This month was consisted of several books I absolutely *loved.* So much so that I found myself writing “love love love” under several different titles when I was taking notes for this post. So, strap in for a lot of gushing! (Also I kind of slacked on picture books this month… I swear I read some but I didn’t read too many worth noting.)
Again by Emily Gravett
I chose this one to read for my storytime because I thought the illustrations, as always with Gravett’s work, were beautifully done and very creative. This is the story of a small dragon who wants his mom to read his favorite bedtime book again and again, much to the increasing impatience of his sleepy mother. The kids helped me yell “again, again!” each time the mother’s story was finished, and although I did apologize to the parents for teaching their children this word, I also told them they were welcome because repetition is one of the essential keys to early literacy! The best and worst part of this book comes at the very end, when the dragon is so angry he blows a fiery hole right through the book. While this resolution is not particularly satisfying, I did love that the book truly had a real, singed hole in its back cover.
Gracefully Grayson by Ami Polonsky (Juv)
I loved this story about a young child who was assigned male at birth but desperately wishes he could present female. I appreciated the evolution of the characters and Grayson’s ability to find a safe space and start to make positive changes amid some very serious bullying and lack of acceptance. A few small qualms – the librarian in me really wished someone, somewhere would give Grayson a resource he could read to understand what he was going through. Also, I wished Grayson would have had a better resolution with his unaccepting aunt, but I suppose that’s partially the moral of the story – things are never going to work out perfectly.
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han (YA)
This book, about the disastrous aftermath when a series of private love letters is sent out to all the boys main character Lara Jean once loved, was just stinking cute. It was a pretty standard YA-type novel full of crushes and weird circumstance, but I admired the fact that the main character was half-Korean and brought some of that identity into the story in authentic ways. On the topic of authenticity, I also though the conversations between characters were very well-written and natural, not striving too hard to be quirky or dramatic. In the end, this was a very good novel and I ordered its sequel immediately upon finishing it – I simply had to know what happened next!
Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson (Juv)
This was easily my favorite book I read this month and definitely one of my favorites of this year so far. Roller Girl is the tale of a twelve-year-old who finds her happy place at the Roller Derby. Astrid spends one trying summer of bumps and bruises and the rapid dissolution of her closest friendship, learning a lot about herself in the process. I loved this book for its portrayal of a truly unique group of people delivered in a very easy and engaging format – I unintentionally read the whole book in less than two hours because I could not put it down. I can not recommend this book highly enough.
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs (YA)
I appreciated this novel for its total weirdness. I absolutely adore black and white film photographs and I think they added just the right touch to the mystique of this eerie YA novel about the peculiar children who live on a remote island in Wales under the care of a time-traveling bird woman. I was a bit disappointed when I found out that time travel played a major part in this book because I felt like the book was headed in a different direction for some reason, and I also felt like there were some holes in the explanation of how the peculiar children’s world works that distracted me from the plot. However, I do think these portions will be more fully developed and made use of in the sequel of the novel and I have already ordered it to see what will happen next. I also am looking forward to the movie that is coming out at the end of September, especially after having seen the recently released trailer.
The History of Love by Nicole Krauss
Honestly, it took me a very long time to get into this one. There was a lot of interwoven plot that I didn’t at first pay quite enough attention to, but it all comes together beautifully at the end. This is at once a story about both love and loneliness, a tale of how we connect to other people told from the perspective of a very old man and a very young girl. I loved how open-ended the story left off. I know that bothers many of us who want to know definitively what happens to these people, but to me it was emblematic of one of the themes of this story – the messy, unending nature of life.
Bernie by Ted Rall
I read this for two reasons – I wanted to know more about Bernie Sanders and I thought the images were really attractive. I read one review that described this book as basically one long infographic and I have to agree. I don’t dislike that style – I actually kind of enjoyed it – but it caused the book to lose some of the finer detail. By the end, it became more of a propaganda piece for Bernie than a biography, going all the way up to almost the end of 2015. Read this book for the very interesting analysis of the modern Democratic party, not for all that much information about Bernie.