Monday, September 28, 2020

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...

A Bear is a Bear (Except When He's Not) by Karl Newson and illustrated by Anuska Allepuz

After waking up from hibernation too early, a bear is confused about what he is and tries to figure it out. Luckily, the narrator of the book can help. This is simply a fun rhyming book about a very silly and charming bear. 

Jumbo: The Making of the Boeing 747 by Chris Gall

This is a fascinating nonfiction picture book that details how the Boeing 747 was made. There is also insight into the history of air travel. The illustrations capture the enormity of the aircraft. Those young readers who have an interest in aircraft will especially enjoy this one.

Northbound: A Train Ride Out of Segregation by Michael S. Bandy and Eric Stein and illustrated by James E. Ransome

Michael takes a train for the first time as he travels with his grandmother from Alabama to Ohio to visit cousins. When he first gets on the train he is only allowed in the "colored car," but after leaving Atlanta the restriction is lifted and Michael meets and befriends a boy who has been traveling in the car for whites. The authors' note provides background information about policies related to railroad travel. This book explores the injustices of the segregation era while portraying a friendship that offers hope. Thanks to the publisher, Candlewick, for a review copy. The book publishes in October.

Speak Up, Molly Lou Melon by Patty Lovell and illustrated by David Catrow

The spunky and quirky Molly Lou Melon is back in a follow-up to Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon, which I can't believe was published nineteen years ago. The message about standing up for friends and remaining true to oneself is heartfelt. 

Closer to Nowhere by Ellen Hopkins

This book is told in verse, alternating between the perspectives of two cousins who are the same age but have grown up in very different families. Cal's mother has recently died and his father is in prison so he moves in with Hannah's family. Hannah does not understand Cal's behavior and is having difficulty with the changes that are happening with her family. The characters are engaging and realistic. The book explores some difficult topics and is also a heartfelt story about family in which two cousins grow to understand each other. Thanks to the publisher for providing my book review group, #BookExcursion, with a review copy. The book publishes next month.

Monday, September 21, 2020

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...

Nacho's Nachos: The Story Behind the World's Favorite Snack by Sandra Nickely and illustrated by Oliver Dominguez

Although written for children, I often learn many interesting facts from picture book biographies, and that is the case with this book. The book tells the story of a creative chef, Ignacio, and how he invented the crunchy, cheesy, spicy snack we know as nachos. It's an entertaining and informative read. 

The Ninth Night of Hanukkah by Erica S. Perl and illustrated by Shahar Kober

With still one more day of summer left it may seem a little too early for a book about a holiday that takes place in winter, but this book recently published this month. In this book a family starts a new Hanukkah tradition. It's also a heartwarming story about community and appreciating others. The note at the end of the book provides some information about Hanukkah and explains the author's inspiration for the book. There are also some great suggestions for celebrating community and showing gratitude for the helpers in one's life. Thanks to Media Masters Publicity for providing my book review group, #BookExcursion, with a review copy.

The Old Man and the Penguin: A True Story of True Friendship by Julie Abery and illustrated by Pierre Pratt

This is a beautiful and charming story, based on true events, about a man who receives a visit every year from a penguin which he helped after finding him covered in oil. It's a story of unlikely friendship, but also has a message about the importance of taking care of the environment. The author's note explains the harmful impact of oil spills on sea creatures. The book publishes in October. 

Planet Omar: Unexpected Super Spy by Zanib Mian and illustrated by Nasaya Mafaridik

There is much to love about this series. Omar, who is imaginative and humorous, is a great character, but his friends and family are all equally endearing. In this second book in the series, Omar exhibits compassion and determination as he helps to raise money to save his family's mosque. This is a sweet story about family and community. With illustrations and word art the book is a fun read. 

Monday, September 14, 2020

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...

Our Subway Baby by Peter Mercurio and illustrated by Leo Espinosa

This book could not be any sweeter. It's the true story of how a family was brought together because of a subway and love. Very poignant. Thanks to the publisher for a review copy.

The Invisible Alphabet by Joshua David Stein and illustrated by Ron Barrett

The words connected to each letter, in this very interesting alphabet book, are all things that are invisible to the eye. The illustrations depicting each invisible thing are clever and often amusing. Thanks to Penguin for providing my book review group, #BookExcursion, with a review copy.

Before the Ever After by Jacqueline Woodson

ZJ is trying to understand the changes that are happening in his life - not only has his father stopped playing professional football, but he is also forgetting things and experiencing mood swings and terrible headaches. This is a heart-breaking book about the impact of brain trauma and how a family copes with the devastating effects of this. Told in verse, it's a beautifully written story.

Twins by Varian Johnson and illustrated by Shannon Wright

Sisters, Maureen and Francine, are navigating the challenges of sixth grade and growing up as identical twins. School and home life becomes even more complicated when they both decide to run for class president. Students who enjoy graphic novels that explore friendship and the ups and downs of being a kid will want to read this one. The book publishes in October, but it's currently available through Scholastic Book Clubs. 

A Grown-Up Reading Recommendation


Good Morning, Monster: A Therapist Shares Five Heroic Stories of Emotional Recovery by Catherine Gildiner

A psychologist shares the stories of five of her patients, all facing challenges due to previous trauma in their lives. The stories are heart-wrenching, but also compelling as they show the resiliency of the human spirit. There is also insight into the therapeutic process and the ways in which healing can happen. Hard to read, at times, but moving. Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley, I read an advanced digital copy of the book. The book publishes in the U.S. next week. 

Monday, September 7, 2020

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


It's Not Little Red Riding Hood by Josh Funk and illustrated by Edwardian Taylor

The third book in the It's Not a Fairy Tale series is as amusing as the previous two. The narrator provides instructions as to how the story should go, but what results is a mixed-up version of the fairy tale with a very "sweet" ending. I have many students who have been eagerly anticipating this book, so I am looking forward to sharing it with them. Thanks to the illustrator, Edwardian Taylor, for a review copy. The book publishes in October.

I  Am Every Good Thing by Derrick Barnes and illustrated by Gordon C. James

This is a poetic and empowering book that celebrates all the wonderful aspects of being a Black boy. The confidence of the narrator shines through each page of this book while the ending wraps up the powerful message about self-worth. 

I Talk Like a River by Jordan Scott and illustrated by Sydney Smith

Based on his own experiences, the author has written a beautifully moving book about what it feels like to be someone who stutters. The boy narrating this story describes his feelings of being different and tells how his father helped him to understand his stutter in a new way. Both the lyrical text and illustrations are lovely.

Puppy Problems (Peanut, Butter, & Crackers Book 1) by Paige Braddock

A dog and a cat are quite content with their lives until their human brings home a new puppy. This is a funny and sweet graphic novel that will amuse early readers, especially those who enjoy reading about pets. I hope it's not too long before the second book is published because I know kids will be asking for it. Thanks to the publisher for a review copy.

All Thirteen: The Incredible Cave Rescue of the Thai Boys' Soccer Team by Christina Soontornvat

The rescue of the Thai Boys’ soccer team is a fascinating story. The book tells of the amazing collaboration and dedication that made it possible. Even though I remembering watching the story on the news and was aware of the outcome, I found the details of this heroic effort gripping. There is lots of insight into the culture of Thailand, too. Thanks to Candlewick for providing my book review group, #BookExcursion, with a review copy. The book publishes in October.

Monday, August 31, 2020

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


Nana Akua Goes to School by Tricia Elam Walker and illustrated by April Harrison

Zura's favorite person in the world is her Nana Akua, but she is worried that when she brings her nana to school for Grandparent's Day her classmates will laugh at her. At school, Nana Akua shares part of her culture with Zura's classmates, helping them see their uniqueness. 

Share Your Rainbow: 18 Artists Draw Their Hope for the Future by various authors with Introduction by R. J. Palacio

Many talented illustrators contributed to this book, each including a lovely illustration that somehow incorporates a rainbow and text that tells of a hope for the future. It's a book that will be useful to spark discussions to help students feel optimistic as they continue to navigate the very uncertain and different times that the pandemic has brought to their lives. 

Mindy Kim and the Birthday Puppy (Mindy Kim #3) by Lyla Lee and illustrated by Dung Ho Hanh

Mindy Kim has always wanted a dog and when she gets a puppy for her birthday she learns that training a dog is hard work. This is a very sweet chapter book series. Mindy and her puppy, Theodore, will put a smile on readers' faces. Thanks to Lyla Lee for sending me a few copies to share with my students.

Pea, Bee, & Jay #1: Stuck Together by Brian "Smitty" Smith

A pea, a honeybee, and a bird named Jay form an unlikely friendship and team up for an adventure that takes them beyond the farm and back. This graphic novel has action and humor. It's both charming and silly and sure to have kid appeal.
 

Three Keys (A Front Desk Novel) by Kelly Yang

This novel set in the 1990s when anti-immigration law was being proposed is relevant in today's world. Readers were first introduced to Mia and her family, who now own the Calivista Motel, in Front Desk. In this book, Mia and her friends are navigating discrimination and racism in their community and using their voices to take action. It's an important and empowering read. 

Monday, August 24, 2020

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...

Jules vs. the Ocean by Jessie Sima

Jules wants to impress her sister, who is off body surfing, by making the fanciest castle on the beach, but the ocean continuously washes away her creations. Disappointment turns into joy when Jules's sister lends a hand to help her. This is a sweet story about the relationship between two sisters and persistence. 

The Power of Her Pen: The Story of Groundbreaking Journalist Ethel L. Payne by Lesa Cline-Ransome and illustrated by John Parra

Through this picture book biography readers are introduced to Ethel Payne, known as the "First Lady of the Black Press." It's an interesting and inspirational story of a historical leader who fought against injustice. 

Swashby and the Sea by Beth Ferry and illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal

Swashby retires to a cottage near the sea where he enjoys the quiet and serenity until a girl and her granny move in next door. He tries to discourage their neighborliness with messages in the sand, but the girl and the sea have other ideas. This is a sweet and clever story.

Speak Up by Miranda Paul and illustrated by Ebony Glenn

This rhyming text tells about the many ways there are to use one's voice in positive ways. Whether it's to show appreciation, be kind to others, or create change, one's voice can be powerful. The end pages include information about real kids who have spoken up for themselves and others and examples of ways to speak up.

Story Boat by Kyo Maclear and illustrated by Rashin Kheiriyeh

This is a beautiful and lyrical book about a sister and brother who flee their home and go in search of another. The book gives insight into the refugee experience and explores imagination.

Tune it Out by Jamie Sumner

Lou's world suddenly changes when she's taken out of her mother's care and sent to live with her aunt and uncle. Lou's not only adjusting to living in a new place and going to a new school, but also trying to make sense of the fact that she feels different because she has an aversion to loud noises and being touched. This book gives insight into what it's like to have a sensory processing disorder and explores family relationships and friendship. Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for a review copy.

Adult Book Recommendation


Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

This book is about how a group of strangers, all who find themselves in a hostage situation after a failed bank robbery, connect with each other and help each other move forward. This book has a lot of wit and humor even though it deals with some heavy topics. I will probably never enjoy a Fredrik Backman book as much as A Man Called Ove, but this was a great read. Thanks to the publisher for an advanced reader's copy. The book publishes in September.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Picture Book Love: Fauja Singh Keeps Going

Fauja Singh Keeps Going: The True Story of the Oldest Person to Ever Run a Marathon by Simran Jeet Singh and illustrated by Baljinder Kaur

Sharing stories with children in which individuals overcome adversity and exhibit resilience and perseverance has always been important. These stories show children how others have coped with challenges and provide them with possibilities for their own lives. The COVID-19 pandemic, and all the stress and uncertainty that is associated with it, is impacting all lives including that of our children. As we strive to support children's social-emotional well-being sharing such stories is even more necessary. 

Fauja Singh Keeps Going is a picture book biography with an amazing story of perseverance. Fauja faced difficulties walking as he wasn't able to do so until he was five and then even after being able to do so was not able to walk very far distances. Throughout his life, he continuously worked on becoming stronger and being able to do more than he was previously capable of. When Fauja was in his eighties he decided to take up running and eventually became the oldest person to run a marathon at the age of one hundred. 

Fauja's inspiring story offers life lessons about how to face challenges and keep going even when things seem hard. Now more than ever, we want our children to understand that it's possible to move forward in the face of obstacles and this book provides a wonderful example of how to do that.