All in Book Review

How to Be a Viking

I love hearing ‘origin’ stories about books, especially about beloved series in our house. Cressida Cowell opens How to Be a Viking with an explanation that the series was inspired by a drawing she did in her sketch book about a little Viking prone to seasickness and his relationship with his father, who happens to be chief of their tribe. Thus Hiccup and Stoik the Vast are born (and later spun into the How to Train Your Dragon series). 

Drawn Together

My Lola was one of my kindred spirits. I think she understood me in a different way than my mom does.

So you can imagine that when I heard that Dan Santat was illustrating a picture book about a boy’s relationship with his grandfather, I leaped at the chance to read it. I mean, it’s Dan Santat, right?

Roof Octopus

What I love about Roof Octopus is the quirkiness of the storyline and the whimsical, magical, and colorful illustrations that match the story perfectly. Basically a little girl wakes up to find an octopus on her rooftop.  And while the adults aren't so quick to accept someone new and foreign to their neighborhood, Nora is wholeheartedly all in.

I Have Lost My Way

I read I Have Lost My Way by Gayle Forman completely backwards.  Or completely out of order, at least.  Have you ever done that?  Skipped ahead to get to the crux of the matter?  Or because there's a scene you want to spoil for yourself?

I skipped around and then read the last third and then went back to the parts I skipped.

Escargot

I have this huge affinity for snails that started when I was little.  There's a great video of my cousins, sisters, and me playing in the backyard with snails.  I think theoretically we are rescuing and clearing the garden from them.  I also remember putting them in jars and watching them kiss. 

The Crossover

The Crossover centers around Josh and his twin, Jordan AKA JB, who are two middle schoolers who play basketball, just like their dad.  The family dynamics are spelled out easily, and the interaction between (mainly) the three of them is heartfelt and wonderful.  At its heart, this novel is about a family.  But, yes, it's about basketball too, and relationships, and coming of age.

Seb and the Sun

In Seb and the Sun, we follow Seb and Walrus through their very specific coastal town and community.  And as we follow this close-knit community, Seb realizes that something is missing and he knows exactly how to go find it.  Gigot contrasts the brightness and darkness in her illustrations, creating a beautiful reflection of each other.

Different Like Coco

It may be news to you but I've always been a bit obsessed with fashion designers.  I learned to sew when I was a kid and I loved to fiddle with my clothes or make them my own when I was a teen.  Just little things here and there.  And while I still love to make things, I don't have a talent for pattern making.

Niko Draws a Feeling

Niko Draws a Feeling by Bob Raczka is about learning to look at the world with different eyes, or at least accepting that others may see the world in different ways than you do.  I parallel Niko with some of my patients who express themselves differently—maybe they have autism, maybe they have a different artist's eye than I do, maybe they don't speak yet (or at all). But they may have specific ways of communicating with others.

Ordinary, Extraordinary Jane Austen

One book I came across was Ordinary, Extraordinary Jane Austen written by Deborah Hopkinson and illustrated by Qin Leng.  It's no secret that I'm an Austenite.  I even endured that film about her with Anne Hathaway (Becoming Jane).  And I took a course on Austen as a grad student that was purely for the delight of discussing all of her works. 

So I've always known that Jane Austen was extraordinary.

Love is Love is Love is Love

I thought Love was a beautiful and inclusive ode to the many ways that we see love in our every day.  What I loved most was how tactile everything felt in the story.  De La Pena spun his words so I could see every image in my mind--besides what was on the page--and what's more I could feel the scent in the air, hear the music notes being played.