Hey! It’s another Monday, that means I get to share what I’ve been reading the past week. Thanks to Jen over at Teach Mentor Texts for hosting this weekly gathering of readers sharing what they love most, books. Head on over there and check out what everyone else is reading, I always get some good ideas.
This somewhat fictionalized biography describes the difficult, painful life of Joseph Merrick, also known as The Elephant Man, famously portrayed in movies and on stage. Merrick suffered from a rare and unknown condition that caused bony growths, abnormal skin development and all sorts of other problems that made it hard for Merrick to function, to work, to live any kind of normal life. This title effectively and poignantly details his life, from his childhood with a stepmother that would not abide his presence in the house to his eventual participation in a sideshow and eventually, his happiest years living in a hospital, where he was treated with some dignity. Written for children, the author does a great job of balancing the unimaginable cruelty and hardship that he faced with some of the people that he eventually encountered who offered him friendship and dignity. The artwork is unusual and interesting, a collaged mix of photographs, line drawings, and washes of color that have a smattering of Edward Gorey, Lauren Child and something completely unique. An excellent accompaniment to the wholly original story that is a mix of fact and fiction, despair and happiness, mundane and exciting. Young readers will be inspired to search out more about Merrick’s life.
I just recently added this one to our school library since we are planning on hosting Loree Burns at our school this fall and I wanted to be sure we had all of her books on hand. I read Beetle Busters (part of the excellent Scientists in the Field series) last summer and loved it. I was particularly intrigued by that one since it deals with the Asian Longhorn Beetle infestation in central Massachusetts, which is my home. We’ve shared Tracking Trash with our students and teachers for years at our school, a fascinating read about the flotsam that travels the ocean and the damage it is doing. Citizen Scientists is a really fun, interesting read offering specific ways that young people who are interested in science can get involved and do something right from their own neighborhoods, even their backyards. Each season offers an opportunity to get out, do some exploration and help collect information for larger projects. For fall, kids can monitor and tag Monarch butterflies before they get ready for their migration south. Detailed instructions about how to identify, capture and tag the butterflies before releasing them safely back into the environment are provided, along with a brief description of what it is like for one young enthusiast to participate in this sort of activity. Winter is for birding; learning to identify various species, both by call and appearance, marking down numbers on specific days and in specific places that help organizations track numbers throughout the country and the world. This one is a great group activity. Spring finds youngsters able to count frogs in their areas. By learning to identify frogs by their calls and going out at night to listen for, and count what they hear, students can help conservationists all over the country. And finally, summer is great for counting ladybugs. There are about 70 different species of ladybug in North America, mostly identifiable by their differing colors and spot numbers and patterns. A great activity for even some of the youngest children. Plenty of information, websites and further are provided, making this an excellent resource both for schools and at home. I can’t wait to share it with our science teachers and put it on our summer recommended lists.
I’m a little late to the party on this one. I’m sure everyone here has read it already, or at least read about it, so I won’t say too much other than I enjoyed it as much as the rest of the world, found it to be both compelling and enriching. Novels in verse have a very specific audience in library, I think some students have a hard time finding the narrative in them, and thus label them “boring”. Others, definitely like the brevity, the language, etc… and seek them out. Anyway, I’m glad to have read it, and I’m looking forward to sharing it with a wider audience.
Brilliant. Intriguing. Suspenseful. This tightly written novel spans only an hour, but feels like a lifetime. A teenager locks a school full of students in an auditorium at the end of an assembly and begins shooting. Told from the perspectives of four different students, all with a connection to the shooter, each providing pieces of the current drama unfolding, as well as the backstory that leads to the tragedy that will be. It is at once heartbreaking, and all too realistic. Loyalty, love, fear, prejudice, and abuse all play a part in this wild ride of a story.
Those are the finished titles. I’m currently working on a few more. Reading an E-ARC of Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow and loving that one, but I don’t want to write about it until I’ve finished it.