Book of the Week: Ellington Was Not a Street

Ellington Was Not a Street by Ntozake Shange Illustrated by Kadir Nelson

Published: 2004 by Simon & Shuster

Reasons why I liked this book, and chose it as Book of the Week:

I love how subtle, yet powerful this book is.

I think this book is a great way to introduce music to young readers, since the book’s main focus is music and musicians.

I love how the books is based upon Ellington’s Mood Indigo and worked a whole story around them

The writing its fluid and poetic. Readers will appreciate that.

It’s a story for readers of all ages. Just because it’s a picture book younger readers will get just as much out of it as old readers will.

I love the little girl featured in the book, she’s simply adorable.

The book shows the importance and influence of music in one’s life.

It showed how musicians we look up to become parts of our everyday life, even if they aren’t literally in our living rooms.

I love how it shows how music can stir up emotions, yet calm us down at the same time.

The colors featured in the book’s illustrations are lush, subtle, but just as powerful as the words.

I love how the author provided information about all the famous musicians featured in the book. Located at the back, Shange offers mini biographies on everyone from Robeson to Ellington to The Clovers.

The author also provides the lyrics to Mood Indigo at the back of the book too.

Struts & Frets

Struts & Frets by Jon Skovron

Samuel “Sammy” Bojar’s whole life revolves around listening to and making music with the high hopes on one day making it big in the underground scene. Despite what his therapist mother says. There’s just one hitch in his plan: his band, Tragedy of Wisdom. Tragedy of Wisdom has the potential of being a really great band, but besides Sammy and his drummer/friend TJ, no one else seems to take the band seriously, or even care that much about it.

So when his band decides to enter a local Battle of the Bands he knows it’s going to end in utter disaster. But Sammy’s willing to give it a chance as long as his slacker friends are willing. And besides, this will give Sammy something to look forward to, something to distract him from the other problems in his life. Problems like an ailing grandfather who thinks that people are after him, and then there’s the fact that he may be in love with his best friend, Jen5.

Struts & Frets written by Jon Skovron is a richly realistic and deeply honest look into the life of a teen musician. In a three hundred and four pages readers will experience the highs and the lows of being in a band, the emotions that go into making music, and all of the insecurities that go along with the territory of being the leader of a band.

Skovron’s writing is exceptionally smart, witty, and full of laugh out loud moments. But the writing isn’t the only thing readers will appreciate. They’ll find many life lessons within the pages – lessons like shoot for the moon, no matter how far away it seems.

Struts & Frets is full of unforgettable characters that are full of unique personalities, that all compliment main character Sammy. Each of these characters bring a better understanding of who Sammy is as a character, while adding their own flair to this already great story.

Book of the Week: Edgar, Allan, and Poe, and the Tell Tale Beets

Edgar, Allan, and Poe, and the Tell Tale Beets by Natalie Rompella and Francois Ruyer (Illustrator)

Published: Lobster Press 2009

Reasons why I liked this book, and chose it as Book of the Week:

Most people I know HATE beets, I don’t. I LOVE them, and loved how this book featured them.

This book shows just how picky and choosy children can be when it comes to food. It makes me glad to know I’m not the only one!

The book pays homage to (one) of my favorite author/poet: Edgar Allan Poe. And I love how, in the book, Edgar Allan Poe isn’t one character, but three main characters.

Even though Edgar, Allan, and Poe are sneaky tricksters, they mean no harm. It’s all in good spirited fun. Well … maybe not for the beets who often get shoved under the loose floorboard.

The characters are just as imaginative as the book is. For example the boys decide to distract their mother by telling her a giant wearing an Elvis styled wig was standing outside of their window . (While she’s looking out of the window, the boys dispose of their detested dinner).

After a few days pass the food disposed under the floorboard comes back to haunt them. Edgar, Allan, and Poe begin to hear “Beet, beet – beet, beet.”

I liked how the book illustrated what could happen when food is disposed improperly. And makes people realize the importance of using a trash can.

I like how the boys, once smelling the reeking remains of the beets, realize how wrong it was of them to be wasteful.

The book shows how even though it’s okay not to like certain things, it’s important to try those things before judging them.

It also shows that when you do something wrong and are deceitful there will always be consequences for your actions.

It shows how children are often remorseful for their action, especially when they know they’ve done wrong.

The colors and the illustrations are bold, rich, and beautiful! (just like the beets!)

The writing is fun, and whimsical. This aspect of the book will make readers laugh out loud – especially when the food combines and erupts out of the floorboard and onto poor Edgar).

I really loved how the book named various kinds of food that most kids (and people in general) dislike: liver, beets, brussels sprouts, squash. This aspect added a believable quality.