Monday, September 23, 2013

It's Monday! What Are Your Reading? 9/23/13

I am excited to be a part of the conversation at #IMWAYR! Thank you to SheilaJen and Kellee for inspiring and hosting this meme.

Recommended for everyone
It was a good reading week for me, mostly because I finally laid my hands on Kate Dicamillo's newest offering.  Have I mentioned that I love Kate Dicamillo?  I know that everyone loves Kate Dicamillo, but I like to think that my love is somehow bigger and better (when, of course, it's not).  I was a little bit scared when I saw Flora & Ulysses, in the way that we sometimes get scared because our hopes are high.  I'm happy to report, though, that Flora and Ulysses is perfect.  Really!  It's perfect.  The blending of K. G. Campbell's humorous illustrations with deep, rich language and themes that can be appreciated on every level make this book... well, perfect!

Several years ago at my school we read Dicamillo's The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane for our One Book, One School celebration.  Students and staff still mention Edward to me and tell me how much they loved reading it together.  I am already plotting Flora & Ulysses' One Book, One School debut at my school!

Recommended for gr. 5-8
Just about everything else would be a come down after Dicamillo, but I rebounded to enjoy a few others, including The 14 Fibs of Gregory K. Gregory is the youngest in a family of math geeks. He tries to please his parents by entering the citywide math contest, but what he really wants to do is go to author camp with his best friend. His parents are clueless and yet Gregory finds a way to combine his love for words with math via the Fibonacci Sequence. I liked the way Gregory found his own voice and his own passion, but thought that his parents were, at times, unrealistically oblivious. That said, this title will be wonderfully bibliotherapeutic for kids who are pressured academically.

Recommended for gr. 6-8

Ghost Hawk by Susan Cooper came to me loaded with a variety of expectations.  Before I started the book I read Debbie Reese's thoughtful and critical review, as well as other favorable reviews in Kirkus and Booklist.  I began the book with what I hoped was an open mind, but of course I was also reading with Reese's criticisms in the back of my mind.  The book takes place in the Massachusetts Bay Colony and provides an up close look at the terrible clash that occurred between the colonists and the Wampanoags.   While the book starts strong, the plot takes a highly unusual and unexpected twist midway through (which I won't reveal because it's a big spoiler) which, for me, really make the second half disjointed.  This, combined with the issues that Reese highlights, makes this title problematic for me as a librarian (and reader).  While I can envision Ghost Hawk being used successfully in a classroom setting to discuss stereotyping and the portrayal of Native Americans in literature,  I can't otherwise unambiguously endorse it.

For adults

Finally, my adult reading this week was dedicated to memoir that I first heard about on NPR's All Things Considered.  It took a few weeks to get to Son of a Gun by Justin St. Germain, but I'm glad that I did.  After St. Germain's mother is shot, presumably by her husband, St. Germain heads back to Tombstone, Arizona to see if he can find answers about what happened and why.   The memoir travels back and forward in time, showing painful childhood scenes that help explain how the story ends.  Throughout the book I kept thinking that I didn't have a good handle on who Debbie St. Germain was. On the one hand, she was fierce and strong, a former member of the military who started a number of businesses while raising her two sons.  On the other hand, she chose her partners badly, again and again.  By the end of the book, though, I realized that this is the contradiction that the author too was trying to work through.  I'm not sure that he ever entirely does, but that doesn't matter.  St. Germain's exploration of his mother's life and death is painful, honest, and ultimately illuminating.


  1. Wow! Son of a Gun sounds really amazing. I will have to add it to my TBR list. I absolutely love Kate DiCamillo also and will need to run out and get a copy of this one immediately. Have a good reading week!

  2. Hi there Laura, I looked at the link you shared on Debbie Reese's review of Ghost Hawk. Great discussions going on there, and you're right, incisive review too. Thanks for sharing your candid thoughts as well. I'm assuming this is the latest Susan Cooper title. I'm hoping to read The Dark is Rising series before getting to this one.