Book Reviews - Books for Building Your Library

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This week's list opens with a book to support teachers as they write their memoirs. It also includes memoirs written by children's authors, both for children and for adults. We offer you a number of memoir anchor texts as well.

Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge

Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridgeexplores the intimate relationship between a small boy and an elderly woman who has lost her memory. We love Wilfrid's innocence and literalness as he works to help and understand his friend. Not to mention that Julie Vivas's illustrations are extraordinary.

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Click here to view this book in Amazon +

Honey, I Love

Next week's feature book for Artful Read Aloud is Honey, I Love. Eloise Greenfield's sincere little book exposes the heart of a child who has an old soul. A classic of classics, Honey, I Love is a strong contender for the title "Best Book of Children's Poetry of All Time." The economy in Diane and Leo Dillon's illustration prove a gentle companion to Eloise Greenfield's measured words.

My Very Own Room

Amada Irmez Perez and Maya Christina Gonzalez team up to tell the story of Amada's creative efforts to secure a private space rather than share a room with five brothers. Her whole family joins the effort, moving furniture from behind a curtain her mother sewed to divide the living room. The part where they lick trading stamps to buy a lamp for her room, the illustration for which is filled with movement, conveys the magic of wanting and working and appreciating.

Click here to view this book in Amazon +
Click here to view this book in Amazon +

Old Friend from Far Away

Natalie Goldberg, one of our favorite writers on writing, offers writers an interactive text that both teaches and provides opportunities to practice writing. If you read and write through this book, you will have new insight into your life experiences and your writer self. You may find yourself saying, "I am more memoir than I thought."

When I Was Young in the Mountains

This is the quintessential memoir anchor text. Cynthia Rylant's poetic style and sincerity have made this book a classic. Children from myriad environments can relate to this memoir because of the common childhood emotions she threads throughout When I Was Young in the Mountains.

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Click here to view this book in Amazon +

Short Cut

Short Cut by Donald Crews is Crews's memoir of a childhood encounter with a train. The book offers opportunities for comparison to his book Freight Train, which is his simple, informational train book for young children. Short Cut offers rich discussion points, both in terms of exploring the ways real experiences can stay with us our whole lives and in examining the choices the children in the story made.

I'm Too Young to Be Sevent y

To explore the overlap of memoir and poetry, read Judith Viorst. Her first such venture was When did I Stop Being 20...and other Injustices. Now she has I'm Too Young to Be 70... and Other Delusions. Viorst's writing is consistently honest, compelling, and entertaining, as she grapples with the rapid passage of time that confounds us all.

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Click here to view this book in Amazon +

The Moon Was the Best

Charlotte Zolotow and Tana Hoban collaborate in this marvelous, photographic memoir. In The Moon Was the Best, Hoban shows the power of images to evoke memories and Zolotow shows the power of words to evoke images. This book was written for Literacyheads!

This Quiet Lady

As in her aforementioned memoir, Zolotow writes about her mother in This Quiet Lady. This memoir has a house-that-Jack-built feel to it, as Zolotow connects events across time. In contrast to the photographs in her other memoir for children, This Quiet Lady is illustrated by Anita Lobel. Lovely and sweet, even if a bit traditional.

Click here to view this book in Amazon +
Click here to view this book in Amazon +

Grandfather's Wrinkles

Grandfather's Wrinkles gives us a wrinkle-by-wrinkle account of the smiling events that left creases the main character's face. From his marriage to the birth of his daughter to the birth of his granddaughter, Kathryn England (author) and Richard McFarland (illustrator) depict through words and images the moments that make a life.