It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? is hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date, and adapted by Kellee at Unleashing Readers and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts with a children’s/YA focus. The Sunday Post is hosted by The Caffeinated Book Reviewer. These weekly roundups are a great way to discover new blogs and bloggers, share some of the titles you’ve been enjoying, and add to your ever-growing to-read list.
It’s Monday yet again, and can you believe we’re already at the end of June? Where has the time gone?
It was quite a scorcher this weekend here in Raincity. Heat is relative, of course, and we’re not experiencing anything nearly as infernal as more southern climes like Arizona , but it still had everyone running for the fan section at the hardware store!
I reviewed a lovely train-themed picture book this past week that would be a perfect bedtime book for budding railway engineers. I also had a very special guest on the blog – Monica Fastenau from the blog Newbery and Beyond! Be sure to check out her great post on reading through the Newbery winners! And now on to the books!
How has it taken me so long to meet Humphrey?! I’d been aware of the series for years, but I only recently picked up the first book, The World According to Humphrey, on a bit of a whim at work last week, and started reading. Friends, I was hooked! This book, as Humphrey himself would say, is GOOD-GOOD-GOOD! Humphrey is a very special classroom hamster – not only can be understand humans, he can read and writer, too! He also a heart of gold, and sets out to help all the children (and grown-ups) who cross his path. What follows is an absolutely adorable collection of vignettes featuring a lovely collection of very likeable characters. Is it all a bit sappy? Oh yes, and major problems, like severe depression following a catastrophic accident, are resolved far more neatly, quickly and easily than in real life. There’s also a bit of over-the-top patriotism (a little immigrant girl sings the American anthem while dressed like the Statue of Liberty while her classmates stand at attention) that seems a bit odd to this non-American. These small complaints aside, though, this is a very sweet, kind-hearted, gentle, optimistic book. In a which can so often be confusing and frustratingly unfair for children, stories like this, in which people prove to be basically good at heart, and everything turns out alright in the end, can be immensely comforting. I might just have to pick up another in the series!
I came across this strange and fascinating nonfiction title on the “New Books” shelf at the library, and read the entire thing in a single sitting, captivated by each page. In 1965, Edward Sorel, a young freelance illustrator, was renovating his apartment. As he pulled out the old flooring he discovered yellowed newspapers from the 1930s that had been stuffed under the floors to level them. The papers told the lurid story of Mary Astor’s “purple diary”, the journal in which the actress recorded in scintillating detail her extramarital affairs, and which was at the centre of a shocking custody battle between Astor and her bitter ex-husband. Sorel was transfixed, and would go on to research Astor and her case on and off over the course of the next several decades, eventually compiling his findings into a book. Astor’s life was a tragic one – she was raised by cruel parents, and used by a succession of money-hungry men. Denied love in her childhood, and taught to think little of herself, she looked for love in all the wrong places, and ended her days alone and in poverty with a string of unsuccessful marriages behind her. Still, she was a complex, talented woman, and Sorel’s passion for his subject is infectious, if a little strange at times (the story includes a supposed seance in which Astor reveals details of her life to the author), and his writing is highly engaging. Another highly appealing nonfiction title for both fans of the genre and nonfiction newbies alike.
And there you have it – two delightful books, perfect for enjoying in air-conditioned spaces! Have a great week!