It’s Monday! Been a busy few weeks!

IMWAYR 2015It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

It’s always fun to link up and share what I’m reading. You can join the fun by bopping over to Teach Mentor Texts written by Jen or Unleashing Readers by Kellee and see what so many others are reading. Go ahead.

It’s been a busy few weeks around these parts. Last weekend I had the opportunity to go to the Keene State College Children’s Literature Festival  and hear a number of authors/illustrators talk about their work. Sharon Creech, Matt Phelan, Tad Hills, Bruce Degen and Peter Brown all presented. For me, Matt and Tad were the most memorable and engaging. I love Matt’s artwork and his process, and listening to him talk about how he goes about putting a graphic novel together was fascinating. He also has an article about this in the current issue of The Horn Book if you want to see what I’m talking about. Tad Hills was just pure entertainment; funny, smart and totally humble. People were especially taken with the Halloween costumes that he has made for his kids over the years, check out his website to take a look at them. They are very impressive!

The day before that conference I attended Candlewick’s Librarian Preview for Spring 2016. Some really great things to look forward to coming from them next year.

A few that are worth putting on your radar:

crossingniagaraCrossing Niagara: The Death-Defying Tightrope Adventures of the Great Blondin
by Matt Tavares
Coming in April 2016

I’m a sucker for great picture book biographies, and this one has all the hallmarks. Lovely artwork, a little-known subject and a bit of suspense. Bring it on. I’m thinking if you liked The Man Who Walked Between the Towers, this one is going to be a winner for you.

raymienightingaleRaymie Nightingale
by Kate DiCamillo
Coming in April 2016

New middle-grade fiction from Kate? Bring it on! Hard to go wrong on this front. Because Of Winn-Dixie will always be one of my favorites.

hourofthebeesHour of the Bees
by Lindsay Eagar
Coming March 2016

This is the unknown of the bunch, the one that the people at Candlewick were really excited to present. It’s getting a lot of love from early readers. Middle-grade fiction, magical realism.

Here’s the description from Goodreads:

Things are only impossible if you stop to think about them. . . .

While her friends are spending their summers having pool parties and sleepovers, twelve-year-old Carolina — Carol — is spending hers in the middle of the New Mexico desert, helping her parents move the grandfather she’s never met into a home for people with dementia. At first, Carol avoids prickly Grandpa Serge. But as the summer wears on and the heat bears down, Carol finds herself drawn to him, fascinated by the crazy stories he tells her about a healing tree, a green-glass lake, and the bees that will bring back the rain and end a hundred years of drought. As the thin line between magic and reality starts to blur, Carol must decide for herself what is possible — and what it means to be true to her roots. Readers who dream that there’s something more out there will be enchanted by this captivating novel of family, renewal, and discovering the wonder of the world.

Look for an ARC if you can. Maybe at ALA midwinter?

Ok, on to things I have actually read in the past few weeks.

babayagasassistantBaba Yaga’s Assistant
by Marika McCoola
Candlewick 2015
Gr. 4-8

This graphic novels is getting lots of attention for lots of reasons. I picked it up because I love Baba Yaga stories, they are so quirky and so different from many of the folktales we share with kids. This one is fairly creepy, hews pretty close to some of the traditional elements of a Baba Yaga story, and yet offers up a fairly original tale. The artwork is really well-done, and kids are going to be drawn to this one, whether they are familiar with the original stories or not. Works on many levels.

by Katherine Applegate
Feiwel & Friends, 2015
Gr. 4 and up

Another story that is getting lots of love from many quarters. It is the story of young Jackson, whose family is on the brink of homelessness (again!) and they are selling their possessions in order to make rent money, but Jackson can see that this strategy might not be a long-term solution, and now that he’s older and wiser, he’s worrying more about what that all means for his future. Enter Crenshaw, a very large talking cat who was Jackson’s imaginary friend many years ago, coincidentally (or not so coincidentally) when the family was living out of their minivan for 14 weeks when he was about 5 years old. Crenshaw helps Jackson navigate his anxiety and his family. This is an incredibly moving story, really poignant and multi-layered. I can see it being a great book for a class or reading group, so much to talk about. I immediately shared it with our 4th and 5th grade teachers to float that possibility. I highly recommend this one for most elementary libraries. If you liked Applegate’s The One and Only Ivan, I think you’ll find a lot to love about this one.

by Melanie Crowder
Philomel, 2015
Gr. 7 and up

LOVED IT!  It’s a fictionalized biography, written  in verse about Clara Lemlich, who was very active in the early labor rights movement in NYC in the early 1900’s, especially for women. She worked in several sweatshops after fleeing Russia and the pogroms that were happening there, and quickly realized how poorly treated the women who worked in the sweatshops were and how they had no real voice to make changes. She loudly advocated unionizing, and was often beaten and ignored for her efforts. This book was just so affecting, and I really haven’t stopped thinking about it. Beautifully written, this one doesn’t feel like some of the novels in verse, which are really more just lines of prose broken up to look like poems. Each page reads like an individual poem, and many can be read out of the context of the story and stand alone wonderfully. I feel like I’m doing this one justice. Go read it! Give this author some love.

drownedcityDrowned City: Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans
by Don Brown
HMH Books, 2015
Gr. 4 and up

Beautiful. Haunting. Thoughtful. Don Brown really hit it out of the park with this graphic novel. The narrative begins with the building of the storm as it raged across the Gulf of Mexico, and then tells the tale of the city as it tried to cope during and after the storm. Brown incorporates some science into the tale, explaining how the storm grew, and why the aftermath was so bad with the broken levees, etc… There’s so much here in this slim novel, and so worth sharing right alongside the novels that describe the storm. I will say there are some really difficult images in parts of the book; floating bodies, people drowning, etc… so I would tend to recommend it for older elementary and middle school students. Very powerful.

Phew. It’s been a busy few weeks, and that feels good. All very book oriented. I like that.

Off to read what others have reading, have a great week!


6 thoughts on “It’s Monday! Been a busy few weeks!

  1. Lisa Maucione (@DrLMaucione) November 2, 2015 / 6:25 pm

    A new Kate DiCamillo book! That is exciting. I read Crenshaw last week. I liked it, but I wished it would have kept going. I wanted to know more about what happened with Jackson and his family and how Crenshaw played a role in Jackson’s life.


    • runawaylibrarian November 2, 2015 / 7:35 pm

      I had a similar feeling, I did want to know how the family was going to cope, but I also love the nebulous ending, lots of opportunity for conversation.


  2. Jane Whittingham November 2, 2015 / 6:25 pm

    I feel the same way – I have a real soft spot for picture book biographies, particularly those of lesser known individuals (especially when they’re a bit eccentric!). I’ll have to take a look at this one! Thanks for sharing!


  3. cheriee November 2, 2015 / 6:39 pm

    The Children’s Literature festival sounds like it was wonderful. I’m hoping to get to Crenshaw eventually. I think I will have to put it on my to read list for next year though.


    • runawaylibrarian November 2, 2015 / 7:30 pm

      The festival was really quite interesting, so much to take in from so many people. I can’t sing Crenshaw’s praises enough! So worth the time.


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