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.”

Imaginary friends & space travel

This set of books have to do with space, a little about science, and a lot about existing and finding meaning exactly where you are.

  1. My One Hundred Adventures by Polly Horvath – I loved this book because I relate to Jane. I am 28 and I long to have 100 adventures this year and every year!
  2. Confessions of My Imaginary Friend by Michelle Cuevas – It reminds me of The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, about a doll/imaginary friend who journeys then finds his way back to his original owner. It’s a special book for sure.
  3. The Care and Feeding of a Pet Black Hole by Michelle Cuevas – Michelle Cuevas definitely has her own style and her stories involve a lot of imagination!
  4. See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng – I really enjoyed this book as well because Alex is so lost and so are the people around him. It’s a book that makes me wish there were better adults in children’s lives, so children can grow up to be those adults for the next generation. That is a huge order but isn’t it what humanity is about? I felt upset on behalf of Alex and how the adults in his life did not step up.
  5. The Wet Engine by Brian Doyle – The book is about the human heart through the lens of science, poetry, literature, and encounters with people. The author wrote this book because his son was born missing one of the chambers of his heart. In a way the whole book is like a really long prayer and praise about the engine that keeps each of us going.