Books We Read: June 2021

Because of our road trip, camping and adventuring time this month, we barely fitted in a titch of our usual reading. And only on the rare days at home. Our library stacks are piling up! I will write, for July, a review of the audiobooks we’ve enjoyed lately.

1 Manjhi Moves a Mountain by Nancy Churnin (Danny Popovici, Illustrator)
Inspiring story of Manjhi, a man who literally chopped a mountain in half over 30 years, to shorten his entire village’s journey to resources by hacking at rock with old tools for hours a day. “Is this story real?” my kids will ask me, “real” being a tricky word for a lit major like myself. But the question tells me the story has been particularly aspirational. With this one, they asked repeatedly. We ended up googling Manjhi – who is definitely real, in all the ways – and made a lasting, physical impactL.

2 Lily to the Rescue by Bruce Cameron (Jennifer L. Meyer, Illustrator)
This quick, easy story is first in a series about a rescue dog, Lily, who helps other rescue animals, alongside her girl, Maggie Rose. A great bedtime read that isn’t overwrought with anxiety, my animals lovers thought Lily was funny, and the antics of a rescued crow brought a few out-loud laughs. I have a future veterinarian/animal groomer on my hands, and she’s excited to read more of this series.

3 Way Past Jealous by Hallee Adelman, Karen Wall (Illustrator)
It’s easy to guess why this one works, just from the cover. Well and diversely illustrated by Wall to include facial expressions that forward the story, Yaz’s picture is not chosen to hang on the classroom wall. Being passed over is a tricky life event to navigate, even for adults, but Adelman handles it accurately, adeptly, and with a flair for the dramatic effect of a young girl.

4 A Frog’s Life by Irene Kelly (Margherita Borin, Illustrator)
Okay, I love frogs. Really. All of them, all the time. Because Colorado is a difficult space for frogs, being so dry we’ve only ever seen two toads here, we rely on lovely picture books like this one to show us beautiful frogs around the world. And Kelly’s highlighted the perfect weirdness of this species well; Borin’s illustrations, both delightful and strange, bringing the frogs to life.

5 Rule of Wolves by Leigh Bardugo
A startling, perflectly plotted end to the King of Scars duology, set in the fantasy Grisha universe I’ve followed for almost a decade. Bardugo’s world-building remains unparalleled – and I have wandered far in my search for readable authors who can sink me into a story set in an imagined land. I’ve read every word Bardugo’s set into print and will continue to follow the Grisha as long as she’s writing them. So much care goes into each character’s formation, a full rotation of physicality and emotions, and yet the story arc doesn’t slow. Will Ravka finally achieve the peace it seeks, a break from threat of war on three fronts? Are the Grisha finally safe? Bardugo settles many scores and gifts the promise of a new story. I hope soon…

Side note: the Netflix series “Shadow + Bone” is highly watchable as a visual translation, making an appealing summary of Bardugo’s favorite characters.

6 The Three Questions by Jon J Muth
“When is the best time to do things? Who is the most important one? What is the right thing to do?” Muth’s paintings range from whispery soft to sharply focused as the child we follow through the book discovers new answers to these questions. The toughest part of philosophy, its changing landmarks, are easier to note through this simple, quiet lens. My children grappled with the slippery way the answers changed in each scenario, and we several deep conversations around the three quesions. To me, those types of discussions – meandering and thoughtful – mark a book as great.

The links provided show where to buy the work, no matter where you live. However, please consider supporting independent bookstores. If you live in Colorado, these stores are my favorites:

I also support buying used whenever possible. Online, try

Previous Book Lists
Books we read in May, April, March, February, January, December, and my Best Reads of 2020 for adults.

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