Monday, February 8, 2016

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.

I haven't posted in a few weeks, so I need to catch up!


The Only Child

The Only Child by Guojing

From the author's note, we learn that author/illustrator Guojing was born in China and grew up in the 1980s under the one-child policy. Both her parents worked, so her grandmother took care of her. Sometimes, however, if her parents had to rush to work or her grandmother was busy, she was left alone. This story, part fantasy/part memoir, was based on a time she fell asleep on a bus on the way to her grandmother's, and when she woke up and discovered it almost empty, she panicked and ran off, following the electric lines of the bus to get home. With no words, only beautiful illustrations, she explores themes of loneliness, family, home, and love as she reimagines the story of that day - this time with big adventures and a very special friend.

Be a Friend

So sweet!  A simple book about the magic of friendship.

Arctic White

Arctic White by Danna Smith, illustrated by Lee White

This is a beautifully illustrated book about the Northern Lights.  I was captivated.



I have so much to say about these wonderful books that I'm working on a blog post just for them.  What I can say here is that if you haven't read the Gaither Sisters trilogy, fix that now! 


George by Alex Gino

A carefully crafted story about 4th grader, George, who knows he's a "she" and is struggling to let everyone else know. I say carefully crafted because it's told in third person limited-omniscient, using the pronoun "she" from the very beginning. George wants to try out for Charlotte in the school play of CHARLOTTE'S WEB (my favorite children's book ever), but things don't go quite as planned. His best friend, Kelly, is a lifesaver, really. If it wasn't for her, life would be much more difficult than it is. Kelly helps George on his way to becoming Melissa. A criticism I have is that the conflict seems wrapped up so tidily - a few indications that things might still be difficult is a few of the audience members' reactions at the end of the play, but for the most part, Melissa is already taking steps to transition at a very young age and is finding acceptance. Would it really be that easy for a 4th grader? Maybe that's Gino's point though. Maybe he's creating a world in which transgender people will be accepted earlier and easier. Gino shows the mother and brother ready to accept Melissa being gay (Melissa hasn't thought about that yet) before they accept her being transgender. However, they come around fast. This book won a Stonewall Book Award and is certainly ground-breaking.

Oooh! I loved the setting of this book (Embassy Row) and the twist toward the end of the story. I'll definitely be reading the sequel!


Last Bus to Wisdom

What an amazing cast of characters in this charming book about a boy who goes on a bus journey in the summer of 1951.  This was Doig's last novel.

The Turner House

We read this book for book club, and honestly, we were all disappointed.  We are obviously in the minority with this opinion since it was a National Book Award Finalist and a favorite on Goodreads.  We loved the premise of the book - a story of a large family around their childhood house - but we couldn't get to the place where we loved the characters.

Carry On, Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life

The beginning of the book brought me to tears, and so did the end. In between, I've laughed a lot. It's taken me a long time to read it because I only read one essay a day, and not every day, but I'm glad I took my time. I think I first heard about this special book from Franki Sibberson's blog. I don't agree with everything Glennon Doyle Melton believes and says, but I love her honesty (like Anne Lamott - I can't BELIEVE they put some stuff out there for all to read) and humor. Melton embraces life and all its messiness, helping us do the same.


  1. Wonderful list of books, Holly. Wow. I love the first picture books, and need to find Arctic White-looks fabulous. And I haven't finished the Williams-Garcia books or George. Ah-glad to have so many books to love, but there isn't enough time. Thanks for the Ivan Doig too. I used to read his books, but not lately. Have a great rest of the week!

  2. Arctic White looks stunning. I shared Be a Friend this week too. So very great. George is important - to read and to share. I do appreciate your comments and questions though.

  3. Thanks for this list of books. I really want to find Arctic White. I liked George well enough. I think sometimes when things seem impossible, it provides an image of what we can make become.