Books read in September 2014

This month’s selection provides good examples of how to write children’s books in verse (Brown Girl Dreaming) and how NOT to write children’s books in verse (Miss Emily).

Top contenders:

Picture books: Nothing really blew me away, though all are fine.
Middle Readers:  El Deafo
YA: Brown Girl Dreaming
Grownup:  American Wife. (But I’ve been recommending this for years, so I assume y’all have read it by now.)
Nonfiction, children’s: Tiny Creatures
Nonfiction, grownup:  Bad Feminist, Many Are Called

Picture Books
 In New York
Marc Brown
Read for Librarian Book Group
Mostly I had the following sour grapes thought while reading this book:  “How nice that you found fame and fortune by creating Arthur and can afford to live in your lovely part of New York.”  But that’s just me.

Chicken Squad
Doreen Cronin
Read for Librarian Book Group
Amusing beginning reader.

Little Elliott, Big City
Mike Curato
Read for Librarian Book Group
Nice retro illustrations.
 
Middle Readers
Upside Down in the Middle of Nowhere
Julie T. Lamana
Read for Librarian Book Group
Another forgettable/not right title (perhaps I should have a running list).  Forgettable title aside, I very much enjoyed this tale of Hurricane Katrina experienced by a 10-year-old.  It’s an interesting contrast to the other Hurricane Katrina book (Zane and the Hurricane) I read recently, and I thought this one was much more gritty and “real” in details.  I had trouble getting started, but once the hurricane got going, I wanted to keep reading.

Leroy Ninker Saddles Up
Kate DiCamillo
Read for Librarian Book Group
DiCamillo’s writing is good, but her illustrator is better.  Very fun story of a cowboy without a horse who acquires one.

*starred review*
 El Deafo
Cece Bell
Read for Librarian Book Group
Highly recommended.  The graphic novel story of how author Cece Bell lost most of her hearing and the way her hearing loss shaped her childhood.  Full of really fun and funny details and gently heartbreaking.

Through the Woods
Emily Carroll
Read for Librarian Book Group
Super awesome and creepy stories, richly illustrated.  I couldn’t read them before bed.

Miss Emily
Burleigh Muten, Matt Phelan
Read for Librarian Book Group
Rather twee and treacle-y story of Emily Dickinson having an adventure with some neighbor children.  It was written in verse.  I was not a fan.  The illustrations were disappointing too.
 
YA
*starred review*
Brown Girl Dreaming
Jacqueline Woodson
Read for Librarian Book Group
Books written in verse seem to be a thing now, but most of the stories could be told just as well if they weren’t written in verse.  Not this one.  The poetry could stand alone and the story that flowed from the verse was compelling.  Very well done.
 
Grownup
*starred review*
American Wife
Curtis Sittenfeld
Read for Kenton Library Book Group
This was a re-read for me and I loved it just as much as the first time I read it.  
Nonfiction, children’s
 *starred review*
Tiny Creatures: The World of Microbes
Nicola Davis
Read for Librarian Book Group
I really loved the way this book talked about scale of things.  It was helpful to this reader who is much older than the intended audience.

Nonfiction, grownup

*starred review* 
Bad Feminist
Roxane Gay
Some essays read like a bit too much like a comparative literature paper, but most are insightful and funny and manage to hit both high and low.  My favorite was “Typical First Year Professor.”

Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight
Alexandra Fuller
Kenton Library Book Group
The story of a woman of English descent growing up in Rhodesia/Zimbabwe.  The writing was fine, the details were spectacular.  There were a lot of things to discuss at book group and it was the first book in a long time that we all liked.

50 Photographers You Should Know
Peter Stepan
I greatly enjoy seeing the works of good photographers and have decided to check out books of good photographs on a regular basis.  But which books?  Enter this handy guide to expose (hah!) me to many interesting photographers.  I especially loved the timeline feature.

Foodist
Darya Pino Rose
Pino Rose wants us to stop dieting and instead work on improving our food habits.  There is a lot of solid advice.

*starred review*
Many Are Called
Walker Evans
I didn’t even finish reading 50 Photographers You Should Know before I put this on hold. Evans concealed a camera in his coat and took surreptitious pictures on the New York City Subway during the late 30s and early 40s.   I loved seeing older women before plastic surgery became a thing and also the many hats people wore as a part of daily life.

2 thoughts on “Books read in September 2014”

  1. I love all of those great books that the library review group puts on your list. El Deafo is getting such good buzz. It won't surprise me if you have already read the Caldecott, Newbery, and Prinze award winners for next year.

  2. Wah lah! September is commented on. And as I write this comment…there are there new blog posts on Pike Schemes. It may still be May there, but there is new content just waiting for you!

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