February has been a hectic month for us. As much as I would have loved to just escape into books I simply haven’t had the time. When I don’t have as much time to read as I would like I become very selective of the books I do read. I usually find comfort in rereading my favorite classics, but instead opted for a brand new title by one of my all time favorite authors. My oldest has been more focused on reading books for his classes than free reading lately, as well spending more time outside riding his longboard before our Florida weather becomes too miserably hot. My youngest is the only one who never gets distracted from the written word, of course at 2 years old her life is free of other obligations. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t hear the words “But Mama, I need all the books”. Though our reading may have been limited I still wanted to share some of the books we enjoyed this month as well as some terrific recommendations from other homeschooling families.

Reading Challenge Recommendation from Kat Hutcheson (adult)

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

Challenge # 24  A book published in 2017.

Bonus Challenge # 9 A book that you have never read, but is written by one of your favorite authors.

On the first page of the introduction Neil Gaiman talks about his first encounters with Asgard and its inhabitants within the pages of the Mighty Thor comic books by Jack Kirby, Stan Lee, and Larry Lieber. This experience mirrored my own so perfectly that I felt an instant connection to this book. Gaiman uses his signature prose to tell stories not only of the gods many are familiar with through modern pop culture, but also the powerful tales of Norse mythology’s lesser known players that have been passed down through generations. With his phenomenal writing Gaiman creates vivid imagery of the city of Asgard, the mighty ash tree Yggdrasil, and the gods and goddesses of the Aesir and the Vanir. His beautiful retellings of tales of love and war, gods and goddesses, giants and trolls draw from history, religion, and mythology to weave a beautiful journey from before the beginning to after the end. Whether you have an interest in Norse mythology or are simply a fan of exquisite storytelling I highly recommend losing yourself within the pages of this book.

5 stars

Reading Challenge Recommendations from Logan (age 12)

The Klipfish Code by Mary Casanova

Challenge # 8  A book, fiction or nonfiction, about the Holocaust.

Challenge #12 A book from a genre you don’t normally read.

My mom actually read this book aloud to me a few years ago, but to be honest I didn’t really pay attention. I am not usually a fan of historical fiction that doesn’t include some elements of fantasy or sci-fi. This time around I picked up this book because it was on my bookshelf and I wanted to check a challenge off the list. Now having read it I am emphatically glad that I did. The Klipfish Code is set in Nazi occupied Norway during World War II, based on real events that followed the bombings and sudden German invasion on April 9, 1940. The powerful tale is told through the eyes of Merit, a young girl close to my own age who is sent along with her younger brother to live with their grandfather and aunt while their parents stay behind to fight with the resistance. She resents her grandfather’s acceptance of the occupation and struggles with her aunts arrest during a round up of teachers who refused to teach Nazi propaganda.  She happens upon a wounded resistance fighter and manages to hide him in her grandfather’s barn. Near death the resistance fighter asks for her help in completing his mission, delivering a compass to a house in another village and to tell them she needs a bucketful of Klipfish. Marit is faced with many difficult decisions, has to determine who she can and cannot trust, and what is worth risking not only her own life but also the life of her brother. This book drew me in being part history and part mystery. I did think the ending felt rushed, but that could be because I didn’t want the story to end. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in World War II or for 4th-8th grade students who want to learn about this piece of history, but do you not want to learn it through a textbook.

4 stars

Reading Challenge Recommendations From Kinsey (age 2)

Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas by Natasha Yim

Bonus Challenge #12 A book which is based on a fairy tale or folklore.

This Chinese American retelling of Goldilocks and the Three Bears takes place on Chinese New Year and includes many accurate details and terms from Chinese culture . We found it to be a wonderful way to introduce learning about Chinese culture within the context of a familiar story, but this book is so much more than just a cultural twist on a classic tale. While the author stayed true to many elements of any Goldilocks retelling she abandoned the traditional ending of Goldilocks fleeing the home of the bears and instead wrote story that teaches about responsibility and friendship. Kinsey was drawn in by the colorful illustrations and playful storytelling. There is additional educational information on Chinese New Year in the back of the book as well as a recipe for the turnip cakes that are a central part of this story. We plan to make the turnip cakes to have as a snack the next time we read this delightful tale.

4 stars       

Julia’s House for Lost Creatures by Ben Hatke

Challenge # 1 A book published the year you were born

The simple and sweet text and illustrations in this book work to together beautifully to tell the tale of Julia, her walking house, and all of the mythological creatures she has as guest. Kinsey enjoyed the images of mermaids, trolls, dragons, and patchwork kittens while I read to her about Julia working through her frustrations with her sometimes thoughtless houseguest. This lovely story started some wonderful conversations about feelings, respect, helping others, compromise, and contributing to a group or community. As Julia found solutions to her problems in the story we found a book we can return to often as Kinsey learns to manage her feeling and find solutions for her own frustrations.  

4 stars

Reading Challenge Recommendations from Sean (age 17)

One-Punch Man by ONE and Yusuke Murata

Challenge #7 A book with a non-human main character.

Challenge #21 A book with more than one author.

Last month I was in a car wreck. The best thing to come out of that was that some homeschooling friends and my mom sent me all whole bunch of really cool mango books. One-Punch Man was one of them. This book is funny with a lot of action. It is about a guy who is so powerful that he can’t find anybody he cannot beat with one punch. The hero is bored and depressed and he dreams of real fighting villains who can challenge him. It’s funny because it’s really making fun of the superhero genre. The art is awesome and the parity is done just right.

5 stars

The Rose that Grew from Concrete by Tupac Shakur

Challenge #1 A book that was written in the year I was born: 1999

My mom gave me this book for Christmas. I love Tupac and Rap music so she thought I would like this book. It is a book of Tupac’s poetry written when he was about my age. It isn’t as good as his rap. Unless you’re a Tupac fan you  probably wouldn’t like it all that much. But I think it’s cool. If you are a Tupac fan, it is definitely worth checking out.

4 stars

Click Clack Moo: Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin

Challenge #1 A book that was written in the year I was born: 1999

I decided to hit this challenge twice this month. This is a book I loved when I was a little guy, so I pulled it out and read it to my one-year-old nephew. I happened to notice when it was published and decided to include it. You might not know this, but my mom reads books using voices. She was a reader for the preschool reading group at a couple libraries where we lived, and the little kids used to love to listen to her read in different voices. From when I was one year old until ten, my mom would read me one book every night for how old I was. By the time it was 10 she just read me that many chapters. When I was reading this book to my nephew that brought back some old memories.

5 stars

Reading Challenge from Blair Lee an Adult

Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin

Challenge #1 A book that was written in the year I was born

I was talking to somebody about this book, and I decided to pick it up and re-read it. I read this book when I was in high school, and it affected me profoundly. This is a true story of a white journalist from the south who takes medication that darkens his skin to a deep brown. He then goes undercover, so to speak, posing as an unemployed black man. I can remember being stunned as a teen by the difference in the way Griffin was treated based on the color of his skin. If anything it was even more meaningful to me as an adult to read about his experiences. It is eye-opening to realize that a lot of the situations we are dealing with right now have been with us along time. They just were not recorded on body cams and iPhones.

5 stars

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J. D. Vance

Challenge #11 A nonfiction book on a subject you know nothing about.

I gave this book to my husband and one of my best friends for Christmas this year. They both raved about it. Then my sister-in-law visited and read it, and she raved about it. I couldn’t wait to read it book is a story about the Vance family and the group of people they belong to. Vance describes his family as hillbillies from Kentucky even though he spent most of his life in Ohio. His family is strongly Christian and very poor. The story is out once a memoir piece about his family at the same time it is a story that looks at the larger social group his family is a part of: poor white Americans from the South. It is an excellent book. It can’t recommend it highly enough.

5 stars

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