It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #imwayr 4/28/14

IMWAYR

Visit Unleashing Readers and Teach Mentor Texts to participate in the kidlit version of this weekly meme.

On my blog this week:

It was a most excellent reading week:

grasshopper jungle

I finished Grasshopper Jungle. I made fish mouth a lot as I was reading this book–you know, where your mouth forms an O and opens and closes but no words come out. It’s that kind of book. It’s brilliant and bonkers and I don’t even know how you’d begin to try to describe it–which is probably why every time I saw it referred to in someone’s #imwayr post, it was accompanied by some version of “I don’t know what to say about this book, but you’ve got to read it right now.” I was very amused to see what came up when I googled the title to get a photo of the book jacket today:

full screen grasshopper jungle google

Can you see the second image? Let me share a bigger version with you:

what the fuck did i just read

Yep, so that pretty much covers it, and how hilarious is it that this is the second image to appear when you search for “grasshopper jungle” on Google?

I did love this book, though. Yes, it’s about the apocalypse, which takes the form of six-foot preying mantis bugs, but, as Andrew Smith reminds us, “good books are always about everything.” And Grasshopper Jungle is most definitely about everything. I buzzed through fairly quickly because I wanted to know what was going to happen, but I’ll definitely be rereading this one later, probably on audio. It’s rich and complex and really thought-provoking.

like carrot juice

Julie Sternberg has another middle-grade winner in Like Carrot Juice on a Cupcake. This time, Eleanor is jealous of the new girl, Ainsley, and ends up doing something really mean that upsets Ainsley and threatens Eleanor’s friendship with Pearl. I really like this series, and Matthew Cordell’s illustrations are perfect for the story.

ramona forever

My younger son and I are nearly finished with the Ramona books–just one more left after Ramona Forever. I continue to marvel at how well these books hold up (they were among my own childhood favorites). Cleary writes her characters with such understanding and generosity. I am going to be sad when we finish the series.

clementine

The good thing about finishing the Ramona series is that then we can read other things, and I decided yesterday to get us started on Clementine, just so we’d have something to look forward to. I wasn’t intending to read the whole book out loud in one sitting, but I found myself saying the same thing my kids usually say–“just one more chapter!” Even though I’ve read this book a couple of times before! So we read it all in one sitting. Clementine is a perfect complement to Ramona, and Marla Frazee’s art brings so much to the story.

what i saw and how i lied

It’s another title on my YA Shelf of Shame! This is the 5th Shelf of Shame book I’ve read this year, and I loved it. What I Saw and How I Lied is a noir-ish thriller set post-World War II in New York and Florida. (Don’t read the description at Amazon–full of spoilers.) The setting is interesting, different, and well done; the characters believable; the plot engaging. But what really worked for me in this book is Blundell’s handling of theme: the discovery that adults don’t always have the answers and don’t always make the right choices, that truth and justice aren’t necessarily the same things, and that becoming an adult may mean having to make some difficult moral and ethical choices.

jinx

Carrie Gelson likes Jinx, and that’s enough of a reason for me to want to read it. What a delight! There’s magic and lots of cats, an enchanted forest, and a plucky hero who clearly has more ability than anyone else realizes. I’ll be looking for Book 2 at the library this week!

We also read a big stack of picture books this week. Here are my favorites:

verdi amanda and hot day maggi and milo too tall houses

 

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19 thoughts on “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #imwayr 4/28/14

  1. Yes, you certainly read widely this week. I had to laugh at the story of your Google adventure – now I have to get this book asap, just so I really understand that cat’s expression!

  2. What a great reading week!
    I have heard so many great things about Grasshopper Jungle, and I am loving everyone’s reactions. I’ll have to read it soon so I understand where everyone is coming from 🙂
    I also have Carrot Juice on my ottoman to read. I love that series.
    And YAY Ramona! I love her!

    Happy reading this week! 🙂

    • Carrot Juice is so wonderful! I didn’t love the second book in the series quite as much as the first, but Carrot Juice was as good (to me) as the first. So many interesting things to discuss with the story as well. I have also enjoyed comments and reactions to Grasshopper Jungle, and now I finally understand why so many people are having trouble writing about the book in a coherent way!

  3. Okay – this post did a lot of things for me. Amused, delighted and honoured pretty much captured. I was completely giggling at fish mouth and your google search re Grasshopper Jungle. I go week by week with this book on whether I might read it. Yes, sounds like I can’t miss it. No, just coming across as too weird. Still not sure. Love reading aloud Clementine and Too Tall Houses is another favourite. I am honoured that you jumped into the land of Jinx on my rave reviews. And truly thrilled that you enjoyed it! I think Jinx and his story are lots of fun and provide lots of interesting things to talk about. My children and I are really enjoying Jinx’s Magic!

    • Grasshopper Jungle is most definitely weird, but somehow it all works–at least it did for me. Something about the voice of the main character, I think. There was something so real and believable about him. I definitely think you need to give it a try. I really loved Simon and Sophie in Jinx; hope to see more of them in Jinx’s Magic. As I was reading, I was thinking that Jinx would make a terrific read-aloud, so I’m looking forward to revisiting it in the next year or so when my son is ready for a longer read.

  4. Well, now I’m continuing to be hooked by everyone raving about Grasshopper Jungle, but there are others I want to read too, like Gae Polisner’s newest book, & The Storied Life… and … I will read it, I’m sure. Your review made me laugh and worry all at the same time, Elisabeth. I have actually read a few you’re discussing, and loved What I Saw and How I Lied-would love to read it with a group of young teens. Thanks for a great post.

    • I really didn’t know what to expect with What I Saw & How I Lied, and I was so pleasantly surprised by it. I will certainly be booktalking it next time I teach Adolescent Lit. I am also looking forward to Gae Polisner’s new book. I need to order it! Grasshopper Jungle is really an impressive achievement, I think. A very ambitious book that also happens to include six-foot-tall preying mantises!

  5. Hi there Elisabeth, now you got me all worked up with Grasshopper Jungle – it’s been sitting unread in my bookshelf – waiting for our scifi-reading-theme late in the year, I’m sure I would have pretty much the same reaction as you. What I saw and How I lied also caught my eye – it’s actually the first time I’m hearing about this one, so I shall definitely be on the lookout for this one.

    • What I Saw is a very strong historical fiction title–with connections to the Holocaust as well. I can imagine it would connect with many other texts. I need to read more sci-fi–so I’m looking forward to your theme. For some reason, I have a hard time finding sci-fi titles that interest me. Hopefully I’ll discover some books I want to read too!

  6. Oh yay, I’ve got to get Carrot Juice for my classroom library! Eleanor was a new addition to my classroom this fall, and both boys and girls loved reading her stories! So glad you shared it, I didn’t know about it!

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