booksinckids's blog

Once Upon a Memory by Nina Laden

I was drawn to this book the day it arrived because I am a huge fan of Renata Liwska’s (Quiet Book, Loud book) illustrations. The text of this book weaves in nicely with the familiar characters and charming details of the illustrations. This is definitely a picture book that I recommend to adults as well as their children. It’s also one that works well with older kids despite the simplicity of the words themselves, the concepts mentioned in the text, of memory and transformation, can lead to wonderful conversations. As with all of Liwska’s illustrations, you will notice new and poignant details every time you read the book. A great book to linger over.

--Reviewed by Chantal, Books Inc. Mountain View

Home of the Brave by Katherine Applegate

Katherine Applegate (Newbery winner for The One and Only Ivan) assumed the voice and thoughts of a lonely, wise, and heartbreakingly unforgettable gorilla in The One and Only Ivan. In Home of the Brave, she brings us into the mind, memory, and language of Kek, a young refugee boy from an African village, who has just set foot in Minnesota. We have the occasion to experience details, curiosities, and language of our own country, as deconstructed through the eyes of Kek. The book is written in verse; Applegate’s writing is thoughtful, subtle, and often humorous.

The reader has an intimate view of the world as Kek sees it, and navigates with him through this new environment, and the unfamiliar, meaningless words that he must use to describe it. It is an experience to read and a heartbreaking and endearing voice that remains with you long after. It is similar to The One and Only Ivan in this respect, and also recalls another one of my favorites, Mockingbird, by Kathryn Erskine, in its ability to draw the reader into the perspective of an outsider.

An easy read, yet worthy of attention from older readers as well. Ages 8+

--reviewed by Chantal, Books Inc. Mountain View

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(Photo posted with parents' permission at our October 2013 Jeff Kinney Event!)

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