MONDAY FUNDAY – June 26, 2017

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!

The World According to Humphrey

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!

Mary Astor’s Purple Diary: The Great American Sex Scandal of 1936

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!

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  • Reply Greg Hill

    Yeah it’s been hot lots of places, no doubt. We’ve been lucky I guess that it’s been pretty mild, in fact the breeze today was quite cool! Strange for June, but I’ll take it. Hope you guys cool down a bit.

    Have a great reading week!

    June 26, 2017 at 3:22 am
    • Reply Jane the Raincity Librarian

      It’s funny – we spend the long, miserable winter longing for summer, then immediately start complaining about the heat! 😉

      June 28, 2017 at 4:20 pm
  • Reply Pussreboots

    Air conditioned spaces are rare here. But we had our own heatwave too. It’s been a busy week with a cracked toilet, day camp, and paperwork for cross country. Come see what I’m reading

    June 26, 2017 at 4:18 am
    • Reply Jane the Raincity Librarian

      Sounds like you’ve been pretty busy – hopefully you can find some quiet moments for reading, too! 🙂

      June 28, 2017 at 4:20 pm
  • Reply Hillary Roberts

    I want to read the Purple dairy book! I added it to my TBR. I am a sucker for stuff like that.

    June 26, 2017 at 8:00 am
    • Reply Jane the Raincity Librarian

      Me too! I tell myself that I’m interested in the “historical” aspect, when really I was just drawn in by the word “scandal”… 😉

      June 28, 2017 at 4:21 pm
  • Reply readerbuzz

    Thanks for sharing these books with us. I’m reading a lot of children’s books this summer as I set a goal to read a book-a-day. Happily I have a lot of personal Humphreys that I’m getting through finally.

    June 26, 2017 at 10:43 am
    • Reply Jane the Raincity Librarian

      Wow – that’s quite a worthy goal! If I can get through a book a week I feel accomplished….why must things like work and chores get in the way of my reading?! 😉

      June 28, 2017 at 4:21 pm
  • Reply Kathleen Burkinshaw

    These books sound great. I’m especially interested in the book about Mary Astor. Hope you continue to keep cool and I can’t believe we will be in July in a matter of days! ?

    June 26, 2017 at 10:56 am
    • Reply Jane the Raincity Librarian

      It was quite fascinating, and the author had a really great voice and writing style – I was hooked!

      Where is the year going?!?!

      June 28, 2017 at 4:22 pm
  • Reply Jana Eschner (@JanaTheTeacher)

    I haven’t met Humphrey yet, either. But I’ll put him on my list for my next library trip! Hope you stay cool in your heat wave! Have a great week!

    June 26, 2017 at 6:59 pm
    • Reply Jane the Raincity Librarian

      I pretend to be a world-weary cynic and roll my eyes at sappy “feel-good” books like Humphrey, but….inside I’m actually a great big sap who gets teary-eyed at commercials, so it was right up my alley. ;-D

      June 28, 2017 at 4:23 pm
  • Reply Lisa Maucione (@DrLMaucione)

    I’ve read only one Humphrey books years ago. The students do enjoy that series!

    June 26, 2017 at 7:31 pm
    • Reply Jane the Raincity Librarian

      It certainly helps that hamsters are so tiny and fluffy and adorable! They make great story protagonists! 🙂

      June 28, 2017 at 4:24 pm
  • Reply Laurel-Rain Snow

    Enjoy a reprieve from the heat, which you will probably get soon. Thanks for visiting my blog, and enjoy your books.

    I like the look of your blog!

    June 26, 2017 at 10:07 pm
    • Reply Jane the Raincity Librarian

      Thank you!

      It’s already started to cool down a bit, so all us northern wimps are breathing a sigh of relief. But there’s still July and August to come, better bring out the fans! 😉

      June 28, 2017 at 4:24 pm
  • Reply lindabaie

    I think the young ‘grand-girls’ will like Humphrey, not sure about that 2nd one. What an interesting-sounding book. Thanks, Jane!

    June 26, 2017 at 11:17 pm
    • Reply Jane the Raincity Librarian

      Oh yes, Humphrey is an absolute sweetheart, and kids are just naturally drawn to small fluffy creatures like hamsters!

      June 28, 2017 at 4:27 pm
  • Reply ejmam

    I’ve added All’s Faire to my reading list. I keep hoping for a book where a homeschooled kid goes to regular school, makes friends, and then decides to go back to homeschooling.

    June 27, 2017 at 1:41 am
    • Reply Jane the Raincity Librarian

      It’s very true, we definitely need more representations of homeschooling and unschooling in kids books – the standard “homeschooled kid is eccentric and struggles to fit in at mainstream school” is just tired, and doesn’t reflect the reality of so many kids!

      June 28, 2017 at 4:26 pm
  • Reply carriegelson

    My primary students enjoyed the younger version of the Humphrey series. Really cute! And perfect as early chapter books.

    June 27, 2017 at 3:47 am
  • Reply Mystica

    I agree about the air conditioned spaces. Makes for such conducive reading.

    June 27, 2017 at 5:13 am
  • Reply Drangonfly

    oh I LOVE hamsters! and Humphrey writes and reads!!! my kind of little beast 🙂 I’ll have to check that one out! 🙂 Hop you enjoy the summer [despite the heat! 🙂 ]

    June 27, 2017 at 1:11 pm
  • Reply cweichel

    Humphrey was a popular series in our school library. (I’ll have to ask the present librarian if that is still true) The Mary Astor book sounds fascinating in a sad and creepy kind of way.
    How is the new job?

    June 27, 2017 at 2:32 pm
    • Reply Jane the Raincity Librarian

      Going from casual to full time after a few years has been a bit of an adjustment, to be sure, but I’ve just started my third week, so I feel like I’m slowly getting my footing! Of course we’re just about to plunge headlong into the madness that is Summer Reading Club, so we’ll see how I do! 😉

      June 28, 2017 at 4:28 pm

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