What’s in My Spring Break To-Read Pile and Why
What is spring break if not a time to set overly ambitious reading goals?
Here’s what I hope to read in the next week and why.
A new series! Illustrated by our reigning Caldecott Medal winner, Sophie Blackall, and written by John Bemelmans Marciano – two members of the Atlas Powder Picture Book Company (a.k.a. two fifths of the best gif in children’s lit history).
But this is no picture book. It’s a chapter book about a town in Italy full of witches, and the group of kids who try to outsmart them. Side note: the production and design of this book is ace.
I’m glad you’re here because I need some help. What is (are?) Scholastic Branches? They’re not a Scholastic imprint. Not really a series.
*Leaves to research*
*Returns* (for some reason holding a Milky Way and glass of red wine)
Okay! Let’s call them a line of highly appealing, heavily illustrated early chapter books. I am so in on Branches. So much so that I’m going to link to the website here. Fun, funny, full-color, and … often fantastic (#alliterationgoals). If you have 1st-3rd grade kids or teachers in your life, you should spread the word.
So that’s why I’m planning to read Haggis and Tank Unleashed. Also, because it’s the first in the series, and it’s illustrated by James Burks, who does all the Bird and Squirrel books.
I don’t know why more picture book makers don’t write longer fiction. Maybe it’s a fear of stepping out of the comfort zone. Maybe it’s picture book pigeonholing by publishers. Or maybe it’s because it requires a whole different set of skills and the time and effort needed to create something that works is daunting. Whatever the reason (and I’m thinking it’s that last one), Peter Brown has given it a shot with The Wild Robot and I’m going to see how things went, dang it.
Oh, no. Am I ready for this? You might be thinking “Come on, it looks harmless enough, Trav, why the hesitation?” But after Boats for Papa left swaths of (adult) readers in the fetal position next to empty boxes of Kleenex (and kids completely won over – see my 2016 Mock Caldecott results. Wait, I’ll save you the trouble:
), I am steeling myself for anything.
I just read it. I liked it! It’s about moving away from a friend, but staying connected.
These books are just so funny. Absurd metafiction created in such a way that the text and illustrations are inseparable from each other. Pure escapist fun. In this one Andy and Terry’s (yes, the author and illustrator are the main characters) publisher, Mr. Big Nose, goes missing. Perhaps the guys can find him, and get their next book done in the process.
I said I was looking forward to it back in February. A classic “Been meaning to read this book for a while, and now I have the chance” book.
Binky the Space Cat anyone? Same creator, new series.
A deliriously happy girl hugging a penguin. I would continue, but I think I’ve made my motivation clear enough.
I know nothing about this book – I didn’t get a rec from a friend or read a blog review. It’s just a graphic novel that looks intriguing. That kind of reading can be really fun.
Every area of children’s literature (picture books, chapter books, middle grade, etc.) has its fair share of the nondescript or formulaic. It’s just that with early readers, there’s less good stuff to outweigh it. Do you not agree? I appreciate how Candlewick puts out early readers that are trying. Thus I will try to read it during my spring break. I think I’ll be successful. This is the final book in the Monkey and Elephant series.
The last book, Lowriders in Space, was this joyous and mind-bending mix of bic pen art, low-rider culture, and psychedelic space travel. So you know I’m coming back for more.
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About Travis Jonker
Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.
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