Summer = Reading
This is a standard equation in my world. When it’s hot and humid outside, my inner thermometer registers Books.
Thanks to the Normal Public Library’s reading program, A.R.K.S. (Adults Reading Kids Stuff), I’ve had plenty of interesting books to keep me entertained. My favorites were:
Anne Frank: Beyond the Diary
A Wind in the Door
Quirky, Jerky, Extra Perky: More About Adjectives
Marie Curie (Giants of Science)
This year, I completed all 25 books for the challenge, and it was, indeed, the Year of the Cookie. All my disappointment from last year has now been assuaged. For all my reading labor, I received two coupons for a free Great Harvest cookie, a buy one/get one free coupon for Fusion Brew, and a Steak ’n Shake milkshake. How sweet it is! There certainly are many benefits to reading.
What follows is a brief summary for each book I read, organized by the reading program categories. Have you read any of these books? And almost as important: Did you get any treats for reading them? Do share!
Reader’s Choice (6 books)
Beatrice Doesn’t Want To, Laura Numeroff | Beatrice’s brother has a report due for school, so they must visit the library several days in a row. The visits do not appeal to little Beatrice, who whined many times, “But I don’t want to!” This all purpose cry fit for going to the library, looking at books, being quiet, sitting still, and so on. By the third visit, Beatrice has newfound love for books in the children’s room, and her standard reply is given once more—this time because she doesn’t want to leave the library, books, quiet, and comfy chairs.
Inch by Inch, Leo Lionni | Lionni is both author and illustrator for this whimsical storybook. A little inchworm is employed by various animals to measure their various features: necks, legs, wingspan, and even the nightingale’s song.
Dearly, Nearly, Insincerely: What Is an Adverb? Brian Cleary | Clever rhyme and humorous illustrations describe all sorts of adverbs—from adverbs of manner (slowly, quietly), to frequency (seldom, always), to quantity (somewhat, hardly), to timeframe (first, next). Part of a series called Words are CATegorical.
How Much Can a Bare Bear Bear? What Are Homonyms and Homophones? Brian Cleary | Clever rhyme and humorous illustrations explain the difference between a homonym (toasting with toast) and a homophone (a hoarse horse). Part of a series called Words are CATegorical.
Quirky, Jerky, Extra Perky: More About Adjectives, Brian Cleary | Clever rhyme and humorous illustrations explain the uses of descriptors, “Like sly, sarcastic, so fantastic, enthusiastic, and elastic, adjectives make phrases sing and keep our language interesting!” Part of a series called Words are CATegorical.
Stop and Go, Yes and No: What Is an Antonym? Brian Cleary | Clever rhyme and humorous illustrations explain the difference between antonyms like quietly and loudly as well as shamefully and proudly. Part of a series called Words are CATegorical.
Picture Book or Fiction (6 books)
Tuesday, David Wiesner | During last year’s A.R.K.S., I read—or is it looked at?—Wiesner’s Flotsam. Tuesday was equally enjoyable! It follows the magic of a Tuesday night that launches a fleet of frogs upon lilly pads to an adventure around town. This wordless book is a wondrous visual adventure.
The Mammoth Academy, Neal Layton | Even mammoths need schooling, right? Here we follow a curious mammoth that unravels a mystery and saves the academy with his investigative spunk.
Little Leap Forward: A Boy in Beijing, Guo Yue & Clare Farrow | A poetic tale based on Guo Yue’s childhood in Beijing. It has a rather haunting lilt . . . Guo is a muscian, a flutist—I could almost hear the words floating on one of his songs.
Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed, Mo Willems | This is a sweet story with great illustrations about a naked mole rat who wants to wear clothes among those who don’t. With humor, it teaches confidence and individuality and acceptance of those who are a bit different. Who knew that naked mole rats had belly buttons?
A Closer Look, Mary McCarthy | Each topic in this book has a series of illustrations to show various aspects of an object. First the picture is magnified to show details, the second picture is less so to show shapes and edges—and finally, the entire object is shown as a whole. Very artsy!
Milo Armadillo, Jan Fearnley | Little Tallulah has her heart set on a fluffy pink bunny. Her grandmother knits one for her, but it turns out to be an armadillo instead. Although disappointed at first, soon Tallulah and Milo become dear companions in a story that reminds us that our best friends may be quite different than what we had in mind.
Nonfiction or Biography or Fairy Tale (6 books)
Anne Frank: Beyond the Diary, Ruud van der Rol and Rian Verhoeven | Chronicles Anne Frank’s life from birth to childhood to early end in the Nazi camps. As with all such books detailing this era, it was hauntingly deep.
Marie Curie, Kathleen Krull | A detailed biography of a brilliant woman. Her passion for science and learning are inspirational, making chemistry sound way more interesting than I found it during high school. This book is from a series on famous scientists (Giants of Science)—I plan to read more of them next summer.
The Grasshopper’s Song: An Aesop’s Fable Revisited, Nikki Giovanni and Chris Raschka | I’ve not read the original version, so I’ve no idea how much this book resembles it. Here bugs and critters go to court to determine if the grasshopper’s song and music should be compensated because it offers encouragement for the ants gathering food supplies. Interesting story concept, but not my favorite read in terms of the dialogue.
The Magic Pomegranate: A Jewish Folktale, Peninnah Schram | Based on the Jewish teachings stressing that the one who has given the most freely and selflessly is the one who is the greatest among us.
The Bill of Rights, Norman Pearl | An informative overview of our most basic rights as citizens of the United States. I loved the bold illustrations. Part of a series called American Symbols.
The U.S. Constitution, Norman Pearl | An informative overview of how our Constitution was formed. Provides excellent definition and explanations of our government system and those who developed it. Great illustrations. Part of a series called American Symbols.
Series Book or Graphic Novel (2 books)
A Wind in the Door, Madeleine L’Engle | Simply brilliant storytelling! Much of this sci-fi tale draws upon the biblical truth that to be known fully is to have a name.
A Swiftly Tilting Planet, Madeleine L’Engle | This story is rich with time travel and fantasy, the characters on a mission to save the world by resetting history. Creativity abounds in this L’Engle tale.
Beginning to Read or Easy Reader (2 books)
Max & Mo Go Apple Picking, Patricia Lakin | Max and Mo are hamsters who live in a schoolroom. Weary of their usual meal of corn kernels, they escape their cage to track down some apples from the class’s field trip.
Pinwheel Days, Ellen Tarlow | The illustrations for this easy reader are so sweet! There are four short stories about Pinwheel the donkey and his animal friends.
Award Book or Book on CD (1 book)
The Words of Martin Luther King Jr., Coretta Scott King | I was greatly moved to read of Dr. King’s life and words. It’s astounding that prior to 60 years ago there was such a discrepancy between what our Constitution promised and what was being enforced. Yet that was only 60 years ago! How could inequalities have continued that late in our history? This refresher on the Civil Rights Movement gave me much to ponder.
Questioned/Challenged Book or Illinois Author (1 book)
A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L’Engle | I’ve wanted to start this series for some time now—I was not disappointed! Great characters, dialogue, and plot line, all of which stretch the imagination beyond the scope of this one story.