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.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Croc and Ally by Derek Anderson Book Review

  
The Croc and Ally series features an adorable duo who are sure to delight early readers. 

Croc and Ally don't always agree with each other, but they prove to be the best of friends. Each book contains three stories about the friends' adventures. Despite their differences, the friends support one another and enjoy each other's company. In one story, Croc solves Ally's problem when he can't find the moon in the sky. In another, Ally tries to convince Croc to get a new hat, but instead helps him realize that his own hat is the best one for him. Each of the stories are sweet and humorous. 

The chapters in the books in the series are short. Each page has just a sentence or two of text. The illustrations fill the pages and include interesting details. This series will be fun and easy for those learning to read. Before readers are able to handle the Frog and Toad series, Croc and Ally will amuse them with their tales of friendship.

Thanks to the publisher, Penguin Young Readers, for a review copy 
of the two books in this series, Friends Forever and Fun, Fun, Fun.

Monday, September 10, 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...


A Big Mooncake for Little Star by Grace Lin

This is a clever and whimsical story. It shows the love between a mother and child, but also gives an imaginative explanation of the phases of the moon. The illustrations, with the brightly colored mooncake against a black background, are magical.

Poe Won't Go by Kelly DiPucchio

Two of my favorite picture books to read aloud to students are Everyone Loves Bacon and Dragon Was Terrible, both by Kelly DiPucchio, so I was excited to find out she has a soon-to-be released picture book. Even better, it's illustrated by one of my favorite illustrators, Zachariah OHora. Poe is an elephant who won't go. He is sitting in the middle of the road, causing a traffic jam. There are many attempts, all entertaining, made to get him to move, but it's one smart news reporter who gets him to go. This is a fun story and I think readers will adore Poe, as well as his friend, Moe, who makes an appearance. Thanks to the author for providing my book review group, #BookExcursion, with a copy to review.


Twig by Aura Parker

Heidi is the new bug at school, but she blends in so well with her surroundings, because of her twig-like shape, that no one notices her. When she's mistaken for a twig, she speaks of for herself and the class finds a way to make sure she stands out. This is a book about making friends that also shows the importance of welcoming others into the group.

Quit Buggin' Me! (Princess Pulverizer #4) by Nancy Krulik

Princess Pulverizer's Quest for Kindness continues in the latest book in the Princess Pulverizer series. If she completes the quest her dream of being a knight, which she prefers over being a princess, will be fulfilled. Her latest mission involves finding a beast in the forest and rescuing her friends who have been taken prisoner. This series for transitional chapter book readers continues to be humorous and action-packed. Thanks to the publisher, Penguin Young Readers, for providing my book review group, #BookExcursion, with a review copy.

In Your Shoes by Donna Gephart

Miles spends a lot of time in his family's bowling alley trying to bowl the perfect game. He tends to worry a lot, especially about his grandfather. Amy has just moved into town where she lives with her uncle at a funeral parlor. She misses home and really wants to make a friend. Their lives intersect, unexpectedly, the day Miles wears his lucky bowling shoes to school. This is a sweet story of friendship that also explores anxiety, loss, and grief. Middle grade readers will be able to relate to the characters and their challenges. The story conveys the message that friends take care of and support one another. Thanks to the publisher, I received an advance reading copy of this book. It publishes in October.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Books I Planned to Read in 2018 Update #2

In January, I made a list of "must reads" for 2018 along with Carrie Gelson of There's a Book for That and a community of other bloggers. The #MustReadin2018 community is sharing another update on the progress they have made with their reading lists. I am sharing my progress along with them. Check Carrie Gelson's blog or the Twitter hashtag to find out what others are reading in 2018 and get ideas to add to your own to-be-read list.


My #MustReadin2018 List


Middle Grade Books


Previous to my last update, which you can read here, I had read the following books:

  • Bat and the Waiting Game by Elana Arnold
  • Breakout by Kate Messner
  • Hurricane Child by Kheryn Callender 
  • Maggie & Abby's Neverending Pillow Fort by Will Taylor
  • The Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani
  • The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson
  • Polly Diamond and the Magic Book by Alice Kuipers
  • Until Tomorrow, Mr. Marsworth by Sheila O'Connor 
  • You Go First by Erin Entrada Kelly
As of this update, these are the books I have now read:
  • Grump: The (Fairly) True Tale of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves by Liesl Shurtliff which is imaginative and engaging.
  • Elephant Secret by Eric Waters, which is a book I absolutely loved. There is a twist in the story that makes it an intriguing read.
  • The Language of Spells by Garret Weyr, which I got about half-way through because it just didn't grab me at the time.

Professional Books


As of last April, I had read two out of the four professional reads I had on my list. These are the books I read:
  • Culturize: Every Student. Every Day. Whatever It Takes by Jimmy Casas
  • The Reading Mind: A Cognitive Approach to Understanding How the Mind Reads by Daniel Willingham
I have since finished the other two professional books I had on my list. Both are excellent, insightful reads. 

Literacy Essentials: Engagement, Excellence, and Equity for All Learners by Regie Routman
To find out more about this book, you can read the following posts:

Enticing Hard-to-Reach Writers by Ruth Ayres
Read my post here to find out more about my thoughts on this book.

Monday, September 3, 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...

Eat Pete! by Michael Rex

A monster with a hungry appetite appears at Pete's window. He's able to hold off eating Pete while they have fun playing cars, pirates, and blocks. But, eventually Pete's appetite gets the better of him. This book is pure fun with an element of surprise. I imagine that my first graders will want to hear this book again and again.

Holes in the Sky by Patricia Polacco

I was excited to see a new book by Patricia Polacco because quite a few of hers are favorites of mine. This is another heart-warming story based on her childhood. Read more about my thoughts here.

Kick It, Mo! by David A. Adler

The latest book in the Mo Jackson series for early readers is as charming as the previous three. Mo loves sports even though he is not the best player on the team. In this book, he is the smallest and youngest soccer player and is still learning to kick, but he doesn't let that stop him from playing and enjoying the game. Mo's practice and determination always pay off. I love the important message in these books, but the sports-related action is also entertaining. Thanks to the publisher, Penguin Young Readers, for providing #BookExcursion with a review copy.

The Rough Patch by Brian Lies

This is a book about loss, grief, and healing. Evan, a fox, seems unable to get over the loss of his dog, taking his anger out on his once beautiful garden. Eventually, a surprise in his garden leads him out of his despair. The illustrations are stunning with colors to match the mood of the text. This is definitely an emotional read, but gorgeous.

Louisiana's Way Home by Kate DiCamillo

Louisiana from Raymie Nightingale is back in this companion novel. It's definitely a heart-tugger, but also a whimsical, beautiful story. If you've heard this is an amazing book, it's because it is! Read more about my thoughts here.

Time Castaways #1: The Mona Lisa Key by Liesl Shurtliff

Three siblings find themselves on a mysterious ship that time travels. They arrive in the past where they become in involved in the theft of the Mona Lisa. The kids try to understand the reason they are on the ship and whether they can trust the captain. The curious ship with its eccentric crew and the different settings from the past provide for an interesting story. The cliff-hanger ending sets readers up to find out more in book two. Thanks to the publisher, HarperCollins, for sending my book review group, #BookExcursion, an advanced reading copy.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Holes in the Sky by Patricia Polacco Book Review

Patricia Polacco's books are among some of my classroom favorites. Her books, based on her own life, explore family and community and offer wisdom and life lessons. In Holes in the Sky, Patricia tells another story based on her childhood experiences, one that shows the importance of kindness and the power of the connections we make with one another.

Trisha's babushka has passed away and her family has moved to Oakland, California. There she meets Stewart, who soon becomes her best friend, and his grandmother, Miss Eula. Together, they hatch a plan to bring happiness to a neighbor by bringing her garden back to life. All the while, Trisha is waiting for a sign from her babushka until she realizes that she doesn't have to look any further than Miss Eula.

Holes in the Sky is a story with warmth, conveying the importance of caring for and being compassionate toward others.  It also celebrates the beauty of a diverse community. The illustrations, drawn with pencil and marker, bring the story to life, revealing the joy and love between the characters at its center. This is a sweet and realistic story.

Thanks to the publisher, Penguin Young Readers, 
for providing my book review group, #BookExcursion, with a copy of this book.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Louisiana's Way Home by Kate DiCamillo

Kate DiCamillo tells more of Louisiana's story, one of her characters from Raymie Nightingale, in a novel that can be read as a stand alone.

Louisiana's Granny woke her in the middle of the night and they started to drive away from her friends, her cat, her home. Louisiana is not sure where they are going, but it becomes clear they are not going back. They stop in Georgia, at the Good Night, Sleep Tight hotel and it is here that Louisiana finds out truths about her life that change everything.

Louisiana's story is one of transformation. She discovers who she is and finds her place in the world. There is sadness in Louisiana's life, but out of that sadness grows hope. This is a story about family and friendship and home. It gives a lot for the reader to think about including the power of kindness and forgiveness.

There is a whimsical quality to Kate DiCamillo's writing. Louisiana's voice shines as she observes life and those around her. She's a character with spunk and resilience who readers will be rooting for from the first page.

Both beautiful and hopeful, Louisiana's Way Home is a book that will tug at your heart strings.

Thanks to the publisher, Candlewick, for the advance reading copy.
The book publishes in October.

Monday, August 27, 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...


A Place for Pluto by Stef Wade

Pluto is proud of being a part of the Famous Nine until he gets the news that he is not a planet. Pluto feels rejected and he doesn't seem to fit in with any other group in the galaxy. Just as he's about to give up he finds someone who looks like him and makes new friends. This is a cute and clever story with a good message that also includes some factual information.

Best Frints at Skrool by Antoinette Portis

The best frints from planet Boborp are back! Students are always delighted with the make-believe words and the humor when I read Best Frints in the Whole Universe to them. In the second book, Omek feels left out when Yelfred makes a new friend. The characters are out of this world, but kids will be able to relate to Omek's problem and laugh along as he tries to resolve it.

Adrian Simcox Does Not Have a Horse by Marcy Campbell

Chloe gets very irritated when Adrian Simcox says he has a horse. She believes this can't possibly be true if he can't even afford lunch or keep his own desk tidy. When her mother takes her for a walk through Adrian's neighborhood, she begins to understand him better and make a friend. This book will spark discussions about acceptance, empathy, and open-mindedness. There's an interesting use of color in the illustrations which are gorgeous.

Sweep by Jonathan Auxier

This is an amazing, magical story about a chimney sweep and her mythical friend. They come together unexpectedly, but find out how much they need each other. I was captivated by both the historical fiction and fantasy elements. Read more of my thoughts here.

Tight by Torrey Maldonado

Bryan has made a new friend, but he's not always comfortable with the choices this friend makes. He finds himself following along when Mike does things that could get them in trouble, such as hopping subway turnstiles and cutting school. Bryan is torn between being friends with Mike and doing the right thing. Bryan also faces some challenges at home. His father, who encourages him to be tough, has recently gotten out of jail, but is arrested again when he gets into a fight. This book explores the struggles of a kid who's trying to make sense of the expectations his family has for him along with the expectations of the society he lives in. He learns about friendship and discovers that he has the power to make the right choices. Thanks to the publisher, Penguin Young Readers for providing my book review group, #BookExcursion, with a review copy of the book.