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Monday, December 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...

The Christmas Book Flood by Emily Kilgore and illustrated by Kitty Moss

This is a poetic and magical book about the Iceland tradition of giving books on Christmas Eve. The author's note at the end tells how Jólabókaflóðið originated. Reading this book made me want to immediately go cozy up with a book. 

Cyril and Pat by Emily Gravett

Being the only squirrel living in Lake Park, Cyril is sad and alone, until he meets Pat and together they spend their days playing. Cyril is happy having another squirrel around, but the other animals know that Pat is not really a squirrel and don't think they should be friends. This is an amusing story about friendship and acceptance. 

My Fade is Fresh by Shauntay Grant and illustrated by Kitt Thomas

A little girl walks into a barbershop and states that she wants, "the freshest fade on the block." Even as others give suggestions as to how she should have her hair done, she remains true to herself and doesn't lose sight of what she wants. A fun and empowering book.

Latkes and Applesauce: A Hanukkah Story by Fran Manushkin and illustrated by Kris Easler 

A blizzard comes early one winter, and with snow covering everything outside, a family has only soup to eat rather than the latkes and applesauce they enjoy every Hanukkah. In spite of their disappointment and having little to eat, they show their kindness to a lost kitten and dog that appear outside their door. Both the animals help the family discover a surprise that allows them to enjoy their holiday tradition. This is a sweet and fun story about kindness and traditions.

In The Neighborhood by Rocia Bonilla

The neighbors, having never met each other, are simply neighbors. One day that changes and they realize that their assumptions were not correct. This is a sweet story, with amusing illustrations, that shows what it means to be a community.

Walter Had a Best Friend by Deborah Underwood and illustrated by Sergio Ruzzier

Walter and Xavier are best friends who hike, paint pictures, and spend quiet time together until they slowly drift apart. Now that Xavier has found a friend in Penelope, Walter's life has changed and his heart feels broken. On a sunny day, Walter's life changes again when he decides to go on a hike and take a new trail. This is a lovely story about changing friendships and moving on.

Monday, November 28, 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 Best Gift for Bear by Jennifer A. Bell

Sometimes the best gift is not a physical gift, but the time spent together with a special person. The story of Hedgehog and Bear is heart-warming and a perfect read for winter or the holidays. 

Big Bear and Little Fish by Sandra Nickel and illustrated by Il Sung Na

Bear really wants to win a teddy bear at the carnival, but instead ends up with a fish. There are many reasons Bear does not feel a fish would be a good companion, including her size, until Fish helps him see things from a different perspective. This is a sweet story of unlikely friendship.

So Much Snow by Kristen Schroeder and illustrated by Sarah Jacoby

From smallest to largest, one forest animal after another wonders how high the snow will go as it keeps falling and falling. When snow blankets them all, they begin to wonder when the snow will go away. In reverse order, as the snow melts, the animals are revealed again. This is a fun story about the winter season and the transition from winter to spring. 

The Sour Grape by Jory John and illustrated by Pete Oswald

The Food Group picture book series is well-loved by students and as in the previous books, the main character, this time a sour grape, will both amuse readers and teach them a life lesson. This story tells what happened to turn a grape from sweet to sour and how that same grape learned that it's better to let go of grudges. With great illustrations and puns, this is another entertaining read in the series.

Twelve Dinging Doorbells by Tameka Fryer Brown and illustrated by Ebony Glenn

Each time the doorbell rings, the narrator notes a new addition to the family gathering. The story is a spin on The Twelve Days of Christmas, but it could apply to a variety of joyous holidays or celebrations. Lively text and illustrations show the fun and excitement of being with family and the love of sharing food together, especially sweet potato pie. 

Owl and Penguin (I Like to Read Comics) by Vikram Madan

The three stories in this early reader graphic novel about an owl and a penguin are super sweet. In each story one of the friends helps the other solve a problem. The bright illustrations are delightful and the one on the last page is especially joyful. 

Monday, November 21, 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 Amazing! by Alissa Holder and Zulekha Holder-Young and illustrated by Nneka Myers

Ayaan, who is always there to help a friend at the playground, believes he is a superhero until two kids laugh at him and tell him he doesn't look like a superhero. Ayaan's dad helps him to see that there are many ways to be a superhero and that having a big heart is the greatest power. This is very sweet and empowering book. 

The Great Caper Caper by Josh Funk and illustrated by Brendan Kearney

I recently read this book and participated in the blog tour that took place this month. Students love the Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast series filled with rhymes, puns, and adventures and will be thrilled to see the latest book. Read more about the book and find out about other stops on the blog tour here

Octopus Shocktopus! by Peter Bently and illustrated by Steven Lenton

An octopus suddenly appears on top of a house. When an attempt to remove the octopus fails, neighborhood kids ask it to play and soon they realize how useful the octopus is. Everyone misses the octopus when it's gone but the town ends ups with a surprise that is even better. A silly, rhyming book that will make readers wish they had their own octopus.

Peculiar Primates: Fun Facts About These Curious Creatures by Debra Kempf Shumaker and illustrated by Claire Powell

This fun rhyming book introduces readers to various primates and tells unusual facts about them. The end pages tell more about what a primate is and gives additional facts about each primate mentioned in the book. Great pictures, facts, and an ending that will surprise some readers.    

The Roar by Eoin McLaughlin and illustrated by Polly Dunbar

Tortoise is very upset that he has fallen off a rock and is stuck on his back. As Hedgehog tries to understand how Tortoise is feeling, he also falls and lands on his back. Hedgehog, now knowing how Tortoise feels, listens and each of them starts to feel better. A sweet book about empathy and friendship.

I Did It! by Michael Emberley

Any young reader who has been challenged with learning something new will be able to relate to this early reader graphic novel. The text is repetitive and simple, but it explores a powerful message about the importance of trying again, positive thinking, and supportive friends. 

Thursday, November 17, 2022

Blog Tour: The Great Caper Caper


The Great Caper Caper (Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast #5) 
by Josh Funk and illustrated by Brendan Kearney

Author Josh Funk has virtually visited the students at my school a few times to share his books and also his insight into the writing process. His visits have always been a huge hit. After a visit with first graders, students were referring to him by his first name as if he was a friend of theirs. They'd say things to me like, "Remember when we met Josh?" or "Do you have that book that Josh wrote?" At the time of Josh's first author visit at our school, he had written the first Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast book. During the question-and-answer portion of the author visit, one student asked Josh what foods he had in his fridge. I wonder, if asked that question today, the answer would include capers, as Josh has now published the fifth book in the series, titled The Great Caper Caper

The books in the Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast series provide readers with an imaginative look at what might be going on inside the refrigerator when the door is closed. In The Great Caper Caper, Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast are back in a fast-paced, adventurous story that involves figuring out what happened to The Great Light, which now that it's missing, has left the fridge in complete darkness. Their adventure takes them to Las Veggies where they encounter Count Caper who is in control of Las Veggies Tower and insistent that, being the richest and most powerful food, he would never steal the Great Light. Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast assemble a team of veggies and return to the tower with a plan to uncover the location of the light so that it can be returned to its rightful place.

Like the previous books in the series, this book has humor, puns, rhyming text, and lots of kid appeal. The illustrations, by Brendan Kearney, are delightful. Each of the foods are drawn to show their lively personality and the fridge is captured as a fun place to inhabit. The book is a fun continuation of the series that highlights friendship, teamwork, and doing the right thing.

To find out about more about Josh Funk and the many other books that he has written, visit his website. There you will also find lots of fun stuff for kids, like activity pages and songs of some of his books. If you haven't been following along on the blog tour, below are some of the other places you can read about The Great Caper Caper.

Monday, November 14, 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 Cannot Draw a Horse by Charise Mericle Harper

The narrator draws a shape and turns it into a cat. The cat wants a horse, but the narrator explains that would be too hard to draw. As the narrator tries to please the cat with different drawings, the cat keeps insisting on a horse. The cat has a clever solution that convinces the narrator to try a horse. A fun story about creativity and the power of encouragement.

The Incredible Shrinking Lunchroom by Michal Baby and illustrated by Paula Cohen

A school principal helps students change their perspective about their lunchroom when they complain that it is too crowded and loud. Each action the principal takes when students write to her about their problem only seems to be making the situation worse, but she ultimately leads them to see that the lunchroom is not crowded at all. This book is based on a Yiddish folktale and the Jewish term "sameach b'chelko" which means to be happy with what one has. Be sure not to miss the very last page of the book that provides a glance into the teacher's lounge.

Lola Out Loud: Inspired by the Childhood of Activist Dolores Huerta by Jennifer Torres and illustrated by Sara Palacious

Lola who is always being told to be quieter observes an injustice in her neighborhood and decides she must speak out and help. The end note in the book tells more about Dolores Huerta and how she became an advocate for farmworkers. This is an inspirational book about compassion and making a difference in the world.

Night Lunch by Eric Fan and illustrated by Dena Seiferling

In the dark of night, a lunch cart stops and nocturnal animals gather to feast on delicacies the owl chef cooks up for them. When the sky starts to brighten, it's time for the cart to move on, but a mouse, busy sweeping, has had only crumbs to eat. The story about kindness and gratitude is told in short sentences and illustrations that are magical and dreamy. 

Hazel Hill is Gonna Win This One by Maggie Horne

This is an important middle grade book to help young readers understand harassment and empower those who experience it to speak out. Twelve-year-old Hazel wants to redeem herself by winning the annual speech competition after losing to her nemesis, Ella Quinn, the year before. This gets complicated when Hazel finds out Ella Quinn is being harassed by a classmate and they develop a friendship and start working together to prove it. Not having any middle school friends previously, Hazel is learning the ins-and-outs of friendship and also striving to be comfortable with her own identity. I loved Hazel's humor and confidence and I think middle grade readers will, as well. A very well-written, engaging, and empowering book about a topic relevant to the lives of young readers.

Monday, November 7, 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...


All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold and illustrated by Suzanne Kaufman 

When a young girl moves into a new house, her new neighbors take her on an exploration of the community. This book is a beautiful celebration of a diverse, welcoming, and kind community. The illustrations are charming and detailed and readers will notice lots about how the neighbors interact with each other. 

Brand-New Bubbe by Sarah Aronson and illustrated by Ariel Landy

Now that Jillian's mother has remarried, in addition to her Noni and her Gram who are already in her life, she has a brand-new grandmother. Jillian refuses to bond with Bubbe, but is won over with matzo ball soup and she then comes up with a plan so none of her grandmothers feel left out. A wonderful story about family.

The Legend of the Spirit Serpent by Adaiah Sanford and illustrated by Ken Daley

This is a retelling of a legend from the island of Dominica about an adventurous and curious girl who visits the Spirit Serpent who guards her village even though she has been warned not to. It's an engaging story about courage. The illustrations, especially the vertical two-page spread of the serpent are gorgeous. The author of this book was seven years old when she wrote and won the 1st Annual Caribbean Writer's Contest. 

Our Story Starts in Africa by Patrice Lawrence and illustrated by Jeanetta Gonzales

When Paloma visits her family in Trinidad, she feels like she doesn't fit in with her cousins because she talks differently than they do. Her Tante Janet helps her understand that they all have common roots by teaching her about the history of Africa. An informative and beautiful story.

Penny, the Engineering Tail of the Fourth Little Pig by Kimberly Derting and Shelli R. Johannes and illustrated by Hannah Marks

This version of The Three Little Pigs includes a fourth pig, named Penny, who became an engineer while living in New Pork City and uses her skills to save her siblings from the big bad wolf. This is a fun, science-themed, and pun-filled tale of the three pigs. 

Speak Up! by Rebecca Burgess

This graphic novel tells the story of Mia, who is autistic and struggling to fit in with her peers at school. With her friend, Charlie, she has created a secret identity as a singer named Elle-Q and posted the music videos online. Although she's not comfortable performing in person, Charlie has signed them up for the talent show. One of Elle-Q's biggest fans is also one of the bullies she is dealing with in school. As Mia strives to find her voice she realizes her strengths. The book is written from an authentic perspective as the author is autistic. It's a sweet story about embracing differences and being true to oneself. 

Monday, October 31, 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...


A Friend for Ghost by Suzanne Kaufman

Ghost is friendless and alone until a balloon floats by. They become companions and play together until balloon gets lost during a game of hide-and-seek. Ghost's search for balloon helps him find a true companion. This is a sweet story.

A Journey Under the Sea by Craig Foster and Ross Frylinck

This book takes the reader on a journey through the Great American Seaforest. It's a poetic and enchanting exploration of the wildlife that lives in the depths of the sea. Visually stunning.

If Your Babysitter is a Bruja by Ana Siqueira and illustrated by Irena Freitas

It's almost Halloween and a child's babysitter shows up with a broom, a witch's hat, and a cackle. The child gives advice about what to do and how to defend oneself. The child's actions lead to an imaginative adventure that's more funny than scary. An amusing read for the spooky season.

Our Day of the Dead Celebration by Ana Aranda

A family prepares for their Day of the Dead celebration by making favorite dishes, decorating sugar skulls, and writing poems to put on the altar. The story, as well as the author's note, will give readers an understanding of the celebration and its role in honoring and remembering those who have passed. This is a sweet book about a family celebrating together.

Shoshi's Shabbat by Caryn Yacowitz and illustrated by Kevin Hawkes

Shoshi helps farmer Simon plow his fields six days a week and on Shabbat, the ox rests, plays hide-and-seek with the grandchildren, and eats sweet hay. When farmer Simon is old, he sells Shoshi to a neighbor who works every day and does not understand why Shoshi refuses to work on the seventh day. After observing Simon and his family, the neighbor realizes the importance of Shabbat. Based on an old Jewish tale, this is a lovely story that reminds readers to take a pause to rest and be thankful.

Controlled Burn by Erin Soderberg Downing

After a tragic house fire in which her sister was badly injured, Maia blames herself for what happened. Her parents send her to stay with her grandparents for the summer while her sister recovers in the hospital. As Maia works through her feelings, she also finds herself in a situation in which she must face her fear of fire. Readers will be captivated with this story within the first few pages. It is a fantastic story about resilience and family. Thanks to the author for sending me a review copy. 

Monday, October 24, 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...


Be a Bridge by Irene Latham and Charles Waters and illustrated by Nabila Adani

This is a sweet book about compassion and inclusivity. There are many examples of kids acting with kindness and respect towards others. The words and illustrations will give readers an understanding of the bridge metaphor. An uplifting book.

A Case of the Zaps by Alex Boniello and April Lavalle and illustrated by James Kwan

Pi's class is excited for a field trip to Olde Silicon Valley, but thinking about it causes Pi to malfunction. Pi tries to be calm, but the Zaps always return. With the help of a doctor, Pi learns that the Zaps happen to others, as well, and there are ways to manage them. This is a useful book for helping kids understand anxiety.

Creepy Crayon! by Aaron Reynolds and illustrated by Peter Brown

Students really love Creepy Carrots! and Creepy Pair of Underwear! by the same author-illustrator duo and they will not be disappointed by this third book. Jasper finds a purple crayon and it seems helpful at first, but when he wants to get rid of it the situation turns creepy. Humorous and appropriately spooky for picture book readers.

Lunch from Home by Joshua David Stein and illustrated by Jing Li

When four kids bring lunch to school and others react negatively they decide to just bring sandwiches instead. They soon tire of sandwiches and realize the importance of embracing the food they know and love. This is a powerful book about respecting each other and honoring differences. It is based on the childhood experiences of four chefs.

Shark Princess by Nidhi Chanani

Kitana is a shark princess and encourages a shark friend to be one, too. This early reader graphic novel is adventurous and a meaningful story about choosing who you want to be. The puns are fun, too. 

Violet & Jobie in the Wild by Lynne Rae Perkins

Two mice siblings are caught in a mouse trap and released in the wild where they have to get used to a life very different than the one they were previously living. With the help of an old and wise mouse they learn how to survive in the wild. This is a charming story about adjusting to change, bravery, and growing up.