Monday, June 24, 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.

It's the first official week of summer and I'm so happy. We finally have a little bit of a break from the rainy weather just in time for the Powell Festival, which is our community's time to get out and enjoy fun food, friends, and music. We also get to enjoy a fireworks show, which is fun to see before all of the Fourth of July festivities get going. Hopefully you're getting the chance to get outside and enjoy nice weather and fun. Here's what I've been reading this past week:

Middle Grade Fiction

I had the opportunity to read a NetGalley digital ARC of this middle grade novel in exchange for a review. This summer camp story shares the ups and downs of a group of four eleven-year-old girls from four very different backgrounds as they build relationships in their shared cabin at Blueberry Pine Camp in Michigan.

Lauren is an orphan from Arizona who has spent most of her life in and out of different foster homes. She won a scholarship to the camp through an essay contest. Isla, from New York City, has never spent much time in the great outdoors and so is very uptight and nervous with many of the camp activities. Archer, from suburban Chicago, feels like she lives in the shadow of her older sister, Makayla, who has spent several previous summers at the camp and is very popular there. Jade is very unhappy and reluctant to be there since her best friend recently died in a car crash and would have been at camp with her.

The girls become friends pretty quickly and the book takes readers through their summer camp experience. Readers will get to experience the beginning of building community with others, the drama of sibling rivalry, overcoming fears, learning to trust others, and budding romance. This book would be good to share with readers in late elementary school/early middle school, grades 5 – 6. The kids in this story are starting to enter adolescence: becoming more independent, experimenting with personal style, and establishing boundaries. But the experiences shared in this story are very appropriate for those that aren’t quite grown-up yet: the kids still defer to authority figures around them, they still enjoy the fun and games of youth, and the romance is limited to phone calls and a few kisses.

Picture Books

This sweet picture book celebrates the awesome relationships brothers and sisters can have and the joy of creativity. Will is a rambunctious little boy who has a wild imagination during his playtime. While Will is fighting aliens, his younger sister sits under her treehouse with her art supplies drawing his adventure. When Will climbs up into her treehouse, he discovers that she has been rendering all of his exciting times in fantastic artwork which she hangs on the walls. They have a terrific time sharing those memories together as they look at the pictures. This fun book could be a great way to inspire kids to partner up with someone else to collaborate on their own adventure stories and illustrations.

With bouncy, rhyming text and wonderful illustrations that incorporate knit sweaters into the artwork, this awesome picture book will encourage young readers to consider the expectations they have for their friends based on the way they dress. More specifically, this book addresses gender stereotypes as Ogilvy, who is new to the neighborhood, meets friends at the park who play at separate activities based on their clothing. The bunnies who are wearing sweaters make art and climb rocks, while the bunnies who wear dresses play ball and knit socks. Ogilvy likes all of the activities and so on days Ogilvy wants to play ball or knit, Ogilvy's outfit is a dress. And on days Ogilvy wants to make art or climb rocks, the outfit is a dress. This becomes a problem when the other bunnies insist that Ogilvy choose one or the other. This could generate some great discussions about how friends treat each other in community and how tolerance and inclusiveness are the keys to building great relationships.

This whimsical fantasy picture book will enchant young readers as two newly-made paper mice explore a house during the night. While everyone is sleeping, Della and Ralph come to life and start looking through the rooms and trying different things separately. When Ralph runs into a bit of trouble, Della helps him out and the two become terrific friends. The story is told from the point of view of the two little paper mice, and so it would be fun to discuss the way ordinary household objects are so much bigger and different to these two creatures. It also might be neat to have young writers continue the story - what will the mice do the next night?

Rollicking, rhyming text with humorous illustrations come together to make a fun picture book that is sure to get plenty of giggles from young readers. Pig, the naughty Pug from the Pig the Pug series, loves rolling around in stinky messes. And he absolutely hates to have a bath (dog owners will be able to relate to this). As the dog makes and even bigger mess trying to avoid the tub, it might be fun to stop and have young readers make predictions. It might even inspire young writers to create their own messy pet stories.

Readers that enjoy looking up at the sky and finding shapes in the clouds will enjoy reading this lovely picture book. Gorgeous artwork helps tell the story of a young cloud with an independent, artistic spirit who loves to make intricate shapes instead of weather. She gets a lot of grief from Thor, who insists that clouds are for making shade, rain, and snow and NOT shapes. But when she gets tons of encouragement from the folks on the ground, the other clouds start making shapes, too. This might be a fun way to encourage creativity in young readers. It might be fun to make cloud shapes as an art project or write another story from the point of view of something in nature.

This sweet picture book tells the story of the Sun and the Moon, who are sisters, and how they learned to appreciate each other instead of competing all the time. The story opens with the two sisters discussing which of them is the most loved and most important to the people on Earth. They decide to try each other's jobs to find out. The Sun stayed up into the night, and obviously everyone down below complained because the sunlight made it too bright to sleep and too hot and uncomfortable. When the Moon came back, everyone was glad to get some rest. But when the Moon stayed up into the daytime, everyone was cold and wanted the daylight again. This could start a great discussion with young readers about how everyone has gifts and talents that make the world a better place. And rather than envy someone for their gifts and talents, we should appreciate and use our own. There is an abundance of love and appreciation for everyone, and when we live in community with others we need to remember that.

As a little sister myself, I totally understand what it's like to have to wait your turn in order to be big enough or old enough to do the things your older sister gets to do. Told from the point of view of the little sister, this sweet picture book shares a mix of the annoyances and the benefits of being younger. Negatives include always catching up, hand me down clothes, and earlier bedtime. Positives include getting to listen to your older sister's good stories, help when you're afraid of the dark, and someone to look out for you. This is a book that lots of young readers will be able to appreciate, even if they don't have siblings. It might be fun for young writers to consider rewriting the store from the point of view of the older sister.