Thursday, April 6, 2017

Spring Update #MustReadin2017


Hello fellow readers! I put an ambitious 40 book on my Must Read list and I'm excited to say I've read 15 of them (even with a few extras thrown in)! I'm excited to have found some wonderful books and new authors but here is my dilemma- I started a couple of them that I just didn't like at all. I've really tried but I can't bring myself to finish them. Does that mean I'll never reach my goal? Does giving them the old college try count at all? I won't name the titles I didn't like because I don't want to cloud anyone's judgement, but for the most part, I have read some amazing stories. You can look through my blog to see most of them. I have a couple more to add to the list today.


I have been waiting for this book to be published ever since I started hearing about it last year. As the mother of an autistic child, I was curious as to how Elana Arnold would portray the main character in A Boy Called Bat. I'm thrilled to write that she hit it right on the nose! While we are never told that Bat is autistic, it's implied through his smaller classroom, need for routine and difficulty with social skills. Much of the story focuses on Bat's frustrations with people that don't necessarily like to do things the way he needs them to be done. Even his own father (his parents are divorced) doesn't understand that his son can only successfully function within a routine designed around what makes Bat comfortable. One night, Bat's mom, a veterinarian, brings home an abandoned skunk kit. There's something about the baby that calls to Bat and he begs to care for the skunk until it can be released into the wild. It will take a lot of convincing and a good bit of research on Bat's part to prove to his mom he can do it. With the help of a very supportive teacher, Bat sets out to show he's the best person for the job.

I've read books about autism before, and I always found the main character to be struggling or sad,  but Bat is simply- Bat. He is happy and content and while he certainly has quirks he struggles with, he has enough love in his life to help him get through uncomfortable situations. From beginning to end, readers watch his growth and improvement in difficult areas, especially socially. His love for the skunk and determination to give Thor the best possible care show a very loving side to child that might otherwise be accused of being unfeeling. Thor doesn't demand Bat talk to him or look at him like people do. He is totally accepting of Bat's warm snuggles and care. It's with this acceptance that Bat starts to venture out of his comfort zone. Bat will never be "typical" but there is hope at the end that he can bend just a bit more. This is an excellent book for younger students because of it's large font and short length. It's just enough of a glimpse into the world of someone with differences and how other students can be more accepting. Grades 3 and up and an EXCELLENT read aloud with class discussion.


In A Rambler Steals Home by Carter Higgins, 10 year old Derby is a rambler. She and her brother and father spend the year traveling to different locations in their RV and setting up their food cart for business. Hot chocolate at a christmas tree farm, apple cider and pie at a pumpkin patch and finally, Derby's favorite, a burger and fry stand at the Rockskipper's baseball field in VA. Every summer when Derby's family returns, she reconnects with the townspeople who have become her family over the years. When they pull into town this time, something is different- someone is missing and Derby does her best to find a way to help and heal her closest friends.

Told though Derby's eyes, this is a very sweet, easy to read story. It's perfect for a baseball lover as the sport is a HUGE part of all of Derby's interactions. I really enjoyed how  the townspeople's lives revolve around their favorite team. As I was reading, I felt like I was a part of the lazy hot summer days by the creek eating apple pie and  waiting for the Main Street parade to begin- small town life at its best. Her father Garland does his best to make up for their absent mother and the community fills in the rest of the gaps. Like any girl her age, Derby starts to grow and wonder about her life, friends and missing mother. She is sassy, funny and a great narrator sharing her life among a colorful cast of characters. 3rd grade and up.