Monday, March 18, 2013

It's Monday! What are you Reading?

Jen & Kellee over at Teach Mentor Texts host a meme every Monday that invites people to share the children's and young adult books they have been reading over the past week and what they plan on reading the following week.

You may find more complete information about what I am reading at Goodreads or by clicking on the Goodreads widget along the side of my blog.

The Past Week:
Challenge Books

Since biographies are a favorite of mine, I was sure I would enjoy Charles and Emma. I certainly did, but I found myself surprised that it is considered a young adult book. I am not sure why it is marketed to them rather than adults. There is not much that would necessarily attract them except for the romance between two people who were certainly not in their teens for the majority of the book. I found it a little dry sometimes, but the relationship between Charles and Emma was quite compelling. I understand why it won a Printz to a certain degree, but I also wonder if teens read it often. 

The next two were Nerdy Nominees in 2012. 

The design of Birds of a Feather will definitely make this one a kid pleaser. There are so many flippy flappy things that I know it will be loved. And on top of that, it is oversized. Very impressive. The only problem is might be too loved. I can see this being pretty much destroyed quickly if too many hands are on it.

It took me a little while to get into The Cloak Society. The plot seemed a bit too precisely planned and orchestrated, but eventually I was absorbed by the story and raced through the second half. It is an action packed adventure and I expect that many of my upper grade students will enjoy it.

More Young Adult

I thought that the graphic novel Ichiro was quite good. A trailer is posted here. Once in awhile though I had comprehension problems during the monster scenes and there were a lot of monsters. I guess I could use this as an example to my students. Sometimes, even adults lose track of the storyline. I really enjoyed the Japanese mythology and the view of WWII from a Japanese perspective. For many people war is a black and white kind of thing and I don't think it ever is really.

Someone sent me an unsolicited ARC for White Lines. It is a story about a New York club girl in the 80s with a drug problem and how she got to that point. It kept my interest throughout, though she annoyed me sometimes. I have a more thorough review at Goodreads.

Non-Fiction Picture Books

It is Women's History Month and I went to a STeM resource event at a local university, so I read a lot of non-fiction. Yay! That has been a bookgap for me so I was happy.  

My favorite for sure was the biography of Tito Puente. If you missed it, I had the trailer posted last week. I shared his music and a bit of the book with my second graders. Quite a hit. Iggy Peck cracked me up and Harlem's Little Blackbird moved me and Look Up! is just cool. Lots of great books!

Fiction Picture Books

Loved Noodle's Knitting in spite of the lack of a substantial plot. Being able to feel the yarn and the fact that I love knitting really won me over. I would have loved Quickie more had the illustrations been better. I am sad for that since I know we have a lot of Packer and Donald Driver fans in my school. Actually, this book is probably better described as a memoir as Driver's nickname as a child was Quickie.

Middle Grade Novels

My favorite book of any kind this week was Almost Home. I loved meeting tough yet gentle Sugar -- hearing her voice and reading her poetry. I also realized that I need a rubber chicken in my life. Her teacher, Mr. Bennett is inspirational and simply fabulous. Bauer really uncovers the issue of homelessness. When they hear the word homeless, many people may only think of old poor men sitting on the street without realizing how many types of people have become homeless for many different reasons. I appreciated that the book doesn't have a perfect ending, but a somewhat more realistic one. In that, it reminded me of One for the Murphys.

On the Road to Mr. Mineo's was a very quick and lighthearted read. There is a lot of white space and has short chapters so it is really much shorter than it looks. I was a bit frustrated throughout though because I wanted to fuss at everyone and say why are you trying to trap something that wants to be free?

And finally, I gave Tintin a try after Anita Silvey featured the Tintin books on her Bookaday Almanac. I had read some time ago and didn't remember it well, but had read something about it on Debbie Reese's blog American Indians in Children's Literature. From what I can tell the author actual may have been joking around or making some kind of political statement. Regardless of his intent, there are such negative stereotypes in the two I read, that it made me a bit ill. It wasn't as bad in the Picaros book, but still, the indigenous people were victims to alcohol and were easily manipulated. In Tintin in America, all of the Indians are in full war dress while sitting around casually, they speak with broken English, and are ignorant and easily fooled. They also try to scalp a young white boy based on the word of a random stranger. Perfect reading for my students? Not by a long shot. I understand the appeal. I really do. It is full of action and "perils of Pauline" type of adventures. It is also a bit of nostalgia for our generation who grew up reading Tintin. Back in the day, there weren't as many choices, but I know that there are piles and piles of wonderful high-interst action-filled graphic novels available for our students now that do not have negative stereotypes, so I will choose to buy those instead.

For the Coming Week:
I am still listening to Wintergirls and have just started another young adult novel Orleans (BTW there's a giveaway of this book going on right now at Young Adult Books Central). 

I have this pile waiting, but I am not sure which ones I will get to next. If you see any I should definitely read next, let me know. What are you reading?Have a great week!


  1. Crystal,

    I signed up for the new (to me) service, TALKWALKER, that lets me know when someone has referenced my blog. Through a TALKWALKER alert, I found your post and am taking a minute to say Hurray! You're absolutely right that there are plenty of wonderful books to read... we need not introduce students to stereotypes in the Tintin book.

    1. Hi Debbie! Thank you for recommending Talkwalker Alerts! I am happy the solution suits you right.

      Julie Hong (@J_Hong3)

    2. I haven't heard of that service. Very cool. Thanks for stopping by and commenting! I love your blog. It is so helpful.