The kidlit edition of It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is hosted by Teach Mentor Texts.
This week, I read a lot of picture books to my kids, mostly ones selected at the library by my younger son, and they were mostly terrible. Lots of Arthur books, Clifford books, and Berenstain Bear books. The Arthur books were marginally better than the others, but it was still a rather dismal experience of poor writing, dull pictures, and trite morals. (My kids, for what it’s worth, seemed to love every single book.)
Frazee is easily one of my Top 5 favorite children’s book authors/illustrators, and Santa Claus is creative and clever, just as you’d expect her books to be. Given the company it was keeping, it also seemed like a work of the most extreme genius to me.
I have a soft spot for the Captain Underpants series. Very silly fun, they’re actually quite well-written and read wonderfully aloud. I read the “tenth epic novel” in the series to my boys on Thursday, and it was a big hit. Plus, truly epic! Pilkey reveals several mysteries of the universe–how the Ice Age began, how the dinosaurs became extinct, and why the Big Bang Theory should really be the Big Ka-Bloosh Theory. I’ll just say that the evil villain, Tippy Tinkletrousers, and his time machine are behind it all.
Captain Underpants and Crampton Hodnet made for strange reading partners this week. I read Crampton Hodnet for Barbara Pym Reading Week and while I didn’t think it was as good as Pym’s best novels, it was still very enjoyable with something quotable on nearly every page. Among its many charms is a deliciously awkward proposal scene.
Another book checked off the list for The Hub 2013 Reading Challenge. I read a lot of positive reviews online of this one, but I thought I Hunt Killers was one of the most preposterous novels I’ve ever read. It does have a great hook of a premise: what if your dad was a serial killer? And not just any serial killer but the most twisted of the twisted? And what if he’d raised you to be a serial killer too? The notorious Billy Dent finally gets caught and goes to jail, and son Jazz is left worrying that he’s going to start killing people just because his dad taught him how and wanted him to. (Sidenote: Wouldn’t Jazz be in some sort of intensive therapy? Wouldn’t someone besides the social services lady think it’s a bad idea to leave him in the custody of the grandma who raised his serial killer dad? And is it really likely that a person becomes a serial killer through nurture?) In any case, Lyga goes all out with plot developments: a new serial killer starts terrorizing Jazz’s small town, and it turns out he’s copying Jazz’s dad’s crimes. Jazz has a unique insight into the mind of this serial killer–or so he keeps telling us–and decides to solve the crime himself. Much extreme and gruesome violence against women ensues. Every page of this book strains credulity, and yet somehow it is very readable. I was annoyed throughout by the ludicrous plot and equally ludicrous characters. But even though I was annoyed–with the book and with myself for reading it–I didn’t abandon it (though I did skim the final 50 pages or so). And I can easily think of a couple dozen students I would have given this book to who would have loved it, so I do think it will have wide appeal for its target audience. For a different take, check out The Book Smugglers’ review: they loved the book. There is also a great reading list at The Hub on “Nonfiction Picks for Fans of I Hunt Killers” .