Monday, February 4, 2013

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 2.4.13

Check out the It's Monday! What Are You Reading ?
meme at Teach Mentor Texts 
I don't take enough advantage of home delivery from my local library. It's as easy as going online to the card catalogue,  searching for a title, and clicking the "request home delivery" button. After seeing several picture books illustrated by Kadir Nelson on Monday reading posts, I requested a few titles from the library--sort of an illustrator, if not author, study.

Nelson's art plays with light and shadow in ways that make characters glow. Coretta Scott King shines, Henry is lit up with love when he meets his wife-to-be Nancy, in Moses When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom light leads. I enjoyed the different styles in the four books. In Change Has Come, Nelson is drawing,  squiggles and line make cheek and jaw, shadow and socket--the drawings, hardly simple, communicate much about Barack Obama's public presence. In Henry's Freedom Box, Nelson lays watercolor and oil paints onto crosshatched drawings of each scene--the lines adds depth and age, appropriate for the setting of Ellen Levine's story. I'm not a realistic painter. I tend toward abstract and whimsy. As I read I found myself wanting to imitate the art. I'd like to play around with crosshatched lines and color, see if I can work on shadowing. 

I finished the sequel to Monument 14, appropriately titled Monument 14: Sky on Fire by Emily Laybourne, The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily Danforth and Ashfall by Mike Mullin. 

In Monument 14 Sky on Fire, a biological  weapons spill left 14 children stuck in a super store to survive in the first book. In the second, the kids battle all manner of bad guys as they try to find a way out of the disaster zone. I don't want to spoil it, but I do want to praise bus drivers--Mrs. Wooly, the original bus driver, whose quick thinking got the kids to the store in the first place, just rocks. I have several students who look for series books to read, so this one will be a perfect hand-off later in the week.

After reading Ashfall by Mike Mullin, I now know what all the buzz has been about. It's scary. I'd never really thought about a super volcano in the States. I'm more familiar with hurricanes, sink holes and tropical storms. The supervolcano erupts from Yellowstone National Park and Alex, home alone, must fight his way across the state to find his family.  You can imagine the looting, the murder, the violence that erupts along with the volcano, but Alex is also blessed by good people who shelter, feed and heal him. The opening chapter begins with this line from Will Durant: "Civilization exists by geological consent, subject to change without notice." A haunting story, Ashfall put me on notice. As I read I couldn't help but think about The Day the World Exploded: The Earthshaking Catastrophe at Krakatoa written by Simon Winchester and illustrated by Jason Chin. Having read that made Ashfall all the more real to me. 

The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily Danforth deals sensitively with sexual questioning and "re-education" camps aimed at "curing" gay-minded teens. Danforth writes long. The story takes its time. Readers are served a full measure of drama, wonderings and angst. That familiar teenage song includes a new riff. Instead of lambasting the adults or the Christians that run God's Promise: Christian School & Center for Healing, Danforth writes her way through their humanity--broken as it is. When I finished the book I wanted to know more about it. I enjoyed the panel at ALAN that featured Danforth and other authors of LGBT fiction. This interview with Danforth from Slate drove home what I appreciated about the writing. Danforth does not use the story to judge. Instead she investigates complexity. In the Slate interview she admits that she wants "to see a more full picture, and I don’t think all of the people that would devote their lives to doing this kind of work can be so easily pigeon-holed as just monsters."  Danforth's telling walks in a different direction, toward. Admirable.

Next up?

I've got The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater and I'd really like to find something humorous or light (enough end of the world reading for me for a while!). I've also been toying with the idea of re-reading 1984. It was never a favorite. I may not have even finished reading it the first time I tried. It's  one of my book-gap books as Donalyn Miller describes. It's on my radar. I need to mine my gap and see what's lurking there. 


  1. Ashfall and Cameron post are definitely on my TBR pile. I LOVED The Raven Boys! Do you have some humor/light ideas? I would recommend Ally Carter's Gallagher Girls or Heist Society series. I thought Mothership was quirky and fun and honor of Valentine's Day, My Life Next Door was a really sweet romance. I am interested to see what you pick, I'll have to check back next week! Here is my list

  2. I tried reading The Miseducation of Cameron Post but just couldn't finish it! I want to try again, though. I think the writing is stellar, it's just so LONG! I need to read The Raven Boys as well. Love Stiefvater!

  3. Kadir Nelson has such amazing talent. Henry's Freedom Box is one of my favorites. I have zero artistic talent, but I love to look!

  4. Change has come and Coretta look wonderful... I'll have to put them on my wish list for our classroom library.

  5. I didn't know about Change Has Come-how nice to see a new book about President Obama. And Ashfall-didn't know what it really was about except it it is dystopian. I've traveled to Yellowstone with my students and when we were there, there were 'rumblings'. The students had studied about the volcano, & spent a lot of the trip researching "what if) scenarios. It is there, BTW! The Monument books look good too! Whew-more to read! Thanks, Lee Ann!

  6. I'll include your Kadir Nelson books in the World Wednesday round up. Thanks for posting them.