Friday, October 12, 2012

Today I'm trying something new. For an indefinite period of time (read: until I run out of stamina, interest, or opinions), I will be posting a Book of the Week pick here in the newsletter. The picks will be for middle grade readers to read themselves, or in a few notable instances, to have read to them - still (and I hope, forever) a favorite family occurrence at our house.

What inspired this decision was the dearth of interesting "Just Right" leveled books in the bins in my daughter's classroom. As the school year began, Ada was bringing home books she'd read already (not a bad thing, in and of itself, if you really WANT to re-read a certain book), as well as books she was distinctly hostile towards reading. So, with her teacher's blessing, I started trolling library shelves for stories that were gripping, just the right amount of challenging, and fun. A few people have asked for the list I started to compile. But not all these books are created equal and frankly, I just can't resist putting my two cents in. I'm sure there will be dissenters out there. Go ahead and dissent - and let me know about it! Meanwhile, I'm kicking off the picks with:

I'm embarrassed that I'd never read the work of fellow-journalist Lois Lowry before – I mean, she's written, what, something like 40 books and won zillions of awards. Nevertheless, ANASTASIA KRUPNIK – a recommendation from Ada's teacher – was an amazing way to begin to get acquainted with her books. I snatched it off the library pile before Ada got to it and read it straight through. It is, quite simply, a book about almost everything; at least, almost everything that's important to a girl of almost any age. Further explanation would only sound bland. The best books have a way of defying tidy accounting.

I was afraid that part of what I loved about it was the style of writing – so distinctly of the '70s and my own urban childhood – and that Ada wouldn't share my enthusiasm for it. She read half of it in one sitting last night, barely looking up to grunt when I announced that dinner was ready. It's the kind of book I wish were still written for grownups: hopeful, exploring the grey areas that make up our existence, direct. It's still in print after 35 years, so you can order a copy from your local bookseller. Alternately, the one pictured above will be back at our neighborhood library, probably by tomorrow.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Some suggestions for this age group: two marvelous Christmas books, 'the coat-hanger Christmas tree,' by Eleanor Estes, set in Brooklyn, really really good. And 'the Christmas bower," by Polly Redford, fantastic book. I know you and Ada would love both of them