There was no real theme to this month other than that I went on a bit of a book-ordering rampage a few months ago, and, thanks to the nifty feature our library has that allows you to stagger your hold requests, the ripple effects of that rampage are still catching up to me. I’ve consistently had at least 5 books stacked on my desk patiently waiting for me to get to them for the past two months, and everytime I make progress more surprise books come in! Not to mention that I’ve been frontloading a bit as well… The pressure I’ve inadvertently put on myself is a bit overwhelming but I’m enjoying viewing it as a challenge. Plus it’s given me plenty of material to write about this month!
That is Not a Good Idea by Mo Willems (fiction)
Yes, of course, Mo Willems has made it onto my list again, this time with a pretty hilarious story of a seemingly naive but eventually truly cunning duck and a wolf who is not as sly as he thinks he is. A co-worker told me that when she teaches this book she tells the kids to yell “THAT IS NOT A GOOD IDEA” whenever they see the red letters on the page and both times I have tried it this month it has been an overwhelming success. Another thing I love about this book: its old-timey black and white silent film art style. You can almost hear the mischevious piano music playing as you read.
Rhyming Dust Bunnies by Jan Thomas (fiction)
I believe Jan Thomas has also made my list in months past. Her books are very funny, engaging, and have immediately recognizable and brightly colored images. This book, about four dust bunnies who want to show off their rhyming skills and one ignored dust bunny who is trying to keep his friends safe, was a huge hit with a visiting class of 5-year-olds this month. Best part: “No Bob, ‘LOOK OUT HERE COMES A VERY SCARY MONSTER WITH A BROOM!’ doesn’t really rhyme with anything, actually.” Love this book and love Jan Thomas.
Press Here and Let’s Play by Herve Tullet (fiction)
These books use simple, primary-colored dots and lines to get kids interacting with the text, along the way teaching them about prepositions, following directions, cause and effect, colors and numbers! Not to mention, these books are excellent tools for teaching the basics of digital literacy – the concept of “press here” and something will happen is not altogether very dissimilar from the buttons we press on a screen.
Super Happy Magic Forest by Matty Long
I had to stop while reading this book four separate times to double-check that the author/illustrator of this book is not also an animator for Adventure Time because the illustrations and the humor are just so darn similar. Alas, he is not. Still, this book is great for any child who wants to get in touch with his or her goofy side and any adult who gets a kick out of the same kinds of jokes that run through Adventure Time that may go right over the heads of the children whom this book is ostensibly written for.
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson (juvenile biography)
Brown Girl Dreaming is author Jacqueline Woodson’s truly wonderful free verse-style autobiography detailing her time spent growing up in three radically different states in civil rights-era America. Moving from Ohio, to South Carolina, to New York City and bouncing back and forth, Woodson unravels a beautiful narrative, perfectly capturing the voice of her young self as she ages from a toddler to a tween. With no set beginning, climax or end, it’s as if this portion of her life fades in and fades out, and we simply follow her along through the moments, big and small, that she can remember, almost like a collection of snapshots. As a huge fan of stories that focus on character development through non-traditional means, I easily fell for this book.
Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley (juvenile fiction)
Micah’s grandfather is dying and he needs a miracle – and fortunately he just may be able to get one, thanks to a promise made to him by a powerful magician made to him when he visited a strange magical circus in his youth. It is up to Micah to the find the magician and force him to keep his promise. I read this story for my children’s book club and I found it very much enjoyable, especially the illustrations at the end of almost every chapter and the magical world of the circus.
Timeline by Peter Goes (juvenile non-fiction)
This book is a ginormous and gorgeous account of world history from the beginning of the world to modern day. I appreciate the minimalist coloring of the images, which are sculpted into timelines of facts from each era, overtop a short paragraph about that era in history. This book is wonderful and a great read for advanced elementary schoolers and middle schoolers interested in history.
A Woman in Charge by Carl Bernstein
Since I read a Bernie biography last month I thought I would balance it out with a Hillary biography this month (though I chose audiobook form, since this book is considerably longer than the Bernie book!). Sometime during journalism school I was indoctrinated with a healthy distrust of Bernstein and Woodward, who have kind of a shady reputation among some journalists for ushering in a new era of murkily credible reporting with their unnamed source “Deep Throat,” and I was hesitant to choose a Bernstein work. Still I gave it a chance because some preliminary reviews told me it was very thorough and well-researched and I’m glad I did. I feel like I learned a lot from this biography and I’m still absorbing it to decide whether or not my opinion of Hillary has improved, gotten worse or stayed exactly the same. I do admire her strength and intelligence more than ever. I also wish it got more into her senatorial career.
How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran
I started reading this book because of Emma Watson’s GoodReads Book Club and though I didn’t finish it in time to actually participate in the discussion (and the volume of the group is such that I probably would be dissuaded from participating anyway) I appreciated the recommendation. This book was highly amusing and though I don’t necessarily agree with all of Moran’s opinions I appreicated her humorous take on feminist topics that by this point could have felt tired. A review on the cover calls it the British Bossypants [by Tina Fey] and I’d have to agree. Recommended for anyone looking for a bit of light, funny reading.