I loved all 5 of these books!!!!! I’m super behind on my book reviews, as I read these a month ago at the beginning of summer. (today = 7/12/18) Hello, Universe was an easy read that reminded me of The Wild Robot, it reads kind of fable-like. I loved the characters and how quirky the fortune teller was. I read a ton of middle grade novels and sometimes I think we are all just 6th graders in different bodies – still vulnerable, confused, and wanting to fit in and gain the approval of our peers. I will read all of your books, Erin Entrada Kelly!
The book that kicked off my days off would be Leila Howland’s The Forget-Me-Not Summer. A reviewer described it has “beach read for kids” which is accurate and has me wanting to read all genre fics for tweens. (True crime for tweens! Mysteries for tweens! Chick lit for tweens!) I loved the three sisters and their summer adventures with Aunt Sunny. It is so cozy and summery and fun.
Two reliable authors whose whole middle grade bibliography I plan to read: Jason Reynolds and Carl Hiaasen. They are amazing writers who have really got the young teens world down. They do a great job of capturing how young adults in challenging situations think, what they go through, and why they take the actions they take. I can’t say that I relate to or even know any kids in real life who are like these characters , but I like to think that reading about their point of view helps me broaden my perspectives. I highly recommend Patina and Flush!
Lastly, Polly Horvath. I’ve read a lot of her books and I think her most recent ones, meaning the ones written after 2010, are better. Some of her previous books are just too bizarre, but I liked The Night Garden because it has her quirky nonsense but also some fantasy/historical elements. I enjoyed all of these books!
I have been branching out and reading more nonfiction as well as adult fiction, since I read so much fantasy and kids books. It is a little more difficult to read nonfiction and adult novels, but I like struggling and getting my brain stronger?!
- Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel – I had first listened to the audio and it was super hard to follow. I know there is someone named Jeevan and that the beginning takes place in a theater, but I understood nothing after that. I had a hard time getting through the paper version too but I am seeing how it’s a very imaginative and well thought out book. It reminds me of The Hunger Games for adults.
- The Canning Season by Polly Horvath – Polly Horvath is my spirit author. She gets me because she knows that life can be weird and strange, and adults can be unreliable, and she attaches no judgment to any of it. It just is and that is what makes a book like The Canning Season so awesome.
- The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer – I normally don’t read biographies but I’m glad I picked up this one because it is very inspiring. I would use it to talk to students about persevering and trusting that your work will result in something, even if no one supports you. Good luck to William!
- This Is Our Constitution by Khizr Khan – Since I am teaching U.S. History, I thought I should read up on the Constitution. (Too bad I was not able to translate my passion for this book to my students.) I wish all 8th graders had a copy of this book because it uses kid-friendly language to explain the Constitution, and in our current political climate that is very important.
- How to Raise an Amazing Child the Montessori Way – My nephew goes to a Montessori preschool and I am hoping I can incorporate some Montessori methods in my class next year. This book talks about it from the lens of parents and what they can do at home, such as giving children sensory experiences and creating a safe environment for them to play. It might be tricky to incorporate that in a public school because there are so many standards to follow, but I think the basic thing about letting children feel capable is something I can argue for in my classroom.
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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
1. Pax by Sara Pennypacker – It reminds me of The Wild Robot because both are like really long picture books. It’s like a fable in an imaginary world. Very nice choice for a novel study in the elementary grades because the characters and plot lend themselves to prediction and analysis.
2. Lost in the Sun by Lisa Graff – I am so glad I finished this book! It was really good. Fallon Little is my favorite character. Who cares if someone calls you Scarface or the “Bride of Frankenstein”? You are still yourself. I loved the teacher with the plants too. I’m going to be that teacher in the future, the one with a bunch of plants that need watering in her classroom.
3. Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue – I read this for a book club and I’m glad I read this too. The plot kept moving forward and I wanted to find out what happened. In a way I think the Jongas did achieve their dream, even though they returned to Cameroon instead of staying in the U.S. The American dream isn’t what people think it is. People who have achieved that dream can still have it all fall apart in something like the market crash. It’s a relevant book especially now.
4. Turtles All the Way Down by John Green – I loved this book a lot! I think it’s my favorite John Green novel so far. I loved Aza, Davis, and Daisy because they are flawed but good friends to each other. It’s so realistic and I like that a place like Indiana can be very charming if you have the right friends and look for adventure wherever you are. I will cheer for the main characters.
5. A Year in Coal Harbor by Polly Horvath – Polly Horvath is becoming one of my favorite authors. I loved the recipes and I love British Canada as described in her books. It’s just so cozy and not everything goes the way you expect them too, and that is fine because no one is perfect and we just make do with what we have. I wonder if I can narrate my year like Primrose did. It just might be as exciting with all the hardships I go through, ha.
I just noticed that all of these books have a really unique format: poetry+memoir, text+graphic novel, letters, and picture book. I really am loving variety in what I read lately and they are all so wonderful!
1. You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me by Sherman Alexie – Wow, what a punch in the guts this memoir was. This is the kind of book that I am unable to read twice. Real life is intense and sometimes you don’t need to make up anything to make a story interesting.
2. The Marvels by Brian Selznick – Of the three graphic novels (Hugo, Wonderstruck, and this one) I think Wonderstruck is my favorite. The Marvels talks about a family of actors and how they came to their demise. It really shows the fine difference between truth and fiction and how we make meaning of what’s around us.
3. Unusual Chickens For the Exceptional Poultry Farmer by Kelly Jones – I am a chicken lover so obviously I loved this book. So wonderful! I learned a lot about the care and keeping of chickens. I look forward to the sequel!
4. Mr. And Mrs. Bunny – Detectives Extraordinaire by Polly Horvath – Polly Horvath is becoming one of my favorite authors. I loved this book! I am really liking the format of the “big storybook,” which is like a grown-up chapter book+picture book. Mr. Bunny kept saying that Madeline has a big bottom! Poor Madeline.
5. Dear Farenheit 451 by Annie Spence – A book written by a bookworm, for bookworms. It was such a fun read! I wish I had a book buddy who read all of the same books as me and wrote their own version. Perhaps it would be called Dear Matilda?
I loved every book in here, a lot!!!!!!! I think this might be the coziest group of books I’ve read.
Ling & Ting: Together in All Weather – It’s Grace Lin, so obviously I am a fan! I loved that she dedicated this book to her husband. Ling and Ting are always up to something and their episodes are always a treat. Here’s to the people with us in all weather ❤ .
5 Centimeters per Second – I cried reading this and I should’ve guessed I would. It is just like life to move too quickly and to pull people apart. I feel like both Tohno and Akari because I live in the present, but there is someone as important to be as Akari was to Tohno. I love Kanae too. I just want all the characters to find love and happiness. What a beautiful manga!
Neruda’s Book of Questions – I loved Pablo Neruda’s work ever since I read The Dreamer, which is about his childhood. He sure is a dreamer!!! He thinks of things we would never ever think of. His questions in 10 words can say so much than 50 words could. What a powerful and unique book.
Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus– This was a great book for kids and adults alike! Dusti Bowling is a future awards winner. Aven is my inspiration.
Everything on a Waffle – I adored this book! It is short and sweet, and I made the tuna noodle casserole from the recipes inside. It’s like Pushing Daisies, sort of.
I Am Pusheen the Cat – I read this while I was eating breakfast at a Taiwanese cafe. It’s Four Seas! after I came back from Knott’s. This was probably the most fun day I had this year before the hectic work schedule started 😦 .
I loved all the books here!