Picture Books for Black History Month

Another installment of our picture book reading this month.

❤️ Harlem’s Little Blackbird: The Story of Florence Mills was so fantastic. I loved the story and the illustrations.❤️

❤️ The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage. I always like sharing these kinds of stories with Gage so I can see his complete shock that anyone would think it’s okay to tell people who they can and can’t marry. We ARE making progress. ❤️

❤️Sisters & Champions: The True Story of Venus and Serena Williams. We’ve read a few books about these powerhouse women and this one was really good. ❤️

❤️ Follow Chester!: A College Football Team Fights Racism and Makes History. Perfect for Gage’s Super Bowl reading 😁

❤️ Opal Lee and What It Means To Be Free: The True Story of the Grandmother of Juneteenth.

Sing a Song: How Lift Every Voice and Sing” Inspired Generations

This is the Rope: A Story From the Great Migration by Jaqueline Woodson

Sweet People Are Everywhere by Alice Walker. I like the idea, but needed more.

Visiting Langston by Willie Perdomo and Bryan Collier. There wasn’t much of a story but we loved the illustrations.

Black History Month Kids Picture Books, pt.2

It’s been another great week for picture books! I’ll list them in the order I liked them best and give you a few thoughts. In the morning as we start our day I read a picture book (I sometimes make him read, but the morning goes a lot better for everyone if I don’t make him ‘work’ first thing, lol). Sometimes we just talk about the story or the time in history and sometimes we explore more with writing or videos. He always has to sum it up or include important points in his journal. All in all, most days it takes 10-25 minutes.

The Other Side
The Other Side by Jacqueline Woodson and E.B. Lewis, 32 pages, pub. 2003

I love this writing/illustrating duo. Their books are timeless even if they seem like a quaint story of a time gone by. Clover is told that she has to stay on her side of the fence because white people lived on the other side and blacks stayed on their side. But one summer she always saw a girl sitting ON the fence and in time made her way to the top of the fence too. I adored this book and the hope it gives for the children of today paving the way to a better future.

Trombone Shorty
Trombone Shorty by Troy “Trombone Shorty”Andrews and Bryan Collier, 40 pages, pub. 2015

It didn’t take us long to realize that this book overlapped with The 5 O’Clock Band that we read last year. This was more about a moment with Bo Diddley that Andrews had when he was just a young boy with a beat up trombone he found on the street. Gage loved this true moment in time and we had fun with the photos in the back. Loved it. As always, Collier sparkles as an illustrator.

Let's Talk about Race
Let’s Talk About Race by Julius Lester and Karen Barbour, 32 pages, pub. 2005

This eye-catching book is a great starting point for a discussion about race. It starts with the story everyone has and how it’s impossible to know the whole of anyone if we just look at the outside. He uses the example of shedding our skin as we move through life and how preferable that would be. Wouldn’t that be lovely? Unfortunately, that isn’t the world we live in so a real conversation must happen after the book is done. But it was visually appealing and a conversation starter.

Ellen's Broom
Ellen’s Broom by Kelly Starling Lyons and Daniel Minter, 32 pages, pub. 2012

Ellen’s parents and others celebrate when it becomes legal for them to be married in the eyes of the government. Until then, jumping the broom was the way slaves married. I loved the celebration of new beginnings and progress being made. It didn’t have as much detail about the tradition as I would have liked, but it was a good starting point and I loved the illustrations.

When Langston Dances
When Langston Dances by Kaija Langley and Keith Mallett, 40 pages, pub. 2021

This inspiring story of a boy finding the courage to do something unexpected is gorgeously illustrated. Langston was good at basketball, but he ADORED dancing. A sweet story sure to appeal to younger kids.

Lift Your Light a Little Higher: The Story of Stephen Bishop: Slave-Explorer
Lift Your Light a Little Higher: The Story of Stephen Bishop Slave-Explorer by Heather Henson and Bryan Collier, 32 pages, pub. 2016

I liked the idea of this book based on the few details about the man that we know. Stephen was of several slaves who gave tours of Mammoth Cave in Kentucky. The cave is the biggest in the world and he made a few discoveries during his 20 years. The story was a little to little for me to really love it, but the history at the back was interesting.

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Flying Free: How Bessie Coleman’s Dreams Took Flight by Karyn Parsons and R. Gregory Christie, 48 pages, pub. 2020

The first black woman to get her pilot’s license in 1921 had to go to France to learn to fly. I loved the additional pages with timelines and photos in the back It was also fun to read about this period because of how it relates to Jason’s great grandfather who learned to fly in this era.

Black History Month picture books

What does Black History Month look like for our homeschooling? I checked out 28 picture books. We are using two for month long lessons so they’ll show up later and we’re reading, watching, writing, talking about one book a day. Yes, this means even weekends we’ll have books to read. Our first three have been terrific.

My Name is James Madison Hemings is for older kids who you can have deeper conversations with. Thomas Jefferson had 4 children with his slave Sally Hemings and this is their story from the perspective of one of the sons. How would you feel if you lived in one room under the terraces built in the hillside with your three siblings and mother while your father had his other family in the palatial Monticello? What if your father listed you as property, next to the sheep and hogs in the farm book?

There was so much to unpack and it led to great discussions about how people who do great good can also do bad things. By focusing only on the good doesn’t that show an incomplete picture of history? I could go on, but you get the idea 😁. We also watched a video that I’ll try to link to below. Such an important story.

Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave was a real man who made approximately 40,000 pots with poetry sometimes carved in. Some of these pots are still around today, 200 years later. We paired this with videos of current potters and learned more about the process.

Freedom in Congo Square is about a real place in New Orleans where black people could meet once a week (it became the only place they could congregate on their one day off a week) and keep their African traditions alive. The pictures are colorful and the reading easy for younger kids.

We’re going chronologically through a history book, so not all the books will be about slavery.

I’ll keep our picture books to a once a week recap, but want to make sure I highlight the really good ones – like these!

January favorites and February intentions

I’ve managed to keep my book a day streak alive! 31 books!

13 picture books
3 fiction
3 young adult
3 chapter books
2 non-fiction
2 contemporary romance
1 historical romance
1 thriller
1 historical fiction
1 kids graphic novel

Technically, I’ve read 13 more for Cybils Award judging, but since I can’t talk about them until judging is done and winners are announced, I’ll count them next month 🙂

My favorites

The Comfort Book
The Comfort Book by Mark Haig. I talked about it here.
The Siren of Sussex (Belles of London, #1)
The Siren of Sussex by Mimi Matthews. I talked about it here.
Kelley Armstong’s Darkness Rising trilogy. I talked about it here.
Just Haven't Met You Yet
Just Haven’t Met You Yet by Sophie Cousens. I haven’t even done any kind of review and to preserve my sanity this will have to serve as a recommendation. It’s a quirky, modern British romcom. I listened to this one and thought the meet cute aspect of it really worked. It delved into serious parent issues without ever feeling weighed down or losing its spark.
Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters
Of Thee I Sing by Barack Obama. Since I read so many picture books I should share my favorite one! I talked about it here.


Last February I read a book by an African American author every day for Black History Month. I found new authors I fell in love with, Jesmyn Ward, August Wilson, Beverly Jenkins, Octavia Butler…the list goes on.

So, I chose books from last year discoveries, plus a Toni Morrison, that I’m going to try and get to this month. In January I read 6 of the 8 I selected at the beginning of the month so we’ll see how I do with this 9.

I started by reading Jesmyn Ward’s Tulane graduation speech turned into the book Navigate Your Stars. It’s an inspirational story of her growing up believing that college meant success. What she found was that hard work and persistence led to success and that a college degree was no golden ticket. There was also personal reflection on how we often judge people and the circumstances they find themselves in and how this view can change over time if we make the effort to continue to grow. The illustrations were gorgeous. A great gift for graduates at any level.

Where has December gone?

Yikes! It’s the 18th and I haven’t posted any of my book a day reads this month! So, forgive me for this catch up post with lots of random books 🙂 I’m limping along with lots of kids books, but I will make it. What are you reading to finish up the year? For me it’s the shorter the better right now!

The Road Trip
The Road Trip by Beth O’Leary. 414 pages, pub. 2021

This story takes place on a road trip gone awry. Told from his and her perspectives and then and now time periods, this was a story that entertained. The last third of the book had a few revelations that moved the story in different directions all the while satisfying this romantic’s heart in the end.

I thought the audio was excellent.

The Haunted House Next Door (Desmond Cole Ghost Patrol, #1)
Desmond Cole Ghost Patrol: The Haunted House Next Door by Andres Miedoso. 128 pages, pub. 2017

Gage read me the first in the Desmond Cole Ghost Patrol series on Thursday. We’d read a later one in the series and liked it and Gage’s writing tutor gave him the first four for his birthday. The books are written by Andres, Desmond’s anxious friend. Desmond loves ghost hunting and Andres loves having a new best friend in his new town. A fun series with great illustrations for the older elementary set.

Albert Einstein Was a Dope?
Albert Einstein Was A Dope by Dan Gutman. 112 pages, pub. 2021

This is a new series by Dan Gutman about famous figures. I read the Muhammad Ali one earlier this year. Gage and I both loved this one. He loves random and interesting trivia and this fits the bill. It was told with humor that kept him entertained all the way through. And we both learned what happened to Einstein’s brain and eyeballs after his death. Gross! 

The People Awards
The People Awards by Lily Murray. 80 pages, pub. 2018

We’ve been reading The People’s Award book to start our school day for about two months. It says right on the cover ‘Celebrate Equality with 50 People Who Changed the World’ and I appreciated the mix of people from around the world, both familiar and unknown to me. Each award winner ranging from Confucius to Pele had a fun two page spread. It also had a quote from each one which was a good reason for Gage to practice his cursive.

Notes on Teaching: A Short Guide to an Essential Skill
Notes on Teaching by Shellee Hendricks. 176 pages, pub. 2011

Notes on Teaching: A Short Guide to an Essential Skill was a quick read. It took me back to my college days and my English Education classes. Even as a homeschooling mom it still touched on many things that have already made a difference in our day and will continue to do so. It’s always nice to have a pep talk and a reminder of what’s important.

Alaskan Holiday
Alaskan Holiday by Debbie Macomber. 256 pages, pub. 2018

Have you ever been listening to a book and the narration is just so bad that you wonder if it’s a problem with the narrator or the book? Such was the case with this short winter romance. There were two narrators but one came up with voices for some of the characters that were so off-putting I think it must have been intentional.

A young woman goes to Alaska to work for the summer, receives a marriage proposal, goes back to Washington for a great job anyway only to discover dream job is a bust. Will there be a happy ending?

If considering, pick up the book and skip the ear buds.

The Seven Sisters (The Seven Sisters, #1)
The Seven Sisters by Lucinda Riley (book 1 of the Seven Sisters series). 460 pages, pub. 2014

I listened to The Seven Sisters by Lucinda Riley thanks to a recommendation from my friend Amy and what a good recommendation it was! This is the first in a series of eight books about six adopted sisters who are given hints about their births after their father has died. In this first book the oldest, Maia, travels from Lake Geneva to Rio de Janeiro in hopes of finding her roots. What she finds is a long lost love affair and ties to the famous Christ the Redeemer statue.

Perfect for historical fiction and romance fans. I look forward to learning more about the other sisters and the mystery that binds them. Great audio.

Well Matched (Well Met, #3)
Well Matched by Jen Deluca. 336 pages, pub. 2021

I read/listened to Well Matched, part of a series that’s set in the small town of Willow Creek. I haven’t read the first two but would consider this a stand alone. Single-mother April is about to become an empty nester and gym teacher Mitch is looking for a fake date to a family gathering. I loved easy going Mitch and outspoken and homebody April. Having it set around the local Renaissance Fair was fun and having family and friends invested in their relationship solidified the story. A cute read for this time of year.

Shade: A Tale of Two Presidents
Shade: A Tale of Two Presidents by Pete Souza. 240 pages, pub. 2018

Pete Souza was the official White House photographer for both Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama and was self admittedly bitter after the 2016 election. He started his own IG account and began to react to Trump’s tweets with photos of Obama to directly respond. Throwing shade was a term he learned for what he was doing and these posts, with Trump’s tweets from the first two years are what make up this book. I wanted to like it more and there were serious comparisons and more humorous ones, but after 4+ years of hate (tweets) and snark I just couldn’t generate any excitement for it. But, hey, it was free!

Royal Holiday (The Wedding Date, #4)
Royal Holiday by Jasmine Guillory. 320 pages, pub. 2020

The Royal Holiday introduced me to a new author AND a middle age romance! It was nice to have a heroine in her 50s and I enjoyed the American going across the pond to fall in love with an advisor to the queen. Can they make it work past her holiday? Keep calm and believe.

The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown
The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown. 137 pages, pub. 2010

The Gifts of Imperfection is about living a wholehearted life. Wholehearted living is based on the process of continually cultivating courage, compassion, and connection in our lives. There are 10 main guideposts, including authenticity, resilient spirit, and intuition that she addresses. This book is based on her research and I loved how she shared it, but it was still just a bit too self-helpy for me to love. I did take away a lot of positive energy and am happy I read it.

Facts vs. Opinions vs. Robots
Facts vs. Opinions vs. Robots by Michael Rex. 32 pages, pub. 2020

Facts vs. Opinions vs. Robots by Michael Rex should be required reading for adults and children, but really it’s a quick, fun book for kids. The definitions were spot on. Just because someone says something you agree with doesn’t make it a fact. It also addressed the need to wait for more information before making firm opinions.

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Plants on the Move by Emilie Vast. 56 pages, pub. 2021

Plants on the Move is detailed and visually pleasing. It breaks down the many different ways that seeds from plants and trees reproduce and what trees or flowers do each one. Must have for your young plant lovers.

Twenty-One Steps: Guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
Twenty-One Steps by Jeff Gottesfeld. 32 pages, pub. 2021

Twenty-One Steps: Guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is a beautifully illustrated book told in first person by the first unknown soldier buried at Arlington National Cemetery 100 years ago.

The Journey That Saved Curious George: The True Wartime Escape of Margret and H.A. Rey
The Journey That Saved Curious George by Louise Borden. 80 pages, pub. 2005

A well put together kids biography of the creators of Curious George, who may have started with a much more French name than George. Margret and Hans were both from Germany, but didn’t meet and marry until they were both in Brazil where they became Brazilian citizens. They moved back to Paris just in time for the Germans invading the city with the couple barely escaping on homemade bicycles with drawings of a curious monkey in the bike basket.

They managed to escape and make their way to New York, hence my New Yorker magazine cover. The story the pictures and the whimsical drawings make this one I’m happy to have on my shelf to share with Gage.

A Day for Rememberin': The First Memorial Day
A Day For Rememberin’ by Leah Henderson. 40 pages, pub. 2020

A Day for Rememberin’: Inspired by the True Events of the First Memorial Day is a beautifully illustrated book about the freed men, women, and children in Charleston who paid homage to the dead Union soldiers who gave their lives so that slaves would be slaves no more.

Tigers & Tea With Toppy
Tigers & Tea With Poppy by Barbara Kerley. 48 pages, pub. 2018

Tigers & Tea with Poppy is about the inspiring life of wildlife artist Charles R. Knight.

I also read these kids books and one for a book tour

Trees by Carme Lemniscates
Animals by Kathy ThornboroughMy Religion, Your Religion by Lisa BullardWe Are Better Together by Ann BonwillThe Science Behind Batman's Uniform by Agnieszka BiskupHow Has Covid-19 Changed Our World? by Kara L. LaughlinFauci by Anthony Fauci(review here)

November Favorites

I didn’t get my last few books of November on here, so I’ll post them after sharing my 5 (technically 6) favorites of November. I focused on graphic novels/memoirs and am so glad that I read more outside my comfort zone this month. So far this year Goodreads tells me I’ve read 380 books this year. I don’t even know how to feel about this number because it is so ridiculous, lol. I’m working on breaking them down into categories and talking about them that way this month.

My November Favorites

❤️ The Handmaid’s Tale : The Graphic Novel. Adaptation by Renee Nault.

❤️ The Encyclopedia of Early Earth by Isabel Greenberg.

❤️ The 1619 Project: Born on the Water by Nikole Hannah-Jones, Renee Watson, & Nikkolas Smith.

❤️ Maus I & II by Art Spiegelman.

❤️ The Good Kings: Absolute Power in Ancient Egypt and the Modern World by Kara Cooney.

Have you read any of these?

I also read

Born on the Water (link above) – The 1619 Project: Born on the Water is a beautiful book that shows a young girl how resilient and strong her ancestors were. Told in a flowing verse, it chronicles the story of the Africans stolen from their land and brought to Virginia in 1619. I loved the illustrations and the scope of information for younger kids. ❤️❤️❤️❤️

The Jungle, graphic novel by Kristina Gehrmann. Let me recommend the graphic novel of the classic The Jungle by Upton Sinclair. If you read The Four Winds this year that showcased the need for unions in the 1930s west, this is a fantastic companion that shows this same need during the same period in the immigrant heavy Chicago. A terribly sad story based on an interview that will keep you riveted. Loved it!

The Wanderer by Peter van den Ende has no words. Not one word in 96 beautifully illustrated pages. The Wanderer is the story of a paper boat and his journey around the world. Gage and I sat down for our daily together reading time and took turns putting words to the pages and crafting our own story. It was so much fun and I highly recommend it for those of you with kids. There’s even a neat twist at the end that will be open to more than one interpretation.

Drawn Together: Uplifting Comics on the Curious Journey Through Life was fun for a few minutes, but was so short that it felt.. incomplete? Based on the popular Dharma Comics online it was a collection of comics on grief, love, and self-care. As good as some of the individual pages were it lacked the heft it needed to fill the book, IMO.

This Week in Graphic Novels

My graphic novels reading month has been going well. In addition to the books below I also listened to 2 audiobooks in series I follow. The Fallen by David Baldacci is #4 of the Amos Decker series. Amos and Jamison are visiting her sister and Amos wastes no time in finding dead bodies. He does what he does and uncovers one conspiracy after another. Great listen, especially if you are familiar with run down towns suffering from the opioid crisis. Night School by Lee Child is #21 of the Jack Reacher series and takes place when he is still in the military. A nice diversion from the nomadic Reacher, but I could have done without the scene involving a woman and mule having relations on a stage for a group of cheering men. That was a real low point of the series for me.

I also reviewed The Good Kings by Kara Cooney for a book tour, Loved it.

We watched the miniseries Midnight Mass on Netflix. Have you seen it? It seemed all eerily sinister in the beginning and then turned absolutely insane. Can’t say I liked it but it was quite a ride.

Days 2 and 3 of my graphic novel reading have been…interesting? I need to be more careful with my next choice!

Beverly, with is spartan illustrations started normally with a story about teens working in the summer and ended with a story about Beverly the masseuse. They were all loosely connected and followed a timeline of sorts. Strange, somewhat disturbing, and beyond my ability to really appreciate. 134 pages.

Everything is Beautiful, and I’m Not Afraid is a fictional graphic novel inspired by real life. How much truth I don’t know, but it reads like a memoir. A young immigrant comes out as bi to her conservative Chinese family and she becomes lost, no longer knowing where home is. I loved the art and wanted to love the ‘story’ more than I did. I’m sure this would appeal more to the reader going through similar issues with family and finding self worth.
Ah, that’s more like it. A graphic novel-ish that gave me some happy reading. The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse were lovely creatures to spent some time with. I loved the art and the ideas, some more than others, and when I read this to my 11 year old he appreciated the humor of the mole 🍰. Here are some thoughts from the book…

“What do you think is the biggest waste of time?”
“Comparing yourself to others.”

“One of our greatest freedoms is how we react to things.”

“Asking for help isn’t giving up,” said the horse. “It’s refusing to give up.”

“Sometimes I worry you’ll all realize I’m ordinary,” said the boy.
“Love doesn’t need you to be extraordinary,” said the mole.

I am in love with this puzzle! I’ve never done one with a velvet finish and took a bit to get used to, but the extra dimension it gives to this piece of art is gorgeous. Clement Mmaduakor Nwafor is the Nigerian artist. Thanks for a perfect puzzle @completingthepuzzleofficial

Today’s book is Afar, a YA sci-fi/fantasy featuring a girl who can transport into the bodies of people on other planets in her sleep and her brother who gets into trouble but gets a monkey out of it 🐒. I enjoyed the art and the storylines and can see this appealing to many teens. Perfectly done! (Thank goodness after my first few days of graphic novel month)
When the newest Jerry Pinkney came in the library I knew had to read it. Pinkney died last month at the age of 81 after illustrating over 100 children’s books.

This is the story of The Welcoming Chair, beloved children book author Rosemary Wells’ family heirloom that tells the story of the American immigrant. From her preface…

“America’s door is open to suffering people from foreign lands,” my dad told me. “It’s America’s fundamental generosity of spirit that makes her hold her head high in a world of trouble. And it will always be so.”

‘My father’s words were true until recently. Lady Liberty’s message is today challenged by those who want to shut that door.

This book is based in part on my own family’s legends, as told to me by my grandmother Marguerite Leopold Bamberger and as passed down to her from her grandmother Ruth Seigbert’s diary.’

Wonderful story and gorgeous illustrations.
My two favorite days of graphic novel month so far! Two classics = so good.

I read Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale by Renee Nault and was blown away by how good it was. I have never read the book, seen the movie, or watched the current miniseries. Still, as a person who loves books I knew what it was about. The art was gorgeous and there was just enough information, never too much to insult the reader, to draw you in and keep the pages turning excitedly. In a dystopian world women are again second class citizens and forced into designated roles where they must stay. The handmaids serve one purpose only, to bear children. The question of who a woman’s body belongs to takes center stage. It was fantastic ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery is by her grandson Miles Hyman. This story I knew. Lotteries are held in each town once a year and the ‘winner’ gets an extra special prize. Haunting and beautifully adapted with a special forward by Hyman telling some memories of his grandmother. Loved it! ❤️❤️❤️❤️

If you have a reluctant classics reader, let them start here. 📖

I couldn’t do a graphic novel month without including some serious award winning classics. I read these two outstanding books by Art Spieglman (the first winning the Pulitzer Prize in 1992).

It’s the story of the Holocaust based on Spiegelman’s interviews with his survivor father and also of his life with his father as he got older. He, his father, and the other Jewish people are depicted as mice and the Nazis as cats.

So moving, both as a Holocaust history, but also a relationship story between father and son. One I’m not going to forget anytime soon.

October favorites and November reading plans

Can you find my five favorite reads of October?

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig. What if every choice you made led to a different life, a different you and it was happening simultaneously to your life right now. What if you were able to visit The Midnight Library and try on each of these lives to see if you preferred them to the one you’re currently living. So goes the story of Nora Seed.

Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin. I love the 1968 movie Rosemary’s Baby and I finally got around to reading the Ira Levin novel.

Rosemary and Guy move into the Branford in NYC having heard of some of its more infamous past residents. They are befriended by an older neighbor couple and their relationship starts to change. When Rosemary becomes pregnant it’s not at all what she expects and she becomes even more isolated.

A perfect psychological horror story.

Life is Good by Trixie Belden. This book made my day. Any fan of Dean Koontz knows how much he loves dogs, especially his golden retriever Trixie. Trixie decided to write a book when she realized that some humans weren’t as happy as dogs were.

This book was so, so sweet. I loved it, even reading some passages out loud to Jason making him laugh too. If you have ever loved a dog, get your eyes in this book so you can feel the slobbery kisses as you read.

Home Before Dark by Riley Sager. Sager’s take on a haunted house, was a perfect listen as I worked on a puzzle late into the night. Maggie’s father had made their family famous with a memoir about them escaping their house after being attacked by ghosts. Now that he’s dead and the house is hers Maggie goes back to ready the place for sale and perhaps bring back memories from when she was 5. Is Baneberry Hall still haunted? Was it ever? I really liked this one!

The Dollhouse Murders by Betty Ren Wright. This felt like a throwback to the stories I used to love as a kid, no surprise there since it was originally published in 1983. Twelve-year-old Amy is too often relied on to take of her special needs sister. She is able to escape to her aunt’s creepy house where she discovered a dollhouse in the attic. While she’s thrilled, her aunt is not and tensions rise between the two.

This middle school story gave me all of the good stuff. It was a book about growing up and learning to navigate friendships and family and to believe in yourself enough to believe in ghostly spirits. Yes, there are ghosts, but the ones that help set things right. A fun story for tweens. Loved it!

November intentions with today’s read. I had 5 books sent to me for review this month, but 2 of them had their publication dates pushed to next year. A sign of the times I guess. The rest of the month I’m reading GRAPHIC NOVELS! I went to the library and pulled most of these off their shelves, but if you have one that I just need to read let me know.

For today I read Thoreau: A Sublime Life. I mentioned when I read The Midnight Library that I loved Thoreau and it had been too long since I’d read him, so it’s no surprise this was my first choice. I loved this one. It’s not all encompassing, obviously, but the Foreword and the last section written by a professor with details and pictures, were perfectly done to make this feel like a book of importance.

The illustrations told the story, with some pages having no words at all. There were a few significant interactions that put his life into focus. As a freethinker and abolitionist his life in the 1800s still calls people to his readings today. He is more than just Walden and if you’re not familiar than this is a good place to start.

Magical Reading

Except for vacation, I’ve been trying to keep my October reading as ghostly or magical as possible. It’s been a good reading week. What the most Halloweeny thing you’ve read this month?

What if every choice you made led to a different life, a different you and it was happening simultaneously to your life right now. What if you were able to visit The Midnight Library and try on each of these lives to see if you preferred them to the one you’re currently living. So goes the story of Nora Seed.

This morning while Gage was at his last day of Timbernook, I took this book on an hour walk and contemplated making other decisions in life, both big and small, and where they might have led me.

Loved this book. Not only did I love the endless possibilities, I loved the attention to great philosophers, especially Thoreau, who is a favorite of mine. Highly recommend this one for discussion and contemplation. 
I love the 1968 movie Rosemary’s Baby and I finally got around to reading the Ira Levin novel. I liked it, but may actually prefer the movie. Now I’m going to have to watch it again!

Rosemary and Guy move into the Branford in NYC having heard of some of its more infamous past residents. They are befriended by an older neighbor couple and their relationship starts to change. When Rosemary becomes pregnant it’s not at all what she expects and she becomes even more isolated.

A perfect psychological horror story for October.

This book made my day. Any fan of Dean Koontz knows how much he loves dogs, especially his golden retriever Trixie. Trixie decided to write a book when she realized that some humans weren’t as happy as dogs were.

This book was so, so sweet. I loved it, even reading some passages out loud to Jason making him laugh too. If you have ever loved a dog, get your eyes in this book so you can feel the slobbery kisses as you read.

Trixie has since passed but her spirit lives on.
This felt like a throwback to the stories I used to love as a kid, no surprise there since it was originally published in 1983. Twelve-year-old Amy is too often relied on to take of her special needs sister. She is able to escape to her aunt’s creepy house where she discovered a dollhouse in the attic. While she’s thrilled, her aunt is not and tensions rise between the two.

This middle school story gave me all of the good stuff. It was a book about growing up and learning to navigate friendships and family and to believe in yourself enough to believe in ghostly spirits. Yes, there are ghosts, but the ones that help set things right.

A fun story for tweens. Loved it!

Also, we watched this throwback Goosebumps video two nights ago. It was definitely old school, but Gage loved it ❤️
That house near the end of the lane is not haunted, at least as far as we know, but The House at the End of Hope Street most definitely is. It’s filled with feminine giants like Daphne du Maurier, Sylvia Plath, Agatha Christie, and hundreds more. It’s a place the fixes those who are called to it and it does it on a 99 day deadline. I’m glad reading books on a deadline isn’t a thing since this was published in 2013.

Peggy has run the magical house for over 60 years, but now it tells her that her days are numbered. Stella is an aging actress struggling with being replaced by younger women, personally and professionally. Carmen has buried evidence of crime at the house and is haunted by its evil. Alba comes to the house as her future is in shambles.

It’s a charming book. I wish there’d been a little more about the four women, sacrificing the bits from the men, but the story still held it’s magic. Magical realism fans will enjoy.
I picked up The Witches of Benevento at our library sale not knowing anything about it except that it was the second in a kids series. I totally forgot to take picks of the illustrations that started every chapter – they were fantastic! This was such a strange little book in a strange little world where kids of the village have to avoid the likes of the Clopper (a witch who eats children), the Janara (mischief makers), and more. I ended up falling in love with this little world and the people who lived there.

Home Before Dark, Riley Sanger’s take on a haunted house, was a perfect listen as I worked on a puzzle late into the night. Maggie’s father had made their family famous with a memoir about them escaping their house after being attacked by ghosts. Now that he’s dead and the house is hers Maggie goes back to ready the place for sale and perhaps bring back memories from when she was 5. Is Baneberry Hall still haunted? Was it ever? I really liked this one!
oday’s book is the graphic novel adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s short story. I’ve not read the story so the 64 page book had the capacity to surprise.

Jack was only 7 when he first came upon the troll under the bridge and convinced it not to take his life. He offered his sister, later his would-be girlfriend, and finally promising to come back when he was older after he experienced life. He kept his promise, but would the troll still want his life?

Fantasy and fable in one clever short story. There are adult themes, so I’m not sure about the age group, but I was pleasantly surprised to like it so much.
This is the 4th in the Investigators series. Mango and Brash are alligators who work for SUIT ((Special Undercover Investigation Teams). This 200 pager starts with Mango working with a RoboBrash because the real Brash is in a coma due to being eaten by a giant waffle bad guy in the last one. It’s as silly as it sounds. Gage loves this series and was excited to be the first one in our library system to check out this latest.

This Week – Friend Fun

This week the local school had Thursday off for Yom Kippur so, we were able to take Gage’s friend with us to his weekly nature camp. The boys had fun and I was lucky enough to spend 30 minutes on the way home with them talking about girl crushes, lol. Here’s the photo they let me take when we dropped off his friend…

Love these boys! On to the books.
Good morning! Mary Bly (Eloisa James for romance readers) has written a book that touches the heart. Lizzie has stage 3 cancer and travels to Italy with her BFF and his famous boyfriend, wanting to soak in the moments before they’re gone. Then Dante shows up with his pre-teen daughter and her heart must come to terms with new possibilities.

This was emotional, tragic and hopeful at the same time. Lizzie is a Shakespeare professor (much like the author) and Romeo and Juliet play a pert in the storyline (hence the title?). I knew nothing about it going in, basing my reading decision in the beautiful cover and knowing it was an author I enjoyed, so I won’t say any more about it. Well, except that I’m glad that I read it 😁
The only thing these two books have in common is their red and white covers and the fact that I read them yesterday. One, about Africans making the treacherous journey to Europe and the other a picture book made from a song by the White Stripes.

Alpha: Abidjan to Paris is the story of a man who has tried to get visas for him and his family to travel to Paris to stay with his sister-in-law. When that becomes impossible he sends his wife and son to make the dangerous and illegal journey, hoping that when they arrive they’ll send money so he can join them. Heartbreaking and informative, this graphic novel shouldn’t be missed. The first two pics are from this book. Translated from French.

We”re Going to be Friends is a charming kids picture book made from the song by the White Stripes. The artwork is fantastic and, the ‘story’ is sure to please kids and adults. It was the illustrations that won me over. The last two pics are of this book.

There’s nothing prettier than a Kleypas cover! This is the third book about the Hathaways and I loved catching up with them all.

When Poppy runs into the reclusive Harry Rutledge in a secret passage in his hotel his desire for her changes the course of her life. It’s up for debate about whether it’s for the better.

Historical romance fans can do no better than Kleypas. This wasn’t a favorite, Harry wasn’t my speed, but I did love my time spent with the rest of the Hathaway clan.
Annie Lumsden, the Girl from the Sea reads a little like a fairy tale, but its center is Annie, a girl who is considered ‘daft’. She lives by the sea with her mother who loves to tell tales and one day tells the one Annie’s been waiting for, the one about her father.

It was different and I wonder what kids actually think of it since it’s labeled juvenile. Annie is different and that will appeal to many kids, but it felt written for someone older. I think it would be a lovely book to read with your pre-teen child, especially if they love mermaids 🧜‍♀️ the illustrations were lovely.

This is one that I’ve been meaning to read for years and when this copy came in with the library donations this week I immediately stuck it in my bag . Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood is a graphic memoir by the great-granddaughter of one of Iran’s last emperors. She tells the story of her childhood during the Islamic Revolution and Iran’s war with Iraq.

It’s 152 pages of black and white illustrations full of horror, history, and heartwarming and heartbreaking stories. This covers her life from 6-14, when she was then sent to Vienna without her parents.

I’m late to the game, but this is a must read. I’m already looking to get my hands on book 2! ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️
Book of the day with our latest  puzzle! I ❤️this happy circle puzzle with flowers, birds, and butterflies 🌸🦜🦋

As good as Long Bright River was, it wasn’t cheery like the puzzle. It’s about bad beginnings, drug abuse, and the ties that keep families together. BUT it is a thriller, with clues told at just the right pace to keep this almost 500 pager racing to the finish.

Mickey, always the good sister, is worried because she hasn’t seen her sister on the streets for awhile and women are being murdered in the neighborhood. She’s a policewoman with a new partner and a boss who doesn’t like her. How will she find her sister? And if she does will she still be alive?

This book had a little bit of everything (except cheerfulness) and I thought it was very well done. This is my first by Liz Moore, but I’ll be looking for more.

I loved this book for kids (Gage just started it) and will definitely be looking for more of the series. Two siblings try to outdo each other with the interesting and obscure facts they know about the famous boxer. At just over 100 pages and with short chapters and paragraphs this is sure to appeal to even a reluctant reader. It’s told in a fun way with recognizable interactions between the siblings.

Along with the facts and stories there were quotes and the poetry he recited. The illustrations were great too. I loved reading some of the facts out loud to Jason since he hadn’t heard most of them either. Muhammad Ali paid someone to lick his sweat? Those kind of facts combined with more biographical information make this a winner for the late elementary set ❤️❤️❤️❤️