What are you reading Monday? March 17, 2014

Mon Reading Button PB to YA

Feeling like I’m on a roll here. For the second week in a row I am adding my list to Jen’s from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers!


GrasshopperI finished Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith. It is a wondrous read the is at once completely banal and full of everyday adolescent angst filled emotional subjects like love, sex, and identity, as well as end-of-the-world-threatening, megalomaniacal, out-of-control, mad science gone wrong. The narrator, Austin, presents these topics in the same tone. Or, should I say he alternates between  overly and underly (it’s a word) dramatic tone and neither ever seems quite appropriate. And yet, it is always right.

Austin may or may not be bisexual, or gay, or something. He loves his best friend Robbie (who is gay), who loves Austin and whom Austin might be IN love with but he’s not sure. Austin is sure that he is in love with his girlfriend Shann (who is not gay). The idea of Robbie and Shann kissing makes Austin horny – of course, life makes Austin 16 year old horny.

The book is filled with intertwining and complex relationships such as Austin’s boss – who is also Shann’s step-father and the brother of the megalomaniacal, out-of-control, mad scientist, who is dead but still makes a rather important appearance. There is a fair amount of history, and some geography and …  The important thing about this book is OH MY GOD JUST READ IT!!!!!!!


In prep for my children’s lit class this week I am also re-reading 

manfish Manfish: A Story of Jacques Cousteau by Jennifer Berne, Éric Puybaret.Manfish-dream

The illustrations provide a sense of peace and beauty, as well as respect for the ocean.

But the true beauty of this biography is being able to follow Cousteau as a boy who was curious about film making and oceanography. This is a terrific example of an interesting, beautiful non-fiction pciturebook. 


A-River-of-WordsI am also rereading A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams by Jen Bryant. I used to say I was not a poetry person. I think that is not an accurate  description. I think I am a very picky poetry person. It can be a difficult genre for me to read, but then I will find someone who plays with words in a way I understand, who paints pictures and reveals new ways of seeing the world that I can share in. One such poet is Carlos WilliNYT2008102115061160Cams.

I want to love this book because it brings poetry into the hands of kids. I want to love this book because it is a stunning example of mixed-media illustrations. I want to love this book because it explains how this poet was also a doctor and how not giving up poetry helped him be a better doctor. But, it is a difficult book for me to read. Although the illustrator does offset the prose into beige text boxes, the actual poetry is often presenting as part of a tableau that confuses written text with illustrations. I can view these pages as pieces of art but the pleasure of reading is more often lost to me.


The mixed-media creates a jumbled and confusing reading space for me that I find exhausting. I want this book to be truly multimodal so that I can hear the written prose and poetry while taking in the illustrations. Then, I could truly love this book.

8 thoughts on “What are you reading Monday? March 17, 2014

  1. I am taking Grasshopper Jungle home today! I have to finish Grave Mercy and then I can dive into this green read. How appropriate for St. Patrick’s Day. I can’t wait to see what all the hype is about! Have a great week! ~Megan

  2. I’m reading Grasshopper Jungle right now and boy is it a trip. I was reading it at MRA this weekend in our hotel room and could not stop giggling every other paragraph. I don’t think Kristin got any reading done because I couldn’t stop laughing every 5 seconds.

  3. I love A River for Words so much, but I know exactly what you mean. I shared it in Children’s Lit this semester with one group, and they hated it. I had a hard time articulating why I liked it, given that I haven’t reread in ages. Will have to do that soon! I’m purchasing the Cousteau bio this week to add to my nonfiction PB class that’s coming up in a couple of weeks. Love nonfiction PBs so much! I’m waiting to borrow Grasshopper Jungle from a student–hope she gets it to me this week because I am dying to read it!

    1. I think readability – as in the design of the page – is a factor for SOME readers but not all. The big problem is that I love the illustrations and I really want to be able to read it with ease.

  4. I totally agree with you about A River of Words – definitely one of my absolute favorite picture book biographies. In fact, I used it as part of my text-set in my multicultural children’s lit class to talk about love for words, reading, books, poetry! I own a copy of Grasshopper Jungle and can’t wait to read it. Seems like it’s been receiving a lot of booklove lately. When we have our scifi-dystopian reading theme, I’d definitely feature that title. 🙂

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