Jen and Kellee from Teach Mentor Texts started a weekly meme about what people are reading and reviewing in children’s and young adult literature. It’s a great way to see what others are reading.
Last Week’s Reading Adventures: The Highlights
Fiction: I finished The Unwanteds, which was a fantastic romp. I am excited to see what Lisa McMann will do with the sequel. I also read Flint Heart by Katherine and John Paterson this week. I think using this fairy tale story could work as a read aloud with a class rather than reading it straight through like I did. The Friendship Doll by Kirby Larson. This was an interesting historical fiction that I know a lot of adult readers are enjoying. 58 dolls were sent from Japan to the United States in the late 1920s. This is the fictional account of Miss Kanagawa, one of the dolls, and the human children she interacted with before the attack on Pearl Harbor.
My final read of 2011 was When Life Gives You OJ by Erica Perl. This is a hilarious, touching story of friendship, family, changes and practice dogs. It was a great middle grade read to pick up and read at last after many recommendations by friends.
Nonfiction: I got back into nonfiction this week with four picture book nonfiction reads. First up was Jason Chin’s Coral Reefs. The illustrations give this book a frame of a fictional story, but the text is firmly rooted in facts. I love that the girl providing the frame is carrying a copy of Coral Reefs. I also read Steve Jenkins’s Just a Second, which is just amazing. There are so many things that happen in man-made units of time like minutes and hours as well as the more natural days and months. The numbers in this picture book blew me away. My favorite nonfiction picture book read of the week was Nurse, Soldier, Spy by Marissa Moss. This account of Sarah Edmonds life was fantastic. She fled Canada disguised as a man to avoid an arranged marriage and then ended up enlisting in the Union Army during the United States Civil War a few years later where she served as a nurse and then as a spy until illness forced her to leave the army for treatment lest she give up her secret. The last nonfiction picture book was Doggy Whys by Lila Prap. Three sarcastic cats provide commentary on the questions posed in this Q&A format book. I enjoyed learning more about different kids of dogs. This book was a translation.
My other nonfiction reads included the newest Magic Tree House Fact Tracker, which is a book about Lincoln. As a former history major who has visited a lot of Civil War sites, I’m pretty picky when it comes to books about Lincoln. I thought this one worked pretty well as a basic introduction. I was pleased to see it included information on his time in New Salem (which is a fun place to visit as a recreated village if you have a chance). I also read Amelia Lost by Candace Fleming this week. This was a beautiful and informative book that provided a well rounded perspective on Amelia Earhart. Amelia Earhart was the first person I remember picking up a biography of to read for fun in second or third grade from a classroom library.
Picture Books: I read Nancy Tillman’s On the Night You Were Born, which was a Christmas present along with an animal from the Kohls Cares program. This could be a sweet story to read a very young child. A copy of A Dog is Dog finally came in for me from the public library. It is a clever circle story that made me laugh as the animals in this story are revealed to be costumes for other animals. I loved the squid pages.
This Week’s Reading Adventures
With the new year, I have started several reading challenges. I’ve read a handful of Caldecott Challenge books so far and I need to start A Story of Mankind this week for the Newbery challenge. My guidance counselor at school is looking to start a book group for some of our fourth grade students, so I need to read Chrissa for that soon as well.
I also need to read some novel drafts I owe for some writing friends. Besides those, I also have a stack of 2011 books I still want to read including The Aviary, The Emerald Atlas and more. With school starting up again on Tuesday, I need to find a way to balance all of these things. I’m thinking of having the Caldecott Challenge be my weekend reading. I’m not always good about sticking to a reading list, so I’m curious to see how this will all work out.
Passport Nonfiction also begins this week. I’m looking forward to promoting nonfiction with my students and making some new discoveries.
I hope to make time to review Amelia Lost and When Life Gives Me OJ.