On my blog this week:
- Sunday Salon should have been called Monday Salon, since it was a day late, but at least I got it posted!
- I looked forward a couple of weeks to the start of summer vacation and summer reading
- I reviewed William Grill’s gorgeous new nonfiction picture book title, Shackleton’s Journey
- I listed the 9 characters and 1 author I’d like to trade places with for a day
It was a most excellent reading week:
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:
Can you see the second image? Let me share a bigger version with you:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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: