Thursday, July 2, 2015

This is Sadie by Sara O'Leary, illustrated by Julie Morstad

Sadie's wings can take her anywhere she wants to go. And they always bring her home again. The days are never long enough for Sadie. So many things to make and do and be.

Oh my heart.

This book is everything. This book is about as perfect as a book could possibly be. This book isn't just about Sadie. This book is about us all. We are all Sadie. Some of us just have to look harder to find her within ourselves than others. But she is there.

Gift this book to your daughters to show them they can do anything or be anyone they want to be. Gift this to your sons to show them it's OK to be "like a girl." Sadie is a role model to kids and adults alike. Let's not forget there's a Sadie in all of us.



This is Sadie by Sara O'Leary, illustrated by Julie Morstad
Published: May 12, 2015
Publisher: Tundra Books
Pages: 32
Format: Picture Book
Audience: Primary (EVERYONE!)
Disclosure: Library Copy

If you buy this book or any book through Amazon, it is my hope that you also regularly patronize independent bookstores, which are important centerpieces of thriving communities. While I am an Amazon Affiliate, that by no means implies that I only buy my books through their website. Please make sure you are still helping small, independent bookstores thrive in your community. To locate an independent bookstore near you, visit IndieBound

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Freedom to Read giveaway hop: The Paper Cowboy by Kristin Levine


For my portion of the blog hop I will be giving away:

The Paper Cowboy by Kristin Levine
Published: September 4, 2014
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 343
Genre: Historical Fiction
Audience: Middle Grade

Goodreads Summary:
Though he thinks of himself as a cowboy, Tommy is really a bully.  He's always playing cruel jokes on classmates or stealing from the store. But Tommy has a reason: life at home is tough. His abusive mother isn't well; in fact, she may be mentally ill, and his sister, Mary Lou, is in the hospital badly burned from doing a chore it was really Tommy's turn to do. To make amends, Tommy takes over Mary Lou's paper route. But the paper route also becomes the perfect way for Tommy to investigate his neighbors after stumbling across a copy of The Daily Worker, a communist newspaper.

Tommy is shocked to learn that one of his neighbors could be a communist, and soon fear of a communist in this tight-knit community takes hold of everyone when Tommy uses the paper to frame a storeowner, Mr. McKenzie. As Mr. McKenzie's business slowly falls apart and Mary Lou doesn't seem to get any better, Tommy's mother's abuse gets worse causing Tommy's bullying to spiral out of control.



Terms and conditions:
Must be 13 or older to enter and have a U.S. mailing address
One winner will be selected
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Lucy Knisley fangirling

I have gradually become obsessed with the writing and artwork of Lucy Knisley. It started back in 2009 when I read French Milk, a rough-around-the-edges travelogue of her 5-week trip to Paris with her mother at the end of 2006/beginning of 2007. Even though there was a messiness to her writing and artwork, that in a way enhanced the experience because it really emphasized the journal-writing quality of the narrative.

Then two years ago I read and reviewed Knisley's more traditional graphic memoir Relish and became an instant fangirl. So when I discovered that Knisley had recently published two new travelogues, I stopped what I was currently reading and picked up An Age of License and Displacement.

These two travelogues cover life's spectrum it seems. In An Age of License, Knisley writes with both the spirit of youthful exuberance and a brooding, restless heart. This narrative is meant to celebrate youth and the ability to just pick up and go at a moment's notice.

The French have a saying for the time when you're young and experimenting with your lives and careers. They call it: L' Age License. As in: License to experience, mess up, license to fail, license to do... whatever, before you're settled.

An Age of License is Knisley's time to be carefree and uninhibited. She doesn't have to think or worry about whether or not to get up and go -- even though she does. Whereas, Displacement is a much different narrative, which Knisley even explicitly acknowledges when she compares the two trips:


That trip [in An Age of License] was about independence, sex, youth, and adventure. This trip is about patience, care, mortality, respect, sympathy, and love.

On this trip, Knisely, accompanies her grandparents, who are failing in health and mental faculties, on a Caribbean cruise. It is a sensitive, earnest, fatalistic look at family and mortality, yet also done somehow with a lighthearted touch. There was so much about both of these books that really resonated with me. I love the reflective duality between the two narratives, which is clearly not lost on Knisley. As I see my own parents age and I wrestle with my familial relationships, Displacement really hit home for me, especially the very last line of the book:


Good or bad, it's important to feel connected sometimes. Even if that connection can be painful.

Overall, I love seeing how Knisley's career is evolving. Because most of her books are travelogues, they have a confessional quality to them, which makes them all the more provocative to read. There are moments of deep reflection, as noted in the snippets above, but then there are also really funny, lighthearted scenes, such as this adorable moment in An Age of License where Knisley is driving in France with a croissant hanging out of her mouth.
An Age of License by Lucy Knisley  
At first, this looks like a page for the reader to just breeze by. A full-page panel with minimal text to give the reader's eyes a break. But the more you stop and think about it, there really is a lot to say about what is happening in the narrative and in her life. In this one illustration Knisley is commenting on her own age of license. She's alone, she can pick up and go as she pleases, and is choosing to indulge in the things that will give her happiness and pleasure. Every time I read a book by Knisley, my wanderlust only intensifies. 





If you buy any of these books through Amazon, it is my hope that you also regularly patronize independent bookstores, which are important centerpieces of thriving communities. While I am an Amazon Affiliate, that by no means implies that I only buy my books through their website. Please make sure you are still helping small, independent bookstores thrive in your community. To locate an independent bookstore near you, visit IndieBound

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Moon is Going to Addy's House by Ida Pearle


As Addy's family drives home from a play date in the city, she notices the moon is following them home. As the car continues to drive away from the city and back to her home in the country, Addy observes, not just the moon, but the wondrous world around her:

The moon is following us
across the bridge as the sun sets.
Roll down the window and breathe deep.
I've caught it! 
But only for a moment. 

Poetry doesn't always have to come in words. Sometimes poetry speaks in pictures, movement, music, or all of these things at once. The Moon is Going to Addy's House is a beautiful example of how poetry can be created in the confluence of art forms. It is a book that feels both classic and modern, both back in time and of the time.  

The whimsical, dreamlike illustrations evoke a sense of moment and flow, which is an incredible talent given that the medium Ida Pearle uses here is cut-paper college, which, in my observation, can sometimes be flat and stagnant. And despite the family in this book appearing like a typical middle/upper class family, there are page spreads, and even the cover, that give the book an almost indigenous or tribal quality to it, making it beautifully provocative, while also being sensitive and delicate at the same time.
The Moon is Going to Addy's House
I could see this book getting some love during award season.


The Moon is Going to Addy's House by Ida Pearle
Expected publication: July 7, 2015
Publisher: Dial
Pages: 32
Format: Picture Book
Disclosure: Finished copy provided by publisher

If you buy this book or any book through Amazon, it is my hope that you also regularly patronize independent bookstores, which are important centerpieces of thriving communities. While I am an Amazon Affiliate, that by no means implies that I only buy my books through their website. Please make sure you are still helping small, independent bookstores thrive in your community. To locate an independent bookstore near you, visit IndieBound

Monday, June 29, 2015

It's Monday! What are you reading? 6-29-15

Originally hosted by Sheila at Book Journey, Jen over at Teach Mentor Texts along with Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers also host a kidlit version of It's Monday! What are You Reading?

My Monday posts are generally just a highlight of what I've been reading during the week so if you'd like to see all that I've been reading, follow my Goodreads page.


Last week I reviewed:
 
Drum Dream Girl by Margarita Engle, illustrated by Rafael  Lopez


I finished reading:


French Milk by Lucy Knisley
This was a re-read for me. I read it back in 2009, but wanted to read it again because I have been on a Lucy Knisley kick lately, wanting to read ALL THE BOOKS by her.

Dogs are People, Too by Dave Coverly 
Reminds me of a dog-centric version of The Far Side. Clever and funny. What more could you ask for?


I finished reading with my ears:

Things We Know by Heart by Jessi Kirby 
I don't really have much to say about this book. It was a sweet summer romance but I won't be remembering much about it a few weeks from now. 


Picture books I enjoyed last week:
 

I'm Trying to Love Spiders by Bethany Barton
Who says factual books can't be funny and full of voice? Certainly not Bethany Barton! This book helps arachnophobes come to grips with their fear through humor and logic.

Night Animals by Gianna Marino
Who knew that those nocturnal animals we're all scared of were scared of each other? 



Black Cat by Christopher Myers 
As much as I loved the illustrations, I am dying to type the text out and have it stand alone because Myers paints his words with such imagery and sensory detail. I definitely want to use this in my poetry writing unit. 

Space Boy and His Dog by Dian Curtis Regan, illustrated by Robert Neubecker 
This is a story about Niko and his dog, Tag, who go into outer space to look for Mrs. Jarabaldi's lost cat. But it is definitely NOT a story about Niko's sister, Posh.  


 Currently reading:

Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead
Jumped In by Patrick Flores-Scott


Currently reading with my ears:

Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan
This book is incredibly special. At one point I had to stop listening just to process all the things I was feeling from such profound, beautiful writing.


Last week on my teaching blog:
The promise of a blank notebook
Celebrate past, present, and future

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Drum Dream Girl by Margarita Engle, illustrated by Rafael Lopez

This is the story of Millo Castro Zaladarriaga, a young Cuban girl who wanted desperately to play the drums, but she lived in a time when only boys were allowed to play them. That didn't stop Millo from dreaming, and eventually she became the first girl to crash through that barrier, one day having the honor of playing with some American jazz greats, as well as for President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
 

Drum Dream Girl is a gorgeous poem that celebrates the power of a passion, which is paired beautifully with Rafael Lopez's vibrant, dreamlike illustrations. The magical realism of the illustrations evokes an emotional, empathic connection to the Cuban culture beyond the political narrative so many Americans are used to seeing and reading about. Drum Dream Girl is one of many Margarita Engle books that help to educate and remind us that Cuba is a country of people with hopes, dreams, and fears like we all are. This book, paired with Engle's upcoming memoir, Enchanted Air, has given me the itch to someday travel to this once verboten country.


Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl's Courage Changed Music by Margarita Engle, illustrated by Rafael Lopez
Published: March 13, 2015
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Pages: 48
Genre/Format: Picture Book Biography
Audience: Primary/Middle Grade
Disclosure: Library copy

If you buy this book or any book through Amazon, it is my hope that you also regularly patronize independent bookstores, which are important centerpieces of thriving communities. While I am an Amazon Affiliate, that by no means implies that I only buy my books through their website. Please make sure you are still helping small, independent bookstores thrive in your community. To locate an independent bookstore near you, visit IndieBound

Monday, June 22, 2015

It's Monday! What are you reading? 6-22-15

Originally hosted by Sheila at Book Journey, Jen over at Teach Mentor Texts along with Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers also host a kidlit version of It's Monday! What are You Reading?

My Monday posts are generally just a highlight of what I've been reading during the week so if you'd like to see all that I've been reading, follow my Goodreads page.

I am  coming off an amazing weekend! The Kids Read Comics convention was in Ann Arbor this weekend, and it was pretty sweet getting to hang out with the likes of Raina Telgemeier and Dave Roman, along with getting to see friends I don't get to hang out with that often. Check out the link above for a recap of the event.


Last week I reviewed:

Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman
The World on a Plate by Mina Holland 


I finished reading:


Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson 
Who would've guessed that a graphic novel about roller derby could get me so verklempt at the end? I wasn't expecting to feel ALL THE THINGS by the end of Roller Girl because Astrid was initially a difficult character to get behind. It wasn't until about 3/4 of the way through that she started to redeem herself. 

Displacement: A Travelogue by Lucy Knisley 
I haven't finished an entire book in one sitting in a very long time but I couldn't put this one down. A sensitive, earnest, fatalistic look at family and mortality, yet also done somehow with a lighthearted touch. 


I finished reading with my ears:

Glory Be by Augusta Scattergood
Given the events in McKinney, Texas, the subject-matter of this book compelled me to bring it to the top of my TBR pile. While I did wish that the story went deeper into the controversy of the town's pool closing, I also understand that Glory Be is told through the eyes of a young girl, and it was likely the right amount of depth for the age it was written for.  


Interestingly enough, I only finished two picture books this week, and they both had the same title:

Pig and Pug by Laura Marchesani & Zenaides M. Medina, illustrated by Jarvis
Pig and Pug by  Lynne Berry, illustrated by Gemma Correll


Currently reading:

Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead
Dogs are People, Too by Dave Coverly 


Currently reading with my ears:

Things We Know by Heart by Jessi Kirby 


Last week on my teaching blog I posted: 
Ladies who lunch 
The complexities of the human condition 
Celebrate going rogue