THIS ‘N THAT: Spring 2017

This month’s entry includes a variety of genres including 1 chapter book, 2 novels for middle year readers, 2 YA novels, 1 adult short story novel, 1 non-fiction memoir,  2 graphic novels,  and oh yes, 1 terrific new picture book!

UNBOUND by Ann E. Burg / Middle Years novel

How can white people own other people, sell them on the auction block, and separate families forever. Add Unbound to the list of special books about the American black slave experience, this story centred on a hidden community,   a real place, that sheltered people from bondage. Unbound is a beautifully-written free verse novel and a fine match to The Gospel Truth by Canadian author, Caroline Pignat. Books are listed alphabetically by author.

THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS by Kenneth Graham, adapted by Arujun Gaind; Illus. by Sankha Banerjee / Graphic novel

Many classic titles of children’s literature have been transformed into graphic novel format, such as this one with a beloved cast of rather quirky characters who spend lazy days by the river.

TWO BOYS KISSING by David Levithan / YA novel

Craig and Harry, once a couple, are determined to break the world’s record for the longest kiss at over 30 hours. As they embark on their mission, their fame spreads – for better and worse. Peter and Neil are another couple in the novel who’s relationship is on a rocky road. Similarly, Avery and Ryan, new boyfriends,  are learning about the ups and downs of starting a new relationship and being accepted by family and peers.  These couples along with Cooper who is trapped by the lure of online hookups tie the narrative threads of contemporary gay love and the haunting voices of those who have come before. David Levithan’s is an important author who writes novels about homosexual live with with frankness, hope and authenticity to mirror the lives that many young adolescents encounter.

MONSTER by Walter Dean Myers, Illustrated by David Anyabwile  / YA novel

Myers’s novel, Monster,  stands at the top of the heap of best YA fiction. The book has been transformed into a graphic novel format which invites comparison to the original text and serves as an appealing read to those young adolescents who enjoy the comic-like format.

ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE by Elizabeth Strout / Adult short story novel

Strout’s novel Olive Kitteridge was terrific.  As was her most recent novel, The Story of Lucy Barton. Anything is Possible is a novel told in short stories, where ucy Barton appears like a photo bombed character (except for one story where she has a very awkward reunion with her brother and sister) in these tales (somewhat sad) of love and redemption. What a great writer, Strout is, capturing moments and particulars in the lives of those trapped by fate – and dreams.

THE HATE U GIVE by Angie Thomas / YA novel

This novel has reached the #1 spot in the NY Times for YA Novels.  Put aside To Kill A Mockingbird, teachers and let adolescents ride on Starr Carter’s shoulders as she learns to cope battle against police brutality and racism and community and the dynamics of teenage life.

HILLBILLY ELEGY: A Memoir of a Family in Culture and Crisis by J.D. Vance / adult non-fiction

Vance’s memoir is an important document of life in the rust belt states.  Vance tells a personal story of both brokeness and hope to those caught in the web of  white working class struggle. The Vance family story, and J.D. Vance’s attempts to shake off the shackles of poverty and move forward is a strong story of poverty, abuse, alcoholism – and family loyalty –  and the burden of being ‘dirt poor’.

BLOB by David Walliams / Chapter book

David Walliams is funny funny funny. This short chapter book was written to help celebrate World Book Day in the UK (cost: 1 British pound), Bob has been told by the chlidren at his school he has a funny face but he rises above it all when Bob meets a blobfish called Blob, who is also known to have a very funny face. A funny story, and yes a heartwarming one too as a story of friendship and acceptance and – a menagerie of animal creatures looked upon as being ‘odd’.

BEYOND THE BRIGHT SEA by Lauren Wolk / Middle Years novel

Wolk’s Wolf Hollow was one of my favourite reads last year and I looked forward to reading her newest novel.  The island setting is a strong character in this novel. The story of a girl named Crow who mysteriously was washed upon on the shore of the small island, only to be rescued by Osh, a man with a secret past who unofficially becomes a surrogate father to the girl. Crow is on a mission to find out about her heritage and the adventure takes her to an island once inhabited by lepers. I look forward to reading other future novels by this talented author.

SHOUT OUT: Picture Book

THE GOLD LEAF By Kirsten Hall, Illus. Matthew Forsythe

A gold leaf shines forth on a tree in the forest, and each of the animals wants to take possession of the special leaf more than anything else in the world.  When the animals struggle over ownership, the leaf is destroyed. Leaves on trees return each year. Will each of the animals take a second chance and leave the leaf untouched? Love this book and am eager to share it as aclass  read aloud (and a gift to all  the youngsters in my life).