Monday, August 19, 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 Evil Princess vs. The Brave Knight by Jennifer L. Holm

This is an imaginative and humorous story of sibling rivalry. When they are sent to their separate rooms, the siblings realize it's not fun being evil or brave by themselves and they have a moment in which they unite for a common purpose, but in the end being rivals is much more fun. It's an amusing read that readers with a sibling may be able to relate to.

Fairy Science by Ashley Spires

Esther sees the world different from all the other fairies - she is a believer of science, not magic. She is frustrated when the other fairies don't understand the science she tries to teach them. Although she can't convince them entirely of the power of science, her scientific skills don't go completely unnoticed. This is a fun introduction to the scientific method that will inspire inquisitive and creative minds. Thanks to Random House for a review copy. The book publishes in September.

My Tiny Pet by Jessie Hartland

When it is time for the narrator's family to downsize, they give all their pets to good homes because there is not room in their much smaller house. The child still wants a pet and gets the perfect idea during science class. The very tiny pet will surprise readers and intrigue them. I have no doubts that many students will want to do some research about the microscopic creature they read about. Thanks to the Penguin Young Readers for a review copy.

Stargazing by Jen Wang

Christine and Moon are both Chinese-American, yet they are very different from each other. As the two become friends and spend time with each other, Christine expands her understanding of who she is. This is a heart-warming tale, in graphic novel format, that explores friendship, family, identity, and forgiveness. The author's note at the end explains that the inspiration for the story came partly from her own childhood. Thanks to publisher, I received an advance reader's copy at the American Library Association Annual Conference. The book publishes in September.

Monday, August 12, 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...


Stormy: A Story About Finding a Forever Home by Guojing

This is a gorgeous book, both, for its story and the illustrations. Wordless, it tells how a stray dog finds its home with a kind young woman. The illustrations depict so many emotions that the story is absolutely captivating and the way the dog and the woman open their hearts to each other is touching. Look for it in September.

Unicorns 101 by Cale Atkinson

This book is just plain fun and will delight unicorn lovers. Four top unicorn scientists explain everything there is to know about unicorns. The information is creative and humorous and when readers are finished they will have earned a diploma and the title "Unicorn Scientist." Thanks to Random House for a review copy. The book publishes in September.

Some Places More Than Others by Renée Watson

Amara is finally getting to visit Harlem and she is looking forward to meeting the family she knows only through pictures and phone conversations. The trip is an opportunity to learn more about her family history for a school project, but she's also promised her mother she'll find a way to get her dad and grandpa to start talking to one another again. This is a story about family, identity, and the power of forgiveness. It also reminds us that people and places play a role in shaping who we are. Thanks to Bloomsbury for providing my book review group, #BookExcursion, with an advance reader's copy. It publishes in September.

Strange Birds: A Field Guide to Ruffling Feathers by Celia C. Pérez

Over the summer, four very different girls meet and form a friendship. When one of the girls expresses concerns about the Floras, an organization similar to Scouts, and one of their traditions, the four hatch a plan to raise awareness and make change. Both the writing and the characters in this book are wonderful and it helps to show the power of being an activist. Thanks to Penguin Young Readers for providing my book review group, #BookExcursion, with an advance reader's copy.

Monday, August 5, 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 Evil Princess vs. The Brave Knight by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm

This is an imaginative and humorous story of sibling rivalry. When they are sent to their separate rooms, the siblings realize it's not fun being evil or brave by themselves and they have a moment in which they unite for a common purpose, but in the end being rivals is much more fun. It's not only an amusing read, but also one that many readers with a sibling will be able to relate to.

Ruby Finds a Worry by Tom Percival

Ruby has a Worry and it gets so big that it starts to take over her life. With the help of a boy she comes across sitting on a park bench, she learns a way to deal with the worry. This is a great book to help children understand that having worries is normal and that talking about them can help. I love the use of color in the illustrations and the fact that the Worry was a character in itself. Thanks to Bloomsbury for a review copy.

Frankly in Love by David Yoon

Frank is in love for the first time. Brit is perfect for him except for the fact that she's white and Frank's parents want him to marry a Korean girl. Then there's Joy, the girl Frank fake dates so he can continue to see Brit. I loved the characters in this book. They were realistic and I just wanted to keep reading to see how it would all work out for them. It's humorous and heartfelt. There's already a movie adaptation coming and I can see why. This book publishes in September. Thanks to Penguin Teen for an advance reader's copy.

The World Ends in April by Stacy McAnulty

After getting information from a website, Elle is convinced that the world is going to end when it is hit by an asteroid in April. Under the guise of a nature club, Elle and her friend Mack get other students involved in planning how they are going to survive the asteroid when it happens. Admittedly, the plot of this book sounded unusual to me, but it turned out to be very interesting and engaging. The characters are true-to-life and middle grade readers will be able to relate to the school and friendship challenges they face. Thanks for Random House for providing my book review group, #BookExcursion, with an advance reader's copy. The book publishes in September.

I, Cosmo by Carlie Sorosiak

When Max arrived as the newest member of his human family, Cosmo, a lovable golden retriever, vowed to protect him always. Now that there has been a hint that divorce in the family is possible, Max needs Cosmo more than ever. To ensure they stay together, Max is training Cosmo for a dance competition. Dog tricks are not so easy for Cosmo because of his age, but he is determined not to disappoint Max. Told from Cosmo's perspective, this is a heart-warming story about the love and loyalty that exists between a dog and his favorite human. Readers will be touched by the bond between Cosmo and Max and be amused by Cosmo's perspective on life and family. Thanks to the publisher, Candlewick, for providing my book review group with an advance reader's copy. This book does not publish until December, but it is definitely one to keep on your radar. 

Monday, July 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...

Bear Out There by Jacob Grant

This follow up to Bear's Scare is a sweet book about friendship. Spider likes the outdoors, but Bear prefers being cozy in his tidy house. Even though he'd rather spend the day inside, Bear helps Spider search for his lost kite. For Bear, the day goes from bad to worse, but he realizes the importance of being there for a friend even when the going gets tough. The illustrations are lovely and I don't think I've seen a more adorable spider in a picture book.

Beverly, Right Here by Kate DiCamillo

This is another beautiful book following the lives of the Three Rancheros who were introduced in Raymie Nightingale and revisited in Louisiana's Way. Four years after the events of Raymie Nightingale, Beverly is grieving over the loss of her dog and tired of her mother's drinking so she decides to leave home. Although she is convinced that she doesn't need anyone and can take care of herself, she slowly lets others into her lives and realizes the power of community and friendship. I loved the characters in this book and, as always with Kate DiCamillo's books, the writing is lovely. Thanks to Candlewick Press for a review copy of the book. It publishes in September.

More to the Story by Hena Khan

Jameela, who has a passion for journalism, write for her school newspaper, but feels that her ideas for stories never get heard. Life at home has it challenges for Jameela, as well, as her father is traveling a lot for work and her sister has been diagnosed with lymphoma. Hena Khan has written another heart-warming exploration of family. The way the characters relate to each other and navigate the challenges of school and home are true-to-life. The author's inspiration came from Little Women, a book she cherished as a child. The book publishes in September.

Pages & Co.: The Bookwanderers by Anna James

Tilly lives with her grandparents and spends a lot of time in the bookstore connected to their house. She is enchanted with the adventures within books and prefers book characters over actual friends. Her own life takes an adventurous turn when she realizes she has the ability to wander through the pages of a book as if it was real life. As she strives to understand this new, magical ability, she learns more about herself including and who her parents are. This is an imaginative and fun read, but also one that will delight book lovers. Thanks to Penguin Young Readers for providing my book review group, #BookExcursion, with a review copy.

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.