Monday, March 18, 2013

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 03/18/13

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This was a really entertaining reading week.

The Book of Blood and Shadow
I think I can make this one short.  This reminded me of a YA version of The DaVinci Code.  There's translations of old letters and texts written in Latin.  A mysterious murder.  A trip to Prague to uncover secrets that are hundreds of years old (and it really made me want to plan a return trip to Prague!).  I found it very engaging.

A Splash of Red: The Life andI have enjoyed several of Jen Bryant's books written in verse, including Pieces of Georgia, The Trial, and Ringside, 1925, but I knew nothing of her picture books.  A Splash of Red tells the story of self-taught African-American artist Horace Pippin.  Pippin wrote and painted and both Bryant and Sweet integrated his words into the text and the illustrations.  Pippin fought in WWI, was injured by a gunshot,  and that injury stopped his art for a time.   This military aspect and how he overcame a war injury to pursue his passion provide an immediate connection in my community.  This is truly a beautiful book - both the writing and the illustrations.  I have already read it several times and shared it with others.  I "liked" Jen's FB page and she chose me as one of several to receive this book.  She sent me a signed copy (signed by her and Sweet!) and copies of a few of her other books, so I thank her and I recommend that you check out her FB page.  There is also a website for this book at  Now I can't wait to get A River of Words and enjoy that one!
The way Park and Eleanor's
I got this the first day at NCTE in November.  Read a few pages that night, but then it got buried in the stacks of books I collected over the next several days.  This week I saw that John Green reviewed Eleanor & Park for the NY Times so I thought I'd better get back to it.  (See John Green's review here.)  Once I pulled it back out, it didn't take long to get through it.  The story of Eleanor and Park is the intersection of the excitement of first love and the tragedies of poverty, abuse and prejudice.   The story is set in 1986 and told alternately from Eleanor's and Park's points of view.  Eleanor is returning home after having been kicked out for a year.  Park has loving, stable parents, but he is half Korean and he feels the stigma of being different from everyone else in his community.    I highly recommend this book, but due to the profanity, it may be most appropriate for high school. 

October MorningWow!  Beautiful!  Haunting!  October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard is a sort of retelling of the events surrounding the brutal murder of Matthew Shepard.  In 1998, Matthew Shepard was picked up by two young men, and then brutally beaten and left to die because he was gay.   Newman retells the facts and her feelings about this event through different poetic forms.  I starting crying in the first paragraph of the introduction and didn't stop until the end.  (Actually, unfortunately, I chose to read Oliver Jeffers The Heart and the Bottle immediately following October Mourning, not having any idea that the father dies in that picture book. So, the crying didn't exactly stop at the end of October Mourning.)  I will share this book with as many people as I can.  If you haven't read it, it is a very fast read and well worth your time.  
The Rules for Disappearing

I got this from NetGalley.  It's fast-paced and romantic.  I imagine the short chapters, action and mystery will make it quite popular with teens.  I felt a similar excitement as I did when reading The Book of Blood and Shadow, but this is a simpler story without the historical backstory. 
These are the other lovely picture books I read this week:
The Fantastic Flying Books  In the author's notes, Smith The Heart and the Bottle
Its author, Michelle Markel,  The Curious Garden  This Moose Belongs to Me by
This week I am going continue my picture book a day and try to finish some of the books that I started, but left hanging.
Ready Player One cover.jpg  Switch by The Heath BrothersFlight Behavior

Thanks for reading my blog.  Have a great reading week!


  1. I'm glad to see quite a lot of Oliver Jeffers' books here - I also read The Heart and the Bottle aloud to my class of teacher students (around 160+ of them in all) during Valentine's Day for International Book Giving Day - such a powerful picture book. Haven't read October Mourning yet, but I heard that it is a real tearjerker. One of the GatheringBooks ladies, Fats Suela, is currently reading Eleanor and Park and she's been telling us just how much she loves it. Will be reviewing Jen Bryant's A River of Words very soon. I enjoyed it a lot. Have a great reading week ahead of you!

    1. Thanks, Myra! I look forwarding to reading your review of River of Words.

  2. I loved October Mourning-we heard so much about Matthew Shepherd because I live in Denver-heartbreaking! I will put some of your others on the TBR list, like Blood and Shadow. Looks good, as does Eleanor and Park. Thanks for telling about the language, too. Great pic books too!

    1. This was definitely a good reading week for me, Linda. I wish everyone would read October Mourning. A lot of power in few words. You're right - that event is absolutely heartbreaking,