The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses

+-+8067188_140Paul Goble’s classic picture book retells a Native American legend about a girl who loved wild horses so much, she lived among them and understood them. When her family came looking for her, she had to go back for a time, but eventually they understood she needed to be with the horses.

Beautifully illustrated (it won the 1979 Caldecott), The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses stuns with brilliant colours and details.

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Home of the Brave

Home of the Bravea novel-in-verse by Katherine Applegate, is a moving story about Kek, 9780312367657who as a refugee from Sudan who as seen atrocities never loses hope of seeing his mother again. This story has an authentic and perceptive voice, beautiful language and touching characters who shoulder their resiliency in different ways.

If you loved Inside Out and Back Againthis is a great choice, albeit for slightly older readers (upper middle grade to teen and up).

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The Plot Chickens

PlotIf you are looking for a funny book about writing, pick up The Plot Chickens by Mary Jane and Herm Auch. Full of egg humour and silly chickens, this picture book still manages to instill sound plot writing tips as well as publishing woes such as rejection letters, self-publishing and bad reviews. This is for children and aspiring writers everywhere.

Try some chicken activities (and I don’t mean cooking), and some writing.

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The Girl Who Heard Colors

UnknownSince I just reviewed a middle grade book about synesthesia, I wanted to highlight this picture book. It has non-fiction elements in a narrative format, telling the story of Jillian who could hear sounds and how she and others deal with this. Phrases such as “tickling touch” and “the wind in the pines blew soft gray” highlight the five senses. Vanessa Brantley-Newton‘s illustrations pop out on the page while Marie Harris gives a good explanation of synesthesia in her author’s note in the back.

Extend the interest by writing metaphors and studying the five senses.

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We Were Liars

What can I say about We Were Liars by E. Lockhart? It’s an amazing read. It’s suspenseful, psychological and there’s a surprise that makes it hard to review. The teens featured in this book are cousins (and one honorary cousin) who summer on a private we-were-liars3island near Martha’s Vineyard. There’s racial tension and money tension and family tension. It’s been compared with King Lear and Wuthering Heights

Cadence tells her story in first person. Something has happened and she is being kept from summering on the island she loved. Summer seventeen she goes back. She doesn’t know why the island has changed, why her cousins and Gat stay cooped up in one of the houses, why her grandfather has erased their memorabilia. The reader uncovers the clues as Cadence does, and it’s scarily thrilling, filled with teenage injustice and its repercussions.

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A Mango-Shaped Space

0316523887Thirteen-year-old Mia can see colours, colours in words, colours in sounds, but no one knows because of one incident when she was in grade three. She keeps this mystery to herself until she finds out what she has: synesthesia. (Find out more about this interesting condition–Mary J. Blige has it). Once she begins learning about the condition and finding others who have it, Mia’s world opens up. She begins leaving friends and family out while she explores the facets of being a synesthete.  Mia is also dealing with the loss of her grandfather, whose eyes she sees in her sickly cat, Mango. Written by Wendy Maas,  A Mango-Shaped Space is an interesting read about growing up.

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Lindbergh: The Tale of a Flying Mouse

It takes a mouse to inspire history. Ever resourceful, imaginative and persistent, a little Lindbergh-232x300mouse decides to escape mouse traps and cat predators by flying like bats. He just has to figure out how to build a set of wings. When he finally succeeds, he makes a transatlantic flight that inspires a little boy named Charles Lindbergh.

Fun and beautiful to read, Lindbergh also has several mechanical sketches for future engineers.

The final pages give “a short history of aviation” by author/illustrator Torben Kuhlmann.


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ws_brian-fpo-rightMy nine-year-old loved this book. She told me to make sure I really paid attention to the pictures because they tell a different story than the words. She was right, of course. Brian Selznick‘s Wonderstruck tells two distinct stories, one in words and one in pictures, and by the end, they meld.

Both stories are full of wonder, connections and museums. Ben Wilson’s story begins in 1977 in Minnesota where he begins a search for his father after his mother dies. Rose’s story is told in pictures, beginning in 1927 when she escapes her house to cross the river and watch a silent movie in New York. Later we understand she is deaf, and the change from silent movies to talkies isolates her more than she already is. Both Ben and Rose search for important pieces to their lives, and they both need New York City for this.

It’s a lovely book, both parts, and the way it fits together.

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Except If

Jim Averbeck‘s simple and funny picture book with a circle plot questions assumptions except if front cover sizedevery page of the way. Who says a book for the very young can’t be complex as well? This book is proof. It’s also a fun read and sure to garner some giggles.

Be sure to follow up with a few rereads to notice the metamorphic illustrations. As an extension, have an animals from eggs discussion.

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The Fault In Our Stars

It’s always nice when a book that is so talked about actually surprises you with its goodness. The Fault In Our Stars is indeed a very good book, and although its characters are either cancer survivors or cancer sufferers, cancer remains on the back burner while the beautiful love story pushes out to centre stage. Listen: ” ‘I am in love with you, and I’m not in the business of denying myself the simple pleasure of saying true things. I’m in love with you, and I know that love is just a shout into the void, and that oblivion is inevitable, and that we’re all doomed and that there will come a day when all our labor has been returned to dust, and I know the sun will swallow the only earth we’ll ever have, and I am in love with you.’ ” (Augustus to Hazel Grace, p. 153)

FC9780525478812Now I know I may have scared some of you off by saying this is a love story, but it is. It’s not romance, as in the genre of romance, but there is a little romance in it (the dinner scene in Amsterdam for example) and it’s all wholly unexpected, not forced but beautiful.

So before you see the movie, read the book by John Green.

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