Monday, January 28, 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.

Brrrrr!!!!! With the sudden appearance of true winter with all of the subzero temperatures and daily accumulations of snow, I don't know where I'd be without my books, blankets, hot tea, and warm fireplace! I missed my blogpost last week because we were too busy shoveling snow and trying to stay warm! So here's what I've been reading the past couple of weeks:

Adult/YA Fiction

This scary story is about a teenager that buys a 1958 Plymouth Fury that’s old and broken down. He fixes it all up, but along the way he becomes obsessed with the car and the car seems to possess him. And then the car starts taking revenge on the people that are keeping the boy from being with her all the time. Even though it’s not the type of book I normally read, I really enjoyed it. I found a copy that my husband bought when he was a teenager. The story is set in 1978, so I find that all of the cultural references (especially music) strike a nostalgic chord that’s fun. I even made a Spotify playlist of all of the songs mentioned (there’s a lot) so I can enjoy the music later on. When I was done I watched the movie on Netflix, which was all right, but not nearly as good as the book!

This play, written in 1962, is an award winning drama that is a portrait of the dysfunctional marriage between two codependents. The play is written in three acts and takes place in the home of a college professor and his wife. They have returned home after a faculty party and have invited a younger couple from the party over for drinks. The play shows Martha and George verbally abuse each other while making their guests extremely uncomfortable. Through the course of the evening, shocking truths are revealed and nobody is happy in the end. The play provided bold social commentary on family life in the mid-twentieth century and blurred the lines between reality and delusion. I think modern audiences and readers might be able to look at this piece as a cautionary tale about what happens when relationships become broken because mutual love and respect haven’t been nurtured.

Picture Books

This fun picture book has a terrific message for young readers; that it's important to follow your dreams even if those dreams are different from the dreams of those around you. Everyone is unique and has their own special talents and gifts. Youngsters should be encouraged to pursue the things that make them happy. Penguin loves to fly and has gone away to flight school. When he comes home for a visit, all of his friends have no interest in learning to fly because they love to swim. But even though they have different dreams, they are still proud of him.

This fun picture books celebrates friendship with the story of Percy the pug and Petunia the pig. These two do just about everything together, but occasionally they do things separately. When Petunia wins a blue ribbon in a pig contest, it seems that she's too swept up in all the congratulatory excitement to do things with Percy any more. Percy becomes inspired by a comic book to tie a cape around his neck and become Thunder Pug. But even with his new superhero activities, he misses his friend. Young readers will enjoy finding out how these two buddies find their way back together. This could be a good mentor text for young writers that want to share their own friendship stories.

This upbeat cheery book would be a terrific read aloud to share with young readers. With brightly colored illustrations and fun rhyming text, this book tells about a young chick that is tired of the boring dreary mood in the barn and is determined to build a cheering squad that will make things a little more exciting. I love how the little chick doesn't let the others get her down, but does her best to see the bright side of life.

Eric Carle's famous collage illustrations have been brought together in a new way to celebrate everyone's need for belonging and relationship. Just in time for Valentine's Day, this lovely picture book helps young readers remember that their friendship should include everyone, including those who may appear not to need it or appreciate it. But it may be a good idea to point out to children that while everyone needs friendship and relationship, sometimes not everyone is comfortable with affectionate touch. One should always ask permission before trying to hug and kiss people.

This sweet picture book would be a nice one to share with a young reader you love, maybe as a bedtime story or a Valentine gift. With lyrical rhyming text and lovely digital illustrations, the book celebrates the abundance of love. It might be fun to talk about the phrase "till the cows come home" and see how the author uses that to inspire all of the others in the book. This could inspire young writers to come up with their own ways to express their own love for others.

This sweet Valentine's picture book will encourage young readers to spread joy and love with their own little cards. Little Mirabel is very shy, but she works very hard to craft Valentine's cards for her classmates. But on the way to school, a hole in her bag scatters the little heart-shaped notes all along her route. As her neighbors find the cards, they are uplifted by her messages. Of course, once they realize what happened they give the cards back. But there's a nice lesson that our kind words and loving gestures often touch more people than we realize. This would be a great way to inspire young children to make their own loving Valentine messages (rather than buying impersonal cards at the grocery store).

I really like that this cute picture book helps young readers understand how friends can help each other and what good collaboration in writing looks like. More and more kids are being taught that each person has strengths and talents that are unique and that when we share those, the relationship and the writing become richer because of that cooperation. The digital illustrations are simple and kid-friendly, making this a good book to use as a mentor text for young writers that need help learning how work together with peers.

Losing a pet is very painful, and many children know that pain. It's never easy, but this picture book uses simple text and illustrations to show how good friends can help each other through their grief. Margot is sad because of the death of her pet turtle, Tim. Each of her friends has a way of helping her honor her pet and honor the sadness that she feels. By playing a French horn, bringing a box in which to place the turtle, laying flowers on top of the deceased pet, and finally helping to send Tim on his way they all help Margot say "goodbye". This would be a nice book to have on the shelf to help during these sad times for kids.

This book is a beautiful celebration of the creative spirit that is alive in all of us. Not everyone has the same talent, but everyone has something to say and something to create in some way. This book uses lyrical language and stunning art using found materials to show that you can create with whatever you have around and inside you.

Learning how to be honest and take responsibility for one's actions is an important lesson for children. This cute picture book uses lively, rhyming text and humorous illustrations to tell about the unkind way that he treats the other family dog, Trevor. Pig engages in a number of naughty acts - making messes, ripping clothing, stealing food - and then makes sure that Trevor gets blamed for all of them. When Pig finally suffers a consequence for his actions, he decides that maybe it would be better to behave himself. This book might be a good way to start a discussion with young children about why it's important to be honest and how to be a better friend to those around us.

Energetic children who want to stretch the day as long as possible and avoid going to bed will definitely be able to relate to this cute picture book and may even be inspired to try some of Max's tricks themselves. Fun text presented as a spectacular magic show along with bright, humorous illustrations tell the story of a precocious little boy who uses every stall tactic possible in order to stay up just a little bit longer. This would be fun to share with kids at bedtime. It could also be a good mentor text for young writers who may want to share other ways to avoid things they don't like.