- Middle Grade
Middle grade is definitely my wheel house, I love middle grade novels because they’re not afraid to address the “tough topics”, but I like the underlying layer of hope. YA sometimes is too dark for me!
- Historical Fiction
I grew up devouring historical fiction – I loved Caddy Woodlawn, Little House on the Prairie, all the American Girls books and pretty much anything else. I’m not even particular about what period in history, I love it all!
- Diverse Characters
Find me a book that discusses a culture, religion, disability, race, etc. and I’m happy. I think diversity is so important and I’m enjoying so many of the books that are becoming available that are diverse, but not about diversity.
- Magical Realism
I love books with just a little bit of magic, in a very real world atmosphere. I always say that when a book starts with a map and ends with a glossary of words (usually in a made up language), I’m done!
- Realistic Fiction
I really enjoy realistic fiction middle grade novels – I’m not sure exactly what it is about this specific genre, but I love them. I think I like that kids can see themselves in these novels and relate to these characters or be able to understand their friends and classmates. These books are powerful in creating a safe space for kids to learn.
- Fairytale Re-telling
Tell me a story is a fairytale re-telling and I’ll pick it up right away. I love fractured fairy tales, retellings and everything in between. I think it’s because I already have a familiarity with the story so I get to enjoy the story that much more. It’s like visiting an old friend and not even needing to say anything, but just start up where you last left off.
I enjoy coming-of-age novels because you can see so much growth in the protagonist. I lean more toward the younger side of coming-of-age and definitely more recently published books over the classics, but it’s a story arc that I enjoy and am always looking out for.
- Novels in Verse
I didn’t read novels in verse as a child, but I really enjoy them as an adult (still in the middle grade age range), because they use language in such a strong way. You have to try really hard to create a novel in verse that is both powerful and accessible and those are my favorite.
I love mysteries – I grew up reading The Boxcar Children, Encyclopedia Brown, Nancy Drew, the usuals. I think the anticipation of trying to solve the crime and the adventure that is involved it what makes this genre work for me.
I seriously considered an art history minor in college – I love art of all types, painting, photography, ceramics, sculpture, whatever you can find. If a book incorporates art (usually in a mystery), it will automatically get added to my TBR list.
Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Book
Abrams Books for Young Readers sent me T. Veg: The Story of a Carrot-Crunching Dinosaur written by Smriti Prasadam-Halls and illustrated by Katherina Manolessou to review.
“Reginald the T. Rex had a fierce and mighty roar!” He also happened to be a vegetarian T. Rex, choosing broccoli, beans, grapes, and greens. This is an interesting take on being a vegetarian – being different from his family and friends. There are few picture books about being vegetarian and I like how accessible this story is for young children – kids love dinos!
The story itself has a great rhyme and rhythm to it. I love rhyming books – they are so fun to read out loud. There was just one stanza that tripped me up, and it happens regularly in picture books. The word again being used to rhyme with games – and it may all depend on how you pronounce again, but it’s something that tripped me up the first time I read through the story.
The illustrations are bright and bold with pinks, oranges, greens and reds. The illustrator is also a printmaker which can be seen in the illustrators with print-like layers of colors which makes for very busy and exciting illustrations that would make for great conversation with children about food choice, healthy eating and what it means to be a friend.
I really enjoyed The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge this week – a mystery story with a fantastical element set in 19th century Victorian England. It’s an interesting look at gender roles at a time when women were not expected or encouraged to be educated. I also, finally, got my hand on The Hate U Give by debut author, Angie Thomas. It’s a story with its roots in the Black Lives Matter movement and was such a real story that I finished in a day and haven’t stopped thinking about yet. There’s talk about books being mirrors and windows and this story is both – a mirror for so many teens growing up in a low-income neighborhood, while it is very much a window for make teens who have never experienced what Starr, the main character, experiences on a daily basis. Angie Thomas writes very much like teens speak and although the language, sexual content, and violence may be too much for more conservative people, this story directly reflects what has been happening across this country and was truly eye-opening and educational for me. This is a must-read!
I have finally started The Unexpected Life of Oliver Cromwell Pitts by Avi and am already enjoying this high adventure, historical fiction story about a boy in search of his family and on the run from a crime he couldn’t help, but commit. I’m not sure what else I plan on reading this week, but I’ve got a bunch of ARCs I still want to finish before summer starts, so most likely I’ll pick up one of those!
Join Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers and share all of the reading you have done over the week from picture books to young adult novels. Follow the links to read about all of the amazing books the #IMWAYR
My goal was to get this list out during Black History Month, but in all honesty these are amazing books that can be read any time of the year. Like my chapter book list, this list includes historical fiction, realistic fiction and fantasy novels with characters that are black, biracial from around the world.
- Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor
- Fly Girl by
- The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
- The First Part Last by Angela Johnson
- Golden Boy by Tara Sullivan
- This Side of Home by Renée Watson
- Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor
- Monster by Walter Dean Myers
- Copper Sun by Sharon Draper
- The Boy In the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds
- The Chaos by Nalo Hopkinson
- Hot Girl by Dream Jordan
- If I Tell by Janet Gurtler
- Tyrell by Coe Booth
- After Tupac & Foster by Jacqueline Woodson
- Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson
- How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon
- Fake ID by Lamar Giles
- Bronx Masquerade by Nikki Grimes
- Kindred by Octavia E. Butler
- The Skin I’m In by Sharon G. Flake
- Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older
- All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely
- The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
I was given the first three board books and the first picture book in the series by Abrams Appleseed to review and these darling books are going to be very popular! The board book series focuses on community helpers – I’m a Librarian, I’m a Firefighter and I’m a Veterinarian. Each of which follows a day in the life of a community member of Tinyville Town. I also received Tinyville Town Gets to Work! which is about the whole town coming together to work on a project. In this first picture book, there is a traffic jam on the old bridge and the mayor decides that a larger bridge needs to be built because the town is growing. I love how the story introduces a number of familiar characters, but also new community members like the township planner and architect, a journalist and construction worker.
I think what I liked most about these books is that Brian Biggs, the author/illustrator truly makes the characters diverse in gender, race and even sexual orientation (depending on who the librarian’s partner is – all we see is a short hair cut in bed when the librarian wakes up and goes to sleep). I love that you can look at any page and see a truly diverse group of people and that throughout the series the characters overlap as the firefighter takes the firehouse dog to the veterinarian. Some have compared this series to Richard Scarry’s world and Sesame Street’s small town feel, but I like that Brian Biggs uses actual people rather than anthropomorphic animals. I think these board books are going to great for kids and for preschool classrooms when discussing community helpers! Abrams also has a great teacher guide with vocabulary, questions about the stories and even a few activity pages for kids to use! The first few books were published last fall with a few more planned throughout this year and I know a bunch of little kids who will be getting this series for birthdays and holidays!