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Monday, September 26, 2022

Recent Reads

Every Monday, I share books I have recently read. I also participate in It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?, 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, or follow on Twitter at #imwayr.

Recent Reads...
 

K Is for Kindness by Rina Horiuchi and illustrated by Risa Horiuchi

This is an adorable alphabet book that highlights many ways to be kind. A sentence for each letter shows how an animal friend was kind to another. The rhyme makes it fun, too. 

Punky Aloha by Shar Tuiasoa

Punky lives with her grandma who makes amazing banana bread. She tells the story of how she became a brave adventurer while on an errand to pick up butter for the banana bread when they run out. With her grandma's magical brave glasses and a mantra reminding herself to be helpful, giving, and brave, Punky has the courage to make a new friend. This is a lovely book with bright, cheery illustrations.

Skater Cielo by Rachel Katstaller

Cielo loves to skateboard, but when a new skate park opens up and she falls while trying it out she begins to think she is not very good at it. New friends at the park encourage her to keep trying and help her up each time she falls. The book has a great message about community and resilience. 

The Three Billy Goats Gruff by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Jon Klassen

A fun retelling of the classic tale. The troll, who scrapes wax out of his ears and goop out of his belly button and describes all the ways he likes to eat goat, is amusing. Thanks to the publisher for a review copy. The book publishes in October.

Freestyle by Gale Galligan

Cory and his seven friends are a part of a dance crew that has an upcoming competition. Cory is frustrated with the captain who is being very inflexible as far as their dance routine. In addition, Cory's parents are pressuring him to improve his grades. When he discovers his tutor and lab partner knows yo-yo tricks he becomes interested in learning, but this leads to complications in the relationships with his friends. This is an engaging and interesting graphic novel about middle schoolers navigating relatable challenges. Thanks to the publisher for providing my book review group, #BookExcursion, with an advanced reader's copy. The book publishes in October.

The Real Deal by Lindsey Stoddard

Gabe has been friends with Oliver since pre-K when they played on the teeter-totter together. When there is a new boy at school who doesn't talk, the other kids make fun of him and Gabe is conflicted about whether he should laugh along with them. Oliver has also been acting strange and seems to be keeping a secret from him. The characters in this middle grade novel are great and the plot is engaging. It's a touching story about friendship and listening to one's heart. Thanks to the author and publisher for providing my book review group, #BookExcursion, with an advance reader's copy. The book publishes in October.

Monday, September 19, 2022

Recent Reads

Every Monday, I share books I have recently read. I also participate in It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?, 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, or follow on Twitter at #imwayr.

Recent Reads...


Frog vs. Toad by Ben Mantle

A frog and toad are both about to catch the same fly and they end up in an argument about who the better amphibian is which then turns into a mud fight. They wake up an alligator, who is definitely not a crocodile and, as the frog and toad are about to be eaten, they realize they aren't so different. This is a very humorous book that includes some facts about frogs and toads.

Maya and the Beast by Maya Gabeira and illustrated by Ramona Kaulitzki

Maya lives in Nazaré where there is a big wave taller than a seven-story building known as the Beast. She has been told to stay away from it, but when she sees it up close she is amazed by its beauty and impressed by the boys who are surfing it. She doesn't know how to surf and the boys tell her it is too dangerous, but she is determined to make her dream come true. Inspired by the author's childhood, this is an empowering story about courage, determination, and the power of following one's dreams.

My Pet Feet by Josh Funk and illustrated by Billy Yong

Instead of a pet ferret, the narrator has pet feet. Kids ride go-cats, a friend has become a fiend, and there is not a flock of crows, but a flock of cows. This is a silly and fun book about what happens when the 18th letter of the alphabet disappears. 

Sonny Says Sorry! by Caryl Hart and illustrated by Zachariah Ohora

When Sonny finds a present that's meant for Honey, he can't help but open it up. The cake inside looks delicious so Sonny and his friends gobble it up. There's a useful lesson about saying sorry and righting a wrong. Ohora's signature illustrations are delightful.

Theo Thesaurus and the Perfect Pet by Shelli R. Johannes and illustrated by Mike Moran

Theo loves words and animals. He really wants a pet and after beginning to think there is not a pet that is right for him, he finds a saber-toothed tiger. This saber-toothed tiger proves hard to train, but Theo figures out that he needs a different way to communicate. Readers will learn lots of new words.

Boo! Hiss! by Cyndi Marko

A ghost named Phyliss and a snake named Sheldon live in an old house where they are very content until a new family moves in. They decide to scare the family away, making many attempts to boo and hiss at each of the family members. This is a silly chapter book written in graphic novel format.

Bhai For Now by Maleeha Siddiqui

Shaheer and Ashar are long-lost twin brothers who didn't know the other existed until Shaheer starts his first day at a new school after moving to Virginia with his father and grandfather. They switch places to get to know their parents better. This is a heartfelt and amusing story of family and friendship inspired by The Parent Trap. Thanks to the publisher for providing my book review group with a review copy. The book publishes in October.

Monday, September 12, 2022

Recent Reads

Every Monday, I share books I have recently read. I also participate in It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?, 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, or follow on Twitter at #imwayr.

Recent Reads...


Abuelita and I Make Flan by Adriana Hernández Bergstrom

Anita is excited to learn how to make flan with her Abuelita, but she accidentally breaks the special plate that is used to flip the dessert. Anita works hard to prove she is a great helper, but knows she must admit to breaking the plate. This is a very sweet book about family and traditions.

Battle of the Books by Melanie Ellsworth and illustrated by James Rey Sanchez

A few of Josh's favorite books on his bookshelf argue about which one he will pick for his bedtime story. When Pirate Book ends up on the floor, the others decide to work together to rescue him. When Josh is about to read with his grammie, his book choice makes everyone happy. A fun book about books.

Pip and Zip by Elana K. Arnold and illustrated by Doug Salati

During the pandemic shutdown, a family goes on a walk and finds a couple of duck eggs in a lake. Since they are sheltering in place they can't bring the eggs to a wildlife center. The family incubates them, waits for them to hatch and observes them grow. Based on the author's life, this is a delightful story about a small joy that occurred during a challenging time.

The Tower of Life: How Yaffa Eliach Rebuilt Her Town in Stories and Photography by Chana Stiefel and illustrated by Susan Gal

During World War II, Yaffa survived the Jewish massacre that occurred in the Polish town in which she lived. Thirty-five years after the war, she gathered stories and photographs of survivors which are part of the Tower Of Life at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum. This biography tells about a dark time in our history and highlights the importance of bringing humanity to those whose lives were lost. Thanks to the publisher for providing my book review group, #BookExcursion, with a review copy. The book publishes in October. 

Two Degrees by Alan Gratz

There's a wildfire in California, melting ice and a polar bear attack in Manitoba, Canada, and a hurricane and severe flooding in Miami. Kids in three different locations are impacted by climate change and are fighting to survive. This book is intense and amazing. Readers will not only be hooked by the action, but will also gain insight into how climate change is impacting the planet and the importance of speaking out about it. Thanks to the publisher for an advance reader's copy. The book publishes in October.  

Monday, September 5, 2022

Recent Reads

Every Monday, I share books I have recently read. I also participate in It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?, 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, or follow on Twitter at #imwayr.

Recent Reads...


Howard the Average Gecko by Wendy Meddour and illustrated by Carmen Saldaña

Thinking he is the only one who is camouflaged, Howard announces that he is an exceptional gecko and deserves to be the king of the rain forest. Howard is so preoccupied with boasting that he doesn't notice the other camouflaged creatures. When a stick insect points out that Howard is actually just average, Howard is dismayed, but begins to notice others who are camouflaged including someone very special. Kids will be amused with the story and also enjoy discovering camouflaged creatures on various pages.

A Parliament of Owls by Devin Scillian and illustrated by Sam Caldwell

A child has called groups of different animals to gather together. This is a fun book as each group of animals make their entrance. Readers will learn the term for the different groups of animals. There are many which I did not know. 

Sunday Pancakes by Maya Tatsukawa

When Cat wants to make pancakes and has no eggs and milk, her friends Rabbit and Moonbear bring over what she needs. The three friends have fun making pancakes together and then eating their very special pancakes. This is a sweet story with warm pastel-colored illustrations. A recipe for Cat's Sunday Pancakes is included for those who get a craving for the breakfast (or any time of day) treat.

Odder by Katherine Applegate

Inspired by rescued sea otters at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, this is the story of a curious and adventurous sea otter who gets hurt after trying to save her friend from a shark. She ends up at an aquarium where she was raised as a young pup after being separated from her mother. This time she is unable to go back to the wild, but she is given the chance to help an orphaned pup so it can return to the ocean. This is a sweet story that provides information about sea otters. The book includes some illustrations which are adorable. 

Monday, August 29, 2022

Recent Reads

Every Monday, I share books I have recently read. I also participate in It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?, 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, or follow on Twitter at #imwayr.

Recent Reads...


The Big Slide by Daniel Kirk

Throughout the spring and summer Little Pup visits the park with his mother and really wants to go down the big slide, but is too afraid. Little Pup is determined and finds a way to overcome his fear. This is a very sweet book with a lovely message. 

Just Like Jesse Owens by Andrew Young and Paula Young Shelton and illustrated by Gordon C. James

Growing up in the 1930s in New Orleans, Andrew experienced the segregation and racism of the time including hearing neighbors chant in support of Hitler. When Andrew asks his father about Hitler, his father explains racism and encourages his son to be his best self. Andrew is further inspired when his father takes him to the theatre where they watch highlights of Jesse Owens winning gold medals during the 1936 Olympics in Germany. This is an empowering story that also provides a glimpse into history.

The Monster on the Bus by Josh Lieb and illustrated by Hannah Marks

This is an amusing spin on "The Wheels on the Bus." When things get out of control on the bus to school, Angelique and Cassius must take control and set it right again. The imaginative story and silly illustrations will give kids a laugh.

Ballet Bruce (A World of Reading) by Ryan T. Higgins

The geese want to do ballet so Bruce goes back and forth to town multiple times on his motorcycle for ballet shoes, dance pants, and tutus. As tired and cranky as Bruce is, his attempts to appease the geese are charming. Although the geese never partake in any ballet, there is lots of humor. 

The Tryout by Christina Soontornvat and illustrated by Joanna Cacao

This is a wonderful memoir in graphic novel format.  The author based the book on her story of trying out for the cheerleading squad in middle school. The book explores friendship, identity, and belonging. I think this book will appeal to many middle grade readers especially those who enjoy realistic graphic novels about characters navigating the ups and downs of growing up. Thanks to the publisher for providing my book review group, #BookExcursion, with an advance reader's copy. The book publishes in September. 

Nothing is Little by Carmella Van Vleet

Felix lives with his mother and stepdad and is soon to have a little sister which he is not thrilled about. He has never known his biological dad and whenever he asks his mom about him she refuses to provide any information. When he finds out that his dad was short like him he decides to investigate. This is a heartfelt story about family. The detective work that Felix is involved in with the Forensic Science Club that he joins was interesting, too.

Adult Reading Recommendations


The Last to Vanish by Megan Miranda


The Swell by Allie Reynolds


Both of these were quick reads in the thriller/suspense genre. They each had interesting mysteries and atmospheric settings that I loved. The Last to Vanish is about a small town where several hikers have disappeared over a span of about twenty-five years. Most of the book takes place in an inn in the mountains near the Appalachian Trail. The Swell takes place on a secluded beach in Australia which seems like a surfer's paradise. For a group of surfers their trip turns sinister as their secrets begin to be revealed.

Monday, August 22, 2022

Recent Reads

Every Monday, I share books I have recently read. I also participate in It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?, 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, or follow on Twitter at #imwayr.

Recent Reads...


Celia Planted a Garden: The Story of Celia Thaxter and Her Island Garden by Phyllis Root and Gary D. Schmidt and illustrated by Melissa Sweet

This is a picture book biography about Celia Thaxter, writer and gardener, that is also a celebration of nature. The illustrations are gorgeous. 

Keepunumuk: Weeâchumun's Thanksgiving Story by Danielle Greendeer, Anthony Perry, and Alexis Bunten and illustrated by Gary Meeches Sr. 

This much needed book tells the story of the first harvest and how it was made possible by the Wampanoag people. It's an insightful Thanksgiving story written from the perspective of Indigenous people with beautiful illustrations.

Puppy Bus by Drew Brockington

This creative story will help to ease students' first day of school anxieties. A child is very anxious about the first day at a new school and ends up on the wrong bus - one filled with puppies. With all the canine fun, school doesn't seem so bad. A humorous book that ends with a fun twist.

The Wills and the Won'ts by Angela Woolfe and illustrated by Roland Garrigue

Will and Won't are neighbors who do nothing but disagree with each other so they build a wall between them. As the wall makes others angry, more and more walls are built until no one can get in or out. May comes along and is heartbroken by what she sees so she removes just one brick and restores the peace. This is a fun rhyming text told with humor with an important message for our time.

Best Wishes by Sarah Mlynowski

A mysterious bracelet arrives in the mail with a note that it will grant one wish. Having just been dumped by her best friend, Becca wishes for lots and lots of friends. Soon Becca begins to wonder if this wish is something she truly wants. This is a great start to a fun new series. Each book in the series will feature a new main character as the bracelet is sent to another part of the country. Thanks to the publisher for a review copy. The book publishes in September. 

Sweet and Sour by Debbi Michiko Florence

Mai and Zack have been best friends for a long time, but after the summer Zack betrayed her, Mai now wants to get revenge. As with other books the author has written, the characters are realistic and relatable. 
Middle grade readers will enjoy Mai & Zach's story and root for a happy ending as they work through a rough patch in their friendship. Thanks to Scholastic for providing my book review group with an advance reader's copy. The book publishes in September.

Monday, August 15, 2022

Recent Reads

Every Monday, I share books I have recently read. I also participate in It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?, 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, or follow on Twitter at #imwayr.

Recent Reads...


I Am Ruby Bridges by Ruby Bridges and illustrated by Nikkolas Smith

This is a poetic and powerful memoir. I love the voice of Ruby Bridges as she shares her six-year-old perspective of her role in school integration. Young readers will gain insight into an important moment in history. The illustrations are beautiful, too. Thanks to the publisher for a review copy. The book publishes in September. 

More Than Peach by Bellen Woodard and illustrated by Fanny Liem

When Bellen's classmates wanted a peach-colored crayon they asked for one that was skin-colored. Bellen decided to take action to change this language to be more inclusive of all skin tones. The author's story of how she became an activist at the age of eight is inspiring and empowering. 

Nana, Nenek, & Nina by Liza Ferneyhough

Nina's grandmothers each live in different parts of the world. Her visits to see them are very different, but there is always joy. A book filled with love and warmth with gorgeous illustrations. 

Your Pal Fred by Michael Rex

Set in a futuristic world, Fred is a robot who is determined to make peace between two rivals. This is a silly and adventurous graphic novel that has a sweet message about kindness and friendship. 

We Were the Fire: Birmingham 1963 by Sheila P. Moses

Rufus, who lives in Birmingham, is adjusting to his mother's second marriage and a move to a white neighborhood where the majority of whites are not in favor of integration. Rufus wants to do what he knows is right and participate in a march, like many other activists are doing, but his mother insists he is too young. Along with other children in Birmingham, he decides to join the fight for freedom. This historical fiction novel gives insight into how children during the civil rights movement took action for a better and more just world. It's engaging and powerful. Thanks to the publisher for an advanced reader's copy. The book publishes in September. 

Adult Reading Recommendation


Normal Family: On Truth, Love and How I Met My 35 Siblings by Chrysta Bilton

The author tells the story of her unconventional childhood and the way her family came to be. I was riveted by the story and couldn't put it down. It's a meaningful exploration of family and resilience and is a book that gives the reader much to think about. One of the best memoirs I've read. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Ten Picture Books About Names

Each August, for the past few years, I have made a list of ten picture books that fit a particular theme as part of the Picture Book 10 for 10 community which was started by Cathy Mere of Reflect and Refine: Building a Learning Community and Mandy Robek of Enjoy and Embrace Learning. Although the celebration of picture books is not formally taking place this year, I still wanted to reflect on picture books I have enjoyed and think are worth sharing during the upcoming school year. Since I recently read a few picture books about names, I put together a list of ten titles related to this topic. 

Alma and How She Got Her Name by Juana Martinez-Neal

Alma learns that her very long name fits her perfect. This book highlights family and identity and shows that our names can tell a story. Very sweet.

Always Anjali by Sheetal Sheth and illustrated by Jessica Blank

Anjali's friends find license plates with their for their bikes, but not one has her name on it. When she feels like she wants to change her name, her mother explains how special it is and helps her see that being different is a marvelous thing.

Millions of Maxes by Meg Wolitzer and illustrated by Micah Player

Max believes he is the "one and only Max" until a trip to the park where he discovers there are two other kids with his name, as well. The Maxes work together to find a missing pink pine cone which leads them to another Max. A fun read.

My Name is Bana by Bana Alabed and illustrated by Nez Riaz

Bana learns what she was named for and tells how she lives up to her name's meaning. Written by an activist, this book also gives insight into the life of a child refugee.

My Name is Cool! by Antonio Sacre and illustrated by Sarah Demonteverde

Antonio has many different nicknames and he is proud of them and the ways he got them. This is a very charming book and one that will be useful to open up discussion about kids' nicknames. 

My Name is Yoon by Helen Recorvits and illustrated by Gabi Swiatkowska

Yoon does not like how her name looks when written in English, so when asked to write it in school she uses different words. As Yoon adjusts she makes a friend and decides to write her name in English. This book explores the feelings of a child being in a new country.

Thao by Thao Lam

This is a cleverly illustrated book that gives insight into the experience of having a name that others mispronounce and misspell. Thao's story is empowering and the message about the importance of using one's correct name is meaningful.


That's Not My Name by Anoosha Syed

Mira does not speak up about her name when others mispronounce it even though she wants to. Her mother helps her see how beautiful her name is and Mira finds a way to tell others what her name is. This is a sweet and empowering story about the importance of names and standing up for oneself. 

Tomatoes in my Lunchbox by Costantia Manoli and illustrated by Magdalena Mora

In a new school in a new country where her teacher and classmates can't pronounce her name, the narrator wishes for one that is more like the other children. She also feels like she stands out because of the clothes she wears and the food, like the tomato, in her lunchbox. With advice from her grandmother, she makes a new friend and begins to feel a sense of belonging. Heart-warming.

Your Name is a Song by Jamila Thompkins-Bigelow and illustrated by Luisa Uribe

A child meets her mother after school, upset that her classmates and teacher can't say her name. The child's mother helps her appreciate the beauty and uniqueness of her names and of others. An empowering book that is a joyous celebration of names.

Previous Year's Lists