The gray skies get to us, the relentless cold makes it hard to get out of bed, and realizing that I will spend the next month planning my lesson for my next evaluation even though I could tell students how to find resources on culture in the 1960s in my sleep makes me want to hop on a plane to somewhere warm and tropical. Instead, I keep putting on a different wool skirt and jacket every day, biking in wearing 18 layers of outerwear, and trying to encourage children who would rather play Angry Birds on their phone than read that there are good books in the library.
So! It's a good time for an evil plan, right?
It's the SEVENTH ANNUAL GUYS READ PINK MONTH! Hard to believe, but it's been that long. I've started to encourage boys already to pick up books with girls on the cover. My 6th graders were involved in my Shannon Hale project, so they are very egalitarian in their reading choices. Considering that this is STILL an issue, (Read Tamsyn Murray's account, Unsuitable for Boys, which shows that the same nonsense goes on in the UK). More information next week, and possibly a celebrity spokesperson, so stay tuned.
Hang in there. Next week is Groundhog's Day. Maybe Punxsutawney
It's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday at Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe and What Are You Reading? day at Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers. It's also Nonfiction Monday.
Howard, J.J. Sit, Stay, Love
January 26th 2016 by Scholastic Paperbacks
Copy provided by Young Adult Books Central and reviewed there.
Cecelia is having a hard time-- her mother has left her and her father, and her father is struggling with a career change. He was a P.E. teacher, but after years in school has become a lawyer... but he takes cases that aren't terribly remunerative. When a fire damages the family home, Cecelia and her father has to move in with an aunt who does not care for pets. Cecelia spends a lot of time at the local animal shelter, helping out, and has recently found a pug with whom she has an instant connection. She knows she won't be able to adopt Potato herself, but she's not happy when the wealthy jock Eric Chung and his family do. Eric wants to prove to his very driven parents that a rescue dog can do well in a dog show, but Potato has bonded so closely with Cecelia that Eric has to ask for her help. Eric's sister becomes good friends with Cecelia, which helps both of their social lives, and Cecelia starts to realize that she really enjoys hanging out with Eric, even when they don't need to train Potato.
Strengths: This had so many good qualities! It showed a girl with realistic problems (housing insecure, struggling father) who is still trying to do good things in her community. It has a multicultural element as well. There is some friend drama, and most importantly, there is a light romance between characters who have shared interests and a mutual respect and friendship. Plus the cover is adorable. Love, love. love this!
Weaknesses: Boo, Scholastic! Paperback only! Plus, I would have liked this more if the mother hadn't run off. It would have made it more realistic, I think.
What I really think: This needs to be in hardback, and I need a LOT more books like this!
Ashman, Linda. Henry Wants More
Illustrated by Brooke Boynton Hughes
January 26th 2016 by Random House Books for Young Readers Copy provided by the publisher
Henry is a high energy toddler who wants to participate in all manner of activities with his family. By the end of the day, everyone is tired and glad when Henry falls asleep.
This is definitely a picture book for younger children, but I mention it here because it is one of the few instances I've seen (and admittedly, I don't read a ton of picture books) where the family includes an African-American mother, a fair-skinned, red-headed father, three children with complexions slightly lighter than the mother's, and no mention about race at all in the text. This is exactly what the We Need Diverse Books movement has been waiting for-- books about diverse characters that are not about diversity.