Pick of the Month: February 2012

I have been plugging away at my 75 Book Challenge. I have read 26 books so far.  Awesome — yes! But, I still feel behind.  Will I make it to 75 by the end of the year?  I hope so! It’s been fun so far.

Here is my favorite read from February 2012.

Picture Book:  Lost Boy: The Story of the Man who created Peter Pan by Jane Yolen

This is lovely picture book biography about the life J.M. Barrie, author of “Peter Pan.”  At 2990 words, this is probably not the best choice for a one-night bedtime story for young children.  It might work if you spread it out over several nights.  The story is primarily meant for middle grade readers, grades 4-8.  The illustrations are beautiful, whimsical, and fill the readers and listeners with ‘awe’.
As an aspiring writer, Barrie’s story struck a chord with me.  His path to becoming a successful author was not an easy as you would think.  He went through many of the same trials and tribulations in his time that we all continue to go through now.  It made me feel connected to him in an unexpected way.  I always find experiences like these make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.  It’s one of many reasons I love children’s literature — the stories reach people of all ages, from 0-90.  I hope you will check it out!

Pick of the Month: January 2012

I have a confession to make…this post is almost a month late.  My oh-so-wonderful-plan was to choose my favorite books I’ve read, as part of the 75 Book Challenge, and write a lovely post about them each month.  I still love the idea and intend on following through with it.  So, without further ado, here are my top picks for January 2012.  It was a hard decision, as I read a number of ‘curl up with a cup of cocoa and eagerly read me’ kind of stories last month.  Wait — that’s every month!

Picture Book: Shark vs. Train by Chris Barton

Sharks and Trains! I think I hear those words at least once or twice a day at work.  Kids loves sharks and trains! What a great idea to pair the two in a picture book!  In Shark vs. Train the two characters challenge each other in the ultimate competition to see who can ‘out-do’ the other.

In some cases Train has the advantage, like marshmallow roasting.
In others it’s Shark, like trick-or-treating.
Who will win? Check out this fun book to find out!

Novel – Middle Grade: The Giver by Lois Lowry

How did I get this far in life without having read this beautifully written dystopian novel, which also happens to be a Newberry Honor Book?  Looking back at my teen years it was probably because I was too busy reading Sweet Valley High Books, while also sneaking Dean Koontz and Stephen King books from my mother’s bookshelves.  I also remember having a habit of ‘judging a book by its cover’. I probably glanced at it and decided not to give it a chance (silly me!)

What I loved about the book most was Jonah’s voice throughout the story.  Lowry pulled you in his world so quickly and seamlessly that you literally lived and experienced Jonas’s world as he did.  I suspected from the beginning that the utopian society he was living in was in fact a dystopian one, but nonetheless delighted in how Jonas discovered it.  It was like slowly unwrapping a candy wrapped in several layers of foil, only to find that the once you reach the center it has melted.

If you are a fan of Dystopian fiction and have not read The Giver I highly, highly recommend it.