Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Book-a-Day Reads

It's summer! Time to make more time to read!

Thanks to a group of "tweeps" on twitter, I'm setting a goal to read one book each day of the summer. I'll try for mostly chapter books but will throw in picture books and graphic novels, too.

For Book Talk Tuesday, I usually feature three books around a theme. But in the spirit of free-choice, I'll feature some of my weekly book-a-day reads instead. See more great book talks at this week's guest host site: Smithville Elementary Library.

In the comments, have you set some goals for your summer reading this year? 

Chapter Book
The Penderwicks, by Jane Birdsall 
This is a fun, happy book with an appealing "kids vs. grownups" theme. A set of four sisters meets a lonely boy who lives at the main house of the cottage they're renting for the summer. They all quickly become embroiled in the kinds of adventures that involve running and playing outdoors, evading his sinister mother, and concocting ways to entertain themselves (which half the time takes the form of some kind of rescue of the littlest sister or bunny). 

The children are so self-sufficient and engaged in the outdoor word, the story has a old-time feel.
Recommended for grades 4+

Chapter Book
Racing in the Rain: My Life as a Dog, by Garth Stein 
Anyone who has a dog knows that s/he is a keen observer of family dynamics and the trusted confidante of all its members. Just imagine if we could know all the dog knows! In this novel, we can. 

Told from the dog, Enzo's, point of view, we follow a family's growth from man and dog, to man, wife, child and dog, and through a painful loss. Enzo's voice is smart and compassionate as he relates the family's struggles and his own role in them. Just as we imagine of our own dogs, he takes his position seriously, protects mightily, and reflects regularly on the oddities of human behavior.

Tear-jerker alert! Recommended for sophisticated readers in grades 5+ due to adult themes such as marital issues and a custody battle.

Note: This is the young readers version of the novel The Art of Racing in the Rain. The covers are similar, but the young readers edition (shown here) has a puppy on it, not an adult dog.

Picture Book
Perfect Square, by Michael Hall

Following up the success of My Heart is Like a Zoo, Hall continues to use his signature style of clean lines and primary colors to reveal geometrical shapes in new ways.

This time a square undergoes a harsh change each day of the week but turns them into opportunities to become something new. When the week ends, he realizes he's missing the changes. How can he regain the beauty he experienced before? The ending creates a deeply satisfying solution, simple but powerful. This makes an excellent springboard for an art project, as well as a discussion starter about optimism.
Recommended for grades K+

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