Thanks to Jen at TeachMentorText and Kellee at UnleashingReaders for the weekly meme highlighting children's literature - picture books to young adult. Don't forget to visit their sites so you can see what everyone else is reading this week!
My reading has slowed down a bit over the last couple of weeks. I have been busying sewing curtains for my living room and trying my hand at some painting. Trying to get my artsy crafty activities in before summer is over! Here's some of my reading highlights from the past week.
This is the third book about the little mouse, Penny, and I am totally in love with this series. I think this book is the best so far. Penny finds a blue marble in her neighbor's yard. "It was as blue as the sky." But Penny is soon consumed with guilt as she worries she has taken something that may not belong to her. Kevin Henkes has such a wonderful way of writing about realistic problems that matter to young children. And he has a real knack for writing meaningful and smart books for beginning readers. I hope we see more of Penny.
The Center of Everything by Linda Urban
This is the second book that I have read from Linda Urban. The first book was Hound Dog True. All I can say is she really captures the voice of those middle grade/pre-adolescent kids and seems to know what matters to them. How Linda Urban is able to weave in the setting and the town's obsession with donuts is just awesome! In this story, young Ruby has recently lost her grandma, the center of her life. Ruby struggles to come to terms with her loss and be able to express her feelings. A great story of friendship, love and family.
Doll Bones by Holly Black
This book is a combination of a growing up story with a little bit of scary horror thrown in - when I was in 4th or 5th grade I would have absolutely loved it. The 3 main characters - Zach, Poppy and Alice - love playing pretend and have continued with their fantasy game as they have grown into middle school students. When Zach's dad decides to throw out all of his action figures Zach is too embarrassed to tell his friends, and instead explains he doesn't want to play anymore. In an effort to pull her friends back into the game Poppy tells the creepy story about the Queen Doll and her past. The 3 friends are soon drawn into the story and take off on an adventure. Is the story true? Does the doll ghost really exist or is Poppy just making it up? But what about the dreams and the creepy things that keep happening?
It's important to say this book is not just a horror story - at the core it is about friendship, acceptance and growing up. Each character is struggling with wanting to be more grown up, yet still yearns to play the same childhood games. They are starting to have different interests and each one is developing their own identity separate from the group. For Poppy, she worries that her friends are changing and pulling away from her. Both Zach and Alice struggle for acceptance with their families as well. Zach's father doesn't understand him and would prefer he only play sports. Alice's grandma doesn't understand her interest in the drama club and need for more independence. All these struggles play out subtly as the 3 friends embark on their adventure.
As I read this book I was reminded of my younger 12 year old self playing a variety of adventure games with my neighborhood friends all through the summer. We had such vivid imaginations and seemed to be able to easily "become" a character and get lost in the adventure. Those pretend characters helped us grow up and change - they allowed us to try on different identities and practice being grown up. Zack, Alice and Poppy's alter egos are part of their true selves - pretending and creating their fantasy games helps them to bridge the gap between adolescence and teenager. I hope I have done justice to this book and have convinced you to read it!
Select your top 10 picture books! Hop on over to Reflect & Refine with Cathy Mere to learn more about this fabulous event you don't want to miss.
What are you reading this week?