Saturday, May 19, 2018

Celebrate Meeting Authors!


Ruth Ayres has a link-up on weekends where people link to posts that are celebrations about their week. I love this reminder to celebrate every week and I appreciate the community we have through this link-up.



This month I got to meet two authors - Aaron Reynolds and Maureen Goo. Both events were fabulous and had me laughing. It's so fun to hear about the writing lives of authors and learn more about the stories they share in their books. Families from our school also attended the Aaron Reynolds event so it was an extra joyful experience watching them interact with him. Their belly laughs were filling the room.

Looking at the pictures together now, it appears that I like stripes. ;)

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Review: Marching to Victory (Terell and Keke's Adventures Through Time)

Title: Marching to Victory (Terrell and Keke's Adventures Through Time)
Author: Kesha Rushing
Publisher: Kea Publishing (self-published)
Pages: 2085
Review copy: Digital Edition via author
Availability: For purchase online 


Summary: Eleven-year-old Terrell and his eight year-old sister, KeKe, are time-travelers. It’s the end of school year, their parents have been having financial troubles and they had to leave their friends in Chicago to spend the summer with their grandparents in small-town Tennessee. An entire summer with a sassy, annoying little sister following his every step?! This may be Terrell’s most boring summer ever. Or, will it? The woods behind his grandparents’ house are deep, dark and forbidden - the perfect place for an adventure. The pair discover a hidden cabin and a trunk full of books that will lead them on a whirlwind adventure through time. Their second stop? The march from Selma to Montgomery led by great leaders from the Civil Rights Movement, including Dr. Martin Luther King. On their journey, they will experience danger, fear and courage in their pursuit of equality. Terrell & KeKe’s Adventures Through Time is a spell-binding series that transports readers to world events from the past and future. Travel with this brother and sister as they learn more about history, and themselves, on their journeys around the globe.

Review: This is the second book of the series and was even more riveting than the first. Traveling the Underground Railroad was the beginning of the series and I reviewed it here.

Terrell and Keke are a brother and sister team who fuss at each other sometimes, but ultimately work well together. There are moments of humor, but this is not a lighthearted book. In this adventure, they end up in the midst of the preparations for the march from Selma to Montgomery. They experience some very tense and racist interactions with police and are in various other difficult situations. Terrell and Keke are seeing how racism is literally killing some people.

They also get to meet prominent people in the civil rights movement. John Lewis is there and tells them, "But young brother, where there's a will there's a way. Believe that. We can knock down all walls before us, no matter how big."

What I appreciate the most is that Terrell and Keke see these events and turn to trusted adults for answers. In this way, readers may see things that seem scary and horrible, but they also get some context and explanation. They learn about what the adults are doing and why. Michael, one of the trusted adults explains, "Until the value of our lives is just as important to everyone else as it is to us, we will always be seen as less than. To be honest, it sometimes gets very exhausting trying to make others see the beauty, brilliance, and resilience in us."

Recommendation: This is a great historical fiction series that digs into our past. It would be an excellent way to start some quality discussions about our history, our present, and the future of our country.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Review: A Seed is the Start

Title: A Seed is the Start
Author: Melissa Stewart
Publisher: National Geographic
Pages: 32
Availability: On shelves now
Review copy: Final copy via publisher

Summary:
Beautiful photography and lyrical text pair with comprehensive picture captions in award-winning author Melissa Stewart's story about the surprisingly diverse world of seeds. Learn all about the plant cycle, from how seeds grow, the fascinating ways they travel, and what it takes for a seed to become a plant.

Meet seeds that pop, hop, creep, and explode in this vividly illustrated introduction to the simplest concepts of botany. The story, which is perfect for elementary school Common Core learning, carefully highlights the many ways that seeds get from here to there, engaging children's curiosity with strong action verbs. Stunning photographs with fact-packed captions provide supporting details, explaining the role of seed features and functions in creating new generations of plants. Complete with an illustrated glossary and back matter featuring more resources, this book inspires wonder as it encourages budding botanists of all ages to look with new eyes at plants and their seeds.

Review: There is so much to love about this book from the text, to the pictures and to the way it is put together. The information presented is very interesting and kept my attention all the way through. I wasn't particularly interested in learning more about seeds when I began, but I quickly became curious to learn more.

The first page introduces vocabulary that will be used throughout the text. I appreciated this as glossaries are usually at the end and not all readers will flip back and forth when they need to know something. Front loading seemed to get around that issue. In addition, the pictures are so vibrant and bring everything up close.

The words themselves are helpful and intriguing, but they are also in a variety of sizes and are not always straight across the page. The text features make the words seem to sing. This doesn't detract from the information, but rather pulls the reader along as they learn about the many ways seeds move.
My favorite picture is the hamburger bean vine. As you might guess, the seed looks like a mini hamburger.

Recommendation: This is a fabulous look into the world of seeds that will have readers excited to learn. I look forward to using this with students and sharing it with our district garden coordinator. If you are looking for books to teach or explore the basics of seeds, this is one you will definitely want to purchase. If you are looking to expand your nonfiction collection in any way, this is also a great addition. It's everything a nonfiction picture book should be. Melissa Stewart is a master.

Monday, May 14, 2018

It's Monday! What are you reading?

 

It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. It's a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It's also a great chance to see what others are reading right now...you just might discover your next “must-read” book!

Kellee Moye, of Unleashing Readers, and Jen Vincent, of Teach Mentor Texts decided to give It's Monday! What Are You Reading? a kidlit focus. If you read and review books in children's literature - picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, anything in the world of kidlit - join us! We love this meme and think you will, too. We encourage everyone who participates to visit at least three of the other kidlit book bloggers that link up and leave comments for them.

If you want to know more about what I've been reading, visit my Goodreads shelf.

Last Week in Books:

I re-read Diary of a Tokyo Teen because we are trying to figure out what we want to do in Tokyo when we are there next month. It's a fun memoir of a Japanese American teen visiting her grandparents and exploring Tokyo.

A Good Time for the Truth: Race in Minnesota is an excellent collection of essays written by authors who are Indigenous or People of Color. Readers get to see race through the eyes of the authors. Living in WI, I see some of the same things in our community. It's a challenging read and is illuminating for this white reader. One of the essays was by Bao Phi and that's how I found the book.


I picked up my copy of The Way You Make Me Feel at Red Balloon Books in St. Paul. It was super cool to meet Maureen Goo. I enjoy her books so much. So far they have all been humorous contemporary fiction. Her book I Believe in a Thing Called Love is the one that got me hooked on Korean dramas.

Emergency Contact was another contemporary fiction with a bit of romance. I stayed up until 1:00 on a school night to finish it. This one, along with The Way You Make Me Feel, had a few reviews on Goodreads that were complaining about the lack of likability in the main character. I really enjoyed the protagonists in both though and appreciate the lack of perfect "niceness."

Every Falling Star: The True Story of How I Survived and Escaped North Korea was one a friend had just read recently and recommended. It was certainly interesting especially given the current political situation and the fact that I'll be in South Korea next month.

Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag is a much needed book that shares the history of the rainbow flag. It does share some information about Harvey Milk, but the main focus is the flag. I appreciate having a simple way to show this part of our country's history.

The Best We Could Do is a very touching graphic novel memoir that looks at family connections and especially how the past of our parents can shape us. This is Thi Bui's first published graphic novel and I really hope there will be more.

The Coming Week:
I have Meet Cute, Zora & Me: The Cursed Ground, and Amal Unbound on my shelf and hope to read all of them. Happy reading!

Reading Challenge Updates: 
Goodreads Challenge 2018 - 107/800
Diversity on the Shelf 2018 - 65/300
#MustReadin2018 - 12/30

Monday, May 7, 2018

It's Monday! What are you reading?

 

It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. It's a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It's also a great chance to see what others are reading right now...you just might discover your next “must-read” book!

Kellee Moye, of Unleashing Readers, and Jen Vincent, of Teach Mentor Texts decided to give It's Monday! What Are You Reading? a kidlit focus. If you read and review books in children's literature - picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, anything in the world of kidlit - join us! We love this meme and think you will, too. We encourage everyone who participates to visit at least three of the other kidlit book bloggers that link up and leave comments for them.

If you want to know more about what I've been reading, visit my Goodreads shelf.

Last Week on the Blog:

Last Week in Books:
Mary's Monster was intense and I loved the format. It was a novel with a lot of illustrations so it could be called a graphic novel, but it was not a comic at all. This was a book I will likely revisit. 

Life and I was a unique picture book about death. It would be great for sharing with children or even older readers to engage in discussions around death.

Key Hunters is a new series that happens in a library. Each book in the series will involve a different genre of literature. A librarian at my local library said she thinks it will be a good series to hand to readers who enjoy the Magic Tree House books. I agree.

Belinda the Unbeatable is a fun wordless graphic novel that focuses on friendship and not giving up.

Terrell and Keke's Adventures Through Time: Marching to Victory is one I will review later this week. It's the second book in a time travel series. This one takes place during the Selma to Montgomery march.

The Coming Week: I just started A Good Time for the Truth: Race in Minnesota. It includes an essay by Bao Phi and I had just read one of his books last week. So far it is excellent. I'm also reading the graphic novel The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui. It's also pretty wonderful. I will likely start reading The Way You Make Me Feel (since I'm going to see Maureen Goo this week) and Amal Unbound for a review on Rich in Color soon. I hope you have a great week!


Reading Challenge Updates: 
Goodreads Challenge 2018 - 101/800
Diversity on the Shelf 2018 - 60/300
#MustReadin2018 - 11/30

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Celebrate


Ruth Ayres has a link-up on weekends where people link to posts that are celebrations about their week. I love this reminder to celebrate every week and I appreciate the community we have through this link-up.

It's been about a month since I have posted a celebration, but celebrating was still happening. Each week I note a few celebrations almost every day in my notebook. I've been blogging less than usual though. Part of that is because of preparations for my trip next month.

My last post was about my upcoming trip to Korea and Japan. I've been investing a lot of time in learning Korean and reading the history of both countries. This is part of the fun - getting ready for a trip.

Today I'm celebrating the getting ready and the anticipation. One way I've been getting ready is having conversations with Japanese friends about where to go and what to do. We also had some friends over for dinner (I made Korean food) who have a child living in Korea. They told us about their trips there and some travel tips.

There is a small Korean Baptist church in our city. I attended there years ago when my youngest child was taking Korean lessons from one of the members. We would go to church and then stay for a meal and then lessons. It's a very welcoming church and this was an excellent reason to go back and visit. When we went before, I would sing the hymns in English (a few other members do that), but this time, I was able to sing some of the slow ones in Korean. Reading the Hangul (한글) is fun even though I most often don't know what I am saying. It means I can sing along though and read aloud. These are things I enjoy doing. I am happy to be back with such kind people who share food, fellowship and their knowledge.

On a scarier note, I branched out from Korean dramas and watched a movie. Eek! Train to Busan is quite a famous movie and so even though I don't usually watch thrillers or zombie movies, I gave it a try. I started watching it late at night and about half-way through had to stop because my hands were shaking and I was so tense I was uncomfortable. The next afternoon, my husband agreed to watch it so then I was able to make it through. Whew. If you like intense movies with zombies, I would recommend it.

Have a great week!
 

Monday, April 30, 2018

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

 

It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. It's a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It's also a great chance to see what others are reading right now...you just might discover your next “must-read” book!

Kellee Moye, of Unleashing Readers, and Jen Vincent, of Teach Mentor Texts decided to give It's Monday! What Are You Reading? a kidlit focus. If you read and review books in children's literature - picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, anything in the world of kidlit - join us! We love this meme and think you will, too. We encourage everyone who participates to visit at least three of the other kidlit book bloggers that link up and leave comments for them.

If you want to know more about what I've been reading, visit my Goodreads shelf.

Last Week on the Blog:

Last Week in Books:

Thousand Star Hotel is a book of poetry by the author of the picture book A Different Pond. In one of the poems, you can find reference to the times when Bao Phi and his father went fishing as he described in the picture book. Most of the poems are about his experiences growing up in Minnesota. His family came to Minnesota as a result of the war in Vietnam and there are some pretty raw revelations of the racism and hostility directed at Bao Phi and his family as he grew up in the cities. It's written with an adult audience in mind or maybe older teens. I was eager to read some of his adult work and am looking forward to hearing him in October at the CCBC Charlotte Zolotow Symposium in Madison. 

I am Life is one that I found out about from another IMWAYR blogger. It's one that could lead to great discussions about what life is and what meaning it has. As a side note, there is an illustration with a character who has many tattoos. I did a blog post about tattoos in children's books once and am always interested to find more of them.

Around the World in a Bathtub has interesting information about bathing in different places around the world. Milky Way is a sweet story of a child who loves the moon. It takes place in Ladakh, India and provides a glossary and some background information.

You Go First is a nice middle grade story of friendship and family issues. It takes place over a week and addresses some very common middle grade situations. It had tension, but it felt soothing too.

South Korea wasn't an extremely outstanding book, but it did give me the basics about the country and that's what I need. I'm super excited to be heading to both Korea and Japan in June, but I want to know a it more about both countries before getting there.

Hillbilly Elegy was certainly interesting. My family of origin is not geographically similar, but there were many things I could relate to. It's a bit of a controversial book and our book club had lively discussion around how he offered his story. We agreed that the personal stories (especially around Mamaw) were the strength and some of the social/political commentary wasn't as strong. 

The Coming Week: 
I'm reading Tokyo: A Biography in preparation for my trip. I will also be reading Mary's Monster for next month's book club. Happy reading to you! If I get it from ILL, I will also read Thi Bui's graphic novel memoir The Best We Could Do.

Reading Challenge Updates: 
Goodreads Challenge 2018 - 95/800
Diversity on the Shelf 2018 - 58/300
#MustReadin2018 - 11/30