Monday, July 22, 2019

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 or follow on Twitter at #imwayr.

Recent Reads...


Mighty Reader and the Big Freeze by Will Hillenbrand

Hugo realizes that a classmate, Barkley, is struggling to read a book to his class and decides to come to the rescue. He disappears without anyone noticing and reappears as his secret alter ego to put his superpowers to good use and give his classmate some advice to help him read. Hugo and Barkley give readers an empowering message about reading and the comic book-like format will appeal to many readers.

One Shoe Two Shoes by Caryl Hart

This is a concept book that appears to be about counting and shoes, but an adorable dog and some mischievous mice give the book a fun twist. Even though it's a concept book there is a loose story line with an ending that circles back to the beginning. There's a fun rhythm to the book and bold illustrations that will delight young readers. Thanks to Bloomsbury for providing my book review group, #BookExcursion, with a review copy.

The Curse of the Werepenguin by Allan Woodrow

Bolt is an orphan who would love nothing more than to be reunited with his family, but instead he's sent to Brugaria at the request of Baron Chordata. Brugaria, with its creepy penguins, is a mysterious and strange place and the Baron is not at all the father Bolt was hoping for. He's a twelve-year-old kid. An evil one who places a curse on Bolt. With the help of a bandit turned friend, Bolt sets out to reverse the curse and save Brugaria. The plot is ridiculous, but the humor is fantastic and it will appeal to kids who enjoy books that are a bit scary. Thanks to the publisher, I read an advance reader's copy. The book publishes in August.

Saving Fable (Talespinners) by Scott Reintgen

Indira travels to Fable where she hopes to be chosen as a Protagonist, but when her auditions go poorly she is assigned to the training for side characters. When odd occurrences happen, like her homework mysteriously disappearing, Indira becomes involved in an adventure to save Fable. This is a fun and imaginative adventure about a girl determined to the be hero of her story. The setting of Fable, which is a world that revolves around stories, is intriguing and will definitely capture the hearts of those with a passion for books. Thanks to Random House Kids for providing my book review group, #BookExcursion, with an advance reading copy. The book publishes in September.

Small Spaces by Katherine Arden

Ollie encounters a woman about to throw a book in a river. Although she doesn't understand the woman's talk of a smiling man or the warning to avoid large spaces and stick to those that are small, Ollie steals the book. She becomes intrigued with the story, but when she takes a school trip to a farm, it turns out there's a mysterious connection between the book and real life. The trip becomes spooky after the bus breaks down on the way home and Ollie's watch alerts her to run. This is a ghost story, appropriately creepy and mysterious for middle grade readers. But, this isn't just a scary story as the book also explores Ollie's grief over losing her mother and friendship.

Dead Voices by Katherine Arden

The sequel to Small Spaces, which publishes in August, is equally spooky, if not a tad bit more. This time, Ollie and her friends, Coco and Brian, travel to a Vermont ski resort where they get snowed in. When a ghost hunter arrives, the three friends learn about the history of the resort and the ghosts that haunt it. As the mystery of the resort unravels, Ollie, Coco, and Brian must work together to save themselves from the evil of ghosts and the ghost hunter who they thought they could trust. Just like the first book, this is kid horror at its best. I will definitely recommend the series to kids who want a spooky, spine-tingling read. Thanks to the publisher for an advance reader's copy of the book.

Monday, July 15, 2019

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 or follow on Twitter at #imwayr.

Recent Reads...

I Am a Tiger by Karl Newson

A mouse declares he is a tiger. Other animals argue that he is not a tiger, but the mouse always has a clever response to convince them. His argument gets even more ridiculous when a tiger himself comes along. Mouse is a character with a lot of personality - he's both confident and funny. This is a really cute book with a subtle message about being whoever you want to be. Thanks to the publisher for a review copy.

Truman by Jean Reidy

A sweet tortoise doesn't know where his owner has gone when she leaves for the day with a backpack and takes the number 11 bus, so he sets out across the living room in an attempt to follow her. Truman's determination and bravery will have readers rooting for him. The illustrations, especially those that show the tortoise's view of his surroundings, are wonderful. A charming story about first experiences, being brave, and the love between a child and her pet. 

My Jasper June by Laurel Snyder

It's the beginning of summer, but all Leah has to look forward to are lonely days at home. Since her brother died in an accident, her friends are treating her differently and her parents barely pay attention to her. So, when Leah meets Jasper she is intrigued. The two quickly become friends, but Jasper's life is complicated and Leah becomes a part of her secret. This is a compelling read about loss and the power of friendship. Thanks to the publisher I received an advance reader's copy of the book. Look for this one is September.

My Life as An Ice Cream Sandwich by Ibi Zoboi

Having lived with her mother and grandfather in Alabama, Ebony-Grace has a hard time adjusting to life with her father in Harlem. Much about Harlem seems strange to her, so she copes by retreating into her imagination. Fitting in with friends is a challenge since they can't relate to her talk about outer space and space missions. Through the challenges of her summer in Harlem, Ebony-Grace grows and, as she does, she changes her outlook on her life. Growing up at the time this book was set, in the 1980s, I found the references to that time period interesting. Those who are fans of Star Trek will get even more of the references than I did. Thanks to the publisher, Penguin Young Readers, for a review copy of the book. It publishes in August.

Exploring According to Og the Frog by Betty G. Birney

The tales of Room 26, as seen through the perspective of a kind-hearted frog, continue in the second book in the Og the Frog series. Og learns about adventure and bravery all while making a positive impact on the students in his classroom. I like that the books in this series are on the shorter side which is what some readers need. Also, being a spin-off of the Humphrey series, there will be appeal for readers who enjoyed those.

Monday, July 8, 2019

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 or follow on Twitter at #imwayr.

Recent Reads...


Piranhas Don't Eat Bananas by Aaron Blabey

This is one of those books that is so ridiculous it's funny. I imagine kids will love the humor in this book about a piranha whose taste in foods is very different from the other piranhas. There are also certain words that just make kids giggle and this book includes one of them.

We Are (Not) Friends by Anna Kang

The lastest follow-up to We Are (Not) Small explores friendship and what happens when a third friend comes along. This is a cute book that shows how two best friends can include a new friend. The illustrations are very humorous.

Truman the Dog (My Furry Foster Family) by Debbi Michiko Florence

Katia and her family, who have a dog named Ollie, provide a foster home for Truman while he waits for his forever home. Although Truman is very lovable, he gets himself into some puppy trouble. Katia immediately falls in love with him and is conflicted about how she'll feel when it's time to let him go. This short, illustrated chapter book for early readers has a positive message about caring for animals and shows what it's like to foster a pet. It's a sweet start to a series that will appeal especially to early readers who enjoy stories about animals and pets. Thanks to the publisher, I read an advance reader's copy. It publishes in August.

The Boy at the Back of the Class by Onjali Q. Rauf

This is a beautiful book about the power of friendship and acceptance. There's been an empty seat at the back of the classroom until one day a new boy arrives. When a group of students in the class realize he is a refugee from Syria and neither of his parents made it to London with him, they hatch a plan to help reunite them. This timely and touching story also has a bit of adventure and humor. Thanks to the publisher, Random House Children's Books, for providing my book review group, #BookExcursion, with an advance reader's copy.

Monday, July 1, 2019

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 or follow on Twitter at #imwayr.


Recent Reads...

I’m Trying to Love Math by Bethany Barton

The narrator of the book expresses his dislike of math which, he points out, is something he has in common with about 40% of Americans. A space alien tries to convince the narrator to like math more by explaining that math is a part of everyday things like baking, traveling, and making music. Those with a math phobia (like myself) may not be cured by the end of the book, but it’s an amusing look at math and numbers.

Linus: The Little Yellow Pencil by Scott Magoon

Linus wants to enter the art show, but he loses his enthusiasm and confidence when Ernie, his eraser, criticizes his work. Thanks to the advice of some pencil shavings, Linus puts his talents to use and, with Ernie’s help, creates a unique work of art. The illustrations are fabulous and there is a nice message message about having confidence in one’s abilities.

The Pigeon HAS to Go to School by Mo Willems

The Pigeon does not want to go to school and tries his hardest to resist. In his dialogue about school, he expresses the same fears and anxieties that many students have felt upon starting school. Of course, the Pigeon is as funny as ever. This will be a perfect book to read to students at the beginning of the year whether they are fans of the Pigeon or just being introduced to him. The book publishes in July.

Count Me In by Varsha Bajaj

When Karina's grandfather moves in with her family, he starts to tutor Chris, one of her neighbors and classmates. Although Karina and Chris never were never friends, they end up spending more time together. As the three are walking home from school one day, Karina's grandfather, an Indian American, is the victim of a hate crime. As Karina and Chris work through what happened, they decide to speak out. This book tells a relevant story about the importance of speaking out against hate and shows how one can make a difference in the world. Thanks to the publisher, Nancy Paulsen Books, for an advance reading copy. The book publishes in August.

Monday, June 10, 2019

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 or follow on Twitter at #imwayr.


Recent Reads...


Bear Came Along by Richard T. Morris

While being curious about the river, Bear accidentally falls in, starting off an adventure in which other woodland animals unexpectedly join in. The animals' adventure has a moment of suspense, but ends in fun. This is a charming book that shows the positives of connection with others. There is humor in both the text and the illustrations. The use of color is interesting, too, as the book starts of with mostly grays and browns and gets increasingly more colorful. I shared this with first graders last week and they enjoyed it and had great ideas about the lesson of the book.


The Peculiar Pig by Joy Steuerwald

Penny is quite different from her pig siblings. Although Mama Pig loves the little dachshund as much as the others, the piglets find Penny very peculiar. To the piglets' surprise, it turns out that peculiar saves the day. This is a sweet book with a lesson about how differences can be strengths. The illustrations are the cutest. Thanks to the publisher for providing my book review group, #BookExcursion, with a review copy.


Untitled by Timothy Young

A coatimundi and a capybara are waiting for the author to start writing and liven up their story. While they wait they imagine the adventures they would like to go on. A twist at the end gives them an unexpected surprise and has them hoping for a sequel. The book is funny and will likely lead readers to want to research the two types of animals featured in the book. Thanks to the generosity of the author, Timothy Young, I received a copy of the book to share with my students.


Finding Orion by John David Anderson

Rion Kwirk feels that he doesn't fit in with his quite unusual family. Even the funeral of Rion's grandfather, Papa Kwirk, proves to be unconventional. It leads to an adventure as the family goes on a scavenger hunt through which they discover more about Papa Kwirk's life. This is a quirky, but heart-warming story about family and forgiveness. I was lucky enough to win a copy of this book, thanks to Nicole at Bluestocking Thinking and the publisher.

Monday, June 3, 2019

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 or follow on Twitter at #imwayr.

Recent Reads...


The King of Kindergarten by Derrick Barnes

A boy is beginning his first day of kindergarten. From the moment he wakes and throughout his day of learning and interacting with friends, the boy exudes confidence and enthusiasm. Showing the delights and possibilities that the first day of school can bring, this book can help to ease first day jitters. The book reads like poetry and the illustrations are bright and joyful. Thanks to the publisher for a review copy of the book. The book publishes in July.

Awesome Dog 5000 (Book 1) by Justin Dean

Marty and his friends discover a robot dog which leads them to an adventure in which they are battling the evil super villain, Dr. Crazybrains. There is lots of action, but also lots of kid humor. The short chapters and illustrations will also make this a book that appeals to many kids. It publishes in July. Thanks to the publisher for providing my book review group, #BookExcursion, with an advance reader's copy.

Sea Sirens (A Trot and Cap'n Bill Adventure) by Amy Chu and Janet K. Lee

While Trot surfs with her cat, Bill, she keeps her eye on grandfather who has dementia. When a wave takes them under, Trot and Bill find themselves in a magical underwater world ruled by the Sea Sirens. The kingdom of the Sea Sirens is enchanting and beautiful, but also dangerous as they have been at war with the Serpents for years. Trot and Bill must face the Serpents when grandfather's life is put at risk. This graphic novel is gorgeously illustrated and the ending promises a future adventure. 

Refugee 87 by Ele Fountain

In an unnamed country, the military has taken control. Shif's mother has hatched a plan for him to escape, but before he can do so he's captured by the military along with his friend Bini and they are both thrown into a prison. This is a story of courage, survival, and friendship that is heart-wrenching, but ends on a note of hope. The book is marketed as appropriate for ages eight through twelve, but I think readers at the younger end of this range may find Shif's situation frightening. It's a gripping, honest read that gives insight into the refugee experience.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Summer Professional Reading

I try to stay current on best practice and research related to literacy instruction all year by reading as much as I can on the topic. The school year can be extremely busy, so I find I don't always have as much time for reading professional books during these months as I would like. With more flexible days, summer provides the perfect opportunity to delve into professional reading. These are the books that are on my to-be-read list for the upcoming summer.

Books I Plan to Read...


The Art of Comprehension: Exploring Visual Texts to Foster Comprehension, Conversation, and Confidence by Trevor Andrew Bryan

I have gotten to talk with Trevor about his book and with a teacher who has implemented some of his ideas and I am really intrigued. Many of the books I read on literacy instruction confirm a lot of what I know about teaching kids to read and write, but I'm thinking this book will give me a perspective I haven't thought about before.

Brain Words: How the Science of Reading Informs Teaching by J. Richard Gentry and Gene P. Ouellette

I am fascinated by how the brain is able to learn the complex process of reading. This book is on my summer reading list because I want to know more about the research concerning the brain and how children learn to read.

Breathing New Life Into Book Clubs: A Practical Guide for Teachers by Sonja Cherry-Paul and Dana Johansen

I have read Sonja and Dana's previous books and seen them present and they always have practical suggestions for enhancing literacy instruction. I am looking forward to their thoughts on implementing book clubs.

Building Bigger Ideas: A Process for Teaching Purposeful Talk by Maria Nichols

Engaging students in authentic conversations that drive their literacy learning can be a challenge, so I find books about classroom talk useful. I'm hoping to read this book for some new ideas.

Spark! Quick Writes to Kindle Hearts and Minds in Elementary Classrooms by Paula Bourque

Students need frequent opportunities to write to build their writing fluency and to grow their skills as writers. Providing opportunities for students to engage in "quick writes," low-stakes writing, is something I've always wanted to incorporate more into my lessons. I'm hoping this book gives me the jumpstart I need.

Understanding Texts and Readers: Responsive Comprehension Instruction with Leveled Text by Jennifer Serravallo

This book is on my list because I bought it months ago and still have not gotten around to reading it. Leveled texts are great tools when there is thought and care put into how they are used within literacy instruction. This book is sure to enhance my thinking around the use of leveled texts.

Monday, May 20, 2019

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 or follow on Twitter at #imwayr.

Recent Reads...

Camp Tiger by Susan Choi

While on a camping trip in the mountains with his family, a boy reflects on his worries related to growing up including starting first grade and having to do things on his own. As the family sets up their camp site, a tiger suddenly appears. The boy forms a bond with the tiger who accompanies them on family outings. With the tiger at his side, the boy accomplishes what he thinks he can't and learns to become more independent. This is a poetic and whimsical story about growing up.

All the Greys on Greene Street by Laura Tucker

Olympia's father has suddenly taken off to France and her mother is no longer getting out of bed. As Olympia tries to figure out why her father left, she is also trying to live her life as normally as possible even though she knows something is wrong with her mother. Olympia's story is one of a girl dealing with her mother's depression, but it's also the story of a girl who, with the support of those around her, finds her way. There is also an interesting story line about art and her father's involvement in an art-related mystery. The book publishes in June. Thanks to Penguin Young Readers for providing my book review group, #BookExcursion, with a review copy.

Camp Average by Craig Battle

This is a fun book about summer camp and sports. Mack has just arrived at Camp Avalon and is looking forwarding to chilling with the other campers and engaging in a lot of water sports.  He is totally fine with the fact that the camp is known as Camp Average because the sports teams never win. This year turns out to be a lot different when a competitive camp director decides the campers are going to start winning and assigns them each a sport to play. Mack is not a very happy camper when he finds out he will only be allowed to play baseball while at camp, but he involves the entire team in a plan to ensure they keep losing and hopefully get back the right to make their own schedules. I think middle grade readers will enjoy this story about kids standing up for themselves and learning life lessons.

Unbelievable Oliver and the Four Jokers by Pseudonymous Bosch

Oliver is not very good at magic, but his friends got him a gig as the magician at a classmate's birthday party. While at the party, one of the birthday boy's presents has been stolen and Oliver and his friends become suspects. They promise to find the real culprit, but must do it before the final magic performance which only gives them thirteen minutes. With a silly plot and interesting characters, including a talking rabbit, this is a book kids will find humorous. It's on the shorter side with lots of illustrations. Thanks to Penguin Young Readers for a review copy.

Monday, May 13, 2019

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 or follow on Twitter at #imwayr.

Recent Reads...

Say Something by Peter H. Reynolds

Every time I read a recently published book by Peter H. Reynolds, it becomes a new favorite. This inspirational book shows the many ways to use one's voice to make a difference in the world. I love this book because I think it will be useful to start discussions about the power of voice and the necessity of working to make the world a better place and also because it has such an empowering message.

Harold and Hog Pretend for Real! by Dan Santat and Mo Willems

Fans of the Elephant and Piggie books by Mo Willems will appreciate this book. Elephant and Piggie find a book about an elephant and a pig. They read the book in which the elephant and pig, otherwise known as Harold and Hog, are pretending to be them. Like the Elephant and Piggie books, it's told through dialogue and easy to read. It's a lot of fun, but also highlights friendship.

Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay

Jay's cousin, who lives in the Philippines, has been murdered. He's not only devastated, but confused as to why no one will tell him what really happened. In his search for the truth, he travels to the Philippines where the story of his cousin's life and death unravels piece by piece. This is a story about grief and the desire to find the truth, but it also explores the struggles with understanding one's identity. It's a compelling read, but also one that gave me insight into the culture and politics of the Philippines. Thanks to the publisher for providing my book review group, #BookExcursion, with an advance reader's copy. The book publishes in June.

Monday, May 6, 2019

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 or follow on Twitter at #imwayr.

Recent Reads...

Hair Love by Matthew Cherry 

Zuri is proud of her beautiful hair that makes her feel like a princess and a superhero. It's a big day for Zuri and she needs her hair to be really special. It's up to her father to figure out how to give her the perfect do. This is such a charming story. Both, Zuri's confidence and her father's patience getting her hairstyle just right, are delightful. Vashti Harrison's illustrations are full of love. Thanks to the publisher, Kokila, for sending my book review group, #BookExcursion, a review copy. The book publishes in May.

My Papi Has a Motorcyle by Isabel Quintero 

This is another book that celebrates the love between daughter and father. As Daisy journeys through her neighborhood on the back of her father's motorcycle, it's also a tribute to the city, Corona, California, where the author grew up. This slice of life story shows a girl experiencing the joys of a beautiful city and a lively community. With the details of the comic-book-like illustrations and the inclusion of Spanish words, it almost feels like one is along for the ride with Daisy and her father. This is a sweet, joyful story. Thanks to the publisher, Kokila, for a review copy. The book publishes in May.

Bruce's Big Fun Day (World of Reading Level 1) by Ryan T. Higgins

I was very excited to see a beginning reader book featuring Mother Bruce, a character who my students love from Ryan T. Higgins's picture book series. Bruce is grumpy, as always, and Nibbs has a plan to cheer him up. The two friends engage in a variety of activities, but nothing seems to please the very disagreeable Bruce. Although one likes fun and the other likes being grumpy, Bruce and Nibbs end their day on a positive note. The illustrations are hilarious. Thanks to the publisher, Disney Hyperion, I read an advance reader's copy. The book publishes in June.

Spark by Sarah Beth Durst

Mina has been chosen to be a storm guardian, one of the kids who control the weather in the community of Alorria. She is surprised to find out that her beast, which she will guide to produce the weather, is a lightning beast. Lightning guardians are loud and brave and Mina does not see herself that way at all. She is excited, but unsure of herself as she leaves her family for her training, but when she takes action to right a wrong she proves she is braver than she thinks. This is an adventurous and imaginative book with a great message about believing in oneself and learning to be strong. Thanks to the publisher for an advance reader's copy. The book publishes this month.