Since I’ve been doing less specific book blogging, I thought I’d try a monthly book roundup with the best books we’re reading. We’ll see how that goes. Obviously October is over, but here’s the highlights.
The Human Body by Seymour Simon
We always have piles of books for school reading, but I’ve been especially appreciating the Seymour Simon body series. They’re so perfect for independent fourth grade reading. They’re long and in depth enough to be challenging, but not so long or detailed to be overwhelming. I also like the illustrations in the body series.
The Calder Game by Blue Balliett
We’re to the final entrance in this art detectives series and it’s just as pleasing as the others, which we’ve listened to or read in the last year at various points. In this volume, Calder Pillay leaves his Chicago neighborhood to visit England with his father and encounters an Alexander Calder sculpture that is about to be the victim of a crime. Meanwhile, his friends Tommy and Petra are left back at home with a terrible teacher and a shaky friendship. I love the way that Balliett lets balance be a theme in this book. Things are unbalanced everywhere, which, of course, plays right into the art theme. I read this one myself when it first came out, but I’m enjoying listening to it again. We need to get to the National Gallery to visit the Calder Room, where I don’t think we’ve actually been in at least a couple of years. The kids remembered some of the specific sculptures referenced in the book, but it is nice to have a reason to go see them again.
Black Hearts in Battersea by Joan Aiken
From art mysteries to historical ones (or alternate historical, anyway). I let this be the first read aloud of the year and we all really enjoyed it. In this story, which takes place in an alternate late-18th century London, Simon, a young orphan and artist, comes to London to find a friend and instead finds a plot against the government. There are a series of wild misadventures, including a shipwreck and a balloon escape. The book is a bit slow at first and the dialect took even us Anglophiles a little while to ease into, but in the end, it was greatly enjoyed by all.
Mushroom’s Pleasure Read
Darth Paper Strikes Back by Tom Angleberger
After puttering around with many different birthday gift books, Mushroom settled on reading the second Origami Yoda book and said he enjoyed it very much. BalletBoy has already read them all and liked them so much, he went as Origami Yoda for Halloween.
BalletBoy’s Pleasure Read
The Name of This Book Is Secret by Pseudonymous Bosch
I haven’t read this series, so I can only pass along that BalletBoy has enjoyed the first book very much, enough to stay up too late reading it and enough to demand that I buy banana chips so he can make the main character’s special trail mix recipe. It is in the grand and very recent tradition of books that address the reader directly and when the book tells him to pay close attention or use the bathroom before reading a chapter so he won’t need to be interrupted, he always takes it very seriously.
Cardboard by Doug Tenapel
The boys received this graphic novel for their birthday. It’s dark and a little bit odd, about a cardboard creation that comes to life and gets out of hand. It’s full color and had an interesting style. They both really enjoyed it and Mushroom especially is looking forward to reading more by Tenapel, who has many graphic novels for kids and adults.
Mushroom’s Required Reading
Savvy by Ingrid Law
This is such a wonderful little book. It has been on the long side for Mushroom, who is a slightly slow reader. However, he has enjoyed getting to know Mibs and figure out her savvy, or her special power, with her. He was very intrigued by the idea that you could have a contemporary fantasy like this one, where things are magical, but also very realistic.
BalletBoy’s Required Reading
Bully for You, Teddy Roosevelt by Jean Fritz
Yet again, I got suckered somehow into letting a book that wasn’t on the required list count for the required reading time. However, after reading a short picture book biography of Teddy Roosevelt for history, BalletBoy asked could he please read something more in depth about the president. I happened to have this on hand and it was hard to say no to his request. It was nice to see him read some longer nonfiction for the first time. Both the kids have grown up playing in Teddy’s shadow on Roosevelt Island, so I think it’s nice BalletBoy wanted to learn more about him.
Farrar’s YA Reading
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Yes, like everyone else, I read Allegiant this month. But forget about that. Let me just gush instead about how much I love, love, loved Fangirl. I liked it so much that I (blush) actually reread it because it went by too quickly. Basically, the story follows neurotic Cather to college, where she has to deal with other people (other people being terribly difficult to deal with), her first romance, and choosing between the writing her professor wants her to do and the fanfiction that has garnered her a massive online following. Meanwhile, Cather has to help her father and her twin sister with their own crises. Bits of Cather’s fanfic end each chapter. By the end of the book, not only was I in love with Cath, but I was dying to read the imaginary Simon Snow series about which she writes her fanfiction. It’s clearly an alternate Harry Potter, but Rowell makes Simon Snow seem much more darkly appealing. If only it really existed.