Monday, April 5, 2021

It's Monday! What are you reading? 4-5-21

  


It's Monday! What are you reading? Is a wonderful community of readers, teachers, and librarians. Hosted by Jen over at 
Teach Mentor Texts along with Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers, participants share their reading adventures from the past week along with their reading plans for the week ahead.

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 read and loved:
Turtle in Paradise: The Graphic Novel by Jennifer L. Holm and Savanna Ganucheau
Revisiting a beloved favorite children’s book in graphic novel form was an absolute joy. I loved getting to return to Key West with Turtle and the Diaper Gang. My only criticism is that the original novel is so beloved to me, that the quick nature of reading a graphic novel doesn't allow you to savor the story as much as you can when you read a prose novel. But, getting to actually visuals definitely gives the reading experience something new and different. There are benefits of both reading experiences.

Over the Shop by Jon Arno Lawson, illustrated by Qin Leng
This unexpectedly magical wordless picture book will require more than one read-through once you realize just how wonderful the story truly is at the very end. Don’t miss this one.


Currently reading with my ears:

Pride by Ibi Zoboi


Monday, March 29, 2021

It's Monday! What are you reading? 3-29-21

 

It's Monday! What are you reading? Is a wonderful community of readers, teachers, and librarians. Hosted by Jen over at Teach Mentor Texts along with Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers, participants share their reading adventures from the past week along with their reading plans for the week ahead.

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.

My tenure on the Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award committee is almost over and as much as I'm sad to see my time on this amazing committee end, I'm also looking forward to going back to reading whatever I want, whenver I want. 

Here are a few highlights from my most recent non-Walden reading.


I recently reviewed:
Milo Imagines the World by Matt de la Peña, illustrated by Christian Robinson


I recently read and loved:
Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Floyd Cooper
An important, little-known, and heartbreaking moment in our nation’s racist history that needs to be told and taught to our children. 

Wishes by Muron Thi Van, illustrated by Victo Ngai
A beautiful, important story about wishes, hope, and seeking refuge. Don’t miss the incredible author’s note at the end that tells of the author’s own experience as a refugee fleeing from Vietnam.


More Than Sunny by Shelley Johannes
The playful language of this book just oozes joy and coziness for each and every season (even the ones we don’t like). Some of my favorites:

Gray and goodbye-y
Winter and waity
Ready and sleddy


A Way With Wild Things by Larissa Theule, illustrated by Sara Palacios
Poppy prefers bugs to people and outdoor wild spaces to indoor crowded spaces. A lovely story to honor shy introverts.

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Milo Imagines the World by Matt de la Peña, illustrated by Christian Robinson

When people look down their noses at academics who study children’s literature because it isn’t literary or highbrow enough, books like Milo Imagines the World are the perfect example that children’s literature is literary, layered, complex, and worthy of study — while also being really beautiful and necessary storytelling for children to experience.

What Last Stop on Market Street does for bus rides, Milo Imagines the World does for subway rides. More specifically, in this story, Milo is on a long subway ride with his sister and he is very nervous about the destination in which he is going. To pass the time, he observes the people around him and draws stories that he imagines their lives to be. At the end of the book the reader discovers where he was going that made him so nervous and excited. While the story is certainly a social commentary, it is not didactic or preachy and it will certainly elicit great classroom discussion about assumptions and judgments we make about people.


Milo Imagines the World
by Matt de la Peña, illustrated by Christian Robinson
Published: February 2, 2021
Publisher: G.P. Putnam Sons
Pages: 40
Genre/Format: Picture Book
Audience: Primary/Middle Grade
Disclosure: Review 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, March 1, 2021

It's Monday! What are you reading? 3-1-21

 


It's Monday! What are you reading? Is a wonderful community of readers, teachers, and librarians. Hosted by Jen over at 
Teach Mentor Texts along with Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers, participants share their reading adventures from the past week along with their reading plans for the week ahead.

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.

Hey y'all. I'm still here. Walden Award reading has taken up so much of my free reading time that I don't have as much time to blog as I used to. This will be my final year on the Walden committee though (after a wonderful five year tenure) so hopefully that means I'll be able to do more blogging in the future. 

Here's what I've read and loved recently -- that I can talk about ;)
The Whole Hole Story by Vivian McInerny, illustrated by Ken Lamung
A fantastical, whimsical circle story that puts me in mind of the fun absurdity of Neil Gaiman’s Fortunately, the Milk.


The ABCs of Black History by Rio Cortez, illustrated by Lauren Semmer
This book is excellent and definitely a must-share with students. I love that this book is full of Black Joy and is not just about The Struggle.


You Don't Want a Dragon by Ame Dyckman, illustrated by Liz Climo
It's hard to make sequels even better and funnier than the original, but Ame Dyckman and Liz Climo have managed to do just that (the original is You Don't Want a Unicorn).


Art is Life: The Life of Artist Keith Haring by Tami Lewis Brown, illustrated by Keith Negley
There are very few things that can make me immediately be transported to the 90s (other than music), but the art of Keith Haring is one of those things. I love that there has been a spate of picture book biographies of him lately. It's so sad that he only lived to 31 because he was such a wonderful talent with such a beautiful heart. 


The Blue House by Phoebe Wahl
An emotional, affecting story about a father and son who rent an old, blue house that they absolutely love despite its flaws and eventually have to leave due to their gentrifying neighborhood.


Eyes That Kiss in the Corners by Joanna Ho, illustrated by Dung Ho
A beautiful and affirming story about family, identity, and pride in your heritage.


Currently Reading:

The Highly Sensitive Person by Elaine N. Aron


Thursday, January 14, 2021

Author Interview: Eden Royce

 Eden Royce is the author of the debut middle grade novel Root Magic

Publisher Description:

It’s 1963, and things are changing for Jezebel Turner. Her beloved grandmother has just passed away. The local police deputy won’t stop harassing her family. With school integration arriving in South Carolina, Jez and her twin brother, Jay, are about to begin the school year with a bunch of new kids. But the biggest change comes when Jez and Jay turn eleven—and their uncle, Doc, tells them he’s going train them in rootwork.

Jez and Jay have always been fascinated by the African American folk magic that has been the legacy of her family for generations—especially the curious potions and powders Doc and Gran would make for the people on their island. But Jez soon finds out that her family’s true power goes far beyond small charms and elixirs...and not a moment too soon. Because when evil both natural and supernatural comes to show itself in town, it’s going to take every bit of the magic she has inside her to see her through.


About the Author:

Eden Royce is from Charleston, South Carolina and is a member of the Gullah-Geechee nation. Her work
 has appeared in various print and online publications and she is the recipient of the Speculative Literature Foundation’s Diverse Worlds grant.

Her debut MG Southern Gothic own voices novel, Root Magic, is forthcoming from Walden Pond Press/HarperCollins.

She now lives in the Garden of England with her husband and cat. When she's not writing or reading, she's probably roller-skating, watching quiz shows, or perfecting her signature dish for Masterchef. Sometimes all at once.


Interview with Eden Royce

As I was reading Root Magic, the story felt so timeless that I felt like much of it (with a few exceptions that I won't spoil for readers) could have been set in the present time. What made you decide to set Root Magic in 1963? 

I’m glad to hear it felt timeless. I set Root Magic in 1963 because it was a time of upheaval in not only the South but in the United States. A difficult time where life for many was slowly starting to change. It saddens me that so much of what the Turner family endures in the book – racism, prosecution for spiritual beliefs, and much more – still occurs to this day. It seems we haven’t progressed in some facets of our existence as much as we may have thought.

In your author's note at the end of Root Magic, you mention that rootwork isn't a religion but a spiritual practice. How do you distinguish religion from spiritual practice and why do you think people confuse the two? 

Most rootworkers I knew growing up were Christians. They practiced root and went to a church of their chosen denomination. Rootwork grew from enslaved Africans brought to the Southern coast of the United States who were not allowed to practice their African traditional religions (ATRs) or use their traditional medicines. Miraculously, some of those people were able to hold onto pieces of those ATRs and have passed them down through generations, practicing alongside their chosen religion. Rootworkers I know now are beginning to explore and study ATRs in order to delve further into the historical connections we have with Western and West Central Africa. Who knows? Perhaps in the future, rootwork may be recognized as a religion in its own right.

When you were writing Root Magic and thinking about how readers would respond to it, what was your ultimate hope for it? 

I try not to think about how readers will respond when I’m writing. It’s hard enough planning and creating a story without having to take into consideration what the potential response might be. My ultimate hope was to write a book based on stories of my ancestors that no one in my family had ever had the chance to tell before. I also wanted younger Gullah-Geechee children to see themselves, their environment, their folklore, and their language in a book. That’s a powerful thing to experience and something I didn’t have when I was growing up.

It is often said that the characters authors create in their novels are an extension of themselves. How would you say that the characters in Root Magic are a part of you? 

The characters in Root Magic are based on my ancestors, my family, and their experiences. Therefore they’re a part of me. After reading the book, my mother said Jez is a lot like I was at that age. How can I argue with that?

Since my blog is about food, books, and travel, I always like to end author interviews with the question: what is your favorite food, your favorite book, and your favorite place you've ever traveled? 

I have many answers for these but I’ll only choose one for each.

Favorite food: popcorn

Favorite book: Some Love, Some Pain, Sometime by J. California Cooper

Favorite place I’ve traveled: Bermuda


Check out the rest of the blog tour:

January 5 Nerdy Book Club @nerdybookclub

January 6 We Need Diverse Books @diversebooks

January 7 Kimberly Rose @keideerose93

January 8 InkyGirl @inkyelbows

January 9 Seren Sensei @sensei_aishitemasu

January 10 Helping Kids Rise @HelpingKidsRise

January 11 Storymamas @storymamas

January 12 Bluestocking Thinking @bluestockingthinking

January 13 Teachers Who Read @teachers_read

January 14 A Foodie Bibliophile in Wanderlust @bethshaum

January 16 Kickbuttkidlit @KickButtKidLit

January 18 Moore Books w/B.Sharise @b.sharise

January 19 Writers' Rumpus @writersrumpus

 

Check out this excellent Educator's Guide with lots of history and background information. 

 

Monday, January 11, 2021

It's Monday! What are you reading 1-11-21



It's Monday! What are you reading? Is a wonderful community of readers, teachers, and librarians. Hosted by Jen over at 
Teach Mentor Texts along with Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers, participants share their reading adventures from the past week along with their reading plans for the week ahead.

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've recently read and loved:
A book filled with heart, humor, and girl power. This is definitely a series I will see through to the end.

As a person with anxiety, this book made me feel seen (while laughing about it).

Saving American Beach: The Biography of African American Environmentalist MaVynee Betsch by Heidi Tyline King, illustrated by Ekua Holmes

I love when picture books teach me something about history that I had no clue about. This book made me want to visit American Beach in Florida, which is now part of the National Park Service for being a beach that Black Americans could visit during the Jim Crow era.


Currently reading:

The Grace Year by Kim Liggett


Friday, January 1, 2021

One Little Word 2021

 I didn’t live up to my One Little Word for 2020*, which was BLOOM. I mean, all I did in 2020 was survive. Which is OK. We were living through a pandemic. There was no blooming happening here. When I thought about my word for 2020 last January, I thought about the famous Anaïs Nin quote that goes: “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

Well, it turns out this was a year to remain tight in that bud. To listen to my body, my mind, and my heart that told me there will be other times to blossom, that now is a time of safety and survival.
And so, my One Little Word for 2021 is: LISTEN.

*I will point out that my friend Jen Ansbach said the following after she read my assessment of not living up to my word for 2020:

I'm not sure it's fair to say you "didn't live up to" your word last year. That's a pretty harsh judgment of my friend, who had no idea there was a global pandemic headed this way. I would just point out that for some plants, like poinsettias, the foliage IS the bloom for us, and surviving means you didn't lose all your leaves and shrivel up, either. Maybe you just had to be a different flower than you thought you might be last December. Sending you love and light for the new year.