Dear readers, I ask you where has this summer gone? I had so much planned. Didn’t you? I need another month to finish the books I committed to reading. Thought I would catch up on my scrapbooking. All six years that I am behind. My mosaic, yeah, haven’t touched it. What did I do with my time?
Well, one thing I accomplished was reading a number of the books on the 2016-2017 Master List for the Texas Bluebonnet Award. Nine read, eleven to go. Hmmm, that doesn’t sound terribly impressive, does it? But remember, I am a slow reader.
One of the Bluebonnets I enjoyed most of all (so far) was The Terrible Two by Mac Bennett and Jory John, illustrated by Kevin Cornell.
My librarian sister (and only sister) read it first and said it was cute. The cover didn’t really speak to me…yeah, I know, I know. But I gave it a shot on Valerie’s recommendation. So glad I did. Mac Barnett and Jory John have written such a fun read. Kevin Cornwell’s wiry line caricatures are the perfect complement.
Miles Murphy is the new kid at school. He plans to quickly establish himself at Yawnee Valley Science and Letters Academy as the same preeminent prankster he was on his former campus. But Yawnee Valley’s number one, home-grown joker Niles Sparks has no intention of relinquishing his position. Not only is Niles deviously clever but he’s sly like a fox. He has the whole community believing he’s a model student of Boy Scout caliber.
Miles and Niles work hard to one-up each other with silly, outlandish pranks throughout much of the book. And within each of the short chapters, the authors have sprinkled little known cow facts as Yawnee Valley loves its bovines. Yawnee Valley, where counting moos is a community pass time. Cornwell adds black and white drawings of cows to his caricatures of the human characters in the book.
See that little cow on the bottom right corner of the page? He – she? – looks a lot like these
The cows reminded me of the Chick-fila ads. And made me hungry as I read the book.
Niles repeatedly suggests the boys join forces rather than work against each other but Miles refuses. For awhile.
The end of the story is satisfying and ties everything together comically. Even the cows. So, if you know a reluctant reader who “hates” to read, hurry to the library or over to Amazon to get a copy of The Terrible Two. Written on a 4.5 reading level, it’s quick pace, short chapters, energetic illustrations will win over even the most reticent reader. Buy your copy here.
The Texas Bluebonnet Selection Committee has put together a number of great resources including thoughtful discussion questions to use with The Terrible Two. Check out those resources, here.
I read and enjoyed two other Bluebonnet nominees in the last month. Before you get too impressed, these were picture books. Thirty-two pages each.
Poems in the Attic by Nikki Grimes, illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon, is a collection of poetry written in two voices. The poems on the right side of each two-page spread describe the many places a little girl lived growing up in a military family.
The poems on the left are written by the daughter of the little girl on right. She discovers her mother’s tanka poetry and crafts free verse responses to each. While the poems are sentimentally sweet, I kind of think the mother’s poems should have been on the left and the first ones read.
Seems to me the daughter’s responses would make more sense that way. Because they written as reflections on what her mother wrote as a little girl on the facing page. But what do I know.
The message of The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch by Chris Barton, illustrated by Don Tate, is such a strong one. And this book would be a perfect accompaniment to the study of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life and work. Lynch was a born to an enslaved woman and an Irish man, an overseer on the Mississippi plantation where his mother worked. John was a slave himself until Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. At the age of 16, he was free.
While many Mississippi blacks were still treated like slaves, Lynch was fortunate enough to land a job as a photographer’s messenger, then apprentice, finally running the studio himself. He attended night school and joined the Natchez Republican club as a way to bargain for voting rights for black men. Like King, Lynch worked peacefully to bring positive change and improvements to the lives of all people of color.
In this present day and time, where racial tensions are high across America, the life of John Roy Lynch offers an important lesson about instituting nonviolent change.
Poems in the Attic, available on Amazon here, is written on a 3.9 reading level and The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch, available here, is on a 5.7 level. Resources for both books are available on the Texas Bluebonnet Award website, here.
If you are a parent, what are you reading with your children? If they are older, what are they reading to you? Or to themselves? I know of nothing better a parent can do help ensure their children’s success in school than sharing books with them. Let them see you read. Have books in your home. Set aside time during the week/day where everyone in the house stops, drops and reads. Scholastic publishing company offers a wealth of information and tools for raising readers on their website, here. Check it out. Tell ’em Leslie the Librarian sent you.
Hope this “Summer Slide” series has been a helpful reference for those of you looking for a book to read with your babies. Well, not babies, exactly, but you know what I mean. And now that school is starting again, it is just as important to stay on top of your children and encourage them to read. Books, magazines, comic books. Reading is reading.
Speaking of reading…thank YOU for reading my blog. Hope you will come back again. And maybe even leave a comment below?
Hugs and kisses,