Tag Archives: judy moody

What We’re Reading

I’ve been doing a bit less book blogging lately, but we have, as always been reading.  Here’s what has passed across our shelves in the last few weeks:

Mushroom’s Bookshelf:

Frindle by Andrew Clements
Mushroom chose this to be his book for September required reading and then read it on his new Kindle and finished it almost in September.  He really loved it.  I think he gravitates toward these stories of everyday life, so I suspect more of Clements’s work may be in his future.  In case you don’t know it, this is the story of a fifth grade boy who invents a new word and manages to make it take off in popularity.

Tornado by Betsy Byars
This was the shortest book on our required reading list.  Mushroom picked it for October and finished it in a day.  It’s very easy, but it’s a sweet little story of a boy and a dog who comes during a tornado.  Mushroom gave it a general thumbs up, though no big raves.  He did like that it was such a quick read.

Junonia by Kevin Henkes
This story of a girl spending her birthday in Florida over the summer was a birthday gift from a friend and Mushroom picked it up to read.  He isn’t very far in yet (and neither am I), but so far the introspective tone is just right for him.  Henkes is better known for his picture books, which we love, so I hope this will also be a winner for us.

BalletBoy’s Bookshelf

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
BalletBoy picked this to be his October required reading book and he’s about halfway through.  I’ll assume you already know the plot.  BalletBoy was especially delighted by what’s happened to the bad children so far.

Judy Moody and the Bad Luck Charm by Megan MacDonald
BalletBoy paused his other reading to tear through this newish Judy Moody book on the Kindle in a couple of days.  I haven’t read it and he only told me a little about it, but he laughed a lot while reading it so I assume it’s funny.  This is one of the only chapter book series that BalletBoy has really stuck with over time and finished all of and I really appreciate that about it.  And thank goodness it didn’t inspire him to collect chewed gum.

Ivy and Bean Make the Rules by Annie Barrows
BalletBoy also started this latest Ivy and Bean book, but he isn’t very far into it.  These are really easy reads for him now and I suspect he’ll get back to it.  Maybe.  He has a huge problem with finishing books.

Runaway Ralph by Beverly Cleary
This is, by mandate, BalletBoy’s September required reading book.  In reality, it’s part of a large pile of unfinished books from the last few months.  He’s very good at reading the first half of things.  He did finally confide in me that he was worried the book wouldn’t end the way he wanted, which is why he has left it with a single chapter to go for months.  In other words, it’s not from dislike of the book that he hasn’t finished.  Quite the opposite.  I made him pick it up again and read together with me.  It’ll be finished by the time this posts, come hell or high water.  Because, as you may have noticed, September is long past now.

Farrar’s Bookshelf

The Diviners by Libba Bray
Ooh, I love Libba Bray.  I love her versatility.  I love her style.  I have a little writing crush on her.  I’m not very far into this newest one about ghosts and flappers, so I’ll hold off judgment.  However, I’m sure I’ll love it.

Every Day by David Levithan
This was a weird little YA book about a character who wakes up in a different body every day but falls in love with a girl and does everything possible to get back to her.  It was an interesting premise, but David Levithan made it work.  I liked the moral issues that the characters faced and the way that having so many bodies allowed for lots of little stories.

Your Eight Year-Old by Louise Bates Ames
This series has some interesting anachronisms in its mention of toys and TV shows as well as its idea of how much freedom parents likely give their kids (big surprise – it’s a lot less now!).  However, the observational parts about age specific stages and behaviors are always useful to me.  I am looking forward to more confidence, less illness, and an increased engagement in the world from my eight year-olds.

Trading Hands and Being Read Aloud

Squish: Captain Disaster by Jennifer Holm
Another Squish graphic novel which both my boys read.  These are very quick and easy and devoured as soon as they come.  Both my boys want more!

Legends of Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke
This is the second part in the Zita series of full-color graphic novels.  It wasn’t quite as good as the first, but both boys read it and loved it.

Avatar: The Promise by Gene Luen Yang
I posted about this series awhile back.  The third volume just came out and we all devoured it quickly.  Anyone who is a fan of Avatar: The Last Airbender should be satisfied by the writing in this story, which is like a season four of the show.  The characters grow and change, but are recognizable as themselves.  It’s a perfect series and I’m excited that a new storyline called “The Search” is coming next year.

Gone-Away Lake by Elizabeth Enright
This old-fashioned story about a lake in upstate New York is our current read aloud.  There are some lovely descriptions of the nature around the lake and the story, with its multi-generational friendships, is a nice one.  We’ll finish it very soon, but it hasn’t been a huge winner so I doubt we’ll read the sequels.

My Rotten Red-Headed Older Brother by Patricia Polacco
We had the immense pleasure of seeing Patricia Polacco speak at the National Book Festival a couple of weeks ago.  This book about sibling rivalry and friendship, based on her childhood, was a huge hit with the kids.  BalletBoy both read it himself and made me read it aloud, which was very unusual.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling
This is our current audiobook in the car.  Slow going as we don’t always listen (and sometimes choose the subway).  It’s a dark chapter in the series, as most of you will know.  I hesitated about going ahead to do it, but the kids asked and I agreed.  They’re definitely enjoying it, especially Mushroom, who, as always, is brilliant at picking out the connections and foreshadowing in these intricate stories.  I’m thinking we’ll wait a good while before the next volume though.

Girl Books

I complained awhile back that there were far too many girl series on the early chapter book shelves and not enough boy series.  Then, I found some of the boy series.  But fair’s fair and I thought I’d size up a few of the girl series as well.  Let me just add that my boys have listened to and enjoyed all of these themselves, just like the boy books.

First, while I’ve sung their praises before, there’s the Ivy and Bean books.  Ivy is a quiet redheaded girl who sees witchcraft, ghosts and magic everywhere.  Bean is a loud tomboyish girl who chafes against adult expectations, not to mention anything her older sister says or does.  Together, they turn everyday life at home and school into adventures and intrigues.  I think these are some of the most well-written books early chapter books out there today.

Next, my boys love Judy Moody.  Judy is a girl famous for her moods of all sorts.  She also has a number of catchphrases, like “Rare!” and “ROAR!”  Like her younger brother Stink (who has his own series), the Judy Moody books show Judy learning about new things, such as her hero, Elizabeth Blackwell, first woman doctor, as a way of teaching them to readers as well.  I like the balance between school, family and friends in these books.  Judy and her friends are quirky but realistic characters that are easy to love.

Another girl series we’ve liked has been Clementine.  Clementine is an extremely ADD kid, whose thoughts race at a million miles a minute.  By the time a grown-up gets around to a second, “What were you thinking, Clementine?” she’s already moved on to a million other things.  These books are extremely funny and cleverly written.  I like how you can get into Clementine’s head and appreciate her while still groaning at her antics along with the grown-ups in her life.

There are so many girl series out there, that this is just a small sampling.  Junie B. Jones, the behemouth of girl-centered chapter book series, is one I bypassed (mostly because I think all the ones I described above are much better).  One thing I’ll note is that many of the picture books aimed toward girls have main characters who are extremely girly and pink.  For example, Pinkalicious, Lilly from Lilly’s Plastic Purse, Fancy Nancy and Angelina Ballerina are all so very girly.  However, once kids graduate from picture books to chapter books, it changes.  None of the books I mentioned here are pink dress type girls.