Monday, January 14, 2019

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey as a way to share what you have read and/or reviewed in the past week. It's also a terrific way to find out what other people are reading.

Jen Vincent, of Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee Moye of Unleashing Readers have given this meme a children's literature focus: picture books, middle grade novels, etc. They "encourage everyone who participates to support the blogging community by visiting the other bloggers that link up and leave comments for them.

Well now winter has truly settled in. This past weekend, central Ohio received it's first significant snow of the season. And while four and a half inches isn't much compared to the wallop other parts of the country got, it still is a shock to the system. Thank goodness I've got a nice stack of library books and a warm, cozy spot by the fire. Here's what I've been reading this past week:

Classic Literature

Inspired by The Great American Read on PBS last year, I’ve been trying to read more classic literature. I read this book many years ago, but had forgotten quite a bit of it. This was a terrific book to snuggle into with a cup of tea by the fireplace. Each time I opened the book, I was transported to early nineteenth century England and swept away by this love story. While modern sensitivities made me raise my eyebrows in a few places, I still enjoyed the sweep of the story and characters that were wonderfully flawed, while still trying to do the right things. There were a few times where the characters did things that defied logic (I can’t imagine not insisting on more answers to questions about the sinister occurrences on the third floor of Thornfield Hall, for instance.), on the whole I really enjoyed rereading this novel.

Picture Books

This sweet, uplifting picture books celebrates all the way love is present in our communities, in our families, and in our friendships. Using the famous poem by Elizabeth Barrett Browning as the framework, this book updates the language a bit for young readers and complements the text with wonderfully inclusive illustrations. At the end of the book, there is a copy of the poem in its original text. With all of the ways our world seems to be filled with anger and animosity, it's nice that there are books like these to share with young readers that highlight the ways that we come together and appreciate each other. This would be a lovely Valentine gift for all readers. It also would be a good way to explore poetry with young readers.

This clever twist on the Shakespeare classic, Romeo and Juliet, tells the story of an unlikely relationship forged between two that have backgrounds that ought to make it impossible to get together. Romeosaurus is a herbivore and Juliet Rex is a carnivore. Young readers will enjoy finding out if these two can be friends without worrying about who's going to wind up as the main course. This would be a clever way to introduce Shakespeare's work to kids. It also could be a good mentor text for young writers trying to create their own fun twists on classic literature.

There are many snowy nights during this time of year when I'm snuggled up warm in my cozy bed and I can hear the town's snowplow going up and down the streets of our neighborhood clearing the road and laying down salt and sand. I've often thought how tough it must be to go out into the nasty weather at night and take care of that so that everyone can have a safe drive the next day. This lovely picture book celebrates the people that work hard to keep our roads safe using lyrical, rhyming text and gorgeous illustrations. This would be a terrific book to share with young readers in anticipation of a snow day. And it could also be a good mentor text for young writers trying to celebrate other community workers who make our lives so much easier.

I've dreamed of one day visiting Paris and the Shakespeare and Company Bookstore. This lovely picture book uses bouncy, rhyming text and colorful illustrations to share the love of books and reading that Sylvia Beach wished to share. The celebration of books and famous authors will definitely bring a smiles to the faces of booklovers, and the book does share the background of the store and the famous writers and artists that frequented it. I'm not sure if younger readers will appreciate the history of this famous bookstore, but they might enjoy the sentiment of enjoying good books.

Cat owners will smile with sheepish recognition when they read this charming picture book account of a glamourous cat who has it all. Glamourpuss lives in a home where she is the center of attention. This highly indulged pet has devoted servants seeing to her every whim, expensive gifts, her own room, her own place at the dinner table, and much more. Everything is going her way until one day a relative comes for a visit and brings Bluebelle.

Bluebelle, a precocious little dog, has costumes and a wide repertoire of tricks. Suddenly, everyone seems to be paying attention to this newcomer instead of Glamourpuss. Young readers will enjoy finding out if this pampered cat will be able to regain the spotlight.

This book is a fun, charming read that is well complemented by illustrations that were created with ink, watercolor, pastel, and collage. I loved the warmth and detail of David Small’s illustrations in The Gardener by Sarah Stewart, and I love the art in this book as well.

I also think this book has a nice message for young readers who often worry about being good enough. It can be discouraging when someone new comes along and seems to grab the attention away from us. It often leads to self-doubt and fears that we are not enough (smart enough, funny enough, pretty enough, etc.). The take-away for kids is that we are all enough and sharing the spotlight and helping each other doesn’t diminish us. Using the pampered pets as a way to share this message might inspire young writers to create their own narratives about a time when they were worried about being enough.

Bold, colorful illustrations and clever, car-related text work together to make a cute twist on a favorite fairy tale, Little Red Riding Hood. Young car enthusiasts will enjoy reading about Little Scooter's trip to take care of Grandma Putt Putt and his heroics when Tank tries to make a meal out of the both of them. It's always fun to have fractured fairy tales around and compare them to the original, and this version should definitely have a place in the collection.

Working with a friend to win a contest can be fun, but sometimes there are bumps along the way. This fun picture book tells the story of Monkey and Duck who enter a rhyming contest that has a grand prize of a three-day cruise. Monkey is sure they have what it takes to win, but he becomes frustrated when all Duck will ever say is "Quack". Young readers will giggle as Monkey comes up with all sorts of clever rhymes to which Duck says only one thing - "Quack". This would be a fun read aloud, especially as little kids will want to help rhyme along. It also has a surprise ending that will make everyone smile.

Mr. Panda wants to share his doughnuts with the other animals. But as he goes around offering them out, it seems that everyone has forgotten the magic word. With each animal that forgets to use good manners, he rescinds the offer. Young readers will probably guess right away why Mr. Panda changes his mind time after time. There's a cute twist at the end. This would be a good book to share with young children as a way to discuss ways to be polite.