Walls within Walls by Maureen Sherry is on the Texas Bluebonnet list for 2013-2014. It’s the story of a family who has moved from Brooklyn to the Upper East Side of Manhattan because of dad’s new job. The Smithfork kids have trouble adjusting to their new life, but soon find themselves knee-deep in a decades old mystery. The mystery stems from the wishes of previous building owner. A wealthy businessman from the 1930s, Mr. Post was a lover of poetry and puzzles. His will was never found when he died in 1937, and his vast fortune remained hidden until Brid, CJ, and Patrick move in and begin to piece clues together.
If you’ve read the Chasing Vermeer series from Blue Balliet or the The Mysterious Benedict Society books by Trenton Lee Stewart, I think you’ll like Walls within Walls. The story is about a group of kids, in this case siblings, finding themselves in a situation and taking the initiative to find answers. And like the Chasing Vermeer books, the author did a great job of weaving poetry, history, and architecture into the story line. I can definitely see where some kids would read this book and become highly interested in any of the details Sherry used to build the plot. And while the action focuses on solving the mystery, the subplot is about a family adjusting to a recent move to a new neighborhood.
Another Bluebonnet I read this week is Looking at Lincoln by Maira Kalman. This biography of Lincoln is told from the perspective of a young girl who comes to the realization that Lincoln’s likeness is all around us. One she realizes this, she progresses through a simple timeline of his life. Obviously, Kalman focuses on the major milestones, but she also interjects fun facts such as Lincoln’s love of apples and vanilla cake. One feature I really liked about this book is the author’s use of fonts. The biography, which is told in third person, is written with a typical typewriter font. But when the young girl starts to share her thoughts and ask questions, the font changes to one that resembles a handwritten font. The illustrations were fabulous as well. I’m always intrigued by artwork that shows so much detail, yet at first glance seems really broad and general. I’m not really sure if my words make sense, but take a peek at the book and I think you’ll see what I mean.
It’s not a Bluebonnet, but currently I’m listening to Jefferson’s Sons by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley. I just started it, but I’m pretty hooked already. The audiobook is about 10 hours long, so hopefully in another week or so I’ll be able to share my thoughts with you.
I also just started 38 Great Academic Language Builders by John Seidlitz and Kathleen Kenfield. I have about 10 professional books I want to read this summer and I thought this was a good one to start with. I’m hoping to find great strategies I can incorporate into my professional development sessions I’m offering over the next couple of months.