Monday, December 16, 2013

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

These are memes started by Teach Mentor Texts and Book Journey, and I'm excited to participate, along with many other bloggers, in reviewing books I read the previous week. I'll be reviewing picture books through adult books.
Books I read this week:
Odd Duck
This is a really cute early graphic novel/picture book about individuality. Theodora is convinced she's a completely normal duck and is satisfied with her life until an odd duck moves next door. Except who is really the odd one? An unlikely friendship ensues, and both ducks learn a little more about each other and themselves.
Ike's Incredible Ink
I laughed when Ike found all kinds of ways to procrastinate instead of sitting down to write. I think anyone who tries to make writing a part of daily life has experienced this frustration. After quite an adventure trying to make his own ink, he finally finds inspiration. This would be fun to share with kids during writing workshop to talk about writer's block. I liked the illustrations.
Ghost Hawk

I admire Susan Cooper greatly, so I was happy to come across these videos of her.  Someday, I would like to meet her!
I've been a fan of Susan Cooper since 6th grade when I read the Dark is Rising series, and I count it as one of my all-time favorite series. Jim Dale narrates the audio version, and at first, as much as I love Dale, I didn't think it was a good choice. However, I realized eventually his voice evoked the mystery and magic the story needed. The book starts with Little Hawk's coming-of-age trip to the woods alone with only a bow and arrows, his handcrafted tomahawk, and a gift from his father - a knife. If he survives, he will be a man. I thought this adventure was going to be the bulk of the story - a Native American Hatchet-like tale. However, that was only the beginning. The craft choice Cooper makes halfway through the novel is fascinating, and it works beautifully. Little Hawk's life becomes entwined with John Wakely, a ten-year-old settler, embroiled in the tension building between the natives and colonists. This is an age-old tale and heartbreaking, but Cooper gives it new life and continues to be a master storyteller.

Salt: A Story of Friendship in a Time of War
I read this right after I finished Ghost Hawk. The conflict between Native Americans and settlers was so sad. The two cultures just could not coexist, which really was tragic. This is a story told in verse about Anikwa and James, both 12-years-old, enjoying each other's company and respecting each other's cultures until the coming of the War of 1812 when they come to distrust each other. Families, homes, and land are torn apart and the two friends have to figure out if their friendship can be repaired. I love the form Helen Frost decided upon - poems shaped like patterns of Miami ribbon work for Anikwa and images of stripes on an American flag for James. The theme of salt is interesting, too, with poems dedicated to it woven throughout the book. One of my favorite lines is by Anikwa's grandmother: "We can't stop things from changing. I hope the children will remember how our life has been."


Stitches : a handbook on meaning, hope, and repair

Stitches: A Handbook On Meaning, Hope and Repair by Anne Lamott

My favorite two lines: one a quote borrowed from Ram Dass, "ultimately we're all just walking each other home" and "The world is always going to be dangerous, and people get badly banged up, but how can there be more meaning than helping one another stand up in a wind and stay warm?" Lamott pleads with us to take care of each other, forgive each other and ourselves, and embrace imperfection. I also liked her descriptions of how sensitive she is and how to treat sensitive people. I teach gifted children and have a gifted child, and sensitivity and heightened emotions are characteristics of gifted children. It's good to remember we can't say "lighten up" or "relax" and expect that they will suddenly stop feeling to that capacity. Our culture is not exactly built around sensitivity. Lamott always makes me think, laugh, and reflect.
What are YOU reading this week?



  1. What great books! I can't wait to read IKE'S INCREDIBLE INK. That book is totally up my alley.

  2. Hoping to read Ghost Hawk soon... Ike's Incredible Ink sounds wonderful... something to keep my eyes out for! :) Happy reading week to you!

  3. Ike's Incredible Ink looks like a great anchor book for inspiring my students in Writer's workshop! Thanks for all your great recommendations! I ADORE Anne Lamont! I read, laughed and cried through Operating Instructions after both my boys were born. Bird By Bird has been my inspiration for writing - especially when I am in a slump! Stiches is now on my Christmas book list! Thanks for including the clip - I am off to school now but will watch it when I have more time. Have a great week of reading and writing, Holly!

  4. Good theme reading with Ghost Hawk and Salt. I love when that happens!

  5. I read the Maze Runner about a year ago and enjoyed it (read it during my dystopian craze). :) Hope you are enjoying it and all your other books. Happy Reading!

    Erin @ Let's Evaluate

  6. Ike's Incredible Ink looks great. I love Susan Cooper too, & look forward to this book too, Holly. And I really enjoyed Salt-Helen Frost books are good! Thanks also for reviewing the LaMott book-it too sounds wonderful! You are reading some great books-I just started Allegiant, & loved Maze Runner, haven't gotten to the others yet-whew! So many good books!

  7. Hi there Holly, I've been meaning to get into Susan Cooper's The Dark is Rising for the longest time. I have the book in my shelf but haven't gotten around to them yet. I hope to do that in 2014. :) One of my bookish resolutions. I also love Helen Frost's novels-in-verse just like Linda. I haven't read SALT yet so I'm looking forward to that. Have a great reading week!

  8. Allegiant is one I can not wait to read... my friend has borrowed it... I must get it back! LOL