 3rd for stronger readers- I see this book as a potential one to hand to girls who are having a hard time fitting in, letting go of specific friends, making friends with kids that might have a bad influence on them, and also those who sometimes get in trouble without intentionally meaning to… I really thought this book was special with quite the cute character who speaks her mind, sometimes a little too freely and is working to find her way through third grade, friendship problems, and parent expectations. Release date of 7/12. Summary from Goodreads: “Bean” Gibson is so excited about the first day of third grade, not even her m-e-a-n MEAN older sisters Rose and Gardenia can bring her down. But Bean’s year gets off to a bad start–her best friend Carla has made a new best friend, and Bean has to start music lessons. Bean picks the violin (the cello is too big), and tries to find new friends, but music lessons are a lot of work, Goody-Two-Shoes Gabrielle is prissy, and Terrible Tanisha is a bully. And Bean’s mom is always at work. Bean h-a-t-e-s HATES third grade! LONE BEAN is an entertaining read about spunky Bean Gibson and how she learns what it means to be a good friend. And that it’s possible to have more than one.
Up next: I’ve read numerous realistic fiction books this past week and I know I need a balanced read… so on to reading Fantasy books! I’ve already been listening to two fantasy books with my son recently- The Black Cauldron by Lloyd Alexander and The Secret History of Tom Trueheart by Ian Beck. Now I’ll also dive into: The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy. I’m also planning to tackle more Hong Kong Battle of the Books titles… There’s numerous fantasies sitting on my shelf waiting for a read-thru!
-sad, empty bookshelves, preparations for moving to Hong Kong are underway. Books in hands are “to be reads” or TBR’s… I think I read everything there and now am on to a new stack of treasures.
Want more book ideas and reviews? – Yes, I’m quite brief, but a prolific reader! Please visit me at Goodreads:
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