Posts Tagged ‘Books’
Time for another weekly roundup! Here are the books we read alone and together this week.
Zita the Spacegirl, Legends of Zita the Spacegirl, The Return of Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke. Read by: Huck, Rilla, and Beanie, all at different times this week.
These graphic novels have wide appeal, as you can see by the range of ages enjoying them at my house—kids ages six through fourteen, this week! One morning this week, I left Huck home with Jane while I took the other kids on an outing. Now, normally Huck would jump at the chance for a whole morning of undivided attention from his big sister, but on this day I returned home to find him sitting on the couch, engrossed in the third Zita book. “The entire time you were gone,” said Jane, answering my inquisitive glance. “He read the whole series, one after the other.” When a six-year-old boy gives up the chance to trounce his grown sister in Mario Kart, you know you’ve got a winning series.
On to picture books. I never manage to track them ALL, because the boys read them in bed at night. You should see the stack on their floor right now. Actually, no you shouldn’t, it’s a mess.
Chester’s Way by Kevin Henkes. Read to: Huck.
The Big Green Pocketbook by Candice Ransom, illustrated by Felicia Bond. Read to: Huck.
Diary of a Fly by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Harry Bliss. Read to: Huck.
I wonder how many times I’ve read The Big Green Pocketbook out loud. It never gets old. And I still always choke up at the end!
Super-Cute Chibis to Draw and Paint: Giant-sized Fun from a Micro-sized World by Joanna Zhou. Enjoyed by: Rilla, Beanie, and me.
Beanie and Rilla have been using this book for inspiration and instruction for at least a couple of years now. Seems like it is ALWAYS out on a desk or table beside a pad of paper. Has to be their favorite how-to-draw resource. I’ve been trying to add more pictures to my bullet journal and I decided (inspired by SailorMimzy, Ms. Cendolife, and Chotskibelle on Instagram) to try to design chibi figures for our whole family. Naturally I turned to my resident experts for advice. I’m still a rookie compared to my girls, but I’m getting there.
Bake Sale by Sara Varon. Read by: Rilla.
Another beloved graphic novel. Sara Varon illustrated my friend Cecil Castellucci’s wonderful Odd Duck, a great favorite around here. Bake Sale is a quirky story about friendship. Yes, that’s an eggplant and a cupcake making…cupcakes. Rilla almost missed our Saturday night art date because she didn’t want to put this one down. (I’m seeing an absorbing-graphic-novel trend this week.)
A Child’s History of the World by Virgil M. Hillyer. Read to: Huck and Rilla.
I guess I didn’t mention this one last week or the week before, but I should have! This is Rilla’s history spine. We read a couple of chapters a week, with Huck listening in—one of our narration texts. This week was the Trojan War.
Curious George’s First Day of School by Margret & H.A. Rey. Read by: Wonderboy.
Sudden Curious George attachment happening here. I expect there will be many more in our roundups, as soon as I get a chance to make a library run.
Betsy and the Great World by Maud Hart Lovelace. Read by: Beanie.
Oh, I just love this book so much. I asked Beanie to reread it as context for our early 20th-century studies. Betsy’s tour of Europe involves a romance in Venice, a long stay in Germany, and a hurried departure for home from England when the Great War begins. The final chapters involve one of my favorite moments in all of literature. I mean that without any hyperbole at all. It’s even better than the end of Pride and Prejudice.
Dancing Shoes by Noel Streatfeild. Read by: Wonderboy (in progress).
This book makes the list twice this week! Rilla and I are still listening to the audiobook (below) during our Saturday-night art dates. I pulled out the hard copy to check how much we had left, and Wonderboy wanted to read it. He’s slowly making his way through. Fun fact about the edition pictured here: I’m pretty sure this was the first book I ever wrote cover copy for.
UPDATE: I am informed that Jane, age 20, saw this book lying on a table and reread it this week as well. 🙂
Storm Thief by Chris Wooding. Read by: me (in progress).
Rose asked me to read this—one of her favorite books. I’m only a chapter in so far, but it’s gripping. I’ll report back later.
Vanessa and Her Sister: A Novel by Priya Parmar. Read by: me (in progress).
My bedtime Kindle reading is this fictionalized tale of Virginia Woolf and her sister, as told by Vanessa. So far: fascinating and fraught. After I finished To the Lighthouse I was hungry for background on Woolf, and I found this in my queue of digital review copies. Perfect timing. More to come on this one too, I’m sure.
Books Continued from Last Week:
Beanie’s lit class (which I teach) finished a two-week discussion of An Old-Fashioned Girl. Alcott is so funny—this is such a heavy-handed, moralistic book, quite preachy in places, with absolutely zero subtlety in its contrast of simple, wholesome, “old-fashioned” ways of bringing up children (especially girls) and the unhealthy “modern” practices she observed in the middle- and upper-middle class East Coast society of her day. And yet…despite the many anvils she drops all over the place, I am drawn in, I get wrapped up in the characters’ ups and downs. My group of 14-year-old girls found much to discuss in the contrasting upbringings of Fanny and Polly, and in the vision Alcott paints of a “future woman”—”strong-minded, strong-hearted, strong-bodied, strong-souled,” she says—envisioning us, the girls and women of generations to come.
Next up for this group: Sarah Orne Jewett.
We’re nearing the end of Charlotte’s Web—too soon, too soon! When we left off, the crickets were singing about the end of summer, and everyone’s preparing for the county fair. “Summer is over and gone,” sang the crickets. Good-bye, summer, good-bye, goodbye!”
Sophie’s Squash by Pat Zietlow Miller & Anne Wilsdorf. Read to: my boys.
If you only pick up one new picture book for fall, let this be it. Here’s what I wrote in a Picture Book Spotlight post last year:
We first read this absolute gem of a picture book last year during the CYBILs. Fell so utterly in love with it—the lot of us—that a library copy wouldn’t do; we had to have our own. Huck and Rilla were overjoyed when I pulled it out this morning. Sophie’s instant bond with a butternut squash is utterly believable, and not just because Huck formed a similar attachment once upon a time, long before we encountered this book! “Bernice” becomes Sophie’s best friend and closest confidant, all through a bright and beautiful autumn. But as winter approaches, Bernice begins to get a bit squishy about the edges. Sophie’s parents make gentle attempts to convince Sophie it’s time to let her friend go, but since their suggestions involve treating the squash like, you know, a squash, Sophie’s having none of it. Her own solution is sweet and heartwarming, and it makes my kids sigh that contented sigh that means everything has come out exactly right.
How to Read a Story by Kate Messner, illustrated by Mark Siegel. Read to: my boys.
Well, I was sure I had posted a video of Huck reading this book last March. He was enchanted by the story from the first—a little step-by-step guide to enjoying a book with your best reading buddy, charmingly illustrated—and one day I caught him reading it out loud to himself, putting in all the voices. ::melt:
(In case the video won’t play for you, here’s a Youtube link.)
Charlie Parker Played Be Bop by Chris Raschka. Read to: my boys.
One of our longtime family favorites. The rhythm and whimsy of the text has captivated each of our small fry in turn. And the art is bold and funny and altogether wonderful.
Don’t Know Much About History by Kenneth C. Davis. Read to: the teens.
Another of the texts Beanie, Rose, and I are using for our 20th-century history studies. We continue to enjoy reading history texts aloud together, which allows us all to stay on the same page (literally) and—even more important—fosters discussion and fruitful rabbit trailing. We try to reserve two 45-minute blocks a week for this, supplementing with other books (including graphic novels, historical fiction, and biographies) and videos.
Walt Whitman, selections from “Song of Myself”
Gwendolyn Brooks, “kitchenette building”
Books Continued from Last Week:
(Rillabooks in the top row)
I’m nearing the end of To the Lighthouse and am feeling pretty well shattered. And I sort of want to start it all over from the beginning.
The view from our morning walk
Things we read today:
• Landmark History of the American People. I love this book. The chapters on the rise of the American political parties, which we read a couple of weeks ago—fascinating, engaging, even funny in parts, and of course highly relevant to current events, ahem. We’ve read big chunks of Landmark in years past, but never the whole book in one go; it’s a lot to take in. Finished up the Civil War section last week and are just about ready to head into the Antebellum era. Going to hold off a bit, though, until we catch up to 1865 in our American lit readings. Which brings us to…
• Anne Bradstreet. Read about her, read a couple of poems.
• The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan. Just came out. We procured a copy yesterday and it was immediately devoured by the first two sisters in line. Today was Beanie’s turn. All other events come to an immediate halt when a new Heroes of Olympus book crosses the threshold.
• Also I’m seeing
The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict (Mysterious Benedict Society prequel) The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Prisoner’s Dilemma [edited because I should learn to read book titles] in a different set of hands every time I turn around. Scott picked up a copy after my booksigning on Saturday. (This is the peril of bookstore appearances. Any royalty income you might eventually see from the books sold at the event is spent before you leave the shop. Basically, I write books to feed my bookbuying habit.)
• To Huck and Rilla: Jesse Bear, What Will You Wear? and Katy and the Big Snow. Ahhh….
• Wonderboy is hooked on Calvin & Hobbes. His favorite bedtime reading. He falls asleep under a collection every night.
Other today things:
• This morning was finally cool enough (which is not to say cool, just not broiling) for me to plant the treasures we picked up at last week’s City Farmers outing. I even did a little weeding. In a San Diego October (our crispy season), that feels like a Herculean feat. (Speaking of the Heroes of Olympus.)
• Thursday means Thicklebit!
• In the made-my-day category, there’s this lovely review of The Prairie Thief by Amy at Hope is the Word:
Thankfully, I was alone when I read the denouement of this lovely little middle grade tale; anyone who watched while I was reading would surely have wondered how I could derive so much enjoyment (as evidenced by the broad grin on my face) out of what is obviously a children’s story. This one is pure enjoyment.
Yay! So happy.
A roundup of books we have enjoyed this year.
• The Bat-Poet (more like a short novel, really: so lovely)
• A Dog Is a Dog
• Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site
• I Want My Hat Back (& follow-up here with book-inspired art)
• Nursery Rhyme Comics (graphic novel)
• Who’s Hiding?
• Wilfrid Gordon MacDonald Partridge
• A whole slew of titles in this collection of read-aloud suggestions for a four-year-old
That’s as far back as I’ve gotten so far…I’ll add more as time permits. Some of my older reviews are compiled on this page—I had the idea that I was going to create one page with direct links to every booknotes post I’ve ever written. In nearly seven years of blogging. Blogging mostly about books. I know, I know. Well, until time freezes, allowing me an infinity of free moments to copy-paste my way through—good heavens, I just looked—2500 posts (!), partial lists like this will have to do.
Related: Gift ideas
August 1, 2011 @ 5:47 pm | Filed under: Books
It was a month for quality, if not quantity:
Letter from New York, the Helene Hanff book I sighed happily over in this post. First time rereading it since, I’m guessing, 1994. It was rather goosebumpy to revisit: so much of my first year in New York was tied to that book. The neighborhoods I explored, the way I looked at the city, the way Miss Hanff taught me to seek out the small interesting details and big colorful people that give a place character. As I savored her letters, I kept thinking how much these spoken essays she wrote for BBC radio read like blog posts—and I could see her influence in my own blog style, over fifteen years later.
The Children’s Book by A.S. Byatt. When I first read it last year, I wasn’t sure I’d ever want to be immersed that intense, disturbing world again: but I did. I found myself thinking about the novel quite often and wanting to return to the rich, tapestried world Byatt creates, suffused with art and lore. The puppets: I am really in awe at how vividly she is able to describe the marionette plays so that you see them, really see them. And the pottery, the Dungeness seaweeds, the strands of Olive’s various stories, the huge cast of distinct, painfully real characters, the currents of culture and history. It’s a hard book, a dark one, but ultimately hopeful, I think, and worth the effort.
Besides those two, there were the usual piles of picture books, and small increments of progress on Calpurnia Tate with Beanie and Rose. July, for us, is really only three weeks long, because a full week of it gets swallowed up by SDCC.
Nonetheless I did think I’d read more, myself, than simply the Hanff and the Byatt. I began a few things, review copies I’ve received, but since the Byatt I haven’t been able to settle into anything else. Just now, looking up the link for my 2010 post about The Children’s Book, I noticed on that year’s booklog that right after it, I reread a large chunk of To Serve Them All My Days—R.F. Delderfield’s sweeping tale about a shellshocked WWI soldier who becomes a teacher in an English boys’ school. That makes me smile because that is exactly the kind of book I’m craving right now, post-Byatt: big, sweeping, warm, moving, funny, and, if sad in places, not dark. Herriott might work. Or: I’ve never read Brideshead Revisited. Would that work? Or is it grim?
Actually, there’s Blackout, I’ve just remembered. I had to set it aside for one reason or another. Connie Willis sweeps me away in just the right way, I always think. Maybe that’s the ticket.
Again, these are books I haven’t read yet (except one)—I saw them at the con and they piqued my interest. The TBR pile moans.
Series by James Owen: The Chronicles of Imaginarium Geographica (I saw these last year too. Gorgeously designed fantasy series with an appealing premise, something about a map of all the imaginary worlds ever written about…
I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore (they had a very cool one-of-a-kind handbound metal edition at the publisher’s table)
Hungry Tiger Press. This is the publisher of Eric Shanower’s beautifully illustrated new editions of L. Frank Baum’s Oz books. Eric won two Eisners this year for his edition of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (a Marvel Comics project). Hungry Tiger publishes reprints of old Oz stories and other Baum work, including two books about The Flying Girl, “intrepid girl aviator Orissa Kane.” Baum was one of my favorite authors as a child—we still have my collection of Oz books—and I couldn’t resist bringing The Flying Girl home with me for a test flight.
Tigerbuttah by Becky and Frank of Tiny Kitten Teeth fame. My friend Sarah showed me a copy, and the art and title made me swoon. I hunted for the booth but this was late in the day on Sunday and we had a curry date with our pal Jock, so I gave up the search. The book was adorable—it’s made after the fashion of a Golden Book with many cunning details.
Buzzboy by John Gallagher. Had the pleasure of meeting John at the kidlit gathering and am looking forward to reading his comic about “what happens when the sidekicks take over.”
Nerds: National Espionage, Rescue, and Defense Society by Michael Buckley, illustrated by Ethan Beavers. Wonderful art & a fun premise—the nerds are kids who use technology to “upgrade” their weaknesses into superpowers. More about this (and all of the above) after I’ve had a chance to read.
More on SDCC 2010:
A few photos
Photos of supercool steampunk wheelchair
Awesome sketch drawn for me by the incredible Fiona Staples
What I did at SDCC
Rick Riordan panel
LOST Encyclopedia Panel
Epic fantasy panel
Books that caught my eye (part 1)
May 27, 2010 @ 5:32 am | Filed under: Links
• After keeping us waiting for a century, Mark Twain will finally reveal all—The Independent
“…in November the University of California, Berkeley, where the manuscript is in a vault, will release the first volume of Mark Twain’s autobiography. The eventual trilogy will run to half a million words, and shed new light on the quintessentially American novelist.”
• Douglas Adams: How to Stop Worrying and Learn to Love the Internet (1999)
“Because the Internet is so new we still don’t really understand what it is. We mistake it for a type of publishing or broadcasting, because that’s what we’re used to. So people complain that there’s a lot of rubbish online, or that it’s dominated by Americans, or that you can’t necessarily trust what you read on the web. Imagine trying to apply any of those criticisms to what you hear on the telephone. Of course you can’t ‘trust’ what people tell you on the web anymore than you can ‘trust’ what people tell you on megaphones, postcards or in restaurants. Working out the social politics of who you can trust and why is, quite literally, what a very large part of our brain has evolved to do. For some batty reason we turn off this natural scepticism when we see things in any medium which require a lot of work or resources to work in, or in which we can’t easily answer back – like newspapers, television or granite. Hence ‘carved in stone.’ What should concern us is not that we can’t take what we read on the internet on trust – of course you can’t, it’s just people talking – but that we ever got into the dangerous habit of believing what we read in the newspapers or saw on the TV – a mistake that no one who has met an actual journalist would ever make. One of the most important things you learn from the internet is that there is no ‘them’ out there. It’s just an awful lot of ‘us’.”
• Reading Rockets: Three ways to ruin a good book
April 13, 2010 @ 7:39 am | Filed under: Books
• Word Play: Healing voices – latimes.com. Discussion of books containing characters with autism or Asperger’s, including Kathy Erskine’s excellent middle-grade novel, Mockingbird.
• Some time back I pondered to what degree my reaction to a book was influenced by reading it on an e-reader—a book I downloaded via the Kindle for iPhone app ended (for me) abruptly, jarringly, unsatisfyingly, and I wondered how much that had to do with the e-reader’s lack of physical cues to let me know, subtly, that the tale was drawing to a close. In yesterday’s LA Times, Carolyn Kellogg addresses that question and gives the iPad high marks in replicating certain aspects of a proper book-book reading experience:
Of course, e-books are not physical books. On a Kindle, they aren’t even calibrated in terms of pages; rather, each screen of text is called a “location,” and a 300-page novel will have thousands of them, which makes it hard to keep track of where you left off.
The iPad, on the other hand, sticks with the more traditional designation and also indicates how many pages remain in whatever chapter is on the screen.
What this acknowledges is that there is a rhythm to reading: The first page of a heavy Harry Potter book promises 600 more; the thinning final pages of an Agatha Christie novel clue us in to the mystery getting sorted out. The iPad builds that into the e-reading experience.
(And to answer your many queries, no, I don’t have one yet—what I do have are three sets of braces to pay for. If anyone around here is getting an iPad, it’s our orthodontist.)
• I thoroughly enjoyed the rest of that butterfly book. In case you missed the update, though, let me note here that I added a word of caution to my nonfiction for teens post; the chapter about convicted butterfly smuggler Yoshi Kojima contains a bit of mature content. Parents of younger readers may want to preview that part.
• Young adult lit comes of age – latimes.com — “I think part of the reason we’re seeing adults reading YA is that often there’s no bones made about the fact that a YA book is explicitly intended to entertain,” said Lizzie Skurnick, 36, author of “Shelf Discovery,” a collection of essays about young adult literature from the 1960s and 1970s.”YA authors are able to take themselves less seriously. They’re able to have a little more fun, and they’re less confined by this idea of themselves as Very Important Artists. That paradoxically leads them to create far better work than people who are trying to win awards.”
• Léna’s Lit Life: EDGES: ARC show & tell—Lena Roy is the granddaughter of Madeleine L’Engle. HT to reader Kay for the heads-up on Lena’s upcoming novel, due out in December from FSG.
• Hopewell Takes On LIFE!: When a book validates your own experience – Review of The Confederate General Rides North by Amanda Gable.
*Cute Boy on a Swing