I have been working hard on my Master of Fine Arts in Children's Literature this year, so I haven't been with you all as much as usual. HOWEVER, now that I have finished my required annotated reading list for my program, I can resume reading all the great new books AND share them with you.
My oldest daughter graduated from high school last week (I know, GASP!) and my two middles have exams this week, and my youngest has a bit more, but there's no denying it--summer is finally upon us!
For some of us, summer reading will be a catch up. So I will tell you a few books that you may have missed during your busy winter.
Also, a lot of terrific NEW books come out this time of year, so I will include a few of those books, as well.
The most important thing to know about this list: you don't want to miss any of these books.
As Mary Poppins would say, "One, two, three and away we go..."
First, the picture books...
I'm going to talk about two slightly different books. These books almost create new genres in their unique take on the picture book. As a result, they are both not without criticism. But here's the thing, KIDS LOVE THEM. (And adults, too, if they're totally honest. I mean, they're hilarious.) Summer is the time to try new things and let children fall in love with reading by reading WHAT THEY LIKE.
BATTLE BUNNY by Mac Barnett and Jon Scieszka is hilarious. Your grandmother will hate it. It's somewhat controversial with its violence and general rebellious air of book destruction, but your children are guaranteed to love it. Even my thirteen-year-old loved it. Do you have a non reading grandson? This book is for him. No kidding.
PRESIDENT TAFT IS STUCK IN THE BATH by Mac Barnett and Chris Van Dusen is another hilarious, slightly, um, nontraditional take on the presidential biography. It focuses on the story of President Taft getting stuck in the White House bathtub, a part of history I always found amusing. Mac Barnett delivers another book that will convert non-readers everywhere. This book is funny, irreverent, but the back pages pack a nice historic punch.
Next, the MG books...
THE REAL BOY by Anne Ursu is a beautifully written, intriguing fantasy. Middle Grade. I highly recommend it as a family read aloud. Lots of interesting things to discuss, questions to puzzle, and characters to love.
NEWSGIRL by Liza Ketchum is a unique MG historical fiction about the hordes of Americans who moved west during the Gold Rush years. It is a fascinating glimpse into the lives and communities of these brave pioneers who moved west, built towns from scratch, and how the young people played a critical role. Another great family read aloud.
WHAT THE MOON SAID by Gayle Rosengren is another terrific MG read aloud. As you can tell, I'm a big fan of family read alouds, especially in the summer. ALL AGES can benefit from them, and they provide great talking points for family dinners. I have to say, BIG PROPS to Gayle Rosengren for the title. We have a mutual friend on Facebook, and when her friend congratulated her on her new book, WHAT THE MOON SAID, I just couldn't stand it. I HAD to know what the moon said.
NAVIGATING EARLY by Clare Vanderpool. This book was my pick for the Newbery this year. It's probably a bit long for a read aloud, but as a private read, it's not long enough! It's a terrific adventure story with sad bits probably more suited for older MG.
Now on to YA...
If you haven't yet read THIN SPACE by Jody Casella, you must. It's that simple. It came out last September, but don't miss it. (Then after you finish it, call me to discuss!) Great book club pick because it stimulates so much discussion. Also, a great pick for a parent and teen to read together (probably not out loud, too long, but individually) and discuss. Just make sure you have a NO SPOILER rule.
Also, if you haven't read BOXERS AND SAINTS by the brilliant Gene Luen Yang, you MUST. Yes, it is a graphic novel (kind of like a big, long comic book) about the Boxer Rebellion. But it is so much more. This book is a must-read for everyone. The Chinese history is fascinating as seen from the perspective of a young boy. Lovely, brilliant, entertaining, touching.
BEING HENRY DAVID by Cal Armistead is one of those YA books that incorporates great classic literature. In this situation, our protagonist channels Henry David Thoreau to solve his pretty big problem. You will fall in love with the main character AND HDT, but it is a fascinating, contemporary story, as well. Teens will enjoy the story, no matter how much he or she knows about HDT, but I guarantee more interest when he comes up in English class this year. (a great perk, but it doesn't feel forced at all)
SALVAGE THE BONES by Jesmyn Ward. Somehow I just got around to reading this National Book Award winner, and it is a zinger. The protagonist is a young teen-ager, but the subject matter is adult in many ways. However, it is an excellent example of a book that will promote compassion and understanding of different cultural groups. It may very well be the most important book of its kind in contemporary literature. It is set in a poor, rural region of Louisiana leading up to and at the time of Hurricane Katrina. The hurricane is one part of the story, not the focus, but a great context. I loved this book, but it's heavy duty.
WE WERE LIARS by E. Lockhart is a fabulous new release. It just came out last week, and it came out with a big. I predict big awards, big sales, and a big buzz on this one. It is a YA novel set mostly at a family summer home in New England. Party family drama, part mystery, part love story, and more. You MUST read it, and then call me to discuss. WOW.
So now go hit the books! Check the tide, place your chair accordingly, take a deep, salty breath, and enjoy a good summer read. Then, don't forget to SHARE!
My Mission Statement
I write to serve, to unite, to educate. I write to share literature and flesh out ideas that may be of interest to others. I write to document an emotion, experience, or a blip in time. My mission is to write in such a way that the reader is reminded that we can find humor in all situations. It's one of the great blessings of life.