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.

Monday, April 29, 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...

Dandy by Ame Dyckman

Anything by Ame Dyckman is sure to be funny and this book does not disappoint. Daddy spies a dandelion, a weed that must be gotten rid of. Sweetie, on the other hand, has made friends with what she sees as a flower and even named it Charlotte. Daddy tries hard to get rid of the dandelion, but Sweetie always seems to be around, napping, reading, or eating with the flower. Daddy finally gets the perfect opportunity, but by now even he is seeing the plant as more than just a weed. The illustrations are very humorous. This book will have readers laughing, but the relationship between Daddy and Sweetie (and Charlotte) is sweet, too.

The Great Indoors by Julie Falatko

Julie Falatko is another author I love for her humorous stories. In her newest book, the forest animals are taking a vacation inside the house of a family who are away on vacation themselves. With a roof over their heads, the animals relax and engage in many human activities. They have dance parties, eat ice cream and casseroles, and take advantage of the cell phone reception. Although they find some peace, they also realize life in the great indoors is not so simple. This is an amusing read.

Just Like My Brother by Gianna Marino

Two giraffe siblings play a game of hide-and-seek. As the younger giraffe asks other animals if they've seen his brother, he expresses the admirable traits of his bigger brother. The illustrations are fun, clueing in readers to a surprise that's coming for the young giraffe. This is a sweet tribute to big brothers.

Home is a Window by Stephanie Parsley Ledyard

The lyrical text of this book describes the many things that a home is. From a hug to the washing, rinsing, and drying to a book before falling asleep, home is everything that is familiar and warm and cozy. The illustrations also tell the story at the heart of this book by showing a family moving to a new place. This is lovely story that explores the true meaning of home and celebrates the joy of making a new place one's home.

Tree of Dreams by Laura Resau

Coco loves being at her mother's chocolate shop and concocting her own chocolate delicacies. Now that a donut shop has opened up nearby and the chocolate shop has less customers, her mother is likely going to close it up for good. When Coco dreams about an ancient tree in the Amazon rain forest, she thinks she has found a way to save the shop. Coco then gets the opportunity to travel to the rain forest so she can search for the tree of her dreams, but where she ends up learning a lot about the destruction and harm that's taking place there. This book, highlighting the environmental issues surrounding the rain forest, shows the importance of caring for our world and also how it's possible to make a difference. It's also a story of friendship and hope. At the end of the book, the author describes her extensive research of the Amazon and the inspiration for her story.

Monday, April 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: Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers. You can also follow on Twitter at #imwayr. 

Recent Reads...


I Will Race You Through This Book! by Jonathan Fenske

Book-It Bunny is racing the reader through his book and he has plenty of tricks up his sleeve to try to take the lead. This book brings readers along for an adventure and has plenty of humor. Early readers will have success with the short text. I'm looking forward to sharing it with my first graders because I know they will love it and want to read it again and again. Thanks to the publisher, Penguin Young Readers, for a review copy.

Papa Put a Man on the Moon by Kristy Dempsey

Marthanne's father has gotten a job making the fabric that will be part of the Appollo spacesuits. While her father thinks of it as just a job, Marthanne knows what he is doing is special. This book honors the small contribution of an everyday person that helped to put the first man on the moon. It also is a sweet story of young girl who is proud of her father.

The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander

Having both read it and heard him recite it, I think Kwame Alexander's poetry is amazing and this book, written as a poem, is nothing short of that. It's a powerful tribute to black Americans who have triumphed throughout history. Kadir Nelson's illustrations, full of strength and hope, are gorgeous. There's a glossary at the end of the book providing some additional information about the historical figures and events that are featured throughout the pages of the book.

The Story Web by Megan Frazer Blakemore

Like Megan Frazer Blakemore's The Firefly Code books, I was hooked on this one from the beginning. Alice's father has gone away and she believes it's her fault. She doesn't talk about him much, but she remembers his tales about the story web. When animals in the woods of her town start acting strangely, Alice realizes the story web is more than a tale. This is a magical book about how stories connect us and the importance of honoring the truth. It's also the story of a girl who knows the power of being brave, bold, and fierce. Thanks to the publisher, Bloomsbury, for an advance reader's copy of the book. It publishes in June.

Monday, April 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: Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers. You can also follow on Twitter at #imwayr. 


Recent Reads...

The Little Red Stroller by Joshua Furst

Luna has a little red stroller to go to school, the playground, and the shops she visits along the avenue with her mother. When she outgrows it, she passes it on to a neighbor. The red stroller continues to be passed from family to family. This book is a celebration of sharing and community and highlights the diversity of families and neighborhoods.

¡Vamos! Let's Go to the Market by Raúl the Third III

Follow Little Lobo and his dog as they deliver supplies to the market. They make many stops at the busy Mexican market, which is both warm and inviting, where they interact with the various vendors throughout their day. This book offers insight into the Mexican culture and an introduction to the Spanish language. The illustrations are very detailed. This book will be read again and again and readers will notice new details every time.

Flubby is Not a Good Pet! by J. E. Morris

Flubby is a rather unmotivated cat. He doesn't sing, catch, or jump like other pets do. He doesn't even run when it starts to rain. Flubby doesn't seem like a good pet, until the storm makes Kami realize just why they need each other. Told with short sentences and dialogue, this is a book that early readers will find success with and help build their confidence as they build their reading skills. There is an additional book in the series, Flubby Will Not Play With That. Thanks to Penguin Young Readers for providing my book review group, #BookExcursion, with review copies.

Greytone Secrets #1: The Strangers by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Siblings, Chess, Emma, and Finn, learn that three children who live states away, but share the same birthdays and first and middle names as them have been kidnapped. The next day their mother mysteriously leaves for a work trip. The situation gets even more mysterious when Chess, Emma, and Finn begin to realize their mother isn't coming back and they discover a tunnel in their house that leads to an alternate world. The story keeps the reader guessing as the mystery of three children and three strangers to whom they may have a connection unfolds. There is suspense and action and an ending that leaves the reader wanting to read the next book.

Monday, April 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: Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers. You can also follow on Twitter at #imwayr. 

Recent Reads...

High Five by Adam Rubin

There's going to be a lot of high-fiving going on during the reading of this book. The 75th Annual High Five tournament is coming up and Sensei, the greatest high-fiver in his day, is training the reader for the competition. The tournament begins and the reader is up against some tough competition. This is a book that invites kids into the story and the illustrations, which look kid drawn, are fun. Thanks to the publisher, Penguin Young Readers, for providing my book review group with a review copy.

The Line Tender by Kate Allen

I was immediately drawn into this book because of the setting which is a small seaside town in Massachusetts. It turned out that the story and characters were amazing. Lucy lives next door to her best friend, Fred, who she is helping to create a field guide to the wildlife in their town. Lucy is often reminded of her mother, a biologist, who died a few years earlier. When a tragic accident occurs, Lucy is overwhelmed with grief and she immerses herself in her mother's research on sharks as her heart is mending. Her story makes your heart ache, but it also shows the power of friends, family, and community to help one heal. It's a beautiful story.

Shouting at the Rain by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

This is another book with a great setting because it also takes place by the ocean in Massachusetts. Delsie lives on Cape Cod with her grandmother. When a friend asks her what it's like to be an orphan, Delsie begins to wonder about her mother and why she left. It's also the beginning of summer and her friend, Brandy, seems to have outgrown their friendship. As Delsie works through her feelings, she learns about true friendship and the meaning of family. Delsie's story is heart-warming. Thanks to the publisher, Nancy Paulsen Books, for a review copy. The book publishes in May.

Monday, April 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: Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers. You can also follow on Twitter at #imwayr. 

Recent Reads...

Felipe and Claudette by Mark Teague

All the pets at the animal shelter have been adopted except for Felipe and Claudette. Felipe, a bit of a grump, is convinced that Claudette, who barks and snores a lot and always has food stuck to her nose, is the reason why. In spite of their differences, the pair eventually realizes how much they need each other. This is a sweet story of friendship about two pets with lots of personality. The illustrations add humor to the story.

Fenway and Hattie in the Wild by Victoria J. Coe

In the fourth book in the Fenway and Hattie series, Fenway accompanies Hattie and her family on a camping trip. Both Fenway and Hattie deal with challenges related to fitting in and making friends. Fenway is as adventurous, loyal, and lovable as in the previous books in the series. If you haven't read any of the books in the series, they are told from the perspective of Fenway and are a lot of fun. Thanks to the author for an advance reader's copy of the book. It publishes in May.

Pie in the Sky by Remy Lai

Jingwen and his younger brother, Yanghao, have moved to Australia with their mother. Not being able to speak the language of his classmates, Jingwen feels like a martian. He also thinks his brother can be a little annoying and it doesn't help that Yanghao has an easier time learning English and making friends. While their mother is at work, the boys bake cakes. Baking the cakes is especially important to Jingwen because they remind him of his father, who died before they moved, and he thinks cooking them will fix everything. Jingwen will go to any lengths to continue baking even if it means disobeying his mother. Jingwen's story is sad, but there is humor, as well. The illustrations are really unique. Thanks to the author and publisher for providing my book review group, #BookExcursion, with an advance reader's copy.

Monday, March 25, 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: Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers. You can also follow on Twitter at #imwayr. 

Recent Reads...

Carl and the Meaning of Life by Deborah Freedman

Carl is an earthworm trying to find his purpose. He asks a few other animals, "Why do I do what I do?" until he discovers that he has a very valuable role. This book shows that even a small creature, like an earthworm, is important to our world. The author's note at the end of the book prompts readers to think about their own role in helping the earth. In addition to providing information about the natural world, this book could also be useful to start discussions about ways we can contribute and make a difference in our world. Thanks to the publisher for providing my book review group, #BookExcursion, with a review copy.

The Panda Problem by Deborah Underwood

As the main character of the book, Panda should have a problem right? Only he doesn't. To the dismay of the narrator of the book, Panda decides to become the problem. Panda's silly antics weren't quite what the narrator had in mind, but they do lead to an actual problem that needs to be solved. This book will have readers laughing out loud. Thanks to the publisher for a review copy.

True History of Lyndie B. Hawkins by Gail Shepherd

Lyndie B. Hawkins is a endearing character in search of the truth about her world, which seems to have been turned upside down. She wants to understand why her family has moved in with her grandparents and her mother keeps to herself most of the time. She's even more confused about her father's strange behavior and the fact that he's gone missing and no one will tell her the reason for it. While Lyndie deals with family challenges, she meets D.B., a boy who her friend's family is fostering, and they strike up a meaningful friendship. This is a story of family and friendship that explores serious topics, including PTSD and alcohol addiction. It's an engaging, heartfelt book.

Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga

To escape the war in Syria, Jude goes to the U. S. with her mother while her father and brother remain behind. As Jude adjusts to her life in a new place, she is also trying to understand the idea of "home." The books gives insight into what it's like to be torn between two cultures and be part of a family that's separated by an ocean. Jude's story is heart-breaking, but also hopeful. Told in verse, this is a beautifully written book. Thanks to the author for providing my book review group, #BookExcursion, with an advance reader's copy. The book publishes in May.

Monday, March 18, 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: Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers. You can also follow on Twitter at #imwayr. 

Recent Reads...

How to Two by David Soman

A boy finds one new playmate after another at the playground until there are ten. As the children join each other to play, they take part in a variety of playground activities. Beautiful illustrations show a diverse group of children having fun playing and being with each other. The text is sparse, but it tells a wonderful story of friendship. It could also serve as a counting book. The end pages encourage readers to look back through the book and count various animal critters that are pictured throughout the pages. Thanks to the publisher, Penguin Young Readers, for a review copy.

I Can Only Draw Worms by Will Mabbitt

The narrator of this book can only draw worms. The only illustrations in the book, are in fact, worms. Ten of them. For a book with just worms, it's pretty humorous. I'm sure it will inspire many readers to draw their own worms. Thanks to the publisher, Penguin Young Readers, for providing my book review group, #BookExcursion, with a review copy.

Sparkly New Friends (Unicorn and Yeti #1) by Heather Ayris Burnell

Unicorn sees something sparkly down below (snow). Yeti sees something sparkly up above (unicorn). As Yeti looks up to the sky and Unicorn flies down to investigate, the two collide and a friendship is formed. As other books in Scholastic's Acorn line, the book is written in comic-book style, told through dialogue, and divided into short chapters. The bright graphics and fun stories within these books, make them a hit with early readers.

The Library of Ever by Zeno Alexander

Lenora visits the library, with her Nanny, where she steps through a secret doorway labeled with the phrase, "Knowledge of Light." On the other side of the door, she finds a very different library, one that contains the wisdom of the universe. She takes an oath that includes a promise to oppose the enemies of knowledge and is put to work as an assistant apprentice librarian. She is given a series of challenges which she accomplishes to move up the ranks in the library. But, something mysterious is going on and Lenora finds herself facing off with those who want to destroy knowledge. Lenora's story is filled with adventure, unique characters, and interesting facts. This is an engaging and fun book. I closed it hoping to read more about Lenora's adventures and after some research I believe there will be a book two. Thanks to the publisher, I received an advance reader's copy.

Monday, March 11, 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: Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers. You can also follow on Twitter at #imwayr. 

Recent Reads...

Let's Have a Dog Party by Mikela Prevost

Kate and her friends throw a birthday party for her dog, Frank. Frank would much rather nap in his favorite spot than take part in the very loud and rowdy festivities. Kate, being a good friend, eventually realizes how Frank feels and gives him just the kind of party he likes. Kate and Frank have a sweet friendship that illustrates the importance of understanding the feelings of others. The book also shows readers that not everybody (or every dog) is the party type. Thanks to the publisher, Penguin Young Readers, for providing my book review group, #BookExcursion, with a review copy. 

Poetree by Shauna LaVoy Reynolds

Sylvia writes a poem and attaches it to a tree. The next day, Sylvia finds a new poem on the tree and she is delighted that the tree has written back to her. Sylvia is glad to have the Poetree, who is much kinder than her classmates, as a friend. When Sylvia discovers the truth about the poems, she discovers an unexpected friend. This is a sweet celebration of friendship, springtime, and the power of writing. I recently read it to a class of first graders who started a poetry writing unit and they really enjoyed it. Thanks to the publisher, Dial Books for Young Readers, for a review copy. 

Spend It! by Cinders McLeod

Sunny gets three carrots a week as his allowance and on Saturdays he visits the toy store. He wants to buy everything, but learns he has to make wise choices about how he spends his money. This is an adorable introduction to money management. 

Extraordinary Birds by Sandy Stark-McGinnis

December believes she is a bird and the scars on her back, which she got when she was living with her mother, prove that she will one day have wings. Because December has been in and out of foster homes, she is very distrustful of the people who come into her life. She has been placed with a woman named Eleanor who is a taxidermist and helps rescue wild animals. Although they have common interests, December is not sure if she can trust Eleanor. This is a story of a girl learning to accept the love and support of others and finding family unexpectedly. It's a lovely, hopeful story. Thanks to the publisher for an advance reader's copy. The book publishes in April.

Kazu Jones and the Denver Dognappers by Shauna M. Holyoak

There have been a string of dognappings in Kazu's neighborhood. Kazu, who has a passion for detective work and dogs, is determined to find the culprit. With her best friend and a couple of classmates, whose dogs have gone missing, she investigates the evidence that points to a elderly neighbor. When Kazu's own dog goes missing, she has an even bigger reason to solve the case. With just enough suspense and action, this mystery is an appropriate one for middle grade readers. The case that Kazu is trying to solve is also one that will interest middle grade readers, especially dog lovers. The book explores issues related to growing up, including learning how to navigate friendships and family relationships. Thanks to the author for providing my book review group, #BookExcursion, with an advance reader's copy. The book publishes in April.

Shout by Laurie Halse Anderson

This is a powerful memoir written in verse. The author writes raw and honestly about being the victim of a sexual assault when she was a teenager and her journey to become a writer. It's heart-wrenching, but moving as well. This is a timely book that provides hope and encouragement and conveys the message that it is necessary to not just speak out, but to shout. Thanks to the publisher, Penguin Young Readers, for a review copy of the book.