On the blog:
- A curation of favorite online reading from last week
Kid Athletes is a collection of brief biographies of famous athletes. There are plenty of recognizable names (Michael Jordan, Muhammed Ali, Babe Ruth, Jackie Robinson), but also plenty of athletes that will be less familiar. There is an admirable effort at diversity both in terms of gender and ethnicity and in terms of sport. You’ll find race car drivers to sumo wrestlers represented. Doogie Horner’s humorous illustrations add liveliness to each page, and David Stabler’s writing ensures engagement by focusing on the childhoods of these “sports legends” and sharing tales (and maybe tall tales in some cases) that may be less familiar. Chapters are 10-15 pages or so–just the right length for breakfast time read-aloud, we discovered. A useful addition to any middle-grade collection.
Makoons is the fifth book in Louise Erdrich’s historical fiction saga that begins with The Birchbark House. This is such an important series and I wish it were better known and used in schools in place of some of the racist historical fiction that students continue to be exposed to. Makoons is especially strong in its depiction of dynamic multi-generational family relationships and its plentiful details about the daily life of the Ojibwe in the nineteenth century. There is perhaps more of a sad tone suffusing this book than others in the series. By the end of the novel, a way of life is also very close to its end. The scarcity of the buffalo becomes a plot thread and there is an especially poignant scene after a buffalo hunt when the buffalo themselves seem to have a vision of the future.
Judd Winick’s terrific graphic novels series continues with Hilo Saving the Whole Wide World. There were a bit too many Boom! Pow! Ptoom! action scenes for my taste, but for the target audience, it’s probably exactly right. Book 2 ends on a cliffhanger, so readers will anxiously await volume 3.
I loved Dan Santat’s illustrations in this silly fractured fairy tale, but I nearly lost my mind over the sing-song rhyme. The rhyme really gets in the way of anything surprising or clever that might happen in the writing.
Aaron Becker’s gorgeous trilogy concludes with Return. By now, readers are familiar with the plot, but the illustrations continue to dazzle.
Bill Thomson’s The Typewriter is a new favorite for me. A group of kids discover an old typewriter that magically creates whatever they type. There is such a love of wonder, mystery, and creativity at the heart of Thomson’s books, and the illustrations are magnificent. After my son and I finished reading this book, he demanded to know where Thomson’s Caldecott is. A fine question!
How I love Lauren Child’s books about Charlie and his little sister, Lola. In One Thing, they are about to accompany their mother to the store, where each has been promised they can buy “just one thing.” Child illustrates counting concepts and time concepts in this clever story.