As I’ve mentioned in the past, part of my goal through this blog is to increase my reader’s advisory skills, and as part of that I’m going to round up and quickly review my favorite things I’ve read each month. Here’s what I loved in January:
“The Color Thief” by Andrew Fusek Peters:
What an important book. I have several loved ones who have struggled with depression or anxiety and I can only imagine the impact it must have on a small child to see their parent suffering through it. Beautifully illustrated, simply told from the perspective of the child, all around a great read.
“Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!” by Mo Willems
This is not a new one – it was first published in 2003 and I know many librarians know and love this book and the author, but I have particularly been loving this book this month because I used it in several story times for preschoolers and toddlers. It’s one of those great books that is able to make parents laugh as much as the kids (and often more) and it has minimalist illustration, which tends to be my favorite and easier for the kids in a large group setting to see. The best part is when the kids really catch on that it’s interactive and will yell “No!” back at the pigeon each time he asks to drive the bus.
“My Teacher is a Monster! (No I am Not)” by Peter Brown
I initially snagged this from a display because it looked like a fun read for my storytime but I decided ultimately that it was a bit too long and involved to hold their attention. Still, it’s a pretty amusing funny book, again with very simple illustrations, about a boy who has an awkward encounter with his scary teacher outside of school. Hilarious dialogue and some quality teacher-student bonding ensues. By the end, young Bobby realizes his teacher is not so monstrous after all! Maybe…
“Wonder” by R.J. Palacio
I loved everything about “Wonder” …well almost everything. I thought it handled a potentially difficult topic – physical difference – with grace and style. It was funny and sometimes sad, I loved the multiple perspectives it used to tell the story, and I appreciated the variety of families and personalities displayed. My only qualm was with the ending, which I felt was overly cheesy and inconsistent with the rest of the novel. Otherwise I would definitely recommend it and I hope I can reschedule our elementary book club after Winter Storm Jonas cancelled it so I can see what some of the kids at our library thought!
“All the Bright Places” by Jennifer Niven
Oh, goodness. I was crying for the last 100 pages of this book and then for a good 10 minutes after finishing it. I read the whole thing in less than a day. I have heard a lot of comparisons between this book and “The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green but I think that’s unfair. There are some similarities, but while I enjoyed TFIOS I think this book was a lot more genuine and the characters were a bit more authentic. The descriptions of one of the main character’s depression hit me a lot harder because it felt strikingly familiar to my experience talking to loved ones who experience depression. Definitely would recommend but only if you have a box of tissues.
“Fates and Furies” by Lauren Groff
This one has been in my TBR pile for a while now but I became more and more interested after hearing an interview with the author on NPR and then finding out that Obama named it his favorite book of the year. I was really hooked. I thought it was an insightful examination of marriage (from an author who is married but is pretty against the institution) and especially the role of women. I have read a lot of criticisms which are valid to an extent – mainly that it was a bit far-fetched and the characters unlikable – but I’ve been thinking a lot lately about whether we even need to like the characters to like the book. I think not, in this case.
“The First Bad Man” by Miranda July
What a strange and delightful novel. I picked it up after seeing Lena Dunham post about it, so I probably should have expected how weird it was, but I really wasn’t. Sometimes I hated it, sometimes I loved it, most of the time I was laughing out loud at the totally strange and awkward yet somehow at times relatable main character. Pick it up if you have a *very* open mind. I’m still trying to figure out all the ideas I was supposed to get out of it but I do think at the end that I liked it.