Monday, October 22, 2018

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?



It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a community of bloggers who link up to share what they are reading. To find out what other bloggers are reading, check out the host blogs: Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers. You can also follow on Twitter at #imwayr.

Recent Reads...


Me and My Fear by Francesca Sanna

The narrator of this story has a secret, a tiny friend named Fear who follows her around. Fear is even bigger now that she's in a new country. When the girl meets an actual friend, not only does Fear get smaller, but she realizes that others have fears, too. This book gives readers insight into how it can feel to be in a new place and shows the power of connections with others. It can also help readers understand their own fears.

Pearl by Molly Idle

Pearl wants an important responsibility like other mermaids have. When her mother entrusts her with a single grain of sand, Pearl is full of disappointment. With patience, Pearl realizes the truth of her mother's words when she says that small things make a great difference. This is a sweet, gentle story enhanced by the stunning illustrations. The soft pastels of the mermaids and the deep blues of the ocean create an inviting, fanciful underwater world.

Zola's Elephant by Randall de Séve

A girl has a new neighbor, Zola. The girl thinks Zola must have an elephant because she has a huge box and there is lots of thumping coming from next door. When the girl ventures next door to find out, she doesn't find an elephant, but something much better. This is a unique story of friendship with whimsical illustrations.

Saving Winslow by Sharon Creech

Even though the donkey his father brings home is sickly and has no mother to care for him, Louie is determined to save him. In spite of his friend Nora's negativity, warnings from his parents, and complaints from his neighbors, Louie takes care of the donkey and they form a strong bond. This is an introspective, heart-warming tale. It explores friendship, hope, and the necessity of letting go of the fears associated with grief.

Monday, October 15, 2018

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?


It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a community of bloggers who link up to share what they are reading. To find out what other bloggers are reading, check out the host blogs: Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers. You can also follow on Twitter at #imwayr.

Recent Reads...


Business Pig by Andrea Zuill

Jasper is very different from his pig siblings. He wears a suit, helps with the bookkeeping, and has his own business cards. Although he is well-loved at the sanctuary, no one wants to adopt him. Jasper has a plan to find the perfect home. This is a humorous story with a subtle message about being oneself.

Dreamers by Yuyi Morales

Autobiographical, this book tells of a mother's journey with her son as they leave Mexico and travel to the United States. It's a story of hope and resilience, and, also, one that shows the power of books. There's a dream-like quality to the illustrations that is stunning. There's also many details in the artwork that hint at the blending of two cultures. It's a gorgeous, gorgeous read.

The Snowy Nap by Jan Brett

This book takes place in winter, but reading it will make you feel warm and cozy. Hedgie does not want to miss out on all the wonders of winter so he tries to stay awake like the other animals on the farm. When Lisa discovers him frozen outside, she brings him inside where he can watch winter from various windows in her house. Both the story and the author's classic illustrations are charming. This would be a great book to read aloud during the winter season or to pair with Jan Brett's The Hat. Thanks to the publisher, Penguin Young Readers, for providing my book review group, #BookExcursion, with a review copy.

Thank You, Omu by Oge Mora

Omu's stew has a delicious smell which leads neighbors to her door. One by one she gives them a bit of her stew until her pot is empty. A final knock at her door, reveals the neighbors who have come back to return the favor. This is a sweet story about community and gratitude. In the author's note, the author explains that her grandmother was the inspiration for the story. The lovely artwork, collages created with paper and clippings from books, adds to the warm and inviting feel of the book. 

Zora and Me: The Cursed Ground by T. R. Simon

The Cursed Ground is the second book in the Zora and Me series, which tells a fictionalized account of the childhood of well-known author, Zora Neale Hurston, as she grew up in Eatonville, one of the first all-black towns to be incorporated in the U.S. The book alternates between two stories, both set in the past. In 1903, two friends, Carrie and Zora, discover Mr. Polk, a mute, injured outside his cabin. When he, seemingly miraculously, begins to speak, Zora knows there is a secret and she convinces Carrie to investigate with her to find out what it is. The other story, set in 1855, tells of Lucia, a slave, and Prisca, the girl who refuses to let her be sold. The stories come together, as Zora and Carrie learn about events of the present, a dispute over land that threatens the safety of their town, and uncover the connection to past events which have led to Mr. Polk's silence. This is a riveting book, with parts that are both intense and heart-wrenching. It's an honest portrayal of the tragedy of slavery and will spark thinking about the effects of slavery and racism. It also explores the idea that our memories and our histories remain a part of us even after we've moved on. This is a powerful and beautifully written book whose characters you'll think about long after you close the book. Thanks to the publisher, Candlewick Press, for sending me a review copy of the book.

Monday, October 8, 2018

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?


It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a community of bloggers who link up to share what they are reading. To find out what other bloggers are reading, check out the host blogs: Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers. You can also follow on Twitter at #imwayr.


Recent Reads...


I Lost My Tooth! (Unlimited Squirrels) by Mo Willems

Zoom Squirrel loses a tooth and the other squirrels are going to make him feel better by finding it. They are even more distraught and determined when they find out that it's a baby (tooth). Told through dialogue, this is a silly and humorous story, which Elephant & Piggie fans will be love. The back matter which includes some tooth-related facts and jokes will also amuse readers.


Potato Pants! by Laurie Keller

This is a book with kid appeal, for sure! It's not just funny, but also has a message about forgiveness. There's lots of speech bubbles throughout that add to the humor and the potato illustrations are adorable. My students loved Rot, the Cutest in the World which features a mutant potato, so I have a feeling they'll love the potato at the center of this story, as well.


Skylark and Wallcreeper by Anne O'Brien Carelli

This book tells two stories, one taking place in 2012 and the other in 1944. Lily is helping her grandmother, Collette, because the nursing home she lives in is being evacuated due to flooding during Hurricane Sandy. During the evacuation, Collette asks Lily to take care of a pen that she has had hidden among her belongings. The alternating story tells about Collette, who as a young girl delivered messages to aid the efforts of the French Resistance during World War II. As Lily loses Collette's pen and goes on a search to get it back, she learns the story of her courageous grandmother. Both stories within the book are intriguing and adventurous. This book gives insight into two different time periods within history while also highlighting two wonderful characters who display determination and selflessness. Thanks to the author for providing my book review group, #BookExcursion, with an advance reader's copy of the book.

Monday, October 1, 2018

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?


It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a community of bloggers who link up to share what they are reading. To find out what other bloggers are reading, check out the host blogs: Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers. You can also follow on Twitter at #imwayr.

Recent Reads...


Blue by Laura Vaccaro Seeger

This is stunning and poignant book. The story is told in two-word phrases that describe shades of blue and illustrations that show the friendship between a boy and his dog. The illustrations are beautiful on their own, but the addition of cut-outs on each two-page spread make the book even more visually appealing. The book seems simple at first glance, but is really quite clever and meaningful.

Carmela Full of Wishes by Matt de la Pena

It's Carmela's birthday and she's finally old enough to walk with her brother as he runs errands in their Spanish-speaking neighborhood. She tags along with her brother, much to his annoyance. She picks a dandelion with which she wants to make a wish, but before she can decide what to wish for, she trips and the flower is ruined. Carmela's brother puts aside his irritation to comfort his sister and shows her how she can make a wish after all. As Carmela walks with her brother, her imagination gives insight into her life and her dreams. De la Pena's text and the illustrations, by Christian Robinson, depict the liveliness of Carmela's neighborhood. The relationship between sister and brother is true-to-life and heart-warming. This is an uplifting and tender story. Thanks to the publisher, Penguin Young Readers, for providing my book review group, #BookExcursion, with a review copy.

Made by Maxine by Ruth Spiro

Maxine likes to make things, but her inventor abilities are put to the test when she decides that her pet fish Milton will be part of her class's pet parade. Although Maxine fails, at first, to make a better bowl for Milton, she persists and with creativity she accomplishes what she set out to do. Maxine is a thinker and problem-solver, showing readers that girls can be inventors, too. I read a review copy of this book, thanks to the publisher, Penguin Young Readers.

Astrid the Unstoppable by Maria Parr

Astrid lives in Glimmerdal, a small village in Norway. She's adventurous and loves to sled and sing. With no other children in the village, Astrid spends a lot of time with Gunvald, her godfather and neighbor who is a bit of a grump. When a mysterious stranger shows up, Astrid discovers that Gunvald has been keeping a secret from her. As this stranger's arrival threatens to bring some changes to the village, Astrid is determined to keep everything the same. I was captivated by the setting of this book. I loved the author's writing style which drew me into the charming village of Glimmerdal. Astrid is a spunky and strong-willed character with heart. This is an endearing book which explores family and community. Thanks to the publisher, Candlewick Press, for providing my book review group, #BookExcursion, with an advance reader's copy. The book publishes in November.

Monday, September 24, 2018

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?


It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a community of bloggers who link up to share what they are reading. To find out what other bloggers are reading, check out the host blogs: Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers. You can also follow on Twitter at #imwayr.


Recent Reads...


The Dreamer by Il Sung Na

A pig dreams of flying and does not give up until he is successful. This book will spark discussions about the benefits of persistence in accomplishing one's dreams. It has lovely, whimsical illustrations.

Hey, Wall: A Story of Art and Community by Susan Verde

A boy beautifies his neighborhood by transforming a bare wall into a work of art. This book celebrates the diversity and uniqueness of a neighborhood, while also showing an example of how one person can create change.

The Benefits of Being an Octopus by Ann Braden

Seventh-grader, Zoey, spends a lot of her time taking care of her younger siblings. Zoey's family struggles because they are poor and Zoey notices the way her mother's boyfriend treats her and doesn't approve. Zoey wishes she were an octopus and imagines how life would be easier if, for example, she had eight arms instead of just two. As Zoey struggles through the challenges of her life, she learns to become more a more confident person who stands up for herself and others. This is an interesting story, with a great main character, that explores important themes. Some students will relate to the challenges Zoey faces, but for others it will provide insight into the experiences of children living in poverty. I had been hearing about this book for a while before it was published and, for me, it lived up to all the positive reviews.

Edison Beaker, Creature Seeker: The Night Door by Frank Cammuso

This graphic novel has adventure, action, and humor. This is one that I can hand those students who love the Hilo series. A few of my students read it last week and they loved it. Read more about my thoughts here.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Edison Beaker, Creature Seeker: The Night Door by Frank Cammuso Book Review

Graphic novels are well-loved among the students at my elementary school. I predict Edison Beaker, Creature Seeker will become one of the graphic novel series that students, once they read, will be eagerly awaiting the next installment.

While their mother is away, Edison and Tamika are in their uncle's care. Uncle Earl is an exterminator and when he has to make a late-night service call, he takes Edison and Tamika with him. Edison and Tamika learn that the family business their uncle is involved in has nothing to do with controlling the ordinary type of pests. Rather, he's protecting the world from the dark creatures behind the Night Door. Edison, who's skilled at finding things, needs to get back the Keystone that will seal the door shut again.

Edison Beaker, Creature Seeker has everything many of my students have come to love in a graphic novel. It's adventurous and filled with action. There's funny moments, too. The heroes of the book are everyday kids who have extraordinary courage and the willingness to take huge risks to save the world. This is a graphic novel I can't wait to put on my classroom shelf. I just hope Book Two is in the works so my students don't have to wait too long to find out about Edison's next adventure.

Thank you to Penguin Young Readers for providing me with a review copy of the book.

Monday, September 17, 2018

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?


It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a community of bloggers who link up to share what they are reading. To find out what other bloggers are reading, check out the host blogs: Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers. You can also follow on Twitter at #imwayr.

Recent Reads...

Good Rosie! by Kate DiCamillo

Rosie is a lonely dog. Her owner, George, brings her to the dog park, but not knowing any of the other dogs makes her feel even lonelier. When Rosie meets two other dogs at the park, she helps one out and learns how to make friends. The book is about canine friendship, but readers will be able to empathize with Rosie's struggle to make friends. The  format will appeal to readers, too. It's a picture book written in the style of a graphic novel.

Grow Up, David! by David Shannon

David is back in a book that explores the relationship between two siblings. Being the younger sibling, David isn't always appreciated by his older brother. Although their relationships has lots of downs, the upside is that David's older sibling really does care for him. Like the other books in the series, the story is told through dialogue and fun illustrations. Fans of the previous David books will be glad to see him return.

Lyric McKerrigan, Secret Librarian by Jacob Sager Weinstein

The villain, Doctor Glockenspeil, has threatened to have his army of giant moths eat all the world's books. Lyric McKerrigan, secret librarian, is called in to help and, with just the right books, saves the world. This book, written in comic-book style, is exciting and action-packed and includes a message about the power of books. Fun and clever read.

There's a Hole in the Log on the Bottom of the Lake by Loren Long

This is a fun adaptation of the children's song. Rather than taking place at the bottom of the sea, the setting is a lake. The text tells the words of the song, but throughout the pages a snail and a turtle have an ongoing dialogue, bringing humor to the book. The illustrations are amusing and the surprise ending is fun. Thanks to the publisher, Penguin Young Readers, for providing my book review group, #BookExcursion, with a copy to review.

The Eleventh Trade by Alyssa Hollingsworth

The publisher, Macmillan, sent me a copy of this book and I am so glad they did. Sami and his grandfather have recently arrived in the United States after leaving Afghanistan. Sami's grandfather makes money playing the rebab, an Afghan instrument, in the subway, but it is stolen. When Sami traces the rebab to a music store, he decides to make enough money to buy it back. This story explores the relationship between a boy and his grandfather and their struggle to adjust to their new life in America. It's also a story of friendship. It's a book that will give readers insight into the experience of those who have had to leave their country and are trying to make their way in a foreign place.