Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Recent Recommended Reads

I read and enjoy many more books than I can realistically blog about--for these books I am adding a “Recent Recommended Reads” section in the right column of my blog. These recommendations will be broken out into three broad sections: Picture Books, Children’s Chapter Books, and Young Adult Novels. I’ve included my classification guidelines below to be clear on what type of books will generally be included in each section.

Picture Books
While there are picture books out there for readers of all ages, the ones featured in this section of Recent Recommended Reads are likely to be appropriate for readers 0-7 years of age.

Children’s Chapter Books
In this section of Recent Recommended Reads I will feature chapter books (including standalone novels, series & graphic novels) targeted at readers ages 8-12.

Young Adult Novels
This section of Recent Recommended Reads will include books (standalone novels, series & graphic novels) that are intended for teenagers (13 and up). Keep in mind that books in this section could have content that some parents and educators feel is not appropriate for younger audiences.

Since I will not be writing full blog posts on my Recent Recommended Reads you may have questions about a book’s content, plot, target age group, reading level etc. Feel free to visit StorySnoops, WorldCat or NoveList K-8 Plus for more information.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Thoughts On Ninth Ward by Jewell Parker Rhodes

Lanesha lives with her elderly caretaker Mama Ya-Ya in the Ninth Ward of New Orleans. Just before Hurricane Katrina hits the Gulf Coast, the intuitive Mama Ya-ya dreams of the destruction heading for New Orleans. Lanesha is bright, studious, and equally as intuitive as her Mama Ya-Ya . Lanesha uses her special sight and intelligence to survive the storm and the wreckage that followed.

Some readers may have a different experience based on their knowledge of Hurricane Katrina--as for me, I picked up this book knowing what would happen in terms of major conflict. Even with this knowledge, Ninth Ward surprised me page after page. Lanesha has a great many challenges in her life--she’s been orphaned, she’s bullied and she is quite poor. Through all of this I found it impossible to take pity on Lanesha because she is so strong and resilient. The pity I might have felt for her is replaced with a faith that she will persevere and a curiosity about how she will do so. Jewel Parker Rhodes paints a portrait of Mama Ya-Ya that is crystal clear to the reader. We are made to understand her physical appearance, her smell, her movement and her essence as she guides Lanesha through life. We become attached to Mama Ya-Ya through Lanesha’s undying devotion to her caretaker. Perhaps Rhodes’ greatest triumph in this book is overcoming the reader’s existing knowledge of the storm and making this story fresh and brand new.

As a reader of Children’s and Young Adult Literature I have to remind myself that the majority of the adult population does not usually read books targeted at tweens. I also have to use my “everybody should read this book” statements sparingly. That being said, I think anyone from age ten to one hundred and ten will gain something by reading Ninth Ward.

Find Ninth Ward at a library near you!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

An Alphabet Book With Staying Power: ABC Kids by Simon Basher

ABC Kids by Simon Basher is a different class of alphabet book. As expected, Basher offers the reader the routine “A is for...” example which is helpful for very young readers as they learn their alphabet. What makes this book different, and applicable for older children, is an alliterative sentence for each letter. If you need a refresher on alliteration--here’s an example: Mary mastered making muffins. I personally recommended this book to a friend with a one-year-old and a four-year-old knowing both kids could gain something from the book--I hope your young reader will too.

Find ABC Kids at a library near you!