Summer Reading List

You know, I’ve often thought about how my kids will perceive this year when they look back on it as adults. Will they remember the 8 billion games of rummy and crazy eights we’ve played? Will they recall the nuances involved in baking gluten-free bread and pastry? Will they recall how their dad and I assembled Ikea’s hardest piece of furniture (dubbed “The Divorce-Maker”) and didn’t fight, not once? But most of all, will they remember all the books we read? Because, OMG. We’ve read a library’s-worth, y’all.

What, exactly, are we reading this summer? Sit down, get yourself a cup of tea and read on!

What I read on my Covid-Vacation

All the Judy Blume Fudge books: We’re just starting SuperFudge right now. I think it’s my favourite so far. It’s HILARIOUS!

Judy Blume’s Frecklejuice and The One in the Middle is the Green Kangaroo.

(I LOVE Judy Blume, but I think I’m going to wait until Vivi is a bit older before we introduce her to some of Ms. Blume’s other work. I really can’t wait for Vivi to read my favourite Judy Blume book ever, Starring Sally J. Freedman As Herself.)

We’ve been reading the Clementine series by Sara Pennypacker. It’s excellent. Clementine reminds me a LOT of Vivi when she was a bit younger.

Vivi and I read the Anne of Green Gables graphic novel by Mariah Marsden. For someone who happens to be a die-hard Anne-fan, it’s pretty simple and doesn’t come close to the original. For someone who knows nothing about Anne, it’s a great intro.

I read Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy by Rey Terciero. It is very loosely based on the characters from Little Women (but totally updated and current). As a major Little Women fan, I was concerned. But I shouldn’t have been. The book was fabulous, whether or not you’re familiar with the source material.

I finally read The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas and I have to say: holy cow. This should 100% absolutely be required reading for all high school students. I absolutely LOVED it. Parts of the stories/various characters reminded me a bit of where I grew up (Malvern). I was blown away by the writing. I could NOT put this book down. Ten stars!

Lily and I have been making our way through the Princess in Black books (by Shannon and Dean Hale, illustrated by the fabulous LeUyen Pham). We love them all, but my favourite is the birthday party one. The ending is so sweet and the illustrations are perfection.

Lily and I have also enjoyed the Owl Diaries series (by Rebecca Elliot), and Owlie Volume 1 by Andy Runton

Vivi and Karl have made it (almost) through the Toys Go Out series by Emily Jenkins. Karl’s review: “The first book took awhile to get into, but it’s really grown on us. The sequel is excellent.”

Vivi and I are reading the Nanny Piggins series by R.A. Spratt (we adore Nanny Piggins) and we’re on book 5. Vivi’s theory is that the children’s mom is still alive. Mine is that she’s not. We will continue reading until we find out for sure!

Vivi has read and re-read EVERY SINGLE Baby-Sitters Club graphic novel she has. She loves both Raina Telgemeier and Gale Galligan. We’ve also been watching the BSC on Netflix (one episode every Friday night, complete with Twizzlers and tasty Claudia Kishi-approved snacks). I am in love with the current version of the BSC. Absolutely adore it. Being able to share my BSC-mania with my daughter is a total dream come true. In one other piece of BSC-related news, I finally have ALL of my Baby-Sitters Club books on one bookshelf, right outside of Vivi’s room. Their beautiful pastel-coloured spines bring me joy and happiness whenever I see them. Ann M. Martin, you are a key reason I adore kid lit.

I’m currently reading The Evolution of Everything by Matt Ridley and The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs by Steve Brusatte. Both are great so far! Oh! And I’m in the middle of Surviving the Applewhites by Stephanie S. Tolan. The characters are memorable and the book is quite funny so far.

We just got another package in the mail from Indigo (we love you, Indigo) and we’re excited to read Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin.

So…that’s what we’ve been reading! I hope your summer/Covid-vacation has been as book-filled as ours. Now I just have to plan out what we’ll do for our at-home novel study for the new school year. Because I think this Covid-vacation might be an extended one.

 

You Matter

You Matter: Robinson, Christian, Robinson, Christian ...

 

Title: You Matter
Author/Illustrator: Christian Robinson
Published: Atheneum Books for Young Readers

 

So it’s been a crazy year so far, eh friends? I live in Ontario (Canada) and things have been weird here since March. Recently (June), we’ve started to open things up and do stuff again. But cautiously! People mostly wear masks and sanitize their hands constantly. Aside from my extreme germ-o-phobia (not a new thing, just exacerbated by the pandemic), I find that missing my people is the hardest part of Covid-19. Being away from friends and family, having to keep our social bubbles very limited, having the kids here all day and not being able to really go anywhere or do anything is tough (I’m just not 100% comfortable with the girls venturing into the world yet).

We’ve missed milestones. We’ve missed birthdays and a wonderful baby shower (for a dear friend who just adopted her son after eight LONG years of waiting). We’ve missed coffee dates and play dates and just being near our friends. Skype is okay, but we’ve really missed our people.

I was looking for some books to order that would raise our spirits. That would bring us happiness. And then I stumbled upon You Matter by Christian Robinson.

In case you’re not familiar with his work, Christian Robinson is amazing. He’s an author and illustrator (I reviewed another of his books here: https://jessreviewsabook.com/2019/05/23/schools-first-day-of-school/) and I adore his style (both written and illustrated, but I’m particularly in love with his illustrations). The first book I read of Mr. Robinson’s was the fabulous The Last Stop on Market Street (with Matt de la Peña, review to come). I was blown away. How did I not know about this creator? After that, I made it my business to keep up with his work and buy his books.

Enter You Matter.

The premise is simple: no matter how small, no matter how big, no matter if you’re first or last, you matter. Even if you don’t think you do, you do. This is the type of message kids NEED to hear. Heck, it’s a message adults desperately need to hear as well. The text is minimal, but so effective, like poetry. The illustrations are, of course, gorgeous. Each picture is delightful to look at. (Lily was inspired by the art to do some of her own creating after reading the book.) Lily and I both enjoyed each page, but my personal favourites were the t-rex with a mosquito bite and the astronaut in space. Lily loved the page about being gassy (see: Lily has a goofy sense of humour) and the city page. She smiled throughout the entire story and asked for it again right away. She said “turn the pages slower!” so she could look at them more carefully.

You guys, what else can I say?

This book is what we need right now. I honestly believe that if kids were told, from the time they were small, that they mattered and could use their powers and skills to make the world a better place, we’d have a much nicer world overall.

If you know someone who needs to hear this message, you know what to do. Send them a care package and let them know that they matter. And, in case no one has told you recently, you do, too.

Mama’s rating: Five stars

Lily’s rating: “That book is so beautiful.”