It’s Monday! What are you reading?

IMWAYRI have been gone from writing for a few weeks but have been reading along the way. I said I was going to read

  • The Witch’s Boy- new from Kelly Barnhill
  • Hope Springs – new from Eric Walters
  • Bad Magic – new from pseudonymous bosch
  • Boys of Blur – new by N. D. Wilson

But I didn’t – several library e-books showed up and my thoughts traveled in different directions.  So those four books will be on this weeks list to read.

Here is what I really read:

  • West of the Moon by Margi Preus51lDaKtY93L._AA160_

West of the Moon takes the old Norwegian folk tales to help us understand the thinking and emotions of Astri as you navigates her way to rebuilding her family. She is sold to the local and not so nice goat farmer, her mother has died, father traveled to America to seek his fortune and her little sister still living with her aunt. Astri is a strong and determined girl who helps us understand what life was like as people began to emigrate to America in the mid nineteenth century from Norway.

This middle grade novel is full of adventure and a feel of magic. Although this magic is what people believed in through the folk stories it was the quick thinking, planning and action that brings this small family to safety in America. It would be a good book to read along side a folk tale unit or in a family unit.  Preus built this story from the diary of her great-great-grandmother who made this journey to America.

  • brown girl dreaming by Jacqueline Woodsonurl

Woodson had me at the first poem – i am born. Her verse pulls you through her life and the sometimes glorious times and the oh so very hard times of growing up in the 60’s. It is a story that gives you the truth about families and living both in the South and the North.

This books deals with race, families and finding ones place and voice as a writer. It is a book to be shared and discussed. I made connections because I lived through those times but for students today it would be important to share the history of those days, to discuss what was happening in America while Woodson was growing up. It is a perfect text to use to discuss events of the summer and how things have changed or not changed for people of color in America. An important read for many reasons.

  • Beholding Bee by Kimberly Newton Fuscojpeg

Fusco has written a wonderful story set during WWII about a young girl seeking a home, a family and her own strength. Bee is living in the back of a hauling truck of a traveling show or circus. She is twelve, helping to make hot dogs and popcorn all day and being taken care of by Pauline, who is sixteen. This is no life for a young girl and even worse for a girl with a “diamond” on her face.

Bee was born with a large birthmark on her face, which Pauline has told her is a diamond that came when she was kissed by an angle. Bee knows this diamond gets her teases, stared at and called many names. People are afraid of her and are sure she is a witch or at the very least has some diseases that would be catching.

Fusco shows us the building of a strong female character as Bee goes out on her own seeking a real home. There is a bit of fantasy as Bee’s ancestors come to act as guides for Bee on her journey but also some wonderful community members who don’t see her as a child with a disability.

The strong themes for this book are family, endurance (not giving up), bullying, disabilities and finding ones voice. It would be a great read aloud with lots to discuss as a class.

  • Gracefully Grayson by Ami Polonsky411XN8ZXNSL._AA160_

Gracefully Grayson will be released early in November of this year. Grayson, like Bee, is being raised by someone other than his parents. His parents died in a car crash and he is now living with his Aunt and Uncle. They are kind and supportive, sort of, but he is struggling with the lose of his parents and also his own identity.  He loves dresses, flowing clothes, and bright colors. He wears a black hoodie, baggy pants and draws castle and queens in a hidden notebook.

This story takes us through Grayson’s first year of middle school with bullies, finding and losing friends, getting the lead in a school play (the lead is a girls part) and learning to come to terms with his true feelings. Polonsky has done a wonderful job of dealing with the big question “what if who you are inside does not match who you are outside?”

This is a powerful read with lots of room for discussion about a sensitive topic. It would be a must pre read before sharing with your classroom.  I found myself unable to put it down as Grayson explores who he feels he really is.

Ok, so now I will go back to reading what I said I would –

Happy Reading this week –  Today was International Literacy Day

60/60 – the Challenge is 60 extra seconds of reading a day for 60 days – Go for it!

Let the reading begin – there are so many great new books out there or great old books as well.


About Joanne Toft

I am a retired Minneapolis Public School teacher. I walk, garden, care for my Grandson and write. Life is good!
This entry was posted in Book Review and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to It’s Monday! What are you reading?

  1. Myra GB says:

    More love for Brown Girl Dreaming! I really hope we get a copy in our libraries here in Singapore soon.

  2. It just came out so here is hoping it comes your way quickly!

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