Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Recent Reads

I am trying to keep up on Twitter.  I really am.  But it is so overwhelming.  I did click on The Nerdy Book Club’s post, though. It was a post written by DorothySuskind, and in it, she talked about her metaphorical reading bookshelves.  I loved how she spoke of what was on these shelves, but I could listen to people talk about what they are reading for a long time.

I recently finished Fuzzy Mud, Crenshaw, and Nimona (YA).

Fuzzy Mud is written by Louis Sachar.  I feel kind of bad for the guy that he has to live up to Holes, one of my all-time favorite books.  In this story, Tamaya and Marshall go to the Woodridge Academy, with Marshall being responsible for Tamaya on the walk to and from school.  Marshall is being bullied by Chad and decides to take a short cut home through the woods, despite Tamaya’s wishes to just go the normal way.  Things take a turn for the worse as Chad follows the pair looking for a fight. Tamaya flings “fuzzy mud” at Chad, setting off a science fiction plot line.  I am always amazed that anyone can write a book, but I didn’t love this story.  It seemed flat with a forced bully and rule-following-girl character thrown in.

Crenshaw iswritten by Katherine Applegate, the author of The One and Only Ivan, a book I have not read.  In this story, we meet Jackson and his family.  They’ve fallen on some hard times and Jackson is a bit nervous that they will be homeless, a spot the family has been in before.  During that time of living in their van, an imaginary friend, a cat, named Crenshaw made his appearance to Jackson.  Crenshaw, however, hasn’t been sighted in years - until now.  He’s bigger and as cat-like in his personality as ever, but Jackson wonders what he’s doing back in his life.  Aren’t imaginary friends only for little kids?  I very much enjoyed this tale Applegate created.  She deals with a serious subject of homelessness, and how for lots of people, the looming possibility is very real.  Yet the story is easy without being cheesy or sappy or too scary.  This would make a fantastic read-aloud in grades 3-6. 

And now…a young adult graphic novel.  Friends, I have this love/hate relationship with graphic novels.  For some kids, including my third grade daughter, it is ALL they will read.  I asked a few fifth grade boys about their love for this format:
“You know how your mom makes you read for 30 minutes every night?  These are FUN to read.  They aren’t like a chapter book where the words just go on.”  (My silent response, “But I LIKE when the words go on and on.  Don’t you?”)
“I like the pictures and trying to figure out the story.”
“These Calvin and Hobbes books are way funnier than chapter books.”

I know reading graphic novels requires the use of many comprehension strategies, and some might argue they require more thinking than chapter books.  I won’t argue.  I get nervous, though, that kids are missing some beautiful writing by reading just graphic novels.  But, yes, they are also gaining exposure to some beautiful art work!  Normally, I would say to a parent, “Don’t worry.  They won’t be reading (insert book series) when they are older.”  But have you seen the shelves of graphic novels for adults?  This genre is not losing its popularity with kids or adults!

Nimona is a graphic novel written by Noelle Stevenson, co-writer of Lumberjanes.  It is a finalist for the National Book Award in the Young People’s category and is based on Stevenson’s web comic.  Here is my review taken from my Goodreads account: I don't think I will ever understand the appeal of graphic novels for kids, but I do appreciate their format and artistic style. I feel like the stories and characters lack depth, but for some reason the books stick with me so maybe I am wrong. This is a fantasy story for young adults (7th grade +) told in GN format. It tells the tale of Nimona and Lord Ballister Blackheart as sidekick and villain. Their friendship strengthens and we see the previous story of Blackheart's tenuous relationship with Goldenloin and the Institution. A battle ensues, and we are made aware the Nimona may not have been entirely honest about who she is. 
I loved the illustrator's explanations at the end of the story. They showed drafts and possible prequel information.

Did you love Sachar’s Holes like I did?  Did you have an imaginary friend when you were little?  Are you a reader of graphic novels? 

*images taken from TitlePeek