books: january twenty nineteen

I’m going to start a new feature where I list the books I read, both by myself with my kids each month. I have two extreme readers who are well ahead of their grade levels (4 and 1), and one kindergartener who is just starting to learn, so it’s a range of novels to picture books. And I read a whole bunch of everything. So here we go! January reads!

Leave Me Alone by Vera Brosgol. A grandmother gets fed up with her legion of grandchildren messing up her knitting so she goes in search of peace and quiet to knit their winter sweaters. Extremely relatable. Also, there is a picture of a child’s naked bum on the next page so this book has literal lols. Five out of five stars from both C and me.

Dream Animals by Emily Winfield Martin. This book is new to us C and I absolutely love it. The illustrations are dreamy and the rhymes are very soothing. Also, they scan well, which is a massive pet peeve of mine with children’s books. The book includes a narwhal, and our family loves narwhals so that is a huge plus. The children are diverse, and the concept of “dream animals” is such a beautiful one. My one qualm is that there’s a magical circus full of animals, and animal circuses make me very sad, so romanticizing them is a little unfortunate. Other than that, this is a keeper, and would be great for young children as well. 4.5 stars.

Finn Family Moomintroll and Moominland Midwinter, both by Tove Jansson. I freaking love Moomintroll and have for years, and last month R asked if we could read out loud together. I suggested these, and we are both adoring them. I bought the rest of the Moomin books at once (there are 8) and we are excited to read them all. They are sweet, silly, and delightful, and read out loud extremely well. Five stars from both of us.

Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty. Based on a recommendation, I got this out of the library for L. She said it was “GOOD” with that overly-intense look that means she stayed up past lights-out time to keep reading it. She also insists I read it too, so it’s been added to my list. She gives it five stars.

Other notable five-star reads from L in January: the Wings of Fire series (she has finished all the published ones), El Deafo by Cece Bell, and Harry Potter, which we are mid-seventh-book right now.

I read An American Marriage by Tayari Jones in January, and I can’t exactly say that I liked it, but it has really stuck with me. It was well-written and engaging; the premise (a black man is unfairly incarcerated shortly into his marriage, then suddenly released, and he and his wife need to figure out how to cope with these devastating shocks) is solid, but I can’t say that I cared for the characters enough to be fully invested in them. That might be because the experience of being black in America is not my experience, I don’t know. It’s good, but for me I think it’s only 3.5 cups of tea.

I’m currently finishing up We Are Never Meeting In Real Life by Samantha Irby. The kids are fascinated by it because of the cat on the cover and keep asking me why I’m laughing, which I cannot tell them because it is ALWAYS inappropriate. I didn’t start laughing out loud until the second half, and not every chapter/essay is a winner, but I’m enjoying it a lot. Especially the chapter on water aerobics and zumba. It gets four stars.

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