Books read in February 2015

Cripes.  It’s March and I haven’t written nearly all of my February reviews.  So we are going to have a whirlwind review writing session.

My favorites this month:

Picture books: Waiting is Not Easy
Young People’s Poetry:  How I Discovered Poetry
Chapter books: Rain Reign
Young People’s Nonfiction: Separate is Never Equal
Grownup Nonfiction: How Sassy Changed my Life
YA: I Was Here, The Carnival at Bray, I’ll Give You the Sun, All the Bright Places

Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress
Neglected to note author name.  Not going to look it up.
Read for Librarian Book Group
The title says it all.  Morris wants to wear a dress that is not the kind of dress boys wear.  How will this go down?

Green is a Chile Pepper
Read for Librarian Book Group
A book to help you learn your colors.

A Boy and a Jaguar
Alan Rabinowitz
Read for Librarian Book Group
Picture book story of how someone who is different finds a passion that leads to a career.

Waiting is not easy
Mo Willems
Read for Librarian Book Group
Boy howdy is that true!  Pig and Elephant explore the concept of waiting.  I’m only lukewarm on Pig & Elephant, but this made me laugh, probably because I’m often impatient.

Little Roja Riding Hood
Read for Librarian Book Group
It’s the familiar fairy tale recast.

You are (not) small
Read for Librarian Book Group
Explores size differences.

Read for Librarian Book Group
Beautifully book of how to become the type of dancer that is famous for dancing the Firebird dance. 

Young People’s Poetry:
How I Discovered Poetry
Marilyn Nelson
Read for Librarian Book Group
I’m not so hot on the let’s-tell-a-story-via-poems, but this above and beyond better than nearly all books I’ve read.  The poems are simple and really get a lot across.  The illustrations compliment the poetry beautifully.  Recommended.

Chapter books:
Mr Putter & Tabby Turn the Page
Read for Librarian Book Group
This time (I say this time because even though I’ve never read them, apparently Mr. Putter and Tabby do a lot of things) they read at the library.  Very beginning chapter book.

Betsy & Tacy Go Downtown
Maude Hart Lovelace
The girls (Tib too, she got left out of the title) are twelve and thus can do things like walk downtown together.  Betsy gets her own library card to the Carnegie Library in town.  Interesting secondary story of Mrs. Poppy, the former actress and current wife of the hotelier, who is not accepted by the ladies of Deep Valley.

Rain Reign
Ann M. Martin
Read for Librarian Book Group
Practically perfect book about Rose, a girl with high-functioning autism and her dog.  Rose is obsessed with homonyms, with a side interest in prime numbers.  Hilariously straight-man narration by the main character reveals a rather meager existence, but for her Uncle and her dog named Rain (Rein, Reign).  Though I’ve never encountered a school district where someone with high-functioning autism has a one-on-one aide, I am happy to overlook this fact because this book was so delightful.  Recommended for children, especially early elementary students who read far above their grade level and everyone else who loves a good story.

Young People’s Nonfiction:
Separate is Never Equal
Duncan Tonatiuh
Read for Librarian Book Group
The mostly unknown story of the court case that said that Mexican children in California deserved the same education as White children. 

This Day in June
Read for Librarian Book Group
Need an easy way to introduce the concept of Pride to your child? This is your picture book.  Rhyme scheme broke down in a few places, but the illustrations were fun.

Neighborhood Sharks
Read for Librarian Book Group
Learn about the sharks that hang out regularly just outside of the San Francisco Bay.  The book did a good job balancing the sharks need to eat seals with the fact that seals get eaten by sharks.

Little Melba & Her Big Trombone
Read for Librarian Book Group
True story of Melba Liston, who was a trombone great in a time when women were not trombone greats.  Come to think of it, that time still kind of includes today.  But in Melba’s case not only was it a time when women weren’t trombone greats, but Black people weren’t welcome in very many places.

Portraits of Hispanic American Heroes
Read for Librarian Book Group
Three-page biographies of just what the title promises.  Time period covers colonial times to present day.  Comes with a nice portrait of each subject.

Grownup Nonfiction:
The Wedding
Nick Waplington
“It was one of those cold, wet winter days when if you get stuck watching sport or an old movie, you can miss that short period between dawn and dusk altogether.” N. Waplington

Waplington is apparently known for a previous work chronically the everyday lives of a family living in a council house in England.  In this book he follows the family’s life once again, this time in the events leading up to the mother’s marriage.  Very interesting photos and worth finding just for the searing essay decrying institutional poverty written by the author of Trainspotting.

How Sassy Changed my Life
History of the greatest magazine ever published for teenage girls.  Great behind-the-scenes action for fans of the heyday of Sassy.

I Was Here
Gayle Forman
Book one of the inadvertent suicide theme I found myself on this month.  In this case, our main character Cody is living in the aftermath of the unexpected suicide of her best friend Meg during Meg’s first year at college. When Cody volunteers to pack up Meg’s belongings from school she finds some troubling details that sets her off on an investigation of Meg’s last days.  Addictive, with a satisfying ending, but as I noted in my review of Please Ignore Vera Dietz, books with suicide can never have a truly happy ending because the person who killed themselves is still dead.

Veronica Roth
I enjoyed hating this book which was truly horrible.  And very long.  Props to Roth for going the Joss Whedon path with main characters.  But other than that? What author can successfully change everything we know about the world in the third book?  Not this one, that’s for sure.  I think they get one big reveal.  That’s it.  Not the baker’s dozen that came with this plot. And really?  Were the cameras and audio feed really that good and the community never figured it out?  Really?  I could go on.  But I won’t.

The Carnival at Bray
Jessie Ann Foley
Read for Librarian Book Group
Book two of my inadvertent suicide-themed reading jaunt.  In this case, it’s a secondary character, so less overt tragedy there. It’s a sad book, but not overwhelmingly depressing.  Also, it has its feet planted firmly in the early 90’s grunge music scene, so fans of that will be happy.  Finally, the writing is powerful, the love story is worth the read and I was quite happy this was a Printz Honor Book.  Several passages of really great writing were transcribed into my Goodreads quote page. Recommended.

The Scar Boys
Len Vlahos
Read for Librarian Book Group
Great friendship/band dynamics are portrayed in the story of a boy hideously scarred from a childhood bullying incident gone wrong.  Parts of the book were likable, but overall, this author needed to go back through and revise all of his “telling” sections into “showing.”

I’ll Give You the Sun
Jandy Nelson
Read for Librarian Book Group
I am so happy this book won the Prinz award for 2014 because it’s a tour-de-force.  Alternating perspectives from a girl/boy set of twins.  The boy narrates the time when they were 13 years old.  The girl narrates the present-day age of sixteen.  Absorbing and layered, tragic and beautiful.  I love how everything comes together.  Recommended.  Thanks to Sara for recommending, so I could feel cool having it on hold before it won.

All the Bright Places
Jennifer Niven
Book three of inadvertent suicide-themed novels read in February.  Within these pages is a beautiful love story that sadly comes to no good end.  Which you probably could guess from the first page where our couple “meets cute” (I’m using the movie term, I don’t think it was actually cute) while standing at the edge of their school’s bell tower, both wondering what it would be like to end their lives.  I couldn’t help falling in love with both Violet and Theo and this was one of those books that I finished and two days later started reading from the beginning again.  The author’s note at the end really drives home the tragedy that is suicide on a personal level. Recommended.

Grownup Fiction:
The Residue Years
Mitchell S. Jackson
Read for Kenton Library Book Group
I’m the kind of girl who likes things explained clearly with beautiful and verbose prose, drawing clear pictures of exactly what is going on, so the vague, vignette style of this author’s writing was not really for me. I did appreciate a view into 90s-era Portland from the view of a black man.  I also appreciated it for being a lot grittier Everybody Reads selection than is normal.

0 thoughts on “Books read in February 2015”

  1. Lots of picture books and YA books in February! I’m looking forward to reading some YA fiction in April. I’ve read way too much adult fiction lately, but I’m trying to read my list in some semblance of order and all the fiction happens to be of the adult variety.

  2. Oh how I love Mo Willems! He is SO funny! I am trying not to read some of your YA posts. All the Bright Places is coming soon. I have it in my reading pile.

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