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Pneumonia Means Lots of Book Reading!

Posted by in Book Review

I’ve been cooped up in bed with pneumonia, so I’ve gotten to read a ton of fabulous books!


I’ll Give you the Sun, by Jandy Nelson

This has been my favorite read of 2014. I loved Jandy Nelson’s first book, The Sky is Everywhere, which is heart-breaking. Her new book is everything I want in a YA realistic novel: characters I care about, exquisite writing, compelling storylines, and a touch of book magic that I rarely encounter. This book is housed in my inner-book-library where only the books that profoundly touch my heart get shelved.


 Gracefully Grayson, by Ami Polonsky

This is a fabulous new book about a 6th grade transgender character. The writing is spot on. I devoured this book in an afternoon. 


The Paper Cowboy, by Kristin Levine

I loved Kristin Levine’s The Lions of Little Rock. Her new historical fiction takes place in a small town during the McCarthy era. I love that it is told from a bully’s perspective. People who bully are complex, just like all human beings. This book is based on the author’s own family experiences.


The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights, by Steve Sheinkin

I can see why this book is getting so much Newbery buzz. Like Sheinkin’s Bomb, this fascinating slice of history reads like a novel. I learned a great deal about the massive 1944 explosion at California’s Port Chicago Navy base, and the subsequent stand taken by fifty African American sailors who refused to keep working with bombs and ammunition in unsafe conditions. The Navy charged them with mutiny, and their courage had a profound impact on the Civil Rights Movement.

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Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek, a memoir by Maya Van Wagenen

I just finished this wonderful book. Maya is fifteen years old and such an accomplished writer. She writes about a year-long experiment conducted in her 8th grade year to follow the advice she found in a 1950′s popularity guide written by Betty Cornell, a former teen model. Her experiences range from funny (She wears pearls and cardigans to school) to brave (She decides to sit at every table in the lunch room and strike up conversations with everyone from the Volleyball Girls to the Goth Art Chicks). Her insights are poignant; here is what she learns about being popular: “Popularity is more than looks. It’s not clothes, hair, or even possessions. When we let go of these labels, we see how flimsy and relative they actually are. Real popularity is kindness and acceptance. It is about who you are, and how you treat others” (p. 254). There are fabulous pictures throughout the book illustrating Maya’s progress through Cornell’s recommendations. Every middle and high school library needs to buy this book! Maya contacted Betty Cornell, whose Teenage Popularity Guide has been republished, and their touching correspondence is included in the book.


Bone by Bone: Comparing Animal Skeletons, by Sara Levine, illustrations by T.S. Spookytooth

Written using a question/answer format (What kind of animal would you be if you had just a skull, vertebrae, and ribs? A snake!), this informational picturebook is full of interesting bone facts and clever illustrations.

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The Case of the Vanishing Honeybees: A Scientific Mystery, by Sandra Markle

The Case of the Vanishing Little Brown Bats: A Scientific Mystery, by Sandra Markle

I first discovered this excellent series when I read Markle’s The Case of the Vanishing Golden Frogs. The format is the same in all three books: teams of scientists around the world collaborate to investigate vanishing species.  Excellent photographs and diagrams are included throughout the books, and the text is highly engaging.


Shooting at the Stars: The Christmas Truce of 1914, by John Hendrix

This is the perfect time of year to share this historical moment of peace with older readers. 

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My New Friend is so Fun! by Mo Willems

Waiting is not Easy! by Mo Willems

New Elephant and Piggie books? Need I say more? I think not.

UP NEXT: I just started The Witch’s Boy, by Kelly Barnhill. It’s lovely so far!


Tagged in: Children's Novels Picturebooks Young Adult