Monday, August 29, 2016

A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel

My husband recently started working at a two-year college. While we toured the campus, there was a display outside the library advertising a class called The Graphic Novel as a Literary Form. I really want to take that class! But since, I can't do that, I did the next best thing. I got a library card (one of the perks of being a spouse of faculty member) and checked out the book that I absolutely had to read.

One of my favorite YA books of all time is A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle. I haven't read very many graphic novels, and I think a book you're familiar with turned into a graphic novel is a great way to start. I already knew the story backwards and forwards (and could probably quote much of it). It was very interesting to see how the artist (Hope Larson) portrayed some non-dialogue portions of the book. The first scene in Camazotz was my favorite:

As I read the book my four-year-old sat next to me and wanted to know what was happening and what all the characters were saying. So though this book is listed for Middle Grade Readers, younger readers could certainly enjoy it too. Check out this awesome book trailer. And then check out the book. Or go buy it. It's going on my wishlist.


A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel
By Madeleine L'Engle
Illustrations by Hope Larson
Publisher: Square Fish
Year: 2015
Ages/Themes: Middle Grade, Fantasy, Graphic Novel, Classics, Books Everyone Should Read, Newbery Books

Friday, August 19, 2016

Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo

In less than a month my husband accepted a job across the country, we prepped and staged our house, sold our house, packed all our belongings, drove from Florida to Idaho with three kids in a small car, and lived slightly homeless for a week. We've been living out of suitcases, and we finally got all of us stuff two days ago. So now I sit among boxes and stuff unpacked from boxes that I'm not sure where it should go. I've had very little time for reading and zero time for blogging.

But amidst it all, I managed to read Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo. I saw it on the Indie Bound Summer 2016 List and knew I had to read it. It's by one of my favorite authors and it's set in Florida. I was trying to focus on going local in my reading. (Anyone know of any good books set in Idaho?) Though I lived there less than four years, Florida is such a unique place that you can't help but be changed by it and I loved reading a book with those familiar elements. It had a touch of the Southern Gothic about it.

Raymie is a great character and this book is my new favorite DiCamillo book (which is hard to do because I really love her books). It's a sweet and funny coming-of-age story. Though so many of her books have had at least a touch of fantasy, DiCamillo is apparently also really good at understanding children and how they think (much like Beverly Cleary). I would have loved this book when I was younger, I loved it as an adult, and I recommend it to anyone middle grade or up.


Raymie Nightingale
By Kate DiCamillo
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Year: 2016
Ages/Themes: Middle Grade Books, Coming-of-Age

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Where the Wind Leads by Vinh Chung

Let me start by saying that this book is written for adults. It is not intended for a YA audience. This book is the story of Vietnam refugees and talks about a lot of difficult things. War, killings, beheadings, rape, miscarriage, dehydration, starvation. But none of it gratuitous or graphic. It's up to you if you think your older teen is mature enough to read a book with these elements in them. Even so, I highly recommend this book to anyone with the maturity to handle it.

Where the Wind Leads is the story of a family of refugees who escaped from Vietnam in 1979. The story of what they overcame before, during, and after that time is incredible, heartbreaking, and inspiring.

This book is important in that it can help you understand another human experience and make you profoundly grateful for what you've been blessed with. This book is also timely because though the details are different, the issue of refugees is very much relevant today. This would be a good book to read and discuss with your older teen, or to just read on your own if your children are still too young.


Where the Wind Leads
By Vinh Chung with Tim Downs
Publisher: W Publishing Group
Year: 2014
Ages/Themes: Young Adult Books, Diverse Books, Refugees

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

I Really Like Slop! by Mo Willems

Yes, another Elephant & Piggie book. Why? Because they're always funny and kids love them. I Really Like Slop! by Mo Willems is another good one. My kids are really into gross things right now, so this book is perfect for them. Laughing and saying "ewww!" just seem to go together these days.

Mo Willems has a quirky video about how to make Piggie's slop:

Warning! Spoilers Alert:
As a parent, my favorite part of this book is that Gerald tries Piggie's slop even though he doesn't want to. And though he doesn't like it, he's glad he tried it for Piggie's sake. There may be a dinnertime manners lesson somewhere behind the smelly of stinky shoes here.


I Really Like Slop!
By Mo Willems
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Year: 2015
Ages/Themes: Picture Books, Young Children, Mo Willems, Elephant & Piggie

Friday, July 15, 2016

Indie Bound's Summer 2016 List

As I've mentioned before, Indie Bound is one of my go-to places for book recommendations. They have a new list of adult books every month, and a seasonal list of children and YA recommendations. Here are a few books from their Summer 2016 Kids' Indie Next List that I've put on hold at my library:

Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo. I would read anything by Kate DiCamillo. I honestly can't choose a favorite. My kids love reading her Mercy Watson series and I love The Tale of Despereaux, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, and The Magician's Elephant, among others. You can count on memorable characters, fun stories, beautiful illustrations, and often lovely tales when you read Kate DiCamillo. I'm even more excited to read this book because it is set in Florida, where I live right now. I've been wanting to read more books set here. 

Reviews of Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk have compared it to one of my favorite books of all time, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Though that's a tall order to fill, it intrigues me enough to check it out.

Towers Falling by Jewell Parker Rhodes is a middle grade novel that tackles the difficult topic of 9/11. As someone who was an adult when it happened, it's hard for me to make sense of. And as a parent, I have no idea how to talk to my kids about it. This book has been praised for opening up a dialogue about this turning point in American History with children who weren't even born when it happened. It's recommended for teachers to use in their classrooms, but I'm looking forward to reading it as a parent.

These are the books I'm most looking forward to from this summer's list. What new releases would you add to it?

For some adult recommendations, check out this NPR List.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Sam & Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett

Sam and Dave are on a mission to find something spectacular. So they dig a hole. Sam & Dave Dig a Hole is written by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Jon Klassen. The illustrator is just as important as the author here because much of the humor of the book is in its visuals.

This was a random library find that my children have loved. We've read it every night for the past week. And we've noticed more things each time we've read it. Check it out at your library, or watch this video of the book being read from the YouTube channel NomNomReadRead:


Sam & Dave Dig a Hole
By Mac Barnett
Illustrated by Jon Klassen
Publisher: Candlewick
Year: 2014
Ages/Themes: Picture Books, Young Children, Caldecott Honor

Friday, July 8, 2016

Newbery Books Worth Reading: Ramona Quimby, Age 8

I loved the Ramona books when I was a child. I was excited to see that there would be reprintings of some Beverly Cleary books to celebrate her 100th birthday. One of those was Ramona Quimby, Age 8. I just started reading it with my daughter. Childhood memories came flooding back and I really saw why Beverly Cleary is such a great children's writer: she remembers what it's like to be a kid.

If you or your kids have never read Beverly Cleary books, you need to add them to your to be read list. Ramona appeals to girls because she's a girl, but Cleary has many books with boy protagonists too. Check the shelves for her books the next time you're at the library.

Did you grow up alongside Ramona?


Ramona Quimby, Age 8
By Beverly Cleary
Illustrated by Jaqueline Rogers
Foreword by Amy Poehler
Publisher: HarperCollins
Year: 2016
Ages/Themes: Early Readers, Newbery Honor Books, Newbery Books Worth Reading