It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #imwayr 1/2/16

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First Monday reading post of the year! I spent the week catching up on some middle-grade titles and trying to figure out what book would be the perfect first read of 2017.

full-of-beans

Embarrassing Newbery confession: I’ve never read Turtle in Paradise! There are only a handful of modern Newbery winners and honor books I haven’t read. And given how much I loved Full of Beans, it’s pure foolishness that I’ve never picked up Turtle in ParadiseFull of Beans is pretty wonderful (and since it’s a prequel, it’s absolutely okay to read it even if you haven’t read Turtle in Paradise either). The voice, the period details, the sentence-level writing, the quirky characters, and that setting! I need to go to Key West NOW. Holm can write. I appreciate that this novel is so finely crafted in every way but also totally accessible and engaging to young readers. There’s plenty of hilarity here as well as a solid core of serious reflection and personal growth on the part of Beans, our main character. As I was reading it to myself, I really wanted to be reading it aloud because I could hear how perfectly composed the sentences were in my head. So I decided to try it on my son, and he is also liking it.

wild-robot

I struggled with The Wild Robot. It’s a book I fully expected to love, as I do love Peter Brown’s picture books. But it did not work for me. It felt flat and underdeveloped. There wasn’t one sentence in the book that made me pause to appreciate its clarity, poetry, or eloquence. The characters, one robot and a whole bunch of animals, are all one-dimensional. There are serious and interesting themes, but they’re treated in such a heavy-handed way. And the ending threatens to throw the rest of the book completely out of balance. I reread many reviews after finishing the book in an attempt to come to terms and gain some appreciation, but it still didn’t work for me.

fuzzy.jpeg

It’s another robot book! Tom Angleberger’s books are kid-pleasers, and Fuzzy is no exception. It’s fast-paced and engaging, a fun and even occasionally thought-provoking middle-grade read. Mostly plot without much character development or even character differentiation, but that’s not really the point.

the-best-man

The Best Man is such a pleasant story and such an enjoyable world to live in for awhile. The main character’s voice may not feel remotely like a twelve-year-old’s voice, but it’s a strong voice that I liked regardless. (I just imagined he was more like a precocious 15.)

traveling-man

James Rumford’s Traveling Man celebrates the incredible journey of the fourteenth-century scholar, Ibn Battuta, who left his home in Tangier in 1325 to travel to Mecca. Bitten by the travel bug, he didn’t return home for 29 years! In that time, he covered an astonishing 75,000 miles and saw much of northern Africa, the Middle East, and southern Asia. The text is based on Battuta’s own travel narrative, which he dictated later in his life. While I do like the simplicity, elegance, and balance of that cover, I’m not sure it sells the book, and it certainly doesn’t adequately convey the richness or detail of the illustrations and text design within. A really gorgeous book for older readers.

my-friend-maggie

Maggie and Paula are best friends until Mean Girl Veronica whispers to Paula that Maggie is “too big.” Paula begins to notice all kinds of flaws in Maggie and cruelly ignores her. But when the Mean Girls turn on Paula–as they inevitably do–guess who stands up for Paula? Beautiful technicolor illustrations from Harrison and very short, simple text make this a stand-out title for talking about friendship and how we treat others.

be-who-you-are

Jennifer Carr’s Be Who Are Are! explains transgender identity in a way that will be comprehensible to very young readers. While transgender identity is the focus, there is a strong message about acceptance and identity that has broad appeal for all readers. The text is straightforward and clear. I wish the illustrations had been stronger, but this is still one to share.

sound-of-silence

The Sound of Silence is a stunner–powerful text that could lead to rich conversation and colorful, engaging art that gives readers so much to look at and wonder over. A very fine choice for my first picture book read of 2017.

 

 

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17 thoughts on “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #imwayr 1/2/16

  1. I was looking through a stack of ARCs I got at a conference over the summer that I still haven’t read. I realized that Full of Beans was in the stack. I read a lot of historical fiction written for adults, but don’t read much written for children. I’ll have to move it to the top of the stack!

  2. I shared The Sound of Silence today, too. It is a wonderful book! I have The Best Man, hope to get to it soon. And I’m glad you liked Full of Beans, a fun book for those middle readers! Happy New Year!

  3. I LOVED Turtle in Paradise – it is a brilliant read aloud as well. Such fun to read with a classroom full of kids who adored the Diaper gang so I know Full of Beans would also be a fantastic read aloud.

  4. I’m pretty sure you will adore Turtle in Paradise. I have a hole in my heart waiting to be filled by a new Jennifer L. Holm book. I read The Wild Robot while camping high in the mountains far from civilization. It felt like the perfect place to read that book. I ended up trying to pay more attention, both listening and watching everything around me.

  5. I was just saying to Linda on her blog that The Sound of Silence seemed to be popping up a lot lately!
    I really enjoyed The Wild Robot. The themes were big themes, but I thought enough that the 4th graders could pick a lot of them up and discuss.
    Loved loved loved Full of Beans! And I agree – I want to go to Key West now too!

  6. Full of Beans is everything you say: full of voice, character and period details. I loved it! I also read The Best Man last summer and really enjoyed it. I’m adding My Friend Maggie and Traveling Man to my list, and I guess I’d better find a copy of The Sound of Silence asap. I appreciate your honesty about The Wild Robot. When everyone else is on the bandwagon for a book I didn’t enjoy, I feel like I must have missed something. Happy New Year, Elisabeth!

  7. Elisabeth, I always love reading what you have to say. I, like you haven’t read Turtle in Paradise, but didn’t realize Full of Beans was even connected to it! I did love Holm’s The Fourteenth Goldfish, so I have been anxious to read this book; now I have even stronger reasons to do so! I have avoided The Wild Robot so far this year, because I’ve read such mixed reviews of it– and honestly, it doesn’t seem like my kind of book to begin with. I do feel like I need to read it, given all the buzz around it, but I have a feeling it may be awhile before I “get around to it”. Both Best Man and Be Who You Are are books that I’m interested in. Best Man is a bit mature for the kids I’m teaching this year (3rd/4th), and — to be honest– Be Who You Are would be very controversial for me to have in my SC classroom. Still– I think I’m going to read them for myself if nothing else. Thanks for sharing your recent reads!

  8. I did not realize that Full of Beans was a prequel to Turtle in Paradise! Now I have to read it. I abandoned The Wild Robot. I just could not get into at all, and there too many good books to stick with one I don’t like. Happy reading!

  9. I’ve been hearing a lot of great things about The Sound of Silence. I am definitely watching for it. Full of Beans had me laughing so much. She can sure write. I felt similarly about The Wild Robot. It was okay, but not a stand out for me. I want to get Traveling Man it sounds intriguing. Thanks.

  10. I haven’t read Turtle in Paradise yet either. I very recently grabbed a copy though, and was thinking about adding it to my #MustRead2017 list (but I will have to lose one book as the list is too big already).I still might read it this year, in any event.

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