Friday, December 11, 2015

Good Books to Treasure All Year Long

I’m continuing our Teaching Authors series on good books we’ve been reading. Esther began with her list and highlighted one that carried her heart in its heart. (How I love that description!) April continued with her poetry favorite of the yearone of mine, too! Mary Ann listed three memorable YA novels. Ive added them all to my long To Be Read list.

Like Mary Ann, I read a lot. Unfortunately, I dont remember much, so when I find a book I really enjoy, I read it again. And maybe again after that. Here are a few of my recent reads that deserve a second or third look. Im including brief excerpts to give you a taste of their tone and style.

Lizard Radio by Pat Schmatz. I love the inventive yet understandable language. This book made me think about gender identity and how complicated our society makes it.

I have ten ticks to clean up and get to the Mealio. I drop the komodo in my pocket with the acorn, strap on my frods, and take off at a run. Pounding the earth, sucking in air, fire in my heart and blood rivers rushing through my body. Theres nothing in the world that feels as good as Lizard Radio in the great non-imaginary outdoors.

Coincidentally, several of my recent reads have strong fairy tale themes. 

Mechanica by Betsy Cornwell. After her father dies, a girl becomes a servant to her stepmother and stepsisters in her own home. She finds her mothers hidden workshop and learns how to build magical mechanical creatures.

“Most wonderful of all, I found other survivors from Mothers insect-making days, the buzzers Id so loved as a child, hidden in little boxes between her books or forgotten at the backs of drawers. By my fourth day in the workshop I had discovered two fat, gold-plated beetles; a week later, a many-jointed caterpillar that made loud ratcheting noises as it crawled across my desk joined their ranks. Within a month, I had found three spiders with needles for legs and steel spinnerets loaded with real thread; a large copper butterfly, so light and delicate that even with a metal wingspan the size of my two hands, it could glide and flutter about the room; and a little fleet of five dragonflies, their wings set with colored glass. 

Ash & Bramble by Sarah Prineas. Pin is a Seamstress, playing a role in a Story controlled by the powerful Godmother. Pin and Shoe, a Shoemaker, decide to break out of its confines.

“Coming around a bend, we see the waterfall slamming into the river with the city high on the cliff beyond. The sun is setting, and the waterfall looks like a veil of lace, and the white stone of the castle in the distance is tinged pink and gilded at its edges.
Then the sun drops out of the sky and the hollow boom of the castle clock rolls out—it is the sound of a gravedigger knocking on a tomb door.

Dark Shimmer by Donna Jo Napoli. I havent even finished this one yet, but Im awed by the eerie perspective with which it begins. It turns into a huge surprise that I wont reveal here. 

My knee split open in the fall. But Im all right. I pick pebbles from the gash. Im all right, Im all right.
The boys creep up on bowed legs white as sticks without the bark, especially Tonsos skinny leg, the one that never grew right. They peer in all directions.
I stand up. Im older than these boys, but not by much. Still, theyre half my size.

Eager to look ahead, I started gathering all the best books lists I could find. Because I think the world needs more awareness, I added a few lists that celebrate diversity. Then I found Publisher’s Weekly’s comprehensive “A Roundup of 2015’s Best Book Lists for Kids and Teens,” a good place to start. Here are links to more lists.
  • Chicago Public Library’s Kids’ Lists (Best Informational Books for Older Readers, Best Fiction for Older Readers, Best Informational Books for Younger Readers, Best Fiction for Younger Readers, and Best Picture Books of 2015
  • Toronto Public Library’s First & Best 2015 (best Canadian books to help kids get ready for reading)

I cant wait to dig in! Happy reading!

Today’s Poetry Friday Roundup is at A Teaching Life. Enjoy!

JoAnn Early Macken


Bobbi Miller said...

Happy Reading, indeed!! What a list! Thank you for these recommendations!

Linda B said...

So many wonderful lists! Thanks, JoAnn. I don't know any of the books you shared, will put them on my ever-growing list. Ash & Bramble sounds especially good!

JoAnn Early Macken said...

Yes, aren't we lucky to have so many excellent choices? After I finish one more important task (or maybe two), I'm promising myself some extra reading time.

Carmela Martino said...

Thanks, JA. Your description of MECHANICA (which I hadn't hear of) reminds me of CINDER by Marissa Meyer. Have you read that one?

jan godown annino said...

Appreciations, Jo Ann & Merry Christmas!
Your book reviews are good guides.

On the wealth of lists you share, I said Yay! when I saw that IRENA'S JARS of SECRETS by Marcia Vaughan with illustrations from Ron Mazellan is on Lee & Low's list. (They pubbed it in 2011.) It's a lesser-known story of bravery during The Holocaust & beautifully told.

Can't get to all the lists now, but hope to return.

JoAnn Early Macken said...

Thanks, Marti and Jan, for your additions to my list! Happy holidays, everyone!