Today I have a mish-mash of books that have little in common except that three of of them are in Chinese and part of the Magic Tree House Fact Tracker series. I borrowed them to practice reading Chinese but it honestly is too hard for me. I love non-fiction and I think it’s a great way to get reluctant readers (or language learners) to read, but I think I need to start lower. I can read the Magic Tree House with the help of zhuyin and that’s why I’m a big proponent of it for kids learning Chinese. They can read independently and use context clues to figure out the meaning. I would like to return to these books and try them with Thinking Maps? They are great tools to put me in the position of learners. As a teacher I think it’s really important that I struggle with things too.

On to the three books that I did read!

Beyond the Laughing Sky by Michelle Cuevas – After reading the author’s other books, I became a big fan. She has a huge imagination and I think the best way to describe her books is that they are picture books told in a lot more words. This one is about a bird-boy who wants to belong with the birds, and the effort he made to become a bird. It is sweet and ridiculous and truthful. Which are my favorite kind of books.

The Mysterious Howling by Maryrose Wood – There was a moment when I wanted to read gothic-y books and I came across this one. It was fun! Feral children and wolves. I’m not sure if I will read the rest of the series. This is more like a book I read to get a taste of gothic English old-timey stories? Nonetheless it was fun, like watching an episode of a show about Miss Penelope.

A Corner of the Universe by Ann M. Martin – I saw this book in a classroom and I wanted to read it because the cover is gray and dreary. (I know… but Kate DiCamillo said children’s books should be a little sad.) I read it in a few hours, which is to say that to follow one twelve-year-old girl’s summer doesn’t take long, but so much can happen in a short time that informs the rest of your life. It can take a summer, two weeks, or just one evening for everything to change. I relate to this book because there are people who are like Adam to Hattie. They might not even know the impact they had on my life but I think like Hattie said, they “lift a corner of the universe.”