I loved Pay Attention, Carter Jones (Clarion Books, 2019) by Gary D. Schmidt so much.
The book lives up to the opening line: “If it hadn’t been the first day of school, and if my mother hadn’t been crying her eyes out the night before, and if the fuel pump on the Jeep had been doing what a fuel pump on a Jeep is supposed to be doing, and if it hadn’t been raining like an Australian tropical thunderstorm – and I’ve been in one, so I know what it’s like – and if the very last quart of one percent milk hadn’t gone sour and clumped up, then probably my mother would never have let the Butler into our house.”
How could anyone not read on? Told from the viewpoint of 6th-grader Carter, the story is full of humor and grief. Read to find out why Mr. Bowles-Fitzpatrick–a British gentleman’s gentleman–has come. And what the real family problems are. Plus you’ll get to learn about cricket.
This is definitely a read-again-book. Don’t miss it!
Here’s an interview with Gary about the book–how it came to be and more. If you’ve never read anything by him before, you’ve missed out. Read his bio and check out this award winning author’s books.
Perfect Picture Book Friday
Counting to Bananas (Flamingo Books, a Penguin Random House imprint, 2022) by Carrie Tillotson and illustrated by Estrela Lourenço is a delight. This is not your typical counting book, that honestly can be boring. There’s humor and surprise. And even the main character talking to the book itself. I just love the twists and turns in this book.
Banana is so excited because he just knows that “A Mostly Rhyming Fruit Book” will get to bananas. After all, he’s the star of the book. But things go wrong quickly. After, “1 plum, 2 figs, 3 oranges” comes “4 pigs.” “Wait a minute. Pigs aren’t fruit!” Banana says. And the book answers back…
This is Carrie’s debut picture book and already a sequel is in the works, B Is for Bananas, a story about bedtime, comes out next spring. Read about Carrie here. Counting to Bananas was nominated for the 2023 Red Bud Read-Aloud Award! Check out more news here. And finally resources for the book are here.
Estrela has darling illustrations. Who knew a banana could have so many expressions? You can read about her other books here and see sample illustrations here. Read more about the author/illustrator here.
Marvelous Middle Grade Monday
If you like historical fiction and humor, you’ll love The Nerviest Girl in the World (Alfred A. Knopf, 2020) by Melissa Wiley.
When Pearl’s three big brothers get hired to be “real cowboys” in Mr. Corrigan’s moving picture reels, she is fascinated. After hanging on to a runaway horse herself, Pearl is hired, too. But if her mother finds out, her dangerous career as a stunt girl will be over.
I love Pearl’s conversations with the ostriches–yes, they raise those too on their cattle and sheep ranch. I love Pearl’s conflicts with her nemesis. And I love her bravery. It’s great getting a look at what people thought about this new form of entertainment, too.
This book is a Junior Library Guild selection and Brave Writer Arrow book.
Melissa Wiley is also the author of a number of easy readers and the Martha and Charlotte books about Laura Ingalls Wilder’s great-grandmother and grandmother. Read about Melissa here and see her books here.
Often celebrity books irritate me. Many are published because of WHO the author is–not the quality of the writing. Some break basic rules that would normally get a picture book rejected. But celebrity names sell, so editors often don’t get much editorial control. That said, I recently enjoyed a book published by a celebrity. Probably helps she’s a writer. *smiles*
Escape Goat (Harper, 2020) by Ann Patchett and illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser is definitely more than a book with a punny title.
A little goat decide to escape to the see the great world. He samples a cabbage from the garden, and then starts getting blamed for all kinds of mishaps on the farm. Mr. Farmer raises the fence on the goat pen. Goat still escapes and is blamed again. Mr. Farmer raises the fence more so goat can’t jump over. But he can scoot under. Again, he’s blamed. Until the farmer’s daughter speaks up.
At first, I was taken aback by all the lying in this book, but then I realized how it could create such great discussions between adults and children reading the book. Probably most of us have at one point tried to blame our actions on someone else–this story takes it to the ridiculous. That makes it easy to talk about the subject.
Ann Patchett is a well-published author of many adult books. This is her second children’s book. Read more about her here.
Robin Glasser may be a familiar name as she illustrated the Fancy Nancy books. Before she was an illustrator she was a ballet dancer and you can see influence from dance in some of the illustrations in this story. Read more about her here.
Perfect Picture Book Friday
I love a story that turns a concept upside down. And that’s what People Are Wild (Alfred A. Knopf, 2022) by Margaux Meganck does. Instead of the story being told from a child looking at animals, the animals are looking at people.
Words and art are a great match. It’s hard to choose a favorite spread because I loved them so much. I also like the variety of animals and how there is more information about them after the story ends. It’s nice to see diversity in the human characters too.
This is Margaux’s first picture book she has illustrated and written. Previously, she illustrated Kathy Wolff’s All We Need.
Read more about the author/illustrator here.