Saturday, November 14, 2015

Some of My Recent Favorites

My last few posts are all about what the students are liking.  Here is a list of books that I have recently enjoyed.


I Yam a Donkey! by Cece Bell uses humor aplenty to show how confusing good grammar can be and how unimportant it is if you are about to be eaten.  As soon as someone is ready for the humor (maybe the middle of first grade) this book will be a winner.  Adults will get things that the younger set does not, but that is what makes it possible for adults to read the same book over and over.

Steve, Raised by Wolves by Jared Chapman reassures that no matter how hard a student's first day of school may seem it probably won't be worse than the first day of school for a boy raised by wolves.  It has the good moral of remembering to "Just be yourself" and lots of humor.  Grades 1-4 will get a chuckle out of this one.

Wolfie the Bunny by Ame Dyckman is a joy to read to groups of children, most of whom go back to read it again and again by themselves.  It addresses the pressing question of what might happen if a family of bunnies were to adopt a baby wolf.  I have read to first grade up to fifth grade and it has gotten the same positive reactions from all of them.

Take Away the A - An Alphabeast of a Book by Michael Escoffier is a great start to word play.  It illustrates that a word can change by removing just one letter.  I predict many writing projects will be inspired by this book for grades 2 and up.

Toys Meet Snow by Emily Jenkins is lovely, sweet story on its own and good introduction to the chapter books about the toys (Toys Go Out and others).  The picture book is aimed at grades preK to 2 and the chapter books are for grades 2-5.

Alphabet School by Stephen Johnson finds the letters of the alphabet in things found in a school.  There is something about this concept that fascinates me.  I see anyone from kindergarten to retirement enjoying this beautifully illustrated book.

Lucy and Lenny by Phillip Stead, Illustrated by Erin Stead charmed me with the perfect fit of the illustrations to the story of a boy getting settled in a new home.  What is not to love about guardians made from pillows and blankets?  Don't forget that the Steads live right here in Ann Arbor which makes them almost like family.  This perfect for grades K-3.


Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate is a gentle story about the tough subject of homelessness that includes a caring family and an imaginary friend in the form of a giant cat.  It is great for grades 4-6.

Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley is a perfectly strange story of a magic (or is it imaginary) circus that can change lives if only one believes.  Readers in grades 4-7 should get drawn into this unusual tale.

The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place by Julie Berry is a little bit  of many familiar old-fashioned stories and whole lot of originality.  It tells of girls in a small boarding school with a very Victorian feel who are suddenly faced with what to do when their head mistress dies suddenly at dinner.  They decide to pretend that all is normal as the humor and the adventures spiral out of their control.  Middle school is the perfect audience for this book.

George by Alex Gino has gotten a lot of talk this year as the first book for grades 4-7 to openly deal with transgender issues.  It is well written and written in a way that will not make students uncomfortable and will add understanding.

Anyone But Ivy Pocket by Caleb Krisp  is a mystery with a great sense of humor.  Grades 4-7 will laugh along with the confusion a well-meaning young girl creates around her.

Kung Pow Chicken--Bok! Bok! Boom by Cyndi Marko is part of a series about a young chicken who is a superhero that has students in grades 1-3 laughing and asking for more.

Fuzzy Mud by Louis Sachar uses what first appears to be a normal school conflict story to talk about environmental threats.  I would suggest it for grades 4-7.

The Odin Inheritance by Victoria L. Scott.  Yes, Emerson's own Victoria Scott has written a powerful, well-researched Steampunk adventure that does not stay on our library shelves.  It features strong, interesting characters, plot twists, and some good humor.  None of this surprises anyone who knows Victoria.  Her book is aimed at middle school and high school students and will be enjoyed by adults as well.


A Nest is Noisy by Dianna Hutts Aston, illustrated by Sylvia Long  is the newest by this author/illustrator duo that makes nature into a work of visual and poetic art.  There is plenty of information about nests and all the creatures that build nests here, but what readers grades 2 and up will remember is the beauty that is depicted here.

I Am Lucille Ball (And others in this I Am...Series) by Brad Meltzer is a picture book biography that will appeal to young readers (Grades K-3) who like plenty of illustrations and careful touches of humor while learning about the childhoods of famous people.


Written and Drawn by Henrietta by Lineirs comes to us from a cartoonist who is well-known in Brazil.  The story is simply a girl drawing pictures and forming a story and monsters.  The pictures change from appearing to be the art of the little girl to the most sophisticated art of an artist.  I think it is for everyone, but I suppose it is aimed at grades K-3.

Lumberjanes, Volume 1--Beware the Kitten Holy by Noelle Stevens and Grace Ellis, illustrated by Brooke Allen is a graphic story of girls at camp and facing strange occurrences that has a clear, strong, and often funny feminists bent.  Grades 5 and up will enjoy this one.


The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elizabeth Tova Bailey is part memoir and part a natural science of snail life.  When Bailey was forced by illness to spend an extended period of time in bed with little or no movement, a friend brings her a snail that she watches for hours on end.  The snail, like this book, is calming and reassuring.

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates is a must read for anyone who cares about racial issues in this country.  It is beautifully written as a letter from a father to his son on surviving as an African American in the world today.  The message to all people is angry yet calming, sad yet hopeful, cautious yet urgent.  Everyone will find something worthy of  pondering and discussing.

Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth is a change from what I usually read and I enjoyed the break.  This lengthy novel offers a peak into court life at Versailles with the Sun King along with a re-imagining of the tale of Rapunzel.

Being Mortal : Medicine and What Matters in The End by Atul Gawande made me think about what is truly important in life and how to help myself and others find the time to let it end.  That might sound depressing but this book is actually very uplifting.  I recommend it if you have aging parents or are thinking about your own aging.  It will make you feel better about your ability to deal what may seem like insurmountable issues.  If you want a graphic memoir to complement this, especially when dealing with parents, consider reading Roz Chast's Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant? : A Memoir.

The Summer Book by Tove Jansson  is by a beloved children's book author but here looks at the relationship of a grandmother and grandchild as they spend a summer together on an island that they have visited for years.  The beautiful writing evokes a sense of place and an appreciation of nature.  It is worth owning so you can reread it to savor every word.

The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan takes place in the middle of the Atlantic ocean in a lifeboat in 1914.  The boat is overcrowded and everyone is worried about surviving as the chances of being rescued become more and more remote.  The end finds one of the women who did survived on trial for murdering others so that she might survive.

Happy reading!

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