Thanks to Unleashing Readers and Teach Mentor Texts for this meme!

I’ve transferred over to The StoryGraph to avoid the Amazon-owned Goodreads. It’s still a learning curve and it doesn’t have some of the convenience Goodreads offers but, at least, I’ve been reviewing again. Of course, WordPress is still a horrible platform ever since their upgrade of a year or two ago. But, it’s not like I’m trying to win any blogging awards over here.

Just Like Beverly: A Biography of Beverly Cleary

by Vicki Conrad with illustrations by David Hohn

This seemed like the perfect book to kick off my reading year.

I’m surprised I hadn’t read this yet considering how much I adore Beverly Cleary and that we had both the author and the illustrator do a reading at the bookstore when this first came out. (Of course, I could have just forgotten to mark it as read on that other platform.)

Anyway, it was great to read about her life and her contributions to children’s literature. It reminded me of all the fun bookish things I’ve had with her books.

Some takeaways for aspiring writers: Write what you know about. Write what you want to read about. Don’t just think about writing, write!

Michael Jordan

by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara with illustrations by Lo Harris

Little People, Big Dreams is a wonderful picture book biography series. The books are informative enough with additional info and photos in the backmatter. Sometimes, though, especially when it’s about super popular- and living- people, the books don’t seem to have the same punch to them. It’s great they have different illustrators but can be hit-or-miss depending on if you enjoy their style.

Think Smart, Be Fearless: A Biography of Bill Gates

by Sharon Mentyka with illustrations by Vivien Mildenberger

Growing to Greatness is a new picture book biography series focused on Pacific Northwest trailblazers. This one focused on Bill Gates. I would have loved to read more about his philanthropy although the backmatter does delve into it further.

Something Happened in Our Park: Standing Together After Gun Violence

by Ann Hazzard, Marianne Celano, Marietta Collins with illustrations by Keith Henry Brown

A good companion book to own with Something Happened in Our Town, Something Happened in Our Park tackles the aftermath of gun violence in a community.

Very important issues tackled and very important emotions addressed.

Contains extensive backmatter material to help caregivers talk to young readers about gun violence. I really appreciated the samples of Adult-Child Dialogues.

Website includes even more information covering other topics addressed in this book.

Hokusai: He Saw the World in a Wave

by Susie Hodge with Kim Ekdahl

What the Artist Saw is a new picture book biography series that introduces readers to artists and includes activities they can do themselves. This one focuses on Japanese artist Hokusai. What I appreciated is that there were images of some of his work to help me better understand his art. I will definitely be checking out the other books in this series.

The Year We Learned to Fly

by Jacqueline Woodson with illustrations by Rafael López

From the team who brought The Day You Begin, Jacqueline Woodson crafts another hopeful and inspiring story that both looks back to acknowledge the struggles of those who’ve come before and looks towards a future full of possibilities perfectly showcased with Rafael López’s art.

The Life of the Buddha

by Heather Sanche with illustrations by Tara Di Gesu

A good introduction to Siddhartha Gautama’s life in becoming the Awakened One, Buddha. Not only that but it’s also an accessible way to learn about the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism.

Wonderful Babies

by Emily Winfield Martin

Another adorable addition to Emily Winfield Martin’s collection of board books babies will love.

Hello, World! Garden Time

by Jill McDonald

Hello World! is a board book series that introduces the youngest readers to nature and science concepts. Colorful images and question prompts are mixed in with the story text. For this book, kids learn about gardens.

After the Shot Drops

by Randy Ribay

Ultimately, I didn’t hate this book as much as I think I would especially when it had lots of things I don’t like in YA novels and that it’s about sports. There were definitely times that I was ready to chuck my phone (since I was listening to this on audiobook) because it felt like certain situations could have been avoided if they just talked it out. (Although, that’s easier said and done- in real life, as well, as in fiction- and where would the story be in that?

I did enjoy how thought-provoking it was about why certain people seem to have good things happen to them while others just fall through the cracks of a system that seems to work against them. Plus, it was interesting to see how things aren’t always as perfect as things might seem from the outside.

I’m glad I ended up reading Randy Ribay’s second novel first because I’m more likely to continue reading books he puts out.

Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations

by Mira Jacob

Good Talk by Mira Jacob is Multnomah County Library’s Everybody Reads 2022 selection- their first graphic novel pick. It brought up a lot of thoughts and emotions from me which is  good for any book club type title. 

As someone who grew up in the Philippines, I saw the incessant brainwashing that having a darker skin tone was bad, ugly, and needed to be remedied. I hate how it still is very prevalent to this day practically anywhere in the world.

I cringed at the microaggressions that she went through because I know from experience how common that is.

As we all are just trying to get through this pandemic, I almost (sort of but not really) forgot how much stress and oppression I was under during the last presidency. It’s not something I wanted to be reminded of or cared to read about as a past event because we’re still dealing with it.

The illustrations was a very unique style and at first I wasn’t sure what to make of it but I eventually warmed to it. I also listened to a sample of the audiobook version just to see how that would be since this is a graphic novel.

You can view all my reviews over on The StoryGraph.

Thanks for visiting my blog. Happy Reading!

5 thoughts on “My Reading Week #IMWAYR- January 10, 2022

  1. Wow, Earl, you shared so many that I bookmarked for my list. I may never catch up. I’ve never heard of Good Talk & will be sure to read it. I like the idea of those little bios yet may never read them. I’m sure they’re great for young readers. I will look for those artist bios, though. They sound interesting. And the ‘Something Happened…” books sound good, too. My daughter’s neighborhood had a shooting last year and it was a terrible thing for them. They did meet and work through some of the problems. Yes, the former guy put a lot of stress on people, sad to say. Wishing it was all over, but guess we have to work hard this year to elect good people! Thanks for all and have a great week!

  2. I hope using the StoryGraph gets easier as you keep going! I imagine it’s at least less confusingly laid out and archaic than Goodreads (I just joined, and wow, it is kind of a mess!). And it’s funny, because I am always desperate to move to WordPress because I despise Blogger with a burning passion, but it seems like everyone on WordPress finds it aggravating as well! Something Happened in Our Park looks really powerful, and I really want to read The Year We Learned to Fly! Good Talk is one I’ve seen before, and it looks really impactful as well. Thanks so much for the wonderful post, Earl!

  3. As soon as I saw Just Like Beverly on your list, I scooched over to my local library site to see if they had it. Well I should have just waited to read the rest of your post because there are so many on it I want to read! I especially keen to read The Year We Learned to Fly (My library has an eBook so I am trying to decide if I should check that out, or wait for a hard copy. Thanks so much for sharing all these wonderful titles.

  4. I laughed so hard at your WordPress comment. I still use it, and don’t find it great. But like you, not trying to win any awards here, so I just keep using it.
    You had so many great books here I can’t name them all but I would be remiss if I didn’t thank-you for mentioning The Year We Learned to Fly. I don’t know how I missed out on that one coming out, and I quickly added it to a non-Amazon cart. I also have a copy of After the Shot Drops, but I haven’t read it. A lot of the YA I intend to read kind of sits on my shelves at home while the elementary teacher and librarians (me and my wife) reach for the Middle Grade and Picture books. I feel sorry for my YA books, like this one, they deserve better. Thanks for the great post!

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