This week, I wrote separate posts about the progress of our Caldecott Challenge, which I am thoroughly enjoying, and my most recent Newbery read, the 1947 Newbery winner, Miss Hickory, which I may forever be traumatized by.
We also took a bit of a break from Caldecott reading to catch up on other picture book reading.
Strange Creatures: The Story of Walter Rothschild and His Museum, written and illustrated by Lita Judge, tells the true story of Walter Rothschild, born into a family of British bankers, but determined to become a naturalist and scientist. This is a lovely story about finding your passion and following your dreams, plus it’s beautifully illustrated. Can’t wait to read more by Judge.
We read two books by Eve Bunting this week: One Green Apple, illustrated by Ted Lewin, and Riding the Tiger, illustrated by David Frampton. Bunting’s work is so diverse! We loved One Green Apple, the story of a Muslim girl who has recently immigrated to America and joins her classmates on a field trip to an apple orchard. She feels like an outsider–because of her cultural differences and because she is just beginning to learn English–but over the course of the field trip, she begins to connect with her classmates. Ted Lewin’s illustrations are also insanely good!
Riding the Tiger was also powerfully illustrated, but this story was much more challenging for my son to understand and appreciate. It’s an allegory about joining a gang, and while I think it would work quite well in the classroom to initiate discussion (I found myself wishing I’d had it when I taught high school), it was over my son’s head–a lot over his head.
Virginia Wolf, written by Kyo Maclear and illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault, is an unusual story about mental illness and depression, loosely inspired by real-life sisters, Virginia Woolf and Vanessa Bell. Vanessa tries everything she can think of to help Virginia regulate her mood, but nothing works–until Vanessa begins painting a beautiful imaginary world, Bloomsberry, on the walls of the girls’ bedroom. Virginia begins to emerge from her depression after she picks up a paintbrush and also begins to create. This story was a bit too metaphorical for my kids too, but we all liked the art.
We loved Miss Dorothy and Her Bookmobile, written by Gloria Houston and illustrated by Susan Condie Lamb.
Move! is another fine title written and illustrated by Steve Jenkins & Robin Page.
After reading several sub-par rhyming books, I was close to swearing off children’s poetry altogether. But then my son twisted my arm and I read Motorcycle Song, written by Diane Siebert and beautifully illustrated by Leonard Jenkins, to him. And it’s well-written.
I loved Tommaso and the Missing Line, written and illustrated by Matteo Pericoli. Tommaso discovers that a line is missing from his favorite drawing, so he sets off the find it.
My rereading of Megan Whalen Turner’s wonderful series came to an end this week when I finished the audio of A Conspiracy of Kings. I was sorely disappointed by this book the first time I read it, and I had hoped to enjoy it more this time around–which I did. I was able to appreciate it more on its own merits, and Turner does do interesting things with structure, storytelling, and point of view. I had also hoped that I would be able to understand better why I don’t like this book nearly as much as the others. I was wondering if there’s really something I could point to as a flaw in the book or if it’s just that I was expecting something I didn’t get. Each book in the series is quite different–written from different points of view, focusing on different characters. I think it’s actually one of the great strengths of The King of Attolia (my favorite in the series) that it’s mostly told from the point of view of Costas, a soldier and an outsider. But Costas is such a rich and compelling character, and Sophos just isn’t that interesting. He ought to be, but he isn’t. I’m still trying to figure it why–because he was quite compelling in The Thief. I’ve read many gushing reviews of this book, so maybe it’s just me. Regardless, I am at an audiobook loose ends this week. Nothing else seems quite as good as this series.
I finished Dave Burgess’s Teach Like a Pirate, a professional development book, as well. I want to write about this book, but I am having a hard time figuring out how to write about it. I am trying to work on a review for later in the week. Has anyone else read it? What did you think?